Employer Handbook


Chapter 2: Membership

SERS Membership

Definitions

The following definitions are given for the terms that are used in the SERS Membership section of the Employer Handbook. For additional terms, refer to the Handbook Glossary.

Comparable Compensation refers to the compensation a disability retiree receives from an employer that makes him or her eligible to return to SERS membership when all conditions are met. DRS compares the retiree's current compensation to the compensation received prior to the disability retirement to determine comparable compensation.

Compensated employment means salaries or wages earned for hours of employment.

Eligible position is one that normally requires at least five months each year in which regular compensation is earned for at least 70 hours per month in each of two consecutive years.

Normally, as used in the definition of an eligible position, means a position that requires at least five months each year in which regular compensation is earned for at least 70 hours in each of two consecutive years. Once a position is determined to be eligible, it will continue to be eligible if it requires at least five months of 70 or more hours of compensated service during at least one year in any two-year period.

Plan 2 refers to an employee who:

  • Established membership in a SERS eligible position at a school district or Educational Service District (ESD) during the period October 1, 1977 – August 31, 2000; or

Note: On or after 10/1/77 and prior to 9/1/2000, SERS did not exist and classified employees working for school districts and educational service districts held PERS Plan 2 membership.

  • Beginning July 1, 2007, a new member who chose Plan 2. New and potential SERS members hired into eligible positions with no prior PERS Plan 2 service have up to 90 days to choose Plan 2 or Plan 3 or the employer defaults them to Plan 3.
  • New members of SERS with prior PERS Plan 2 service are mandated into SERS Plan 2 [WAC 415-110-910]. These members have a January Transfer Option to Plan 3.

For more detailed information, refer to chapter 8, Plan Choice Reporting.

Plan 3 refers to:

  • An employee who established membership in an eligible position at a school district or Educational Service District (ESD) on or after September 1, 2000 through June 30, 2007 and who had no prior PERS Plan 2 service; or
  • Beginning July 1, 2007, a new member or potential member who chose Plan 3, or was defaulted to Plan 3. New members with no prior PERS Plan 2 service beginning July 1, 2007 have up to 90 calendar days to choose between Plan 2 or Plan 3, or the employer defaults them into Plan 3 [RCW 41.35.610] or
  • A SERS Plan 2 member who had SERS Plan 2 membership prior to July 1, 2007, then elected during the month of January to transfer to Plan 3 [RCW 41.35.510]

For more detailed information, refer to chapter 8, Plan Choice Reporting.

Position refers to a group of duties and responsibilities normally assigned to an employee. A position may be filled or vacant, full time or part time, seasonal, temporary or permanent.

Potential member in SERS is someone who has worked in an ineligible or substitute classified position at a school district or educational service district, but hasn't purchased their substitute service credit and hasn't established membership in SERS.

SERS Substitute is defined as "any classified employee who is employed as a substitute for an absent employee or working in an ineligible position." [ WAC 415-110-010(9)].

Year, as used in the definition of an eligible position, means any 12 consecutive month period established, and applied consistently, by an employer to evaluate the eligibility of a specific position. In the case of ongoing positions, the year used by the employer must be the same for all positions. In the case of a project or temporary position, the year used may be specific to the position. The term may include, but is not limited to, a school year, calendar year or fiscal year. Employers should document the 12-month period used to define a year for a given position; e.g., January through December, September through August, April through March, etc.