Chapter 2: Membership

In this section

  • General information about membership and eligibility for each of the Washington state retirement systems – PERSPSERSSERSTRSLEOFFWSPRS and JRS.

Employer responsibilities

DRS relies on you to help us ensure your employees are enrolled and reported accurately. Employees cannot begin to build their retirement benefit until these steps are completed:

  • Properly classifying workers (employee or independent contractor)
  • Verifying the retirement status of all employees
  • Making the initial determination of an employee’s eligibility for membership
  • Annually reviewing, monitoring and documenting determination of an employee’s eligibility for membership
  • Enrolling each employee who is eligible for membership
  • Reporting all eligible employees from the first day of eligibility
  • Informing DRS when a Washington state retirement system retiree is hired as an employee and, under certain circumstances, when they are compensated for services performed as a contractor or any other similarly compensated relationship
  • Transmitting timely, required employer and employee contributions to DRS

How to evaluate membership

ERA Member Management helps you determine an employee’s eligibility for membership. Information on membership rules used to determine eligibility are included as a guide in each system and plan.

The ERA member management summary below does not give you the complete details about membership rules for each system. Please refer to the appropriate sections later in this chapter for those details.

Step 1:

 You are required by statute RCW 41.50.139 to ask all new employees, independent contractors and third-party workers being compensated for services performed for your agency, whether they have retired from a Washington state retirement system or from certain first class cities (Tacoma, Seattle or Spokane). 

You must also obtain forms to verify the retirement status of employees and other workers. Have employees who you pay through payroll complete a Retirement Status Verification form. Use this form, or one you have developed, and retain it for your records.

To verify the retirement status of workers who are paid through accounts payable or a third party, use the Contractor or Third-Party Worker Retirement Status Verification form (or one you have developed). Retain it for three years beyond your relationship with the worker.

If an employee has ever established membership in a Washington state retirement system, this might affect their current membership eligibility. Additionally, if an employee has previously retired from a Washington state retirement system, returning to work might affect their benefits.

good to know:

Failure to properly report a retiree to DRS can result in a significant liability to the employer for pension overpayments.

DRS recommends that you do not hire employees via a third party to fill positions that are retirement eligible. An employee filling a retirement eligible position must be enrolled into the retirement plan, but if your agency is not paying the person through payroll, it is very difficult to manage the member contribution deductions, reporting of earnings data and the payment of contributions due. 

Step 2:

Use ERA Member Management to verify the information provided by the worker on the Retirement Status Verification form or the Contractor or Third-Party Worker Retirement Status Verification form. 

When you hire a retiree, you must use the transmittal report to inform DRS. If you fail to inform DRS, you could be liable for any pension overpayments made to the retiree. Please refer to the employing retirees section in Chapter 5 for details about reporting and membership requirements for retirees.

Step 3:

After pulling up the member’s history for your review, select ‘determine member eligibility’. Continue with ERA Member Management to evaluate the employee’s eligibility for membership under the rules that apply for the appropriate system and plan.

Step 4:

Determine which forms the employee needs to complete if they’re hired into an eligible position:

Before submitting forms to DRS, ensure that both the employee and employer portions are complete and correct. If there are errors on the forms, DRS will return them to you. 

Step 5:

Report the employee or worker on the transmittal report. All employees filling eligible positions must be reported to DRS on the transmittal report. You should report each member every payroll. The first time you report an eligible employee, be sure to report a begin date, gender code, address and birth date.

good to know:

There are special reporting requirements for reporting retirees to DRS. See Chapter 5 for more information. School Districts and Educational Service Districts must also report employees working in ineligible positions (also known as substitutes)If you are completing the first transmittal for a new member with a plan choice, a newly hired existing Plan 3 member changing employers or a January Transfer Option, refer to those sections for instructions.

Step 6:

Pay contributions due. Refer to Chapter 6 for details about calculating and paying retirement contributions.

If the member’s enrollment date is more than two years before the current date, the system will prompt you to manually enter the eligibility result or contact DRS for assistance.

If the member’s enrollment date is within the last two years, use ERA Member Management/determine member eligibility to determine retirement eligibility; or you can use the Position Eligibility Worksheet if you prefer.


PERS Membership


PERS plan rules

Plans 1, 2 and 3

  • Plan rules are the same for PERS Plans 1, 2 and 3 unless otherwise noted.
  • Refer to the “PERS membership definitions” section for Plans 1, 2 and 3 definitions.
  • Prior retirement membership affects current PERS Plan membership. Use the ERA Member Management process to view an employee’s prior retirement status before determining which plan to enroll a new employee in.
  • Use the ERA Member Management process to determine if a position is eligible, or you can use the rules below and verify your decisions on the Position Eligibility Worksheet.

How eligibility is determined

The employer determines the employee’s membership eligibility. PERS eligibility is position-based, with two ways a position can be eligible:

  • The position normally earns at least 70 hours per month of regular compensation for five months during each of two consecutive years. RCW 41.40.010WAC 415-108-680 Once you determine a position is 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

Or

  • The position is occupied by an elected official or person appointed directly by the governor for compensation. RCW 41.40.010

Once the eligibility determination is completed, ERA will automatically save it along with the position information. You can review eligibility at any time by looking up the position in ERA.

Exceptions to position eligibility

In most circumstances, an employee hired into an ineligible position is not eligible for membership in PERS, although there are a few exceptions:

  • A PERS member who leaves an eligible position to serve in a project position will continue in membership if the project position requires at least 70 hours per month and they accept the position conditioned on returning to a permanent eligible position at the completion of the project. WAC 415-108-680WAC 415-108-010
  • If an employee in an ineligible position was reported to DRS in error by the employer, and made member contributions for at least nine months, they 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 them 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,  41.40.670
  • A retiree from SERS, TRS, LEOFF Plan 1 or WSPRS who retired with 15 or more years of service may not establish PERS membership if employed in an eligible position, unless they established PERS membership before March 1, 1976. RCW 41.04.270WAC 415-108-725

Determining plan membership when hiring a new employee

Current membership status is impacted by past retirement membership history. Use the ERA Member Management Process to determine whether the employee has a membership history with DRS.

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 Returning to Work Reporting Charts in Chapter 5.
  • 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 or as the employee of a third party are exempt from the retiree reporting requirements; however, employers must report any PERS, SERS or TRS Plan 2 or 3 retiree who retired using the 2008 ERF and has not attained age 65 if they are compensated for services performed as a contractor or as a third-party worker. Use the Contractor or third-Party Worker Retirement Status Verification form to document that you verified the retirement status of a third-party worker. If you hire one of these special retirees, please contact Employer Support Services (ESS).
  • 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. The retiree must contact the DRS Retirement Services Division directly to initiate the reentry into membership.
  • A retiree from SERS, TRS, LEOFF Plan 1 or WSPRS who 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 a 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 the DRS Retirement Services Division.

Employee working in one eligible position

Use the ERA Member Management process to determine the correct plan for a new employee hired into a PERS-eligible position, or you can reference the Member History Chart.

Employee working concurrently in more than one retirement system

An employee could work for you in a position that would be covered by PERS and in a position that would be covered by another retirement system, such as TRS or LEOFF. In this case, the employee’s eligibility for membership depends on the types of positions they occupy. If you have a situation like this, please contact Employer Support Services (ESS) for assistance.

PERS Plan 1 working as classified substitute

A PERS Plan 1 employee working as a classified substitute is not reported on the transmittal report if they’re working in an ineligible position. DRS recommends you review the ineligible position at least annually for a change in eligibility status.

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 eligibility for membership. If their combined employment hours meet the definition of an eligible position, and if this is their normal pattern of employment, they are eligible for PERS membership.
  • WAC 415-108-700 An employee’s membership eligibility is based only on their employment with you. They don’t combine hours of employment in positions with separate employers to establish membership in PERS.

Justice or judge choosing PERS membership

Judges and justices elected or appointed to an elected position are exempt from PERS membership; however, they have the option to be in PERS but must make a written application to the DRS Director to establish or to continue membership. Refer employees to Elected Officials for more information about how to apply for membership if elected or appointed to state or local office.

When such officials have received written acceptance from the DRS Director, DRS will advise you to report them 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 office term or appointment.

  • If the judge is appointed to a non-elected position and the position meets the PERS-eligibility requirements, they are mandated into PERS JBM.
  • On or after Jan. 1, 2007, newly elected or appointed justices or judges who choose to join PERS are mandated into JBM. This includes justices or judges of the following courts: supreme court, court of appeals, superior court, district court and municipal court.
  • 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 before 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 don’t elect to join the JBM program can continue contributing to JRA. New judicial PERS members don’t 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.
  • 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.

New PERS JBM members are mandated into PERS Plan 2 with no Plan 3 choice rights.

Existing Plan 3 members are subject to the following member contribution rates:

 At all ages, ‘A’ or ‘D’
 If less than age 35, ‘C’
 If less than age 45, ‘B’

Exemptions for those employed in PERS-eligible positions

  • Professional services: If an employee earns less than 50% of their gross income from the practice of their profession while working for a PERS employer, then they are exempt from PERS membership. The terms “profession” and “professional services” are not defined in statute or rule, but some occupations that qualify as “professions” include:
    • Law
    • Engineering
    • Medicine
    • Lobbying

If you encounter a person working in an occupation other than those listed above, please contact Employer Support Services to determine whether the occupation qualifies as a profession.

