ORBIT

Current Employees Nearing Retirement

Upcoming Retirement Planning Conferences

Teachers and State Employees should attend TSERS events, and Local Governmental Employees should attend LGERS events

When: 08/18/2020 - 9:30a.m. to 11:30a.m. Where:

Webinar attendance is available to the first 500 registrants. An email confirmation will provide a link to the webinar. You will also receive a reminder email the day of the event that includes the link to the webinar.

When: 08/18/2020 - 1:30p.m. to 3:30p.m. Where:

Webinar attendance is available to the first 500 registrants. An email confirmation will provide a link to the webinar. You will also receive a reminder email the day of the event that includes the link to the webinar.

When: 09/03/2020 - 9:30a.m. to 11:30a.m. Where:

Webinar attendance is available to the first 500 registrants. An email confirmation will provide a link to the webinar. You will also receive a reminder email the day of the event that includes the link to the webinar.

When: 09/03/2020 - 3:00p.m. to 4:30p.m. Where:

Webinar attendance is available to the first 500 registrants. An email confirmation will provide a link to the webinar. You will also receive a reminder email the day of the event that includes the link to the webinar.

Applying for Retirement Benefits Frequently Asked Questions

How long does retirement processing take?

How long does retirement processing take?

It takes about 90 days for the Retirement Systems Division to process a retirement application.

If I am reduced in force and decide to apply for retirement benefits following the end of severance/salary continuation payments, when should I complete an application to retire?

If I am reduced in force and decide to apply for retirement benefits following the end of severance/salary continuation payments, when should I complete an application to retire?

Monthly retirement benefits are effective the first day of any month; however, a retirement application must be signed, dated, and filed at least one day and not more than 120 days prior to the effective date of retirement.

Approximately 90 to 120 days before your planned retirement date, you should complete a Form 6, “Claiming Your Monthly Retirement Benefit.” Please see the guides on Form 6 for additional detailed information about the retirement process. Form 6 is available on the Retirement System’s ORBIT​ website.

Is it possible to cancel my application for retirement if I find other employment?

Is it possible to cancel my application for retirement if I find other employment?

Yes. You may cancel your application for retirement if you have not cashed your first retirement check (which will be mailed to you), or before the 25th of the month following the month your check was mailed, whichever occurs first.

When am I considered officially retired?

When am I considered officially retired?

You are considered retired when you cash your first retirement check (which will be mailed to you), or on the 25th of the month following the month your check is mailed, whichever is earlier.

I had been retired just a few months when the amount of my retirement benefit changed. Why?

I had been retired just a few months when the amount of my retirement benefit changed. Why?

Your retirement benefit is generally based, in part, upon the salary earned and reported to the Retirement System during your last 4 consecutive years of employment. Many times, verification of the salary paid for your final month of employment is not received in the Retirement Systems Division until after your first retirement payment has been issued. Consequently, your retirement benefit amount must be adjusted, either up or down, in the event the projected salary figures (provided by your employer prior to your retirement) do not equal the actual payments of salary you received.

May I change the beneficiary or optional payment plan I selected at any time during the retirement process or after retirement?

May I change the beneficiary or optional payment plan I selected at any time during the retirement process or after retirement?

You can change your beneficiary for a monthly survivor benefit or payment option at any time prior to cashing your first retirement check but no later than the 25th of the month following the month your first check is mailed. After this time, you will not be allowed to change your beneficiary or payment option, unless: (i) you have elected a survivorship benefit and your beneficiary is your spouse from whom you become divorced after retirement, or (ii) you return to employment covered by the Retirement System from which you retired and contribute to a new retirement account for at least three years.

