What is Plan 3?

Pension benefit

(employer funded)



(your contributions)


Total Plan 3

One plan, two parts

Pension benefit: The defined benefit funded by your employer. You must have enough service years to qualify for the pension (10 years or 5 if at least one year is earned over age 44). Once you qualify, you are guaranteed a lifetime benefit at retirement. See the “Pension benefit” section below for more information about this part of your retirement.

Investment contribution: The defined contribution funded by you. You chose or defaulted into a contribution rate when you began service in Plan 3. Contributions to your retirement plan are mandatory and are deducted from your gross salary. The money is invested into the investment fund(s) you choose; change your investment selections at any time. Once chosen, your contribution rate is permanent unless you change public sector employers.

You can withdraw your investment contribution funds any time after leaving DRS-covered employment. Early withdrawals are subject to the additional 10% federal withholding tax. See the “Your contributions” section below for more information about this part of your retirement.

Plan 3 systems

As a Plan 3 member, you belong to one of three systems. Your public service employment determines which system you are in. Each system has different member guidelines. For more information about your plan, select from the following:


Not sure which system you are in?
Talk to your payroll office or log in to your online account to find out if you are a PERS, SERS or TRS member.

Your contributions

Your Plan 3 investment account contributions are tax-deferred and you can access them any time after you separate from employment. Early withdrawal (before age 59½) might have tax consequences. The amount of retirement income you generate from your investment account depends on how much you contribute and how well the investment(s) you select do in the market.

Plan 3 contribution rates
Option A: 5% all ages
Option B:5% up to age 35 6% ages 35 through 44 7.5% age 45 and older
Option C: 6% up to age 35 7.5% ages 35 through 44 8.5% age 45 and older
Option D:7% all ages
Option E:10% all ages
Option F:15% all ages

Finding your contribution rate: The monthly dollar figure is on your paycheck, your statement and in your online account (under Plan Summary). You can do a quick calculation to find the percentage rate or contact your employer’s payroll/benefits office.

Changing your contribution rate: Once you choose or are defaulted to a rate, you can change it only when you change public sector employers. Changing employers means working for a different public sector employer, not another division or department where you currently work.

High income limitations for annual contributions: Plan 3 is a 401(a) program. If you are participating in tax-deferred plans in addition to Plan 3, such as a tax-sheltered annuity 403(b), be aware that your total tax-deferred contributions are limited based on your annual taxable income. Note this does not affect limits for your DCP savings. Consult the IRS and/or a tax advisor for detailed information. See more IRS information.

Can I roll money from my former employer’s retirement plan into Plan 3?
No, Plan 3 does not accept money from rollovers. However, if eligible, you might be able to use the money in your former employer’s retirement account to purchase out-of-state or additional service credit. Another option would be to roll the money into a DCP account. Call a Retirement Specialist at 800-547-6657 to discuss your options.

Money from other types of plans or accounts that are rolled over into a governmental 457 plan might still be subject to the 10% federal early withdrawal penalty prior to age 59½ upon payment from the 457 account. Talk with your financial advisor/planner about rolling money from one account to another, considering any potential fees and limitation of investment options.

If I don’t qualify for the defined benefit, do I lose all of my Plan 3 contributions?
No, your contributions stay in your account and continue to be invested. You can leave your balance in your account and maintain control over your investment choices, or choose one of the payout options available upon leaving service.

Do I get a Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) on my defined contribution account?
No, the defined contribution part of your Plan 3 account is funded by you. Cost-of-Living Adjustments do not apply to this variable rate contribution. However, you can use your defined contribution account balance to purchase a TAP annuity, which does have an automatic 3% annual COLA.

Pension benefit

Lifetime pension benefit

Once you meet age and service requirements and you’ve applied for retirement, you will receive a guaranteed monthly benefit for your lifetime. Your benefit is based on your years of service credit and the pay you’ve earned.

Service credit years (SCY) The number of years you are credited for working. 

Average Final Compensation (AFC) The average of your highest consecutive 60 months earnings, wherever they are in your service. 

1% benefit formula

The formula used to calculate your pension benefit retirement is:

1% x SCY x AFC = monthly benefit

If you worked full time every month for 15 years and your average monthly pay for your highest consecutive five years was $4,000, your monthly benefit would be $600.

1% x 15 SCY x $4,000 AFC = $600 monthly benefit
Does my pension benefit increase in retirement?
Yes, there is a Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) on the defined benefit portion of Plan 3. Your amount will be adjusted on July 1 of every year following your first full year of retirement. Your monthly benefit will be increased up to 3% per year based on the Consumer Price Index.
Can the Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) end?
Yes, it is possible. Plan 3 is subject to legislative changes. A bill could be introduced to eliminate the Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA), but it would need to be passed by the legislature and signed into law by the governor.
If I delay receiving my pension benefit payment, do I get more?
It is possible. If you leave service before age 65 and have 20 or more service credit years, your defined benefit amount will increase by approximately 3% annually until you start receiving your payment or reach age 65, whichever is sooner.
Does my employer match what I put into Plan 3?
No, your employer contributes exclusively to the pension side of Plan 3. Those contributions will fund a guaranteed monthly benefit for the rest of your life. The amount they contribute will fluctuate based on actuarial needs. They are not matching funds, and you cannot withdraw employer contributions if you leave public service prior to the time when you are eligible to receive the guaranteed monthly benefit (when you retire).
Where can I find my employer’s contributions?
Your employer’s contributions are visible on your employee earnings statement. Employer contributions are not visible in your online account or your quarterly statement.