  • Membership is optional for elected and governor-appointed officials: All elected positions and positions appointed directly by the governor are eligible and may apply for membership at any time. RCW 41.40.010RCW 41.40.023WAC 415-108-560

If newly elected or governor-appointed officials come to work at your agency, please instruct them first to go to the Elected or Governor-Appointed Official page to read about the requirements for becoming a member and to fill out the form. Do not automatically report them to membership.

  • Other optional positions: The city manager or chief administrative officer of a city or town, other than a retiree, has the option of applying for membership within 30 days from the date of their appointment. RCW 41.40.023 PERS membership is optional for the chief administrative officer of a public utility district, port district or county, also within 30 days from the date of their appointment. RCW 41.40.023
  • Higher Education employees in positions eligible for participation in a Higher Education Retirement Plan (HERP): See Chapter 5 for more information.
  • Independent contractors exempt from PERS: Only an employee of a PERS employer is eligible for PERS membership. Because independent contractors are not employees, they are exempt from PERS membership. DRS applies the common law right-of-control test to determine if a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. Because of the test’s complexity, it is often difficult to determine if a person is an independent contractor without auditing the work situation. Use the Independent Contractor Status Questionnaire for help determining whether an individual is an independent contractor or an employee. If you have questions, contact Employer Support ServicesWAC 415-02-110
  • Simultaneous membership: A person generally cannot establish or continue membership in PERS if they are also a participating member who contributes to any other retirement system administered and operated in whole or in part by the state.

Retirement systems operated in whole or in part by the state include:

  • TRS
  • SERS
  • LEOFF
  • WSPRS
  • PSERS
  • Higher education plans (TIAA/CREF)
  • Judges
  • Judicial

Exception: A person who is otherwise eligible can participate in PERS if they are simultaneously participating in the Volunteer Fire Fighters’ Relief and Pension Fund under RCW 41.24, or the Judicial Retirement Account (JRA) under RCW 2.14. Also see RCW 41.40.023.

good to know:

Contact Employer Support Services when you hire a person with membership in another retirement system administered by the state or a political subdivision.

Consecutive membership: A person might be eligible to establish PERS membership or continue to participate in PERS despite retaining service credit in another public retirement system. RCW 41.40.023WAC 415-108-726

good to know:

This rule might not apply to those who are retired or are eligible to retire from one of the retirement systems previously listed under “simultaneous membership.”

PERS retirees are exempted from membership: Effective July 1997, PERS retirees are exempted from PERS membership. Retirees will only reenter membership if they elect to do so. The option may be exercised prospectively. If a PERS retiree reenters membership, benefits stop until the member retires again.

good to know:

A service retiree may return to public service, but this might affect the retiree’s pension. Please refer to “employing retirees” in Chapter 5. A disabled retiree is not eligible to return to membership unless DRS determines they are receiving comparable compensation. There is no limitation on eligible employment; the only limitation is dependent upon the compensation earned.

The following chart provides a brief summary of the membership rules in effect for prior periods. 

Membership rules for prior periods

Period*Plan 1Plans 2 and 3
09/01/91 forwardEligible position: at least five months each year in which regular compensation is earned for at least 70 hours per month during each of two consecutive years.Eligible position: at least five months each year in which regular compensation is earned for at least 70 hours per month during each of two consecutive years.
09/01/90 – 08/31/91Eligible position: at least five months each year in which regular compensation is earned for at least 70 hours per month.Eligible position: at least five months each year in which regular compensation is earned for at least 90 hours per month.
04/01/55 – 08/31/90Eligible position: at least five consecutive months each year in which regular compensation is earned for at least 70 hours per month.Eligible position: at least five consecutive months each year in which regular compensation is earned for at least 90 hours per month.
03/23/65 – 06/06/90Employee could work in an eligible position on a temporary basis not to exceed six consecutive months without being brought into PERS membership.Employee could work in an eligible position on a temporary basis not to exceed six consecutive months without being brought into PERS membership.

* For periods from 07/23/89, forward: all of an employee’s work each month for an employer must be considered as a single position.


TRS membership


TRS plan rules

In TRS, a teacher is a person who is qualified to teach and works for a public school as an instructor, administrator or supervisor. WAC 415-112-120 Use the ERA Member Management process to determine if a position is eligible, or you can use the rules below and verify your decisions on the Position Eligibility Worksheet.

  • ‘Qualified to teach’ at a K-12 school means the person has a teaching certificate issued by the Superintendent of Public Instruction. For community college or university teachers, it means the person is employed by the institution under a contract to teach. WAC 415-112-015
  • A ‘public school’ includes school districts, educational service districts, the state School for the Deaf and the state School for the Blind. The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction is not a public school. Note: As applied to other TRS employers, ‘public school’ means an institution whose primary function is to educate students where 50% or more of the employees are qualified to teach. WAC 415-112-015RCW 41.32.010
  • ‘Instructor’ means a qualified teacher performing services as a classroom teacher. WAC 415-112-015
  • ‘Administrator or supervisor’ means a manager responsible for public school administration, or exercising direction over other public school employees. WAC 415-112-015 Administrators or supervisors include, but are not limited to, principals, assistant principals, superintendents, assistant superintendents, personnel managers and business managers.
  • An ‘Educational Staff Associate’ (ESA) is a person employed by a public school in any of the following positions:
    • Communications disorders specialist
    • Occupational therapist
    • Physical therapist
    • Reading resource technician
    • School counselor
    • School nurse
    • School psychologist
    • School social worker
  • A person employed in an ESA position in a public school must hold a certificate authorized by the Washington State Board of Education. A person employed in an ESA position on or after June 7, 1984, must become a TRS member. There are instances where a person employed as an ESA before June 7, 1984, has membership rights to PERS. If you have this situation, contact the DRS Retirement Services Division for help.
  • A public school employee who is qualified to teach, who is not employed as an instructor, administrator or supervisor, is not a teacher. A person in such a position shouldn’t be in TRS. Those positions include, but according to WAC 415-112-120 are not limited to, the following:
    • Custodian
    • Groundskeeper
    • Bus driver
    • Cafeteria worker
    • Library technician
    • Administrative assistant
    • Payroll clerk

TRS Plan 1 rules

Plan 1 member or former Plan 1 member

If you hire a person who has established membership in TRS Plan 1 before Oct. 1, 1977, you must determine whether they are a ‘TRS Plan 1 member’ or a ‘former TRS Plan 1 member.’ Use the ERA Member Management process to look up the person’s membership history.

  • A ‘TRS Plan 1 member’ means a person who has established membership and has not terminated membership by withdrawing their TRS contributions
  • A ‘former TRS Plan 1 member’ means a person who separated from service and withdrew their TRS contributions

TRS Plan 1 member

  • If you hire a TRS Plan 1 member, report the member on the TRS monthly transmittal from the first day of employment.
  • If the member is a substitute or works fewer than 20 days in the fiscal year (July 1 – June 30) and is not a retiree, use the ERA Member Management process to determine how to report them or see the Substitute Reporting Chart.
  • A TRS Plan 1 member working in any position for a TRS employer should be reported on the TRS transmittal. A TRS employer means school districts, the state of Washington or any agency of the state of Washington by which the member is paid. RCW 41.32.010

Former TRS Plan 1 member

  • Former TRS Plan 1 members with full-time contracts are reported as active members. A former TRS Plan 1 member who is contracted to teach full-time in a public school for 90 calendar days or more is required to be a TRS Plan 1 member. A teacher who is eligible for membership must be reported on the transmittal from the first day of eligible employment. RCW 41.32.240
  • Former TRS Plan 1 members with less than a full-time contract are reported as substitutes. If you hire a former TRS Plan 1 member with less than a full-time contract, report them on the transmittal using the substitute reporting codes from the first day of employment.
  • A former TRS Plan 1 member may qualify to reestablish membership by submitting a substitute service credit application at the end of the school year. The application is in the TRS Plan 1 Substitutes’ Guide (includes form).

Plan 1 substitute teachers

TRS membership and participation is optional for substitute teachers; however, all TRS substitutes must be reported on the transmittal using the substitute reporting codes. A substitute teacher may apply for membership and service credit in TRS if they are a TRS Plan 1 member and they work a minimum of 20 full-time days during a school year, or they are a former TRS Plan 1 member and work 90 or more full-time days during a school year. WAC 415-112-140

Plan 1 retirees

  • All retirees who return to work must be reported on the transmittal. Determining the eligibility of a position filled by a retiree uses the same eligibility criteria as a position filled by a non-retiring member.
  • Retirees have special reporting codes. Refer to the Retiree Reporting Charts for the correct plan and type codes.

A TRS Plan 1 retiree who returns to work as a full-time teacher isn’t required to return to TRS membership but may elect to do so if they choose. If they choose to reenter membership, they must contact DRS. Don’t report them as an active member until DRS notifies you.

Plan 1 teachers elected to statewide office

  • A TRS Plan 1 teacher who is elected to statewide office (for example, state senator) may continue membership in TRS.
  • A TRS Plan 1 member serving in the supreme, appeals or superior courts can request to participate in the Judges Benefit Multiplier (JBM) program. If the application is accepted, the JBM option requires a higher retirement contribution and provides a higher benefit multiplier used in the retirement calculation for their judicial service employment periods.
  • If newly elected or governor-appointed officials come to work at your agency, please instruct them first to go to the Elected or Governor-Appointed Official page to read about the requirements for becoming a member and to fill out the form. Do not automatically report them to membership.

