Frequently Asked Questions: Public Safety Employees' Retirement System (PSERS)

Employer questions about PSERS eligibility

  1. Must an employee meet all four of the sections in the membership criteria?

    No, to qualify as a member of PSERS a member need only meet one of the four criteria specified in RCW 41.37.010(5). This RCW was changed on March 29, 2006, by new legislation 2685-S.SL. We have listed the changes below because the changes have not yet been posted to the Code Reviser Web site.

    (5) "Member" means any employee employed by an employer on a full-time basis:

    (a) Who is in a position that requires completion of a certified criminal justice training course and is authorized by their employer to arrest, conduct criminal investigations, enforce the criminal laws of the state of Washington, and carry a firearm as part of the job; or
    (b) Whose primary responsibility is to ensure the custody and security of incarcerated or probationary individuals as a corrections officer, probation officer, or jailer; or
    (c) Who is a limited authority Washington peace officer, as defined in RCW 10.93.020, for an employer; or
    (d) Whose primary responsibility is to supervise members eligible under this subsection.

  2. Does a member qualifying under section (a) need to meet all of that section?

    Yes, the member qualifying by section (a) must be required to complete a certified criminal justice training course, must be authorized to arrest, must be authorized to conduct criminal investigations, must be authorized to enforce the criminal laws of the state of Washington and must be authorized to carry a firearm as part of the job.

  3. 3. Section (a) says the employee must be authorized to carry a gun, does that mean they have to carry a gun all the time?

    No, to meet the criteria in (a) the employee must be authorized by their employer to carry a firearm. They need not carry the firearm at all times.

  4. Does an employee have to be a corrections officer, probation officer or a jailer to qualify under section (b)?

    No, to qualify under section (b) an employee's primary responsibility must be to ensure the custody and security of incarcerated or probationary individuals. The titles provide examples of certain positions that typically perform this responsibility.

    Helpful questions might be: Is the position more like law enforcement than counseling? When you recruit for this position, do you look more for law enforcement qualities or teaching, counseling, or other skills or qualities?

  5. Does a probation officer or counselor qualify under section (b)?

    If the position's primary responsibility is to monitor offender compliance with sentence requirements, the position is eligible for PSERS.

    Helpful questions might be: Is the position more like law enforcement than counseling? When you recruit for this position, do you look for law enforcement qualities or teaching and counseling qualities?

  6. Should the amount of physical risk enter into the eligibility decision?

    PSERS is intended for employees with a high degree of personal physical risk; however, they must meet at least one of the four criteria to be a PSERS member.

  7. How do we determine “primary responsibility”?

    A position’s primary responsibility is the main basis for the position.

    Helpful questions might be: What is the main reason for this position? Is being able to physically detain an inmate the major criteria for this position?

  8. Is everyone that supervises a PSERS member eligible?

    No, only those whose primary responsibility is to directly supervise PSERS members are eligible.

  9. What other qualifying criteria must an employee meet for PSERS eligibility?

    The employee must be working fulltime in a permanent position.

  10. If an eligible member is on military leave through the entire election window, can they be allowed to choose PSERS membership after September 30th when they return from military leave?

    Yes, serving in the United States Armed Forces should not prevent an eligible member from becoming a member of PSERS.

  11. What if a PERS position was eligible for PSERS membership, but isn't recognized until after September 30th and the end of the election period?

    If this happens, please contact DRS.

  12. What if our city or county does not have a corrections department?

    DRS is defining corrections department as any unit of local government that employs members who perform duties that meet the PSERS membership criteria. The employers must report these individuals appropriately.

  13. If a PERS Plan 2 or Plan 3 member is working in a position prior to and on July 1, 2006 and that position is determined to be PSERS eligible, what are that employee's options?

    The employee may choose between continuing membership in PERS or becoming a member of PSERS and a dual member. The employee should receive an election packet from their employer.

  14. What if the PERS member decides to join PSERS membership?

    The member must complete an election form and return it to their employer by September 30, 2006. PSERS membership is prospective from the date of election.

  15. What if the PERS member decides not to join PSERS membership?

    The member will remain in PERS as long as they remain employed with their current employer. Additional promotions, demotions, or lateral moves do not affect membership. However, if the member accepts employment with another employer in a PSERS eligible position, the member will be mandated into PSERS.

Questions?

Watch our Web site for more information on the Public Safety Employees' Retirement System Plan 2. Please respond to all requests for information if you wish to be included in future communications. For additional information, contact Employer Support Services.