Judicial Benefit Multiplier Program

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Judicial Benefit Multiplier (JBM) Program?

The JBM Program began on January 1, 2007, to give eligible justices and judges an option to increase the benefit multiplier used in their retirement benefit calculation for their judicial service periods of employment.

What is a benefit multiplier?

The benefit multiplier is the percentage component of the calculation used with your number of service credit years, and your average final compensation to determine your benefit amount.

Am I eligible for the JBM Program?

You are eligible if you are a justice or judge of the following courts and you are also a member of the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS)*:

  • Supreme Court
  • Court of Appeals
  • Superior Court
  • District Court
  • Municipal Court

* 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.

Must all justices and judges participate in the JBM Program?

No. However, if you are serving as a justice or judge and choose to become a member of PERS on or after January 1, 2007, you will be required to participate in the JBM Program.

If you were a member of PERS* and were serving as a justice or judge when the JBM Program began, you had the option of participating in the JBM Program.

* 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.

What are the provisions of the JBM Program?

  • Prospectively accrue service credit at a higher multiplier for all judicial service;
  • Make contributions at the higher JBM level;
  • Are subject to the JBM benefit cap; and
  • Do not participate in the Judicial Retirement Account (JRA).

Participants who elected into the JBM program also:

  • Have the option to increase judicial service credit earned before joining JBM to the higher benefit multiplier. See questions #16, 17 and 18.

What PERS Plan will I be in if I participate in the JBM Program?

If you were a past member of PERS, you will continue in your previous plan. If you were never a member of PERS before, you will be in Plan 2.

Am I eligible to participate in the JBM Program if I'm a justice or judge and not currently a member of PERS?

No. You must join PERS* first. Joining PERS may be optional, but if you join after January 1, 2007, you will be required to participate in the JBM program and you will begin accruing service credit at the higher benefit multiplier from the beginning of your term.

* 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.

If I participate in the JBM Program, what will happen to my Judicial Retirement Account (JRA) funds?

If you participate in the JBM Program, you cannot contribute to a JRA. Any JRA funds you have already contributed will remain in your account and you can continue to manage them as before.

How does DRS use the higher benefit multiplier?

The benefit multiplier is used in the formula that determines your benefit amount when you retire. The standard benefit formulas are:

  • For Plans 1 and 2- 2% x Average Final Compensation x Years of Service Credit
  • For Plan 3- 1% x Average Final Compensation x Years of Service Credit

What will my higher benefit multiplier be?

The benefit formula for JBM participants who are members of:

  • Plans 1 and 2 will be raised from 2% to 3.5% per year of judicial service to a maximum benefit of 75% of your average final compensations (AFC).
  • Plan 3 will be raised from 1% to 1.6% per year of judicial service benefit to a maximum benefit of 37.5% of your AFC.

If you are a PERS Plan 1 member, your AFC is calculated by averaging your highest consecutive 24 months (2 years) of salary. If you are in Plan 2 or Plan 3, your AFC is calculated by averaging your highest consecutive 60 months (5 years) of salary.

What will my JBM member contribution rate be?

  Supreme Court Justices, Court of Appeals Judges, Superior Court Judges District Judges, Municipal Judges Current member contribution rate
Plan 1 9.76%
(Plan 1 rate + 3.76%)
12.26%
(Plan 1 rate + 6.26%)
6%
Plan 2 11.13%
(250% x Plan 2 rate - 2.5%)
13.63%
(250% x Plan 2 rate)
5.45%
Plan 3 At least 7.5% At least 7.5% Minimum 5%
TRS Plan 1 9.76%
(Plan 1 rate + 3.76%)
N/A 6%

Why do JBM District and Municipal Court judges pay more in member contributions than Supreme, Appeals and Superior Court judges?

Supreme, Appeals, and Superior Court justices and judges who participate in JBM will pay 2.5% less in member contributions because the 2.5% previously paid by their employer into their JRA account will now go to the PERS trust fund to help fund their JBM benefit. The combined JBM employer and member contribution rate needed to fund the increased benefit is the same for all JBM members.