Plan 1 teachers working in more than one position

  • If you have a teacher working in more than one retirement system during the same school year, the nature of the positions determine how you should report them on your transmittal. The member will be reported according to the following:
    • If the TRS Plan 1 member is working as a substitute for a school district or an Educational Service District (ESD), use the ERA Member Management process to determine how to report, or see the Substitute Reporting Chart
    • If you are reporting a TRS member working concurrently in a PERS position, refer to WAC 415-112-155
    • If you are reporting a TRS member working concurrently in a SERS position, refer to WAC 415-112-156

TRS Plans 2 and 3

This section outlines current rules for membership in TRS Plans 2 and 3 for teachers hired on or after Oct. 1, 1977.

  • Membership rules are the same for TRS Plans 2 and 3 unless otherwise noted.
  • Prior retirement membership impacts current TRS membership. Use the ERA Member Management process to view an employee’s prior retirement status before determining in which plan to enroll a new employee.

How eligibility is determined

The employer is responsible for determining the employee’s membership eligibility. A Plan 2 or Plan 3 teacher WAC 415-112-120 contracted to work in an eligible position is required to be a member of TRS and must be reported on the transmittal report from the first day of employment in the eligible position. RCW 41.32.780RCW 41.32.835A position is eligible if it normally requires at least five months within the school year (Sept. 1 – Aug. 31) in which compensation is earned for at least 70 hours per month. RCW 41.32.010

To determine eligible position’s eligibility, ask the following 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 compensation per month during the school year?

  • If the answer is no, the position is not eligible
  • If the answer is yes, the position is eligible

Determining plan membership when hiring a new employee

Current membership status is affected by prior retirement membership history. Use the process to determine if the member has prior membership history with DRS.

A TRS Plan 2 or Plan 3 person working for you in an ineligible position is not required to be a TRS member, but must be reported on the transmittal beginning with the 2004-2005 school year using the substitute reporting codes.

An ineligible position is any position that does not require at least five months during the school year in which 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.

The position is not eligible because employment is fewer than 70 hours each month.

Example 2

A position requires full-time work for three months each year.

The position is not eligible because employment is fewer than five months each year.

Employee working in one eligible position

Once the position‘s eligibility is determined, the next step is to determine in which plan to report a TRS member. Current membership status is affected by past retirement membership history.

  • No prior membership – Beginning July 1, 2007, a new and potential TRS member with no prior TRS membership history has the option to become a member of TRS Plan 2 or 3 if they are hired into an eligible position.
  • A new or potential member has 90 calendar days to make an irrevocable plan choice, or they are defaulted by the employer into Plan 3, rate option A, investment program SELF.
  • An employee in a TRS-eligible position should initially be reported in TRS Plan 2, unless the employer receives the Member Information Form (MIF) from an employee choosing Plan 3 before the first payroll cutoff. If reporting for the first time, be sure to include the begin date, even if it is the same as the plan choice date.
  • Prior membership history – The TRS Reporting Chart lists the correct plan in which to enroll employees who have prior membership history with DRS and who will be working in one TRS-eligible position (refer to the Member History Chart).

Employee working concurrently in more than one retirement system

If you have a TRS Plan 2 or 3 employee working in positions in more than one system during the same school year, the nature of the positions determines how to report them on the transmittal. Refer to the following concurrent employment types:

Retiree

  • Retirees have special reporting codes. Refer to the Retiree Returning to Work Reporting Charts for the correct plan and type codes (see Chapter 5: Employing Retirees for additional information).
  • Use the same eligibility criteria for retiree and active member positions. All retirees who return to work must be reported on the transmittal.
  • Generally, retirees who are performing services for an employer as a contractor are exempt from the retiree reporting requirements; however, employers must report any TRS 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 similarly compensated relationship. These contractors should be reported as if they are in ineligible positions.
  • A TRS Plan 2 or 3 retiree who returns to work in an eligible position is not required to return to TRS membership but may elect to do so. The option can be exercised prospectively. If a retiree reenters membership, benefits stop until the member retires again.
  • If a retiree chooses to reenter membership, they must contact DRS. Report them as a retiree return to work until notified by DRS to report them as an active member.
  • A retiree can return to public service but it could affect their pension. 

TRS Plan 2 and 3 teachers elected to statewide office

A TRS Plan 2 and Plan 3 teacher who is elected to statewide office, (such as a state senator) may continue membership in TRS. 

If newly elected or governor-appointed officials come to work at your agency, please instruct them first to go to the Elected or Governor-Appointed Official page to read about the requirements for becoming a member and to fill out the form. Do not automatically report them to membership.

The following table summarizes how to report TRS members for prior periods. 

Membership rules for prior periods

Service periodEmployment typesPlan
07/01/2007 forwardNew TRS members have the option to become Plan 2 or Plan 3 members2 and 3
7/1/1996 – 6/30/2007All new members mandated into Plan 33
9/01/1991 – 6/30/1996Must be employed in an eligible position (requiring at least five months or 70 hours or more of compensated employment each month during a school year)
 
For substitute teachers: If they meet the above criteria, they can apply for membership/service credit [RCW 41.32.013] [WAC 415-112-140]
2
7/1/1996 forward2 and 3
6/07/90 – 08/31/91Must have been employed in an eligible position as defined in Section 2, Chapter 274, Laws of 1990, (requiring two or more consecutive months of at least 90 hours of compensated employment each month during a school year)
 
For substitute teachers: If they met the above criteria, they may apply for membership and service credit [RCW 41.32.013] [WAC 415-112-140]
2
10/01/77 – 6/30/1996All new members mandated into Plan 22
10/01/77 – 06/06/90If they were contracted to teach full-time, they were required to be a member.
 
If they were employed as a substitute teacher or under a less than full-time contract, they have the option to apply for membership [RCW 41.32.240] if they worked a minimum of 90 full-time days during a school year, provided one month had at least 90 hours.
2
Before 10/01/77If they were contracted to teach full-time, they were mandated into membership.
 
If they were employed under a less-than-full-time contract and they exercised their option to establish membership before 10/01/77, they had the option to apply for membership under RCW 41.32.240, if they worked 90 or more full-time days during a fiscal year.
1

Frequently asked questions

The following FAQ provides answers to some of the more frequently asked questions about membership and reporting requirements for TRS.

A TRS Plan 2 or 3 employee is normally contracted to work three hours each day as a kindergarten teacher and three hours each day for the same employer as a basic skills instructor. Is the individual eligible for membership?

Yes. They are considered to be employed in a single eligible position and are required to be a member of TRS.

A TRS Plan 2 or 3 employee is normally contracted to work three hours each day as a teacher and three hours each day for the same employer in a non-teaching capacity (for example, a coach, bus driver or secretary). Since not all of their hours are in a teaching capacity, are they eligible for membership?

Yes. Each of the positions is ineligible but because a portion of their work is as a contracted teacher, they are eligible for TRS membership. They should be reported on the TRS transmittal.

A TRS Plan 2 or 3 employee is contracted to work three hours each day as an English teacher and is hired, at times, by the same employer to work as a substitute. Are they eligible for membership?

No. Hours of employment as a substitute teacher are not considered when determining membership eligibility; however, hours worked as a substitute and as a part-time contracted teacher should be reported on the transmittal using the substitute type codes (see Chapter 5 for details).

A TRS Plan 2 or 3 teacher works in an eligible position from September until March, then quits working for you. You hire another TRS Plan 2 or 3 teacher into the same position for the remaining three months of the school year. Is this second teacher eligible for membership and reported on the transmittal?

Yes. For TRS Plan 2 and 3, the position determines the eligibility for membership. The second teacher has been hired into an eligible position so they are required to be a member and must be reported on the transmittal.

Two TRS Plan 2 or 3 teachers are contracted to work in the same position as kindergarten teachers. One teacher works three hours in the morning and the other teacher works three hours in the afternoon. Are each of these teachers eligible for retirement system membership?

Yes. Because it is one position being filled with two teachers, each teacher is eligible and must be reported on the transmittal.

You hire a new employee on or after July 1, 2007. Do they have a plan choice?

It depends. A TRS Plan 1 member doesn’t have a plan choice; however, new and potential TRS members with no prior TRS membership history have the option to choose Plan 2 or 3 if they are hired into an eligible position. Use the ERA Member Management Process to view the past membership history and to determine if they are eligible to make a plan choice. Then use ‘reporting an employee’ to determine the correct reporting options.

TRS members in higher education

A TRS member is hired by a community college to substitute in the classroom. Should they be reported on the transmittal?

No. Substitute teachers working in higher education aren’t reported on the transmittal. The employer should provide the substitute with a quarterly report.

A TRS member is contracted to work for a community college. Should they be reported on the monthly transmittal?

It depends. See the ERA Member Management process along with the publications listed below to determine member eligibility:

For more detailed information, see the Reporting in higher education section in Chapter 5.

Temporaries or classified substitutes

An employee is hired as a “temporary” or as a “classified substitute” to fill in for someone who is on leave for two weeks. Is this employee eligible for membership and should they be reported?

Yes. They should be reported to DRS if hired at a school district, educational service district or charter school.