Retirement age and service requirements

Pension benefit retirement

Retirement with a full benefit: Age 65. If you have at least 10 years of service credit and you’re age 65, you can retire with a full benefit. If you have at least five years of service credit, you can retire at age 65 with a full benefit if you earned at least one of your five years of service credit after age 44.

If you transferred from Plan 2, your requirements might vary. See Plan 3 January Transfer Opportunity.

Early retirement with a reduced benefit: Ages 55 to 64 with at least 10 years of service credit. If you retire early, your monthly benefit is reduced to reflect that you will receive it for a longer period of time. The earlier you retire, the larger the reduction.

The amount of your reduction depends on the amount of service credit you have AND how much younger than 65 you are when you retire.

There is less of a benefit reduction for early retirement if you have 30 or more years of service credit and you’re age 62 to 64. Your benefit will be reduced by 5% for each year (prorated monthly) before you turn age 65. Again, the earlier you retire, the larger the reduction.

For more information about early retirement, see Thinking About Retiring Early?

Where do I find info about my service credit years?
View your service credit history through online account access.
Do I stop earning credit after 30 years of service?
No. In Plan 3 you earn service credit for each year of employment regardless of your age or years of service.

Plan 3 calculators

Plan 3 Defined Contribution Disbursement Schedule Create an estimate of Plan 3 deferred compensation payments following separation from service that considers various payout options and assumed rates of investment return.

Plan 3 TAP Annuity Estimator Calculate the fixed payment stream you can receive through the TAP annuity program offered by the state of Washington. You must have a minimum of $25,000 in your Plan 3 account for the TAP annuity program. Easily determine your monthly retirement benefit from the WSIB TAP annuity.

Plan 3 Take Home Pay Calculator See how the net effect on your take-home pay will be impacted when considering the various Plan 3 contribution rate options.

Plan 3 Retirement Savings Calculate the monthly savings you should be setting aside today to reach your retirement income goals.

Life Expectancy Approximate your life expectancy based upon a given age. This tool uses data from the IRS.

Retirement Planner Within a few minutes of using this tool, you can determine if you’re on track to fund the expenses you think you’ll have in retirement.

More calculators Gain access to additional calculators when you log on using your DRS online account access.


Investments are a big part of your plan. See more about Plan 3 investments and find out how your contributions work to build your retirement savings. go there


The Plan 3 withdrawals section contains information on withdrawing Plan 3 funds before, during and after retirement. Discover opportunities to increase your payment at retirement. See your installment and survivorship options. go there

Plan 3 annuities

An annuity provides a guaranteed payment for the rest of your life, regardless of stock market performance. Plan 3 has unique annuity opportunities with a range of options for you to choose from. go there

Managing your account

Access your account to:
  • View your Plan 3 balance
  • Change your investment selections
  • Transfer account balances between investment options
  • Review fund performance
  • Withdraw funds from Plan 3
Two ways to log in

There are two ways to access your Plan 3 investment account information (also known as your defined contribution). Through your DRS online account and through the  record keeper site. DRS recommends you use online account access because this gives you access to account information from both parts of your Plan 3 account, including the defined benefit pension portion, where you can view information like your service credit history. To find out more about the difference, visit the log in page to see your options.

How do I change my address?
Retirees, inactive members, beneficiaries and legal-order payees: You can update your address from your online retirement account. Just select “Address” from the welcome screen. If you do not have an online account, or you need to update your name, fill out and send in a printed form as well as a copy of documentation showing the change.

Active members:
Update your name or address through your employer. That new information will soon appear in your online retirement account.

How do I change my email address?
Update your email address through your DRS online account. Go to Manage My Account > Member Information > email. Or contact DRS.

How do I change my name in my account?
Before you retire, be sure to change your name through your employer and complete the Name/Address Change form. If you are already retired, you only need to fill out the form.

Quarterly statements

You’ll receive a quarterly statement with performance information for your investment account. Your statements will be available through your online account unless you opt into mailed statements through the record keeper

Quarters are divided into the following months:

  • First: January through March
  • Second: April through June
  • Third: July through September
  • Fourth: October through December

Your statement could include information for more than one plan, depending on your situation. Quarterly statements are released within two months of the quarter-end.

Will my quarterly statement show everything I have in Plan 3?
No. Your Plan 3 statement represents only the defined contribution (investment) part. You will not receive a defined benefit (pension) statement. To help you estimate your defined benefit, view your service credit years online and plug the information into the Plan 3 pension benefit formula.


Plan 3 adheres to administrative codes or rules adopted by Washington agencies. Plan 3 has its own section in the Washington Administrative Code (WAC). go there


For investment account services, contact the DRS record keeper.

Phone: 888.327.5596
Or log into your investment account

For other account needs, contact DRS

Beneficiary Designation

Members, you can update your beneficiary information from your online retirement account. Select “My Account” in the navigation menu and then “View/Edit” beside “Beneficiary.”

(If you prefer to fill out and mail in a printed form, select this link.)