Judicial Benefit Multiplier (JBM) Program
If you are serving as a judge or justice and join Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) membership on or after Jan. 1, 2007, you are required to join the JBM Program.
In the JBM Program, you:
- Prospectively accrue service credit at a higher benefit multiplier for all judicial service
- Pay a higher contribution rate
- Are subject to the JBM benefit cap
- Don’t participate in the Judicial Retirement Account (JRA)
PERS members who serve as judges or justices in one of the following courts must participate in the JBM program:
- Supreme Court
- Court of Appeals
- Superior court
- District court
- Municipal court
If you elected into JBM and are in PERS, at the time of retirement you may apply the higher benefit multiplier to the judicial service credit you earned before joining JBM.
More about the Judicial Benefit Multiplier Program
The Judicial Benefit Multiplier (JBM) Program provides judicial members of the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) with an increased retirement benefit multiplier.
What is the Judicial Benefit Multiplier (JBM) Program?
A benefit multiplier is the percentage used, along with your service credit years and Average Final Compensation (AFC), to set your retirement benefit.
The JBM Program increases the multiplier for Plans 1 and 2 to 3.5% and for Plan 3 to 1.6%. The multiplier for non-JBM service is typically 2% for Plans 1 and 2, and 1% for Plan 3. Plan 1 members could have a different benefit multiplier in certain circumstances.
Must all justices and judges participate in the JBM Program?
No. However, if you are serving as a justice or judge and choose to become a member of PERS on or after January 1, 2007, you will be required to participate in the JBM Program.
If you were a member of PERS and were serving as a justice or judge when the JBM Program began, you had the option of participating in the JBM Program. The JBM program is also available to judges who are members of the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) Plan 1 serving in the Supreme, Appeals or Superior Courts.
Will I be in the JBM Program if I’m not a PERS member yet?
You must join PERS first. Once a member, you must participate in the JBM Program and will begin accruing service credit at the higher benefit multiplier.
You won’t be able to increase your benefit multiplier for any judicial service you might have earned before joining PERS.
Do I have to become a PERS member?
If you are in an elected judicial position, joining PERS is optional. However, if you are in an appointed judicial position, you are required to be in PERS if your position is eligible for PERS membership. Your employer determines whether your position is eligible.
If you are a past member of PERS, you will continue in your previous plan. If you were not a member of PERS before Jan. 1, 2007, you will be a member of Plan 2.
Can I increase the judicial service credit I earned before joining JBM?
If you joined the JBM Program between Jan. 1, 2007, and Dec. 31, 2007, you will have a chance when you retire to increase the multiplier for prior judicial service.
However, if you were mandated into the program after Jan. 1, 2007, you can’t increase the multiplier for any periods of judicial service before joining the JBM Program.
Will the higher benefit multiplier apply to all my service credit?
It applies only to the judicial service credit you earn after you begin participating in the JBM Program. Any service earned before you joined JBM will be calculated using the multiplier for that system and plan.
Will my benefit be capped as part of the JBM Program?
Yes. If you are Plan 1 or Plan 2, your benefit will be capped at 75% of your AFC. If you are in Plan 3, your defined benefit will be capped at 37.5% of your AFC.
How will my benefit be calculated in the JBM Program?
The retirement benefit formula is:
Benefit multiplier x years of service credit x AFC = retirement benefit
The AFC used in your calculation:
- Plan 1 member: The average of your highest consecutive 24 months of salary
- Plan 2 or Plan 3 member: The average of your highest consecutive 60 months of salary
Benefit Calculation Examples
Example 1: PERS Plan 1 and 2
You have 20 years of service credit when you retire, and your AFC is $10,000. You earned 10 years of service credit before entering the JBM Program. Then you earned 10 years in the JBM Program.
Non-JBM service: 2% x 10 years x $10,000 = $2,000
JBM Service: 3.5% x 10 years x $10,000 = $3,500
Total benefit = $5,500
Example 2 PERS Plan 3 pension benefit
You have 20 years of service credit when you retire, and your AFC is $10,000. You earned 10 years before entering the JBM Program. Then you earned 10 years in the JBM Program.
