PERS Plan 2 and PERS Plan 3 Rules for Governor-Appointed Officials

Last Updated October 2017
Print Version

If you have never been a member of a DRS-covered retirement plan or you are or were a Plan 2 or Plan 3 member of the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS), Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS), School Employees’ Retirement System (SERS) or Law Enforcement Officers’ and Fire Fighters’ Retirement System (LEOFF) when the governor appointed you to office, you may choose whether to participate in PERS Plan 2 or Plan 3 while in your appointed position. You aren’t required to join membership.

When may I apply for membership?

You may apply for membership at any time while serving in your appointed position. If you enter membership after your appointment has begun, your membership will be retroactive to the first day of your appointed service. You will be required to pay employee contributions plus interest back to that date.

If your current governor-appointed position doesn’t have a set term of office, your “current term of office” includes all uninterrupted service beginning with the first day of your current appointment.

Your membership decision is final. Once you join retirement system membership, you must remain a member until you separate from all eligible public employment. If you serve an additional term of office with the same employer without a break in service, you will remain a retirement system member.

May I receive credit for past service?

As a governor-appointed official, you aren’t eligible to purchase service credit for previous terms of governor-appointed service. However, you may purchase service credit for your previous terms in elected PERS-covered positions.

To purchase service credit, you must pay the required employee and employer contributions plus interest for your previous term or terms of elected service. To find out the cost, contact DRS. Your employer might choose to pay the required employer contributions and interest for you.

How much service credit will I earn in my appointed position?

The amount of service credit you earn factors into your monthly benefit in retirement. As a PERS Plan 2 or Plan 3 governor-appointed official, you earn service credit as follows:

  • For service on or after Sept. 1, 1991: You receive one month of service credit for 90 or more hours of compensated work. If you work between 70 and 90 hours, you earn one-half a service credit month. If you work between one and 69 hours, you earn one-quarter a service credit month.
  • For service prior to Sept. 1, 1991: You receive service credit for only those months in which you worked for at least 90 hours and earned compensation in excess of 90 times the state hourly minimum wage.

How much will my benefit be?

Once vested and meeting your plan’s age requirement, your service retirement benefit will be based on one of the following formulas:

  • Plan 2
    2% x service credit years x Average Final Compensation (AFC) = monthly benefit
  • Plan 3 (defined benefit portion only)
    1% x service credit years x Average Final Compensation (AFC) = monthly benefit

In most cases, your AFC is the monthly average of your 60 consecutive highest-paid service credit months. To learn more, read the PERS Plan 2 Handbook or PERS Plan 3 Handbook, available on the DRS website.

How much will I contribute to my retirement plan?

Plan 2: You must contribute a percentage of your salary or wages to your retirement plan. The Pension Funding Council adopts contribution rates and periodically adjusts them to reflect the overall cost of the plan. The Legislature has the final decision on contribution rates.

Plan 3: The amount you contribute depends on the contribution rate option you choose. Plan 3 features six contribution rate options ranging between 5% and 15% that, once selected, may only be changed if you change employers.

What if I am already a PERS retiree when appointed?

If you are a retired PERS Plan 2 or Plan 3 member when the governor appoints you to office, you have two choices:

  • Remain retired and continuing to receive your monthly benefit while in office. You will be subject to retiree return-to-work rules for your system and plan. For more information, see PERS/SERS/TRS Plans 2 and 3 Thinking About Working After Retirement?
  • Return to active membership while in office. If you return to active membership, you will stop receiving your monthly benefit. You will resume making contributions to PERS Plan 2 or Plan 3 and accumulating service credit prospectively from the first day of the month following the date DRS accepts your application.

How do I choose to participate?

To begin, continue or reestablish membership, contact DRS. Provide the following information:

  • Name
  • Social Security number
  • Address and phone number
  • Position title and employer
  • Beginning date of current governor-appointed service
  • Beginning and ending dates of any prior elected official service

DRS will then send you a letter and application.

Summary

This content is a summary. It isn't a complete description. State retirement laws govern your benefit. If a conflict exists between the information here and what is contained in current law, the law governs.