Also, under Option 2 (100% survivorship) and Option 3 (50% survivorship), if at retirement you designated your spouse for your survivor benefits and this spouse dies before you, and you subsequently remarry, you may name your new spouse as your beneficiary within 90 days of your marriage (and if this change is properly filed with the Retirement System within 120 days of remarriage) under the same option with an additional reduction in your benefit amount. As a retiree, you can change your beneficiary for the guaranteed refund at any time in ORBIT, or by completing and submitting Form 336, "Designating Beneficiary(ies) for the Guaranteed Refund as a Retiree" to the Retirement System.

What steps must I take to begin my monthly retirement benefits?

What steps must I take to begin my monthly retirement benefits?

Once you decide to retire and meet the eligibility requirements for monthly benefits, there are certain steps which must be taken to begin the retirement process. 

Monthly retirement benefits are effective the first day of any month, and your retirement application must be signed, dated, and filed with the Retirement System at least 1 day and not more than 120 days prior to the effective date of retirement. 

Approximately 120 to 90 days before your planned retirement date, you should complete a Form 6, "Claiming Your Monthly Retirement Benefit." Please see the guides on the Form 6 for additional detailed information about the retirement process. Or, you can use the Online Retirement Application in ORBIT. More information about the online retirement applicattion can be found here.

If you contribute to the Retirement System during the 6 months before your effective date of retirement, your employer should complete the employer certification section (Section H) of the Form 6 before the form is sent to the Retirement System. 

If you have contributed to the Retirement System during the 6 months before your effective date of retirement and your employer has not completed the employer certification section, the Retirement System will then have to request this information from your employer, which will delay the processing of your application. 

Upon receipt of your Form 6, the Retirement System will send you an acknowledgment letter which will include instructions on your next steps in the retirement process. You will also be sent a Form 170, “Authorizing Direct Deposit,” and, if you are a Teachers' and State Employees' Retirement System retiree, information on auto enrollment in the State Health Plan retiree group coverage.

In addition, you will have an opportunity to elect coverage under the optional $10,000 Contributory Death Benefit for Retired Members. Your election must be made within 60 days from the effective date of your retirement. Information about the cost and coverage provisions will be sent to you shortly after the Retirement System receives your retirement application. 

You will later receive an estimate of the maximum allowance you can receive and the payment options. Along with the estimates, you will receive a Form 6E, “Choosing Your Retirement Payment Option”, a "Choosing Income Tax Withholding Preferences" form (Form 290) and a Form 336, "Designating Beneficiary(ies) for the Guaranteed Refund as a Retiree." 

On the Form 6E, you will choose your payment plan. Return the completed Form 6E directly to the Retirement System. 

The Retirement System will not be able to pay monthly retirement benefits to you until we have received your properly completed Form 6E. If you elect not to respond within 120 days after preliminary option figures for retirement and Form 6E have been mailed to you or within 120 days after your effective retirement date, whichever is later, then your Form 6 is void and a new Form 6 must be filed.

Which optional payment arrangement should I elect at retirement?

Which optional payment arrangement should I elect at retirement?

The optional payment arrangement you elect at retirement is a personal decision. In making this decision, you should consider your financial needs, the possible financial needs of your beneficiary, if any, your health and the health of your beneficiary. Your decision should never be based on what other members have previously done. For more information about the optional payment arrangements available to you, please review the detailed explanations of the options in your applicable retirement handbook.

Will I lose benefits if I am late filing my retirement application?

Will I lose benefits if I am late filing my retirement application?

Monthly retirement benefits are effective the first day of any month. A retirement application must be signed, dated, and filed at least one day and not more than 120 days prior to the effective date of retirement. 

A delay in filing the Form 6, “Claiming Your Monthly Retirement Benefit,” could delay the first benefit payment. Since the Retirement System processes retirement applications based on the date they are received, the earlier that you file the Form 6 (within the 120-day period), the sooner you will receive the “Choosing Your Retirement Payment Option” form (Form 6E sample) from our office. In other words, even though you are eligible to file your retirement paperwork just one day prior to the effective date of your retirement, the likelihood of your receiving payment of your retirement benefit within the same month of your effective retirement is greatly diminished. If retroactive benefits are payable, your first benefit payment will then include the amount that you are retroactively entitled to receive as of your effective date of retirement. Therefore, we recommend that after you have made your decision to retire, that you file your Form 6 as close to the 120-day advance period as possible in order to increase the likelihood of receiving a retirement payment within the month for which your retirement is effective. 

