Public Safety Employees' Retirement System (PSERS)

Frequently Asked Questions

PSERS became effective July 1, 2006
1. What is the Public Safety Employees' Retirement System?
The Public Safety Employees' Retirement System (PSERS) was created by the 2004 Legislature. It establishes a separate system for certain public employees whose jobs contain a high degree of physical risk to their own personal safety.
2. Who is eligible to be a member of PSERS?
Members of Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) Plan 2 and Plan 3 that are employed by a PSERS employer on or before July 1, 2006, on a full-time basis, who meet at least one of the criteria listed below will have the option to become a member of PSERS.
  • Employees hired on or after July 1, 2006 by a PSERS employer, or on or after July 22, 2007, if you're hired by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), on a full-time basis that meet at least one of the criteria listed below will become PSERS members.
  • PERS Plan 1 members will not have the option to join PSERS.

To be eligible for PSERS, employees must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Completion of a certified criminal justice training course with authority to arrest, conduct criminal investigations, enforce the criminal laws of Washington, and carry a firearm as part of the job;
  • Primary responsibility is to ensure the custody and security of incarcerated or probationary individuals;
  • Function as a limited authority Washington peace officer, as defined in RCW 10.93.020; or
  • Primary responsibility is to supervise eligible members who meet the above criteria.
3. I thought I had to be in a certain job class to be in PSERS - has this changed?
Yes. The 2006 Legislature amended the original PSERS legislation. The result is that as long as you are employed by a PSERS employer AND meet at least one of the criteria listed above, you are eligible to elect PSERS membership.
4. Who are the PSERS employers?
The following employers are included in PSERS:

Cities

  • All Washington State cities except Seattle, Tacoma and Spokane

Counties

  • All Washington State counties

State

  • Department of Corrections
  • Parks and Recreation Commission
  • Gambling Commission
  • State Patrol
  • Liquor Control Board
  • Department of Natural Resources (as of July 22, 2007)
5. What is the difference between PERS and PSERS?
The major difference between PERS and PSERS is that PSERS will provide full retirement benefits at age 65 with at least five years of service credit or at age 60 with 10 years of PSERS service. For those with at least 20 years of service, early retirement will be available at age 53, with a benefit reduction of three percent per year from age sixty.
6. Does PSERS replace the Law Enforcement Officers' and Fire Fighters' (LEOFF) Retirement System?
No. PSERS is a new retirement system in addition to, but not in replacement of, LEOFF. While some employees in PSERS eligible positions may have similar job responsibilities as those covered by LEOFF, these are two separate retirement systems intended for two separate groups.
7. Do LEOFF members have the option to join PSERS?
No. Only members of PERS Plan 2 or 3 who are employed by a PSERS employer in a PSERS position before July 1, 2006, or on or after July 22, 2007, if hired by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), will have the option to join PSERS.
8. I meet the listed PSERS eligibility criteria but I only work part-time. Am I eligible to join PSERS?
No. Only employees who are employed on a full-time basis by a PSERS employer are eligible for PSERS.
9. How do I get more information?
The following PSERS information is available through your employer or on the DRS Web site:

Additional PSERS information is available in the Retirement Outlook newsletter, and on this Web site. You may also contact DRS.