Beginning July 27, 2003, an employee working in a substitute position in a school district, educational service district or charter school can elect to apply for service credit at the end of the school year. PERS Plan 1 does not have the option to apply for substitute service credit. 

The definition of a substitute includes ‘a classified employee who is employed as a substitute for an absent employee or is working in an ineligible position’. WAC 415-110-010

Definitions

The following definitions are for the TRS membership section. Refer to Resources for additional terms.

Active member: An employee who is currently contributing to the TRS retirement plan. For TRS Plan 1, there is an additional requirement that they must not have withdrawn contributions.

Compensated employment: Salaries or wages earned for hours of employment.

Eligible position: Any position that normally requires at least five months each school year in which compensation is earned for at least 70 hours per month (applicable to Plans 2 and 3 only).

Full-time: Regular service for four-fifths (80%) or more of a school day or an assignment to duties, which are the equivalent of four-fifths (80%), or more of a full-time assignment (applicable to Plan 1 only).

Normally (as used in the definition of an eligible position for TRS Plans 2 and 3): Requires at least five months of at least 70 hours of compensated service during the school year. Unexpected school closures don’t affect position eligibility for Plans 2 and 3.

Plan 1: The funding and benefit provisions covering those who first became members of the Teachers’ Retirement System before Oct. 1, 1977.

TRS Plan 1 member: An employee who established membership before Oct. 1, 1977, and has not terminated membership by withdrawing contributions.

Former TRS Plan 1 member: A TRS Plan 1 member who separated from service and withdrew their contributions.

Plan 2 member: An employee who was mandated into membership in the Teachers’ Retirement System on or after Oct. 1, 1977, or an employee who:

  • Chose Plan 2 on or after July 1, 2007, or
  • Chose or was defaulted into Plan 2 on or after July 1, 2020

Plan 3 member: An employee who had no prior TRS Plan 1 or Plan 2 service and was mandated into Plan 3 between July 1, 1996, through June 30, 2007, or an employee who:

  • Chose or defaulted into Plan 3 on or after July 1, 2007

Potential member: Someone who has worked in an ineligible or substitute certificated position at a school district or educational service district, but hasn’t purchased their substitute service credit and hasn’t established membership in TRS.

Retiree: An individual who has terminated membership in a Washington state retirement system, and who has applied for or is receiving a defined retirement benefit benefit from the Department of Retirement Systems. Members who are only separated or who are only receiving Plan 3 defined contributions don’t meet the retiree definition.

School day (for Plan 1 only): The number of hours for which a full-time teacher is compensated. The employer defines a school day. If not defined by the employer, DRS defines a school day as seven hours.

School year:

  • Plan 1: The period from July 1 of one year through June 30 of the following year.
  • Plan 2 and Plan 3: The period from Sept. 1 of one year through Aug. 31 of the following year.

Substitute teacher: A teacher who is hired by an employer to work as a temporary teacher, except for teachers who are annual contract employees of an employer and are guaranteed a minimum number of hours. Teachers who either work in ineligible positions for more than one employer or work in an ineligible position or positions together along with an eligible position. RCW 41.32.010

Teacher: Any person qualified to teach who is engaged by a public school in an instructional, administrative or supervisory capacity.


SERS membership


SERS plan rules

Plan 2 and 3 membership

Membership rules are the same for SERS Plans 2 and 3.

Prior retirement membership impacts current SERS membership. Use ERA Member Management to view an employee’s prior retirement status before determining which plan to enroll a new employee in.

Use the ERA Member Management process to determine if a position is eligible, or you can use the rules below and verify your decisions on the Position Eligibility Worksheet.

How eligibility is determined

The employer is responsible for the determination of the employee’s membership eligibility. The primary eligibility determination s for SERS is based upon the position. An employee who works for one month in an eligible position before quitting is entitled to SERS membership. In SERS, there are two ways a position can be eligible.

A position is eligible if:

  • It normally requires at least five months each year in which regular compensation is earned for at least 70 hours per month. RCW 41.35.010WAC 415-110-680 ‘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 415-110-010. ‘Year’ means any 12-consecutive-month period established and applied consistently by an employer to evaluate the eligibility of a specific position. For ongoing positions, the year used by the employer must be the same for all positions. For a project or temporary position, the year used can be specific to the position. The term is generally limited to a school year. WAC 415-110-010

Or

  • The position is occupied by an elected official or person appointed directly by the governor. Refer to ‘exemptions for those employed in SERS-eligible positions’ for additional information.

To determine if a position is eligible, 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

Exceptions to position eligibility

In some circumstances a person may establish or continue membership even if they are employed in an ineligible position. In some circumstances a person may be excluded from membership even if they are employed in an eligible position.

  • A SERS substitute can qualify for and elect to establish membership in SERS at the end of the school year. A substitute is defined as ‘a classified employee who is employed as a substitute for an absent employee or is working in an ineligible position’. WAC 415-110-010
  • A SERS 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 if they return to a permanent eligible position at the completion of the project. WAC 415-110-680WAC 415-110-010
  • If an employee in an ineligible position makes member contributions for at least nine months, they will be treated as having been in an eligible position during that period of employment. When it is discovered the position is ineligible, submit an end date on the next monthly transmittal and stop reporting them to DRS. RCW 41.35.040
  • A SERS disability retiree may not establish SERS membership if employed in an eligible position unless receiving comparable compensation RCW 41.35.44041.35.690. The employer must contact the DRS Retirement Services Division to determine comparable compensation. If it is determined the compensation compares to the compensation reported before the disability retirement, the employee must be reported in SERS retroactive to the first date of hire.
  • A SERS disability retiree who returns to work does not fall under the post-retirement employment provisions, but must be reported on the transmittal.
  • A retiree from PERS, TRS, LEOFF Plan 1, or WSPRS who retired with 15 or more years of service may not establish SERS membership if employed in an eligible position. RCW 41.04.270

Determining plan membership when hiring a new employee

Current membership status is affected by prior retirement membership history. Use ERA Member Management to determine whether the employee has a membership history with DRS.

Retiree

When reporting a retiree returning to work, special rules apply. Those rules are summarized in the Retiree Returning to Work Reporting Charts.

Use the same eligibility criteria for retiree and active member positions. All retirees who return to work must be reported on the transmittal report.

  • Generally, retirees who are performing services for an employer as a contractor or as the employee of a third party are exempt from the retiree reporting requirements; however, employers must report any PERS, SERS or TRS Plan 2 or 3 retiree who retired using the 2008 ERF and has not attained age 65 if they are compensated for services performed as a contractor or as a third-party worker. Use the Contractor or Third-Party Worker Retirement Status Verification form to document that you verified a third-party worker’s retirement status. If you hire one of these special retirees, please contact Employer Support Services (ESS).
  • A SERS retiree who returns to work in an eligible position is not required to return to SERS membership but may elect to do so. The retiree must contact the DRS Retirement Services Division directly to initiate the reentry into membership.
  • A retiree from PERS, TRS, LEOFF Plan 1, or WSPRS who retired with 15 or more years of service doesn’t establish SERS membership if employed in an eligible position. RCW 41.04.270
  • A SERS member who has retired on a 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 you’re hiring a SERS disability retiree, notify the DRS Retirement Services Division.
  • See Chapter 5: Employing Retirees for additional information.

Employee working in one eligible position

  • Employee has prior membership – Beginning July 1, 2007, a new or potential SERS member with no prior membership history has the option to become a member of SERS Plan 2 or 3 if hired into an eligible position. A new or potential member has 90 calendar days to make a permanent plan choice, or they are defaulted by the employer into Plan 3, rate option A, investment program SELF. An employee employed in a SERS-eligible position should initially be reported in SERS Plan 2, unless the employer receives the Member Information Form (MIF) from an employee choosing Plan 3 before the first payroll cutoff. If reporting for the first time, be sure to include the begin date, even if it is the same as the Plan Choice Date.
  • Employee has prior membership – Use ERA Member Management or the Member History Chart to determine the correct plan for a new employee hired into a SERS-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 covered by SERS and in a position covered by another retirement system such as TRS. The employee’s eligibility for membership depends upon the types of positions they occupy. Refer to the following types of concurrent employment:

Working as a substitute in a school district or educational service district

  • An employee hired into a substitute position must be reported on the transmittal beginning with the 2004-2005 school year using the substitute reporting codes. Refer to the Substitute Reporting Chart.

SERS Substitute is defined as ‘any classified employee who is employed as a substitute for an absent employee or working in an ineligible position’. WAC 415-110-010

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.

Employees working in more than one SERS-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 their combined hours of employment meet the definition of an eligible position and if this is their normal pattern of employment, they are eligible for SERS membership.

An employee’s eligibility for membership is based only on their employment with you. They don’t combine hours of employment in positions with separate employers to establish membership in SERS.

Employees working in Educational Staff Associate positions

  • An Educational Staff Associate (ESA) is defined as an individual employed by a public school in any of the following positions:
    • Communications disorders specialist
    • Occupational therapist
    • Physical therapist
    • Reading resource technician
    • School counselor
    • School nurse
    • School psychologist
    • School social worker

A person working in an ESA position in a public school must hold a certificate authorized by the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Although ESA positions are generally TRS-eligible positions, there are instances when a person who was employed as an ESA before June 7, 1984, might have rights to SERS membership. If you’re a public school employer and you hire a person who served in an ESA position before June 7, 1984, contact Employer Support Services to help determine the membership options available to this member.