Non-JBM service: 1% x 10 years x $10,000 = $1,000
JBM service: 1.6% x 10 years x $10,000 = $1,600
Total pension benefit = $2,600
Plan 3 members have both pension and investment components to their retirement benefits. See Plan 3 information
What will my contribution rate be?
JBM participants must contribute a portion of their compensation, as reported by their employers to DRS (see the table below).
See contribution rates.
* The Plan 1 member contribution rate is set in statute. The Plan 2 rate is variable. For more information on member contribution rates, see your plan.
If in Plan 3 when I become a judge, must I participate in the program?
If you are an active member when you become a judge and do not change employers, your contribution rate will increase to 7.5%. If you are an inactive member or change employers when you become a judge, you will have a choice of contribution rates ranging from 7.5% to 15%. See PERS Plan 3.
Am I eligible to increase past judicial service credit?
If you were a member of PERS and were serving as a justice or judge when the JBM Program began, you had the option of participating in the JBM Program. If you chose to participate in JBM, you have the option to increase judicial service credit earned before joining JBM to the higher benefit multiplier.
The JBM Program is also available to judges who are members of the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) Plan 1 serving in the Supreme, Appeals or Superior Courts.
Can I get an estimate to increase my past judicial service to a higher benefit multiplier?
Yes. Contact DRS to increase past judicial service along with your retirement benefit estimate.
Retired Judicial Plans
The following DRS judicial plans are closed to new entrants.
Judicial Retirement System (JRS)
The Judicial Retirement System (JRS) was established by the Legislature in 1971, and its retirement benefit provisions are contained in Chapter 2.10 RCW. JRS is a single-employer retirement system, and membership includes judges elected or appointed to the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and superior courts on or after August 9, 1971. JRS is closed to new entrants.
See the JRS member guide for additional information about your plan.
Judges’ Retirement Fund (JRF)
The Judges’ Retirement Fund was created by the Legislature in 1937 for judges appointed or elected to the Supreme Court, the superior Court or the Court of Appeals. Members are eligible to receive a full retirement allowance at age 70 with 10 years of credited service, or at any age with 18 years of credited service. Members are eligible to receive a partial retirement allowance after 12 years of credited service as a judge. JRF provides disability and survivor benefits to members who meet plan requirements.
More about JRF
The Judges’ Retirement Fund (JRF) was established in 1937, and its retirement benefit provisions are contained in Chapter 2.12 RCW. JRF is a single-employer retirement system composed of a single defined benefit plan. Members include judges of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and superior courts of Washington state. JRF has been closed to new entrants since 1971. JRF is composed of and reported as one plan for accounting purposes.
Contact DRS for additional information about your plan.
Judicial Retirement Account (JRA)
DRS is responsible for the accounting, reporting and collection of contributions for the Judicial Retirement Account (JRA), a defined contribution pension plan the Washington State Administrative Office of the Courts administers.
More about JRA
The Judicial Retirement Account (JRA) was established by the Legislature in 1988 to provide supplemental retirement benefits. It is a defined contribution plan the state of Washington Administrative Office of the Courts administers under the direction of the Board for Judicial Administration. Membership includes judges elected or appointed to the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and superior courts who are members of PERS for their services as a judge. Vesting is full and immediate.
Since January 1, 2007, any newly elected or appointed Supreme Court justice, Court of Appeals judge or superior court judge can no longer participate in JRA. As of June 30, 2020, 1 active member and 102 inactive members were in JRA. The state is the sole participating employer in JRA.
JRA plan members are required to contribute 2.5% of covered salary. The state, as employer, contributes an equal amount on a monthly basis. The employer and employee obligations to contribute are established in Chapter 2.14 RCW. Plan provisions and contribution requirements are established in state statute, and can only be amended by the state Legislature.
A JRA member who separates from service for any reason is entitled to receive a lump sum distribution of accumulated contributions. At death, the amount of accumulated contributions standing to the member’s credit is paid to the member’s estate or designated beneficiary.
Contact us for additional information about your plan.