Will my benefit be capped as part of the JBM Program?

Yes. If you are in PERS Plan 1, PERS Plan 2 or TRS Plan 1 and in the JBM program, your benefit will be capped at 75% of your AFC.  If you are in PERS Plan 3, your benefit will be capped at 37.5% of your AFC.

Will the higher benefit multiplier apply to all my service credit?

It applies to all the judicial service credit you earn while participating in the JBM Program. It also applies to any judicial service credit earned prior to participating in the JBM Program that you have chosen to increase.

Not all justices and judges are eligible to increase past judicial service credit, see question #16.

If I participate in the JBM Program may I purchase additional service credit?

Yes. Whether you choose to join JBM or not, as a member of PERS or TRS, you may purchase up to 5 years of additional service credit at the time you apply for retirement. The additional service credit you purchase is not considered actual membership service credit and can only be purchased when you have already qualified for retirement. (This service credit is not eligible for the increased multiplier.) The purchase of additional service credit will provide you an additional amount that will be added to your monthly retirement benefit. For more information see the Purchasing Additional Service Credit brochure.

Am I eligible to increase past judicial service credit?

If you were a member of PERS* and were serving as a justice or judge when the JBM Program began, you had the option of participating in the JBM Program. If you chose to participate in JBM, you have the option to increase judicial service credit earned before joining JBM to the higher benefit multiplier.

* 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.

What would my cost be to increase the multiplier on past judicial service?

There are two methods that can be used to determine the cost to increase the multiplier on your past judicial service. The two methods are the Percent of Salary at Retirement Method and the Actuarial Method.

What is the Percent of Salary Method?

The Percent of Salary method may be used beginning July 1, 2008 and must be requested when you apply for retirement. The cost for each month you purchase is a percentage of your salary, plus 5.5% annual interest compounded monthly. PERS Plans 1 and 2 JBM members will pay 5% of their salary; PERS Plan 3 JBM members will pay 2.5% of their salary.

  • The cost will be determined beginning with the salary for the latest judicial month being increased.
  • The months you increase cannot cause your benefit to exceed your cap (75% of your AFC for Plan 1 and Plan 2 members or 37.5% of AFC for Plan 3 members).
  • The purchase price, using this method, will not exceed the purchase price using the actuarial method.

What is the Actuarial Method?

The Actuarial Method can be used at any time until you retire. The cost is determined by the following:

  • The number of months you choose to increase to the higher multiplier;
  • Your average final compensation (AFC);
  • An actuarial factor, based on your age at the time your cost is calculated.
  • The formula to calculate the cost is as follows:

Service credit months to increase x AFC x 12 x Actuarial Factor

Can I get an estimate to increase my past judicial service to the higher benefit multiplier?

Yes. You may request an estimate of the cost to increase past judicial service along with your retirement benefit estimate. The estimate to increase past judicial service will show the cost of increasing and the resulting benefit increase.

How may I increase my past judicial service to the higher benefit multiplier?

You must complete a Request to Increase Judicial Multiplier at Retirement form provided by us and return the form to us along with your Application for Retirement form. Your request must include the number of months you want to increase to the higher multiplier. We will send you a bill using the months you indicated on the form. After you pay the bill in full, the additional amount resulting from the purchase will be added to your retirement benefit amount.

Must I increase the multiplier for all of my past judicial service?

No. You are not required to increase any of your prior judicial service. However, the option to increase past judicial service is available to you if you want it. You may increase as many months of past judicial service as you want. However, you must pay for your increase before you retire if you want the service credits to be calculated at the higher multiplier.

Consider the 75% cap and how long you intend to work when determining how much past judicial service to increase. If you pay to increase the multiplier for some of your judicial service and you decide you would like to increase more, you may request another bill.

How can I get more information?

We will continue to update our Web site with new information as it becomes available. We have sent individual notification letters to eligible members. If you have questions or have not received your notification letter, please contact a PERS Judicial Benefit Team member or call us at (360) 664-7966, or toll-free (outside the Olympia area) 1-800-547-6657, ext. 47966.

For more information contact DRS.