Exemptions for those employed in SERS-eligible positions

Elected and governor-appointed officials

Elected and governor-appointed officials are exempt from SERS membership unless they elect to join. They may apply at any time during their current term of office.

‘Elected’ officials for SERS include individuals who are elected or appointed to any vacant elective office at a school district or educational service district, and those who are active SERS members or were previously active SERS members who become elected or appointed to any state elective position.

‘Governor-appointed’ officials include those who are active SERS members or were previously active SERS members and are appointed directly by the governor to any position, including but not limited to agency directorships and memberships on a state committee, board or commission. RCW 41.35.030WAC 415-110-550WAC 415-110-560WAC 415-110-570

If newly elected or governor-appointed officials come to work at your agency, please instruct them first to go to the Elected or Governor-Appointed Official page to read about the requirements for becoming a member and to fill out the form. Do not automatically report them to membership.

Independent contractors

Only an employee of a SERS employer is eligible for SERS membership. Because independent contractors are not employees, they are exempt from SERS membership. DRS applies the common law right-of-control test to determine if a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. Because of the test’s complexity, it is often difficult to determine if a person is an independent contractor without auditing the work situation.

Use the Independent Contractor Status Questionnaire for help determining if an individual is an independent contractor or an employee. WAC 415-02-110

Use the Contractor or Third-Party Worker Retirement Status Verification form to document that you verified the retirement status of an independent contractor. Generally, retirees who are performing services for an employer as a contractor or as the employee of a third party are exempt from the retiree reporting requirements; however, employers must report any PERS, SERS, or TRS Plan 2 or 3 retiree who retired using the 2008 ERF and has not attained age 65 if they are compensated for services performed as a contractor or as a third party worker.

Professional services

If an employee earns less than 50% of their gross income from the practice of their profession with a SERS employer, then they are exempt from SERS membership. The best way to determine the percentage of a person’s income earned from the practice of their profession would be to ask them for a statement of income.

Use the Contractor or Third-Party Worker Retirement Status Verification form to document that you verified the retirement status of the person providing professional services. Generally, retirees who are performing services for an employer as a contractor or as the employee of a third party are exempt from the retiree reporting requirements; however, employers must report any PERS, SERS, or TRS Plan 2 or 3 retiree who retired using the 2008 ERF and has not attained age 65 if they are compensated for services performed as a contractor or as a third party worker.

The terms ‘profession’ and ‘professional services’ are not defined in statute or rule, but some occupations that qualify as professions include:

  • Law
  • Engineering
  • Medicine
  • Lobbying
  • Teaching

If you encounter a person working in some occupation other than those listed above, please contact the legal unit at DRS to discuss whether the occupation qualifies as a profession.

When employment is on a fee, retainer or contract basis

If the employee renders services on a fee, retainer or contract basis they might be exempt from membership. This issue usually focuses on whether the person is an employee or an independent contractor. RCW 41.35.030

SERS retirees are exempt from membership

SERS retirees are exempt from SERS membership. Retirees will only reenter membership if they elect to do so. The option may be exercised prospectively. If a SERS retiree reenters membership, benefits stop until the member retires again.

The following chart provides a brief summary of the membership rules in effect for prior periods. 

Membership rules for prior periods

PeriodMembership rule in effect
08/01/2009 forwardNew SERS members and potential members (substitutes) have the option to become members of Plan 2 or 3 if hired into an eligible position
07/01/2007 – 07/31/2009New SERS members and potential SERS members have the option to become members of Plan 2 or 3, if they have no prior PERS Plan 2 service and if hired into an eligible position
09/01/2000 – 06/30/2007All new members mandated into Plan 3 except those with prior PERS Plan 2 service who are reported in SERS Plan 2 with a January transfer option
09/01/1991 forward*Eligible position: Normally requires at least five months each year in which regular compensation is earned for at least 70 hours per month
09/01/1990 – 08/31/1991*Eligible position: Normally requires at least five months each year in which regular compensation is earned for at least 90 hours per month
July 23, 1989 forward*All of an employee’s work each month for an employer must be considered as a single position
10/01/1977 – 08/31/2000*All new classified employees working in school districts and educational service districts are reported in PERS Plan 2
03/23/65 – 06/06/90*Employee could work in an eligible position on a temporary basis not to exceed six consecutive months without being brought into SERS membership
04/01/1955 – 08/31/1990*Eligible position: Normally requires at least five consecutive months each year in which regular compensation is earned for at least 90 hours per month

*Note: Before the SERS effective date of Sept. 1, 2000, classified employees working in school districts and educational service districts held PERS membership. Classified employees working in eligible PERS Plan 2 positions on Sept. 1, 2000, were converted to SERS Plan 2. The PERS service rules before Sept. 1, 2000, apply to these converted SERS members.

Frequently asked questions

The following FAQ provides answers to some of

  • A member in an eligible position takes an extended unpaid leave of absence and does not have at least five months with 70 hours or more of compensated employment in a given 12-month period. Are they still eligible for membership?

Yes. An unpaid leave of absence does not affect the eligibility of a position. If the position normally requires five months of 70 hours or more of compensated employment, then the position is still eligible. The employer should continue to report them on the monthly transmittal using Status Code B.

An eligible position continues for more than a year without requiring the individual in that position to work at least 70 hours a month for five months or more each year. Are they eligible for membership?

more frequently asked questions regarding membership and reporting requirements for SERS.

General membership

  • A member in an eligible position takes an extended unpaid leave of absence and does not have at least five months with 70 hours or more of compensated employment in a given 12-month period. Are they still eligible for membership?

Yes. An unpaid leave of absence does not affect the eligibility of a position. If the position normally requires five months of 70 hours or more of compensated employment, then the position is still eligible. The employer should continue to report them on the monthly transmittal using Status Code B.

  • An eligible position continues for more than a year without requiring the individual in that position to work at least 70 hours a month for five months or more each year. Are they eligible for membership?

Yes. You should review the requirements of the position. If this is no longer an eligible position, separate the employee from the monthly transmittal. If this is still an eligible position, continue to report them on the monthly transmittal.

  • An eligible position is filled with two individuals each working three hours a day. Are they eligible for membership?

Yes. Although separately the individuals don’t work 70 hours a month for five months or more each year, the position requires that much work. Each of them are eligible for membership and should be reported on your transmittal.

  • An employee works in an ineligible position March 1 – Nov. 10. On Nov. 11, you redefine this as an eligible position. When do you begin reporting the individual in this position?

On November’s report using Nov. 11 as the begin date. You would report all retirement information for work performed by the individual during November – the information for the eligible position plus the hours for the ineligible position. All of an employee’s work each month is considered a single position.

  • During a review, it is discovered that a position that had been defined as ineligible has actually required the employee in the position to work 70 hours or more in at least five months in each of the last two years. What will happen in this case?

The position will be declared eligible beginning the first month of the first year in which employment was for at least 70 hours. The employee will enter membership beginning that month. The employer must use the monthly transmittal to report all compensation, contributions and hours of service back to the first date of eligibility.

Temporaries or classified substitutes

  • An employee is hired as a “temporary” or as a “classified substitute” to fill in for someone who is on leave for two weeks. Are they eligible for membership and should they be reported?

Beginning July 27, 2003, an employee working in a substitute position in a school district or in an educational service district (ESD) can elect to apply for service credit at the end of the school year. PERS Plan 1 does not have the option to apply for substitute service credit.

The definition of a substitute includes “a classified employee who is employed as a substitute for an absent employee or is working in an ineligible position.” WAC 415-110-010

Definitions

The following definitions are for terms used in the SERS Membership section. For additional terms, refer to the Glossary.

Comparable compensation: the compensation a disabled retiree receives from an employer that makes them eligible to return to SERS membership when all conditions are met. DRS compares their current compensation to the compensation received before the disability retirement.

Compensated employment: means salaries or wages earned for hours of employment.

Eligible position: one that normally requires at least five months each year in which regular compensation is earned for at least 70 hours per month in each of two consecutive years.

Normally: as used in the definition of an eligible position, means a position that requires at least five months each year in which regular compensation is earned for at least 70 hours in each of 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.

Plan 2 member:

  • An employee who was mandated into PERS membership at a school district or ESD on or after Oct. 1, 1977, and whose membership was converted to SERS (before Sept. 1, 2000, SERS did not exist and classified employees working for a school or ESD held PERS membership)
  • Or who chose Plan 2 after July 1, 2007
  • Or who chose or defaulted into Plan 2 on or after July 1, 2020

For more detailed information, refer to chapter 8, Plan Choice Reporting.

Plan 3 member: 

  • An employee who had no prior PERS Plan 2 service and was mandated into Plan 3 between Sept. 1, 2000, and June 30, 2007
  • Or who chose or defaulted into Plan 3 on or after July 1, 2007

For more detailed information, refer to chapter 8, Plan Choice Reporting.

Position: A group of duties and responsibilities normally assigned to an employee. A position may be 

filled or vacant, full-time or part-time, seasonal, temporary or permanent.

Potential member: Someone who has worked in an ineligible or substitute classified position at a school district or ESD, but hasn’t purchased their substitute service credit and hasn’t established membership in SERS.