Please also note that if you elect not to respond within 120 days after preliminary option figures for retirement and Form 6E have been mailed to you, then your “Claiming Your Monthly Retirement Benefit” form, Form 6 is void and a new Form 6 must be filed.

How is a sick leave “day” determined?

How is a sick leave “day” determined?

​A sick leave “day” is determined by your employer’s sick leave accrual policy and may or may not be equal to 8 hours. For example, assume John Smith earns 1 day of sick leave per month under his employer’s sick leave accrual policy while working an extended shift of 12 hours per day and he accrues 12 hours of sick leave each month. When his employer certifies his unused sick leave on his retirement application (Form 6), for each 12 hours of eligible unused sick leave, his employer should report 1 day of unused sick leave, rather than 1.5 days.

In another example, assume Mary Brown earns 1 day of sick leave per month while working 7.5 hours per day and accrues 7.5 hours of sick leave each month. When her employer certifies her unused sick leave on her Form 6, for each 7.5 hours of eligible unused sick leave, her employer should report 1 day of unused sick leave.

Do I actually have to work the last day of my employment before the effective date of retirement or can I use sick or vacation leave for the day?

Do I actually have to work the last day of my employment before the effective date of retirement or can I use sick or vacation leave for the day?

Nothing in the retirement laws or regulations requires that you actually work the last working day before the effective date of your retirement. If you are a State employee, it is our understanding from the Office of State Personnel that when you separate from service to retire on an early or service retirement, vacation and leave can be earned or exhausted from the last day you worked until the effective date of your retirement. Please contact your benefits office for more specific information.

How are accumulated unused sick leave, and final payments for unused vacation leave and/or prorated longevity used in calculating my monthly retirement benefit?

How are accumulated unused sick leave, and final payments for unused vacation leave and/or prorated longevity used in calculating my monthly retirement benefit?

Unused sick leave, as described above, increases your creditable service at the rate of one month for each 20 days of unused leave. An additional month of creditable service is allowed for any part of 20 days left over, provided the remaining portion is at least one hour. If your four highest-paid years in a row include a final payment for unused vacation leave and/or prorated longevity, your average final compensation may be increased by the extra payment(s), thus increasing your monthly retirement benefit.

May I use sick leave to complete 30 years of creditable service regardless of my age?

May I use sick leave to complete 30 years of creditable service regardless of my age?

Yes.

When I left my previous governmental employer, I had accumulated unused sick leave. When I retire, may I combine my previous sick leave balance with my former employer to my current leave balance in order to increase my total creditable service?

When I left my previous governmental employer, I had accumulated unused sick leave. When I retire, may I combine my previous sick leave balance with my former employer to my current leave balance in order to increase my total creditable service?

At the time you retire, your current employer will certify to the Retirement System the amount of sick leave you have on your retirement application. The sick leave which is used to increase your creditable service is leave that is earned monthly and for which you would receive full salary if you were absent from work on account of sickness. Therefore, if any of your sick leave is not fully creditable for “sick pay” purposes at the time you retire, then that portion is not creditable for retirement purposes.

Will I qualify for an unreduced retirement benefit when the sum of my age and creditable service equal 85?

Will I qualify for an unreduced retirement benefit when the sum of my age and creditable service equal 85?

No. Under current law, there is no “rule of 85” (meaning your service plus age equals 85) to receive an unreduced, service retirement allowance. You must be at least age 60 and have at least 25 years of creditable service. You may, however, use your unused sick leave to complete your service requirement of 25 years. Your sick leave cannot, however, be used to make you older.