Tier One and Tier Two members working in qualifying positions after January 1, 2004, have two parts to their PERS retirement plans: a Tier One/Tier Two pension benefit and an Individual Account Program (IAP) account.
Watch a video
that explains the two parts to your future retirement.
The regular account (pension) balance shown on your statement will be used to pay for a portion of your monthly pension benefit. If you elected to participate in the Variable Annuity Program
, you will also see a variable account balance on your statement. Variable account balances are included in the calculation used to determine monthly pension benefits. See more under the heading “How does my variable account balance impact my monthly Tier One or Tier Two benefit payment
Your Tier One/Tier Two monthly pension benefit can be paid to you for your lifetime and to a beneficiary for the beneficiary’s lifetime, after you die, if you chose one.
The other account balance you can see on your statement will be for your IAP.
Since January 1, 2004, your PERS contributions (6%* of your salary, whether paid by you or your employer) have gone into your IAP, which is invested in a target-date fund
based on your year of birth. Before 2004, your contributions went into your Tier One/Tier Two account(s).
Your IAP account balance can fluctuate, depending on investment gains and losses in your target-date fund. Unlike your pension, there is no guaranteed investment return for your IAP.
The benefit from your IAP is finite: The balance of your IAP account at the time you retire is all that you will have available from this account throughout your retirement. However, at retirement, you may choose how your IAP is paid to you: in a lump-sum rollover to a qualified plan or in installments over various time periods.
*Note: Starting July 1, 2020, if you are currently employed and make more than $2,500 a month, a portion of your 6% contributions will be redirected to a new Employee Pension Stability Account (EPSA), which will be used to pay for part of your future pension benefit. As a Tier One/Tier Two member, 2.5% of your 6% contributions will go into your EPSA. The remaining 3.5% will go to your existing IAP account. PERS uses three methods to calculate a Tier One monthly pension benefit amount and two methods to calculate a Tier Two monthly pension benefit amount. The calculation methods are:
- Tier One – Full Formula, Formula Plus Annuity (only for some Tier One members) and Money Match
- Tier Two – Full Formula and Money Match
The highest amount produced by these calculations is what you will receive as your monthly pension benefit.
Here is how the calculations work:
(Tier One and Tier Two)
Your years of service are multiplied by your final average salary and a set percentage. The percentage depends on your service type.
1.67% × years of service credit × monthly final average salary = monthly pension benefit
Police and firefighters:
2% × years of service credit × monthly final average salary = monthly pension benefit
(Tier One and Tier Two)
Your member account balance is matched by your employer, and the result is multiplied by a variable representing the estimated life expectancy for people in your age group (aka your “age factor”).
Age factor × account balance × 2
Formula Plus Annuity
(only Tier One members who made contributions before August 21, 1981)
This method has two parts, the first of which is similar to Full Formula but uses a different set percentage.
Your total from this first part is then added to an annuity payment, which is calculated by multiplying your member account balance by a variable representing the estimated life expectancy for people in your age group (aka your “age factor”). This second part looks similar to the Money Match formula.
1% × years of service credit × final average salary
Age factor × account balance
Legislators, police, and firefighters:
1.35% × years of service credit × final average salary
Age factor × account balance
Notes and definitions:
- Most Tier One/Tier Two members now retire under the Full Formula method. Tier Two members are unlikely to have Money Match result in their highest calculated benefit because their account balances are generally low (due to having fewer years of contributions into the member account before 2004, when contributions were diverted to the IAP).
- Service credit is the number of months and years you have worked in a PERS-qualifying position. A “qualifying” position is one in which an employee performs 600 or more hours of service in a calendar year for one or more PERS-participating employers. Hours worked with different participating employers in the same calendar year are combined to determine if the 600-hour standard has been met for that year. Under certain circumstances, if you are not employed for the full calendar year, you may earn service time for a partial year with fewer than 600 hours of employment. One month of service time is earned for each major fraction of a month worked.
- In general, your final average salary is the greater of these amounts:
- The average gross monthly salary that results from the three years in which you earned your highest total salaries from one or more PERS-participating employers, even if one of those years was less than a full calendar year.
- 1/36 of the total salary you received from one or more PERS-participating employers in the last 36 months of active membership.
You can create an estimate online through your Online Member Services (OMS) account. The online benefit estimator will use the most recent data supplied by your employer(s) to produce an estimate for any future retirement date. You can produce multiple benefit estimates with different retirement dates. This could help you determine if you are on track to meet your retirement goals.
If your PERS account involves a divorce, you should request a written benefit estimate. OMS cannot correctly calculate a benefit estimate on an account with a divorce award.
When you are within 24 months of the earliest date you are eligible to retire, you can request a PERS benefit estimate by submitting a Tier One/Tier Two Estimate Request form. (Note: PERS processes benefit estimate requests in retirement-date order, with the earliest retirement dates first. Estimate processing time may vary from member to member, as each account is different, so we are unable to tell you exactly when your estimate will be completed.)
Your PERS benefit estimate will provide information on service time purchases available to you at retirement, which could increase your benefit or provide extra service time to allow you to retire sooner.
We encourage you to get at least one PERS benefit estimate before your retirement date, especially if you wish to purchase service time. OMS will not estimate the cost of purchases unless you have a completed benefit estimate. Note: Benefit estimates are just that – estimates. They are not a guarantee of benefits.
Benefit estimates only include your Tier One or Tier Two retirement benefit. You can use the IAP Disbursement Forecaster to estimate your IAP distribution at retirement.
When you retire as a participant in the Variable Annuity Program, you have the option of transferring your variable account balance into your regular account or keeping it in the variable program.