SERS substitute: “Any classified employee who is employed as a substitute for an absent employee or working in an ineligible position.” WAC 415-110-010

Year (as used in the definition of an eligible position): Any 12-consecutive-month period established and applied consistently by an employer to evaluate the eligibility of a specific position. For ongoing positions, the year used by the employer must be the same for all positions. For 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. Employers should document the 12-month period used to define a year for a given position such as, January – December, September – August, April – March.


LEOFF membership


LEOFF plan rules

Establishing LEOFF membership — law enforcement officers

All persons who meet the definition of ‘law enforcement officer’ under RCW 41.26.030 are mandated into Law Enforcement Officers’ and Fire Fighters’ (LEOFF) membership (except for those initially hired on or after Aug. 1, 1971, and before July 1, 1979, who did not meet the minimum medical and health standards). Generally, ‘law enforcement officer’ means any person who is commissioned and employed by an employer on a full-time, fully compensated basis to enforce the criminal laws of the state of Washington. Whether a person qualifies as a law enforcement officer depends upon who the employer is and the nature of the position. This section contains the information you need to determine, in most cases, whether a person qualifies as a law enforcement officer under LEOFF.

Is the person employed by a LEOFF employer?

To qualify as a law enforcement officer, the person must first be employed by a LEOFF employer. The definition of ‘employer’ for LEOFF varies between Plans 1 and 2.

  • Plan 1: ‘employer’ for Plan 1 members includes any city, town, county, district or municipal corporation that employs any law enforcement officer. RCW 41.26.030
  • Plan 2: ‘employer’ for Plan 2 members includes any city, town, county, district or municipal corporation or any other general authority law enforcement agency. RCW 41.26.030

A general authority law enforcement agency is defined as an agency, department, or division of state or local government (other than the Washington State Patrol), whose primary function is to detect and apprehend persons violating traffic or criminal laws in general. An example of a general authority law enforcement agency is the University of Washington police department. RCW 41.26.030

Is the person commissioned, full-time and fully compensated?

To qualify as a law enforcement officer, an employee of a LEOFF employer must be fully commissioned, full-time and fully compensated.

  • Commissioned – employed as an officer of a general authority Washington law enforcement agency and empowered by that employer to enforce the criminal laws of the state of Washington. A person is fully commissioned if they are empowered at any time to enforce the laws of the state of Washington generally, including full arrest powers. Some persons, such as jailers, have limited commissions. A person with a limited commission does not qualify as a law enforcement officer. Some typical limited commissions restrict powers to a certain time or place, such as when transporting prisoners. Other limited commissions may authorize only certain types of arrests based on outstanding warrants. If you’re unsure whether a person’s commission is full or limited, contact the DRS Retirement Services Division.
  • Full-time – regularly scheduled to earn basic salary from an employer for a minimum of 160 hours each calendar month. Note: An employee does not have to work 160 hours during a given month to be considered full-time during that month, provided the person is regularly scheduled to work 160 hours each month. WAC 415-104-011
  • The employee is normally expected to earn a basic monthly salary no less than one hundred sixty (160) times the state minimum hourly wage. Nominal sums provided to volunteer fire fighters are not compensation for the purpose of determining whether a fire fighter is fully compensated (including but not limited to stipends or ancillary benefits such as insurance or leave accrual). WAC 415-104-011

Law enforcement officer positions

The following positions qualify as law enforcement officers if the person in the position is employed by a LEOFF employer, fully commissioned, full-time and fully compensated:

  • City police officer
  • Town marshal or deputy marshal
  • County sheriff
  • Deputy sheriffs who pass a civil service exam for deputy sheriff, possess all of the powers, and may perform any of the duties prescribed by law to be performed by the sheriff
  • Port district general authority law enforcement officer
  • State university or college general authority law enforcement officer
  • A commissioned person employed as a public safety officer or director of public safety of a city or town. The population of the city or town must not have exceeded 10,000 at the time the person first became employed in this position. ‘Director of public safety’ means a person who is employed on a commissioned full-time, fully compensated basis to administer the programs and personnel of a public safety department. WAC 415-104-011 ‘public safety officer’ means a person who is employed on a commissioned, full-time, fully compensated basis by a city or town to perform both law enforcement and fire fighter duties. WAC 415-104-011
  • Unclassified positions authorized by RCW 41.14.070. These positions are:
    • Undersheriff
    • Chief criminal deputy
    • Chief civil deputy
    • Jail superintendent
    • Inspector

A person in one of the positions listed in this section is a law enforcement officer regardless of rank or status as a probationary or permanent employee.

Establishing LEOFF membership — fire fighters

All persons who meet the definition of “fire fighter” under RCW 41.26.030 are mandated into LEOFF membership (except for persons initially hired on or after Aug. 1, 1971, and before July 1, 1979, who did not meet the minimum medical and health standards). Generally, fire fighter means any person who is serving on a full-time, fully compensated basis as a member of a fire department and who is serving in a position that requires passing a fire fighter civil service examination . Supervisory fire fighter personnel qualify as fire fighters. Whether a person qualifies as a fire fighter depends on who the employer is and the nature of the position. This section contains, in most cases, the information you need to determine whether a person qualifies as a fire fighter under LEOFF.

Is the person employed by a fire department of a LEOFF employer?

To qualify as a fire fighter, the person must be employed by the fire department of a LEOFF employer. The definition of ‘employer’ for LEOFF varies between Plans 1 and 2.

  • Plan 1: ‘employer’ for Plan 1 members includes any city, town, county, district or municipal corporation that employs any fire fighter. RCW 41.26.030
  • Plan 2: ‘employer’ for Plan 2 members includes the legislative authority of any city, town, county, district, or public corporation established under RCW 18.73.030 to provide emergency medical services as defined in RCW 18.73.030:
  • The elected officials of any municipal corporation
  • The governing body of any other general authority law enforcement agency
  • A four-year institution of higher education having a fully operational fire department as of Jan. 1, 1996
  • The Department of Social and Health Services or the Department of Corrections when employing fire fighters serving at a prison or civil commitment center on an island. RCW 41.26.030

Elected sheriffs who meet the definition of a Law Enforcement Officers’ and Fire Fighters’ Retirement System (LEOFF) member, as defined in WAC 415-104-225, are mandated into LEOFF. Elected sheriffs who meet this definition should be automatically reported in LEOFF.

Is the person a full-time, fully compensated employee?

To qualify as a fire fighter, an employee of a LEOFF employer must be full-time and fully compensated as a uniformed fire fighter.

  • Full-time – regularly scheduled to earn basic salary from an employer for a minimum of 160 hours each calendar month. Note: An employee does not have to work 160 hours during a given month to be considered full-time during that month, provided that the person is regularly scheduled to work 160 hours each month. WAC 415-104-011
  • Fully compensated – the employee is normally expected to earn a basic monthly salary no less than 160 times the state minimum hourly wage. Nominal sums provided to volunteer fire fighters are not compensation for the purpose of determining whether a fire fighter is fully compensated (including but not limited to stipends or ancillary benefits such as insurance or leave accrual). WAC 415-104-011

Is the person a uniformed fire fighter performing fire protection activities?

Whether a person qualifies as a fire fighter is primarily a function of their duties. The following information will help you analyze whether their duties qualify them as a fire fighter.

A person is a fire fighter if they’re employed in a uniformed fire fighter position by an employer on a full-time, fully compensated basis, and as a consequence of employment, has the legal authority and responsibility to direct or perform fire protection activities required for and directly concerned with preventing, controlling and extinguishing fires. WAC 415-104-225

Uniformed fire fighter position – A position that may only be filled by uniformed personnel as that term is defined in RCW 41.56.030. A position only qualifies as a uniformed fire fighter if the employer has identified it as such for all purposes. An employer may designate a position as uniformed regardless of whether the employer is covered by collective bargaining under chapter 41.56.RCW and WAC 415-04-025.

Fire protection activities – May include incidental functions such as housekeeping, equipment maintenance, grounds maintenance, fire safety inspections, lecturing, performing community fire drills and inspecting homes and schools for fire hazards. These activities qualify as fire protection activities only if the primary duty of the position is preventing, controlling or extinguishing fires. WAC 415-104-225

Is the person an emergency medical technician?

A person is fire fighter if employed on a full-time, fully compensated basis by an employer as an emergency medical technician (EMT). To be an ‘emergency medical technician’, a person must be certified by the department of health to perform emergency medical services at the level of care of an EMT and complete the requirements of their employer, if any, to perform the job duties of an EMT.

Minimum medical and health standards

A LEOFF member hired as a law enforcement officer or fire fighter on a full-time, fully compensated basis can be required to meet minimum medical and health standards to regain membership in LEOFF Plan 1.

  • The employee is required to meet the minimum medical and health standards if they were first employed as a law enforcement officer or fire fighter:
    • After Aug. 1, 1971, and before Oct. 1, 1977, for LEOFF Plan 1
    • On or after Oct. 1, 1977, but before July 1, 1979, for LEOFF Plan 2
  • Additionally, employees in LEOFF Plans 1 and 2 must have been separated from service for more than six months for reasons other than a disability leave, a disability retirement, a service retirement or an authorized leave of absence. If you hire a Plan 1 member who is required to pass the minimum medical and health standards, begin reporting the employee in Plan 1 on the monthly transmittal from the first day of employment. The enrollment in Plan 1 is provisional and depends upon the results of the medical examination.
  • You are responsible for having the employee examined by the physician or surgeon appointed by the local disability board and for covering the cost of this examination. If they have met the standards, send a copy of the examination report to the DRS Retirement Services Division with a letter of certification. DRS will review the examination report and notify you if further action is needed.

