PERS Plan Rules
Employees working in eligible positions for PERS employers must be enrolled as members. This section outlines current rules for membership in PERS. For prior period membership rules, see Membership Rules for Prior Periods. If you have questions about PERS eligibility, please call Employer Support Services (ESS).
PERS Plan 1, 2 or 3
- Plan rules are the same for PERS Plan 1, 2, and 3, unless otherwise noted.
- Refer to PERS Membership Definitions section for Plan 1, Plan 2, or Plan 3 definitions.
- Prior retirement membership impacts current PERS Plan membership. Use Member Reporting Verification (MRV) to view an employee's prior retirement status before determining in which plan to enroll a new employee.
- If you have questions about PERS eligibility, please contact ESS
How Eligibility Is Determined
The employer is responsible for the determination of the employee's eligibility for membership. The primary determination of eligibility for PERS is based upon the position. An employee who worked for one month in an eligible position before quitting would be entitled to PERS membership. In PERS, there are two ways a position can be eligible. A position is eligible if:
The position normally requires at least five months each year in which regular compensation is earned for at least 70 hours per month. [RCW 41.40.010(11)(a), WAC 415-108-680]
- As used in this definition, "normally" means a position that requires at least five months of at least 70 hours for 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. [WAC 415-108-010]
- "Year" 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. [WAC 415-108-010]
The position is occupied by an elected official or person appointed directly by the Governor for compensation. [RCW 41.40.010(11)(b)]
To determine if a position is eligible, you may find it helpful to ask the following three questions.
- Will the position ever require 70 or more hours of compensated employment in a month?
- If the answer is no, the position is not eligible.
- If the answer is yes, ask question 2.
- Will the position ever require five or more months with at least 70 hours of compensated employment per month in a 12-month period?
- If the answer is no, the position is not eligible.
- If the answer is yes, ask question 3.
- Will the position normally meet this standard? That is, will the position require five months of 70 hours during each of two consecutive years?
- If the answer is no, the position is not eligible.
- If the answer is yes, the position is eligible.
Employees in Ineligible Positions Cannot Be Members
An employee hired into an ineligible position is not eligible for membership in PERS and is not to be reported on the transmittal.
An ineligible position is one that normally does not require at least five months each year in which regular compensation is earned for at least 70 hours per month.
Example #1: A position requires part-time work for 60 hours each month for the entire year.
Example #2: A position requires full-time work for 3 months each year.
Example #3: A new position is created that is funded for only one year and will then cease to exist. The new position will require full-time work.
Be sure to review ineligible positions at least annually and document your eligibility determinations using the Position Eligibility Worksheet, or you may develop a form to document eligibility decisions for your organization.
Exceptions to Position Eligibility
In some circumstances a person may establish or continue membership even if he or she is employed in an ineligible position.
- A PERS member who leaves an eligible position to serve in a project position will continue in membership if the position requires at least 70 hours per month and the employee accepts the position conditioned on returning to a permanent eligible position at the completion of the project. [WAC 415-108-680(2) and WAC 415-108-010]
- If an employee, in an ineligible position, made member contributions for at least nine months, the employee will be treated as having been in an eligible position during such period of employment. When it is discovered the position is ineligible, submit an end date on the next transmittal report and stop reporting the employee to DRS. [RCW 41.40.028]
- A PERS disability retiree may not establish PERS membership if employed in an eligible position unless receiving comparable compensation. [RCW 41.40.310 and 41.40.670]
- A retiree from SERS, TRS, LEOFF Plan 1 or WSPRS that retired with 15 or more years of service may not establish PERS membership if employed in an eligible position, unless the retiree established PERS membership prior to March 1, 1976. [RCW 41.04.270 and WAC 419-108-725]
Determining Plan Membership When Hiring a New Employee
Current membership status is impacted by prior retirement membership history. Use Member Reporting Verification (MRV) to determine if the member has prior membership history with DRS. Next, select from the following to determine current plan membership. You are hiring/reporting a:
- Hiring a Retiree
- Employee Working in One Eligible Position
- Employee Working in More than One PERS-Covered Position for the Same Employer
- Employee Working Concurrently in More than One Retirement System
- PERS Plan 1 Working as an Educational Substitute
- Justice or Judge Choosing PERS Membership
Hiring a Retiree
- When reporting a retiree returning to work, special rules apply, whether working in an eligible position, in an ineligible position, as a contractor, or as a substitute. Those rules are summarized in the Retiree Reporting Charts.