Funds in the Variable Annuity Program are invested completely in stocks, unlike the Oregon PERS Fund, which is invested in a more diverse set of assets. Your regular account is associated with the Oregon PERS Fund.
If you choose to remain in the variable program at retirement, a portion of your retirement benefit can change annually based on the ups and downs of stocks. The higher the percentage you originally chose (25%, 50% or 75%) to put into a variable account, the more money you will have exposed to stock market variation. You cannot retroactively change the percentage of your past contributions.
However, other portions of your monthly benefit will come from fixed sources: a pension funded by your employer and an annuity based on your regular account balance. It is only the portion of your pension based on your variable account that would fluctuate; having a variable component in your PERS retirement plan does mean your total monthly payment could vary over the course of your retirement.
If you remain in the variable, once you are retired, PERS will adjust the variable portion of your monthly benefit every February 1. The adjustment is based on earnings or losses for the 12-month period ending October 31 of the prior year.
And if you originally opted into the variable program but continued working for a PERS-qualifying employer after January 1, 2004, contributions made after that date have gone into your Individual Account Program (IAP) account, rather than the variable program. Contributing to, or transferring new funds into, your variable account are no longer options.
Yes. At or before the time you apply for retirement, you can request a one-time transfer to move all funds out of your variable account into your regular account by submitting a One-Time Variable Transfer: Active or Inactive Members form to PERS. You must meet the age and eligibility requirements listed on the form, and PERS must receive your election form by December 31 of the year in which the request is made. The transfer will become effective on January 1 of the following year.
This transfer, once effective, is permanent. It cannot be revoked, reversed, or undone. Once made, you will no longer have a variable account and will not receive a variable annuity benefit in your retirement. You can cancel your One-Time Variable Transfer request up until December 31 of the year in which the request is made.
You may also choose to transfer out of the variable when you apply for retirement.
Earnings crediting for the previous year is typically determined in April of the following year. Tier One regular accounts receive the assumed earnings rate. Tier Two and Individual Account Program (IAP) accounts receive earnings based on investment returns minus administrative expenses. Tier Two and IAP accounts are subject to earnings or losses.
Earnings crediting is only visible in Online Member Services after earnings have been applied to accounts each spring.
Yes – starting September 2020, non retired members will be
able to voluntarily make an election, once per year, into which IAP
Target-Date Fund they want their funds invested.
Any eligible choice made by September 30, 2020, will go into
effect January 1, 2021. If you make a choice, remember this is for calendar
year 2021, which means you will see annual investment returns on your 2021
statement, sent in spring 2022. You continue to be invested in your age-based
IAP TDF for calendar year 2020.
More details and information on how to change your TDF for
2021 will be added to PERS’ IAP
Target-Date Funds webpage in August 2020
and sent out via GovDelivery.
You can contact Member Services to confirm previously designated beneficiaries. If you have not already, make sure you complete and submit a Pre-Retirement Designation of Beneficiary form to update your Tier One/Tier Two beneficiary before retirement. New beneficiary designations supersede all past selections.
If you have worked for a PERS-participating employer after January 1, 2004, you will also need to submit the IAP Pre-Retirement Designation of Beneficiary form to PERS to update your Individual Account Program (IAP) beneficiary before you retire.
If you wish to change your beneficiary as the result of a divorce before retirement, your ability to do so may depend on what your divorce decree allows. See PERS’ Get Divorced webpage for more information.
When you apply for retirement
At the time you file your PERS retirement application, you can choose anyone – but only one person – as your beneficiary, if you would like a pension option to be paid for your lifetime and for a beneficiary’s lifetime. More information on the options are available in the Pre-Retirement Guide.
Yes, if you meet the following conditions:
- It has been one calendar month since you stopped working for your last PERS-participating employer and you have not worked for any other PERS-participating employer since. This includes substitute, temporary, and on-call positions.
To request a withdrawal, you must submit a completed Member Account Withdrawal Application form.
The amount of your withdrawal(s) will be the total of your Tier One/Tier Two and/or Individual Account Program (IAP) account balance(s) at the time of withdrawal. Withdrawals will not include matching funds from your employer. And you cannot withdraw either of these accounts separately. If you want to withdraw one, you must withdraw all accounts, which will end your membership in PERS.
By ending your membership, you forfeit all membership rights and future benefits provided by PERS. This forfeiture means you will not receive any PERS pension benefits upon retirement, even if you were fully vested at the time you elected the withdrawal.
Keep in mind if you withdraw before age 59 ½, you could be subject to an additional income tax penalty.
For more information, go to PERS’ Withdrawal/Inactive Member Information webpage.
Talk to PERS
Member Services can answer your questions about PERS retirement benefits from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call 888-320-7377 or email PERS.Member.Services@state.or.us. You also can use PERS’ Submit a Question form online.
PERS also offers group education workshops that cover membership, benefits, and retirement information. These workshops are for members at any stage in their careers and are held around the state. Expanded workshops that include financial planning information also are available.
To learn more, go to PERS’ Tier One/Tier Two Education Presentations webpage.
Your employer also can request a group session to go over PERS benefits by contacting Member Services or the Employer Service Center.
Retirement application help
When you are within 90 days of your PERS retirement date, you can attend a Retirement Application Assistance Session (RAAS). This 45-minute, one-on-one appointment with a PERS staff member provides an opportunity to have your retirement application reviewed and notarized at no cost. The staff member will answer any questions you have about the retirement process. Be advised that PERS staff cannot advise or counsel you about your decision to retire nor which benefit distribution options to choose.
News and announcements
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