Less than full-time law enforcement officers or fire fighters

An employee serving as a fire fighter or law enforcement officer on a less than full-time and fully compensated basis is not permitted to enter LEOFF membership. The individual might be eligible for membership in PERS, if the employer participates in PERS and the individual is employed in an eligible PERS position.

Reemployed LEOFF retirees

A LEOFF retiree who returns to full-time, fully compensated employment as a law enforcement officer or fire fighter is required to return to LEOFF membership. When membership begins, their benefits are suspended. The retirement benefit will be recalculated when employment ends and they retire again. Use the ERA Member Management Process to determine whether they have a membership history with DRS.

A LEOFF Plan 1 retiree who returns to less than full-time, fully compensated employment as a law enforcement officer or fire fighter is not required to return to membership. They may continue to collect a retirement benefit while working (see Chapter 5: Employing Retirees, for details).

Effective July 24, 2005, LEOFF Plan 2 members or retirees who return to work in a non-LEOFF retirement eligible position have two options:

  • A non-retired LEOFF Plan 2 member has the option to become a member of the other retirement system
  • A LEOFF Plan 2 retiree has the option to become a member of the other system and suspend their LEOFF benefit, or to not join the other system and continue receiving LEOFF pension benefits without interruption

Document the LEOFF Plan 2 retiree’s decision on the LEOFF Plan 2 Re-employment Form.

Frequently asked questions

The following FAQ provides answers to some of the more frequently asked questions about membership and reporting requirements for LEOFF.

Minimum medical and health standards

A Plan 1 member who is required to meet the minimum medical and health standards is hired as a full-time fire fighter. How should they be reported?

Report them in Plan 1 from the first day of employment. If they meet the minimum medical and health standards, you will continue reporting them in Plan 1. If they don’t meet the standards, DRS will notify you to stop reporting them in Plan 1, enroll them in Plan 2, and begin reporting them in Plan 2 on the monthly transmittal.

Eligibility for membership

A law enforcement officer is hired into a full-time, fully compensated position, but the position only lasts six months. Are they eligible for membership in LEOFF?

Yes. They establish membership beginning the first day of employment on a full-time, fully compensated basis. There is no requirement in the LEOFF retirement system law that an employee’s position has to continue a certain length of time for them to be eligible for membership.

A person is hired as a full-time, fully commissioned and fully compensated law enforcement officer, but the officer has not completed the training required by the Washington Criminal Justice Training Commission. When are they eligible for membership in LEOFF?

From the first day of employment. They are not required to complete training before being employed on a full-time, fully compensated and fully commissioned basis.

An individual is employed as a correctional officer at one of the state correctional institutions. Another individual is employed as a jailer at a county jail facility. Is either of them eligible for membership in LEOFF?

No. A correctional officer and a jailer don’t meet the definition of a law enforcement officer and are not eligible for membership in LEOFF. They might be eligible for membership in the Public Safety Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) if their positions are full-time and fully compensated.

Individuals working in less than full-time positions might be eligible for membership in PERS if they are employed in eligible positions for a PERS-covered employer (see the PERS Membership section for details).

An individual is employed by a fire protection district in a half-time position as a fire fighter. Are they eligible for membership in LEOFF?

No. Employment must be full-time and fully compensated. They might be eligible for membership in PERS if they’re employed in an eligible position for a PERS-covered employer (see the PERS Membership section for details).

An individual is employed by a fire protection district in a half-time position as a fire fighter. They also work in a half-time position for another fire district. Are they eligible for membership in LEOFF?

No. They are not eligible. Employment from separate employers isn’t combined to meet the full-time requirement. Only individuals who are full-time and fully compensated for the same employer meet the eligibility requirements for LEOFF. They might be eligible for membership in PERS.


WSPRS membership


WSPRS plan rules

Plan 1 and 2 membership 

Membership in the Washington State Patrol Retirement System (WSPRS) Plans 1 and 2 is limited to commissioned officers of the Washington State Patrol. Membership begins from the date of commission as a Washington State Patrol officer.

Definitions

  • Plan 1: Members commissioned before Jan. 1, 2003
  • Plan 2: Members commissioned on or after Jan. 1, 2003

PSERS membership


PSERS was created for certain public employees whose jobs contain a high degree of physical risk to their own personal safety and who provide public protection of lives and property. This section outlines current rules for membership in the Public Safety Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) Plan 2.

PSERS Plan 2 rules

Who is eligible for PSERS membership?

To be eligible for PSERS, the individual must meet all four of the following requirements:

  • Work for a PSERS employer
  • Fill a permanent, full-time position
  • Be employed full-time in the position
  • Meet one of the PSERS membership criteria

PERS Plan 1 members don’t have the option to join. TRS Plan 1 members don’t have the option to join unless employed by a non-TRS employer

Membership criteria

The person must be employed by a PSERS employer. The following are PSERS employers:

  • A city corrections department (except Tacoma, Seattle or Spokane)
  • A county corrections department
  • A public corrections entity created by RCW 39.34.030 (SCORE)
  • Washington State Department of Corrections
  • Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission
  • Washington State Gambling Commission
  • Washington State Patrol
  • Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board
  • Washington State Department of Natural Resources
  • Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs (effective Jan. 1, 2019)
  • Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) (effective Jan. 1, 2019)
  • Washington State Department of Children, Youth & Families (DCYF) (effective July 1, 2019)

To qualify as a PSERS member

The position must be permanent and full-time. 

  • A full-time position is regularly scheduled to provide at least 160 hours of compensated service each calendar month. Note: An employee does not have to work 160 hours during a given month to be considered full-time during that month, provided they are regularly scheduled to work 160 hours each month.

The person must be employed full-time in the position. 

  • An employee serving on a less than full-time basis is not permitted to enter PSERS membership. 

The person must meet one of the membership criteria.

  • Primary responsibility is to ensure the custody and security of incarcerated or probationary individuals.
  • In a position that requires completion of a certified criminal justice training course as part of the job and has the authority to arrest, conduct criminal investigations, enforce the criminal laws of the state of Washington and carry a firearm.
  • Commissioned by the employer as a limited authority Washington peace officer, as defined in RCW 10.93.020.
  • Non-DSHS or non-DCYF employees: primary responsibility is to provide nursing care to offender and patient populations in institutions and centers operated by one of the following employers:
    • A city or county corrections department as defined in RCW 41.37.010
    • A public corrections entity as defined in RCW 41.37.010
    • The Washington State Dept. of Corrections
    • The Washington State Dept. of Veterans Affairs
  • DSHS or DCYF employees: employee’s primary responsibility is to provide nursing care to offender, adult probationary, or patient populations or to ensure the custody and safety of offender, adult probationary, or patient populations AND the employee is in a position that requires completion of defensive tactics training or de-escalation training AND they are employed by one of the following state institutions or centers operated by DSHS or DCYF:
    • Juvenile rehabilitation administration institutions, not including community facilities
    • Mental health hospitals
    • Child study and treatment centers
    • Institutions or residential sites that serve developmentally disabled patients or offenders, or perform competency restoration services*, except for state operated living alternatives facilities
    • Primary responsibility is to supervise other PSERS members

*Sites that perform competency restoration services effective June 11, 2020.

PSERS has no concurrent employment with PERS

If an employee is hired into a PSERS position while working simultaneously in a PERS position, the PERS service is no longer reported

Re-employed PSERS retirees

  • When reporting a retiree returning to work, special rules apply. Those rules are summarized in the Rehired PSERS Plan 2 Retiree – Reporting Chart.
  • Use the same eligibility criteria for retiree and active member positions. All retirees who return to work must be reported on the transmittal report.
  • If a retiree chooses to reenter membership, they must contact DRS. Don’t report them as an active member until you are notified by DRS.

A PSERS member who has retired on disability might be required to reenter membership if returning to work at a job with a salary comparable to the salary earned before the disability. If you’re hiring a disabled PSERS retiree, notify the DRS Retirement Services Division.

Exemptions for persons employed in PSERS-eligible positions

Some employees are exempt from PSERS membership

Exemption from PSERS membership applies if the person:

  • Is or has been a PERS Plan 1 member
  • Is or has been a TRS Plan 1 member and is working for a TRS employer (if they have withdrawn their TRS Plan 1 contributions, they are mandated into PSERS)
  • Was a PERS Plan 2 or 3 member on July 1, 2006, and did not elect PSERS membership during the election window (July 1, 2006 – Sept. 30, 2006) and has not changed employers
  • Was a PERS Plan 2 Plan 3 member on Jan. 1, 2019, and did not elect PSERS membership during the election window (Jan. 1, 2019 – March 1, 2019), and has not changed employers

Membership is optional for elected and governor-appointed officials

PSERS members elected or appointed by the governor to any state elective position are exempt from PSERS membership unless they elect to join. They may apply at any time during their current term of office. RCW 41.37.020 

If newly elected or governor-appointed officials come to work at your agency, please instruct them first to go to the Elected or Governor-Appointed Official page to read about the requirements for becoming a member and to fill out the form. Do not automatically report them to membership.