- Use the same eligibility criteria for retiree and active member positions. All retirees who return to work in an eligible or ineligible position must be reported on the transmittal report.
- Generally, retirees who are performing services for an employer as a contractor are exempt from the retiree reporting requirements. However, employers must report any PERS Plan 2 or 3 retiree, who retired using the 2008 ERF and has not attained age 65; if they are directly compensated for services performed as a contractor or any other similiar compensated relationship. These contractors should be reported as if they are in an ineligible position.
- If a retiree chooses to reenter membership, the retiree must contact DRS. Report as a Retiree Return to Work until notified by DRS to report as an active member.
- A PERS retiree who returns to work in an eligible position is not required to return to PERS membership but may elect to do so.
- A retiree from SERS, TRS, LEOFF Plan 1 or WSPRS that retired with 15 or more years of service may not establish PERS membership if employed in an eligible position. [RCW 41.04.270]
- A PERS member who has retired on disability may be required to reenter membership if returning to work at a job with a salary comparable to the salary earned before the disability. If hiring a PERS disability retiree, notify PERS Retirement Services.
- See the Employer Handbook Chapter 5 Employing Retirees and the New Hire Pyramid Retirees for additional information.
Employee Working In One Eligible Position
Current plan membership status is impacted by prior retirement membership history. Use Member Reporting Verification (MRV) to determine if the member has prior membership history with DRS, then select from the following reporting tools to determine in which plan to enroll a member:
- No Prior Membership - Use to determine the correct plan for a new employee hired into a PERS eligible position when there is no prior PERS membership history.
- Has Prior Membership Member - Use to determine the correct plan for a new employee hired into a PERS eligible position when the employee has prior membership history.
Employee Working Concurrently In More Than One Retirement System
An employee may work for you in a position that would be covered by PERS and in a position that would be covered by another retirement system; e.g., TRS or LEOFF. In such a case, the employee's eligibility for membership depends upon the types of positions the employee occupies. Refer to the following types of concurrent employment:
PERS or LEOFF Members
|Type of Concurrent Employment
||Type of Employer(s)
||System in which to Report Member
|Eligible PERS position and less than full time law enforcement officer or fire fighter service
||Employee is eligible for PERS membership. Report all compensation, contributions, and service (PERS + law enforcement or fire fighter service) under PERS on the transmittal. [PERS WAC 415-108-700]
|Ineligible PERS position and less than full time law enforcement officer or fire fighter service
||Employee eligible for PERS membership if the combined hours of employment meet the definition of an eligible position in PERS. If the employee is eligible, report all compensation, contributions, and service (PERS + law enforcement or fire fighter service) under PERS on the transmittal. [PERS WAC 415-108-700 ]
|Ineligible PERS position and full time law enforcement officer or fire fighter position
||Employee is eligible for membership in LEOFF. Report only the compensation, contributions, and service in the LEOFF position under LEOFF on the transmittal. Do not report the employment in the ineligible PERS position. [LEOFF WAC 415-104-301]
Refer to Membership in Another Retirement System May Be Exempt From Membership for additional information.
PERS Plan 1 Working as an Educational Substitute
A PERS Plan 1 employee working as an educational substitute is not reported on the transmittal report if working in an ineligible position. It is recommended that you monitor the ineligible position at least annually for a change in eligibility status.
However, if the PERS Plan 1 substitute employment is combined concurrently with TRS employment, refer to School District & ESD Substitutes found in the New Hire Pyramid for the applicable reporting chart.
Employee Working in More than One PERS-Covered Position for the Same Employer
All work an employee performs for you in a given month must be taken into account when determining an employee's eligibility for membership. If the employee's combined hours of employment meet the definition of an eligible position and if this is the employee's normal pattern of employment, the employee is eligible for PERS membership.
[WAC 415-108-700] An employee's eligibility for membership is based only on his or her employment with you. An employee cannot combine hours of employment in positions with separate employers to establish membership in PERS.
