The basics of retiring with DRS

Edit: We updated this article April 21, 2023, to reflect the most current processes DRS is using.

Once you’ve reached the required age and years of service for your plan, you can apply for your pension retirement through DRS. We have a complete retirement checklist as well as seminars to guide you through the retirement process, but basically it goes like this:

1. Make sure you qualify for retirement. Are you old enough? Do you have the number of service years needed for your plan? See your plan page for age and service requirements. This is also a great time to run a quick estimate of the retirement income you’ll receive by using the benefit estimator tool in your online account.

2. Request an official benefit estimate from DRS 3 to 12 months prior to your retirement date. Make this request through your online account or by contacting us. In most cases, we will provide your estimate 5 to 8 weeks before your retirement date.  If you haven’t received your requested estimate within 5 weeks of your retirement date, contact us.

Estimates are prioritized by retirement date, which allows DRS to use the most recent information available for you and gives you ample time to submit your retirement application. An official benefit estimate is not the same as the benefit estimator tool available to all customers. To assist your retirement planning any time before or after requesting your official benefit, you can use the benefit estimator tool through your online account.

3. Complete a retirement application at least 5 weeks from the date you intend to retire(once you receive your official estimate). Complete the application online or request a paper form.

Consider your DCP income

If you have a DCP account, you will need to withdraw these funds separately. You can also complete this withdrawal online or by using a paper form. See DCP withdrawals for more.

If you are Plan 1 or Plan 2, that’s it! If you are Plan 3, you’ll have completed your pension retirement, but you have one more source of retirement income to consider: Your investment account.

Plan 3 has two accounts

If you are in Plan 3 you have two sources of retirement income:

  1. The investment account you contribute to throughout your career.
  2. Your employer-funded pension account.

Plan 3 members withdraw these income sources separately.

This means you will submit two separate requests for withdrawing the funds in retirement. You’ll have your pension retirement application you complete with DRS (step 3 above) and you’ll set up withdrawal for your investment funds.

Here is the convenient part about having two Plan 3 accounts – You don’t have to collect this retirement income at the same time. You can choose to postpone receiving either. When you reach age 73, the IRS requires you to begin withdrawing funds from your retirement account—otherwise, the timeline is up to you.

Customers sometimes start withdrawing their retirement contributions from their investment account and delay submitting for the pension retirement—usually because they want to start the pension income when they reach full retirement age (early retirement with an unreduced pension). See this two-minute video about delaying retirement.

The timelines for withdrawing your Plan 3 investments can vary depending on where your contributions are invested. Find out more about withdrawing from your plan on your plan guide page.

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