Retirees are exempt from membership

If a PSERS retiree is hired into a PSERS-eligible position, the person is mandated into PSERS membership, and the benefits stop until the PSERS member retires again. Refer members to PSERS Plan 2: Thinking About Working After Retirement?

Frequently asked questions

The following FAQ provides answers to some of the more frequently asked questions regarding membership and reporting requirements for PSERS

General membership

A PSERS corrections officer is hired into a full time position, but the position is scheduled to last six months. Is this individual eligible for membership in PSERS? 

No. The PSERS retirement system law states that position must be permanent.

An individual is employed by a PSERS employer in a half-time position as a corrections officer. Is this individual eligible for membership in PSERS?

No. The position must be full time. The individual may be eligible for membership in PERS if they’re employed in an eligible position for a PERS-covered employer (see PERS Membership for details.)

What if two employees request to job share a PSERS position? Can they be reported in PSERS?

No. Not only must the position be permanent and full time, but the person must be working full time to be eligible for PSERS membership.

Each individual may be eligible for membership in PERS if working for a PERS-covered employer (See PERS Membership for details.)

An individual is employed full-time as a corrections officer at one of the state correctional institutions. Another individual is employed full-time as a jailer at a county jail facility. Is either individual eligible for membership in PSERS?

Possibly. These employees may be eligible for membership their positions are permanent and full-time. Refer to PSERS Plan Rules and use the PSERS Eligibility Worksheet to assist you in your determination.

Individuals working in less than full-time positions may be eligible for membership in PERS if they are employed in eligible positions for a PERS-covered employer (see PERS Membership for details.)

An individual is employed by two cities as a limited peace officer in two half-time positions. Is this individual eligible for membership in PSERS?

No. The individual is not eligible. Employment from separate employers cannot be combined to meet the full time requirement. Only individuals who are employed full time for the same employer in a full-time, permanent position meet the eligibility requirement for PSERS. The individual may be eligible for membership in PERS if employed in eligible positions for a PERS-covered employer (see PERS Membership for details.)

What if a PERS member was working in a PSERS eligible position during the election window, but chose to remain in PERS; then after March 1, 2019, takes a different PSERS position with their current employer?

The member must remain in PERS as long as they remain employed with their current employer. If the PERS member goes to a LEOFF position for the same employer, then back to a PSERS-eligible position, the employee would remain in PERS because the member hasn’t changed employers. If the member accepts employment in a PSERS position with a different employer, the member is mandated into PSERS.

A member in an eligible position takes an extended unpaid leave of absence. Is this individual still eligible for membership?

Yes. An unpaid leave of absence does not affect the eligibility of a position. If the position requires 160 or more calendar hours of compensated employment, then the position is still eligible. The employer should continue to report the employee on the monthly transmittal using Status Code B.

Is everyone who supervises a PSERS member eligible for PSERS membership?

No. Only those supervisors whose primary responsibility is to directly supervise PSERS members is eligible.

An employee is working in a PERS eligible position for another employer at the same time. You hire the employee into a PSERS position on November 11. How is this employee reported?

There is no PSERS/PERS concurrent employment. When hiring a new employee, use MRV and the Retirement Status Form to determine prior retirement history, including concurrent employment. If a member will be simultaneously working in a PERS-eligible position for another employer and in a PSERS position for your agency, you must contact ESS.

The city where I work doesn’t have a department called “corrections department,” but we employ police support officers and corrections officers. Does this mean that these employees are not PSERS eligible?

No. Your corrections department may be identified by a different name. If these employees meet at least one of the four PSERS member criteria, and are employed in a permanent, full time position, they may be PSERS eligible. Refer to the PSERS Plan Rules above and the PSERS Eligibility Worksheet to determine eligibility.

Would a medical doctor or psychiatrist employed by a county corrections department be eligible for PSERS?

Yes. The doctor’s primary responsibility must be to provide nursing care to incarcerated or probationary individuals. Nursing care refers to services provided on behalf of a qualifying PSERS employer in which an employee is required to hold a valid certification and/or license in the state of Washington and their primary duty is to provide direct patient nursing care. Services include
the identification of, and discrimination between, the individual’s physical and psychosocial needs, treatment, counseling, patient education, self-care and the administration of medication.

State elected or governor-appointed officials

An individual who has been in PSERS is appointed by the governor to a state-elected position on an interim basis. Can they continue PSERS membership during the time in the elected position?

Yes. But membership does not continue automatically. Upon being appointed to office, they must make a written application to DRS to continue membership in PSERS. They could also choose PERS membership. When the application is accepted, membership will continue without loss of service credit.

An individual who has been in PSERS is elected to state office and takes office in January. Should they be reported on the January transmittal?

No. They must first make a written application to DRS to continue membership in PSERS. When they have received written acceptance from DRS, they should then be reported on the monthly transmittal. Membership and reporting will be required retroactively to the first day of the term of office.

Definitions

The following definitions are for terms used in the PSERS sections. For additional terms see this resource.

Authorized: Required as a part of the job to perform a certain duty. The duty may or may not be completed every day.

Compensation earnable: Salaries or wages earned by a member during a payroll period for personal services including overtime payments, deferred compensation wages, and payments as specified in RCW 41.37.010.

Corrections department: A city or county with a department whose employees meet the PSERS membership criteria. Your corrections department may be identified by a different name.

Criminal justice training course: A course provided by the WA State Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC).

Custody and security: The detention and compliance of incarcerated or probationary individuals. Refer to the PSERS Eligibility Worksheet, for more information.

Election windows: The period between Jan. 1, 2019, and March 1, 2019, when PERS Plan 2 or Plan 3 members working in PSERS-eligible positions had the option to remain in PERS, or choose PSERS.

Eligible position: Any permanent, full-time position included in the PSERS employer and member criteria. RCW 41.37.010

PSERS-eligible employers:

  • A city corrections department ((except Tacoma, Seattle or Spokane)
  • A county corrections department
  • A public corrections entity created by RCW 39.34.030
  • Washington State Department of Corrections
  • Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission
  • Washington State Gambling Commission
  • Washington State Patrol
  • Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board
  • Washington State Department of Natural Resources
  • Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs (effective Jan. 1, 2019)
  • Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (effective Jan. 1, 2019)
  • Washington State Department of Children, Youth & Families (effective July 1, 2019)

Full time: An employee who is regularly scheduled to provide at least 160 hours of compensated service for an employer each calendar month. An employee does not have to work 160 hours during a given month to be considered full-time during that month, provided they are regularly scheduled to work 160 hours each month.

Limited authority Washington law enforcement agency: Any agency, political subdivision or unit of local government of this state, and any agency, department, or division of state government, having as one of its functions the apprehension or detection of persons committing infractions or violating the traffic or criminal laws relating to limited subject areas, including but not limited to, the state departments of natural resources and social and health services, the state gambling commission, the state lottery commission, the state parks and recreation commission, the state utilities and transportation commission, the state Liquor and Cannabis board, and the state department of corrections. RCW 10.93.020

Limited authority Washington peace officer: Any full-time, fully compensated officer of a limited authority Washington law enforcement agency empowered by that agency to detect or apprehend violators of the laws in some or all of the limited subject areas for which that agency is responsible. A limited authority Washington peace officer may be a specially commissioned Washington peace officer if otherwise qualified for such status under this chapter. RCW 10.93.020

Nursing care: Services provided on behalf of a qualifying PSERS employer in which an employee is required to hold a valid certification and/or license in the state of Washington and their primary duty is to provide direct patient nursing care. Services include the identification of, and discrimination between, the individual’s physical and psychosocial needs, treatment, counseling, patient education, self-care and the administration of medication.

Permanent position: A position for which you don’t foresee a time when the position would not exist.

State agency positions are classified by the Department of Personnel. You should review the established classification to determine if it’s permanent.

Cities and counties may need to check with their human resource office to see if the position is considered permanent.

If you’re still unable to determine whether a position is permanent, ask yourself if you expect the position to be on-going. It’s permanent if you don’t foresee a time when the position would not exist.

Primary responsibility of a position: The main basis or reason for the position.

Retiree: Any person who has begun accruing a retirement allowance or other benefit provided by RCW 41.37 resulting from service rendered to an employer while a member. RCW 41.37.010

State elective position: Any position held by any person elected or appointed to statewide office or elected or appointed as a member of the legislature. RCW 41.37.010


JRS membership


JRS plan rules

For periods on or after July 1, 1988

Effective July 1, 1988, membership in JRS was closed to new members. Membership is only allowed for judges elected or appointed to the superior court, the court of appeals or the supreme court, who had established JRS membership before July 1, 1988. Judges elected or appointed to the superior court, the court of appeals or the supreme court, who are not eligible for JRS membership, may elect to become members of PERS. To establish membership in PERS, the judge must apply for membership under the rules governing elected officials.

For periods before July 1, 1988

Any judge elected or appointed to the superior court, the court of appeals or the supreme court, between Aug. 8, 1971, and July 1, 1988, was required to be a member of JRS.

JRS retirees

A JRS retiree, who is elected or appointed to judicial service in the superior court, court of appeals or the supreme court, is required to return to JRS membership. Membership begins from the first day of employment. When membership resumes, the retiree’s pension is suspended until their employment ends.

A JRS retiree who is appointed to pro tempore service in the superior court, court of appeals or supreme court is not required to return to JRS membership. The retiree may work up to 810 hours in a calendar year without affecting their pension 

 

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