Example #1: An employee normally works for you for 40 hours each month as a cook and for 40 hours each month as a bus driver.
Explanation: The employee is eligible for membership. The employee works a total of 80 hours each month for at least five months each year and this is the normal pattern of employment.
Example #2: An employee normally works for you for 40 hours each month as a cook. For one year, the employee takes on extra duties and works 40 hours per month as a bus driver.
Explanation: The employee is not eligible for membership. Although the employee works 80 hours each month for five or more months during the year, this is not the normal pattern of employment.
Example #3: An employee works for you for 40 hours each month as a cook and works for another employer for 40 hours each month as a bus driver.
Explanation: The employee is not eligible for membership. The employee cannot combine the hours of employment with separate employers to establish membership.
Return to Determining Plan Membership
Justice or Judge Choosing PERS Membership May Qualify for the Judges Benefit Multiplier Program (JBM)
The Judges Benefit Multiplier (JBM) Program creates a new option for justices and judges who choose PERS membership to increase the benefit multiplier used in their retirement benefit calculation.
JBM Begins January 1, 2007
- Beginning January 1, 2007 through December 31, 2007, PERS members who are currently serving as justices or judges may make a one-time irrevocable election to join the JBM Program, and terminate JRA membership if applicable.
- Newly elected or appointed justices or judges on or after January 1, 2007 who choose to join PERS are mandated into JBM.
- Justices or judges with prior PERS membership will continue in their prior PERS Plan.
- Prior PERS members who had the right to transfer from PERS Plan 2 to PERS Plan 3 before becoming a JBM member will continue to have Plan 2 to Plan 3 transfer rights.
- Prior PERS members who separated from previous employment prior to 90 days and did not choose Plan 2 or Plan 3 before separating will continue to have Plan 2 or Plan 3 choice rights.
- Justices and judges currently contributing to JRA who do not elect to join the JBM program can continue contributing to JRA. New judicial PERS members cannot contribute to JRA.
- Judges appointed to non-elective positions are mandated into PERS if the position is defined as an eligible position and into the JBM program.
Note: The JBM program is also available to judges who are members of the Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) Plan 1 serving in the Supreme, Appeals or Superior Courts.
Who Is Eligible to Participate in JBM?
You are eligible if you are a justice or judge of the following courts and you are also a member of PERS:
- Supreme Court
- Court of Appeals
- Superior Court
- District Court
- Municipal Court
Elected Justices and Judges Must Apply for PERS Membership
Judges and justices that are elected or appointed to an elected position are exempt from PERS membership. They have the option to be in PERS and must make a written application to the Director of DRS to establish or to continue membership in PERS. Refer employees to Elected Officials for more information on how to apply for membership if elected or appointed to state or local office.
When the individual has received written acceptance from the Director of DRS, report the member on the transmittal as a PERS member, using the appropriate PERS JBM type code. Membership and reporting will be required retroactively to the first day of the term of office or appointment. Refer to Special Reporting Requirements - PERS JBM for reporting informaton.
If the judge is appointed to a non-elected position and the position meets the PERS eligibility requirements, the person is mandated into PERS JBM. Monitor ineligible positions and document your eligibility decision on the Position Eligibility Worksheet.
If the individual is a Retiree Returning to Work, refer to Hiring a Retiree.
Forms to Provide JBM
After the individual has received written acceptance from DRS for PERS membership, Use MRV to determine prior retirement membership, then provide the appropriate forms.
Current Employee Electing JBM
- JBM Election Form (Needed only during the JBM election window from January 1, 2007 through December 31, 2007)
New Employee - Prior Participation in JBM
New Employee - New Member of PERS
JBM PERS Plan 3 Rule Changes
- No Plan Choice
- New PERS JBM members are mandated into PERS Plan 2, with no Plan 2 or Plan 3 choice rights.
- Member Contribution Rate Options:
- Plan 3 members can't choose the following rate options:
- At all ages, 'A' or 'D'
- If less than age 35, 'C'
- If less than age 45, 'B'
For more information on reporting PERS JBM members to DRS, refer to Chapter 8, PERS JBM.