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Entry Date

Your Entry Date is the date you began participation in OPERS. For State & Local Government and Hazardous Duty Employee members, participation in OPERS begins on the first day of the month immediately following the beginning date of employment, provided all three of the following requirements are met:

  1. The position you hold is permanent, not seasonal, temporary or emergency; and
  2. The position you hold requires at least 1,000 hours of work per year; and
  3. Your monthly salary is equal to or greater than the minimum wage.
  4. State and Local Government and Hazardous Duty Employees who became members on or after January 1, 1983, must have six or more full years of full-time-equivalent employment with a participating employer to be eligible to retire under any of the eligibility requirements for normal, early, or disability retirement.

For Elected Officials, participation begins on the date the member takes office in a participating state or county elected office covered by OPERS.


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Step-Up Program

The Step-Up program allows qualified members to pay an additional employee contribution to increase, or 'step-up', the retirement benefit computation factor used to calculate OPERS benefits. Only full years of service accrued while Step-Up contributions are being paid will be calculated using a 2.5% benefit computation factor; there is no rounding of partial years of service credit in the Step-Up program. All other service, including excess months in the Step-Up program, will be calculated using the standard 2.0% computation factor.


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Elected Official Contribution Rates

Members first elected or appointed before November 1, 2011, were offered a choice of the following employee contribution rate and corresponding retirement benefit computation factor at which they participate in OPERS:

  • 4.5% contribution rate, 1.9% computation factor
  • 6.0% contribution rate, 2.5% computation factor
  • 7.5% contribution rate, 3.0% computation factor
  • 8.5% contribution rate, 3.4% computation factor
  • 9.0% contribution rate, 3.6% computation factor
  • 10.0% contribution rate, 4.0% computation factor

Members first elected or appointed on or after November 1, 2011, participate at a 3.5% contribution rate and have their elected benefits calculated using a 2.0% retirement benefit computation factor. These members are also eligible to participate in the 2.5% Step-Up Program.


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Withdrawals of Member Contributions

If your employment with a participating employer terminates without retirement, you may withdraw the money you have paid in to OPERS. You will lose all service credit earned before the date of withdrawal and will no longer be a member of OPERS. No accumulated interest or increased value is paid on the money withdrawn. The employer's share of contributions always remains in OPERS. Withdrawal cancels all service purchases and any future repurchase will be at new actuarial cost.



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Participating Service - State & Local Government/Hazardous Duty

You earn participating service credit by working and paying retirement contributions on salary earned or having paid leave to cover time off.

  1. Full-time participating service credit is earned for your full-time employment.
  2. All part-time employment or periods of leave without pay are prorated in relation to full-time employment. For example, half-time employment earns 1/2 month of participating service.
  3. An employee who is not receiving pay and for whom contributions are not being paid is not earning participating service.
  4. You do not earn service credit for Worker's Compensation payments but you can choose to take advantage of a temporary total disability purchase.
  5. No deductions in service credit or salary are made for involuntary furloughs as provided for by OAC 590:10-3-13.

A member who is absent from work due to voluntary or involuntary military service can take advantage of the right, created under the Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), to buy back service credit lost during the military absence. Certain time limits and conditions must be met, and contributions may be required to be paid before service can be granted. To assert rights under USERRA, see your Retirement Coordinator, or contact OPERS immediately upon your return to employment.


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Participating Service - Elected

Participating elected service credit is accumulated after you take office and begin to participate in OPERS as an Elected Official. If you quit or your term of office ends and you come back to work as a non-elected OPERS member, you are no longer considered an Elected Official for retirement purposes. You would become subject to retirement eligibility provisions for a non-elected member of OPERS and only the elected portion of your service would be calculated under the elected official's benefit calculation provisions.

A member who is absent from work due to voluntary or involuntary military service can take advantage of the right, created under the Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), to buy back service credit lost during the military absence. Certain time limits and conditions must be met, and contributions may be required to be paid before service can be granted. To assert rights under USERRA, see your Retirement Coordinator, or contact OPERS immediately upon your return to employment.


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Unused Sick Leave

A maximum of six months of unused sick leave may be added to your service credit according to your employer's unused sick leave policy. The following is a conversion of hours of unused sick leave to months of OPERS service credit:

  • Less than 160 hours of unused sick leave = 0 months of OPERS service credit
  • 160 - 319 hours = 1 month
  • 320 - 479 hours = 2 months
  • 480 - 639 hours = 3 months
  • 640 - 799 hours = 4 months
  • 800 - 959 hours = 5 months
  • Greater than 960 hours = 6 months

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Creditable Military Service Credit

Not all military service is creditable towards retirement in OPERS. However, if you are an active member of OPERS who served in the Armed Forces of the United States and received an honorable discharge, you are eligible for up to five years of service credit for the specified periods of active military service during which you were a war veteran.

The credit is limited to specific periods of active military service listed in paragraph 23 of Section 902 of Title 74 of the Oklahoma Statutes. Other qualifying periods of military service include wars or military operations which lasted for 90 days or more and are authorized by Congressional authorization or resolution or Presidential Executive Order.

Eligible military service is free for members joining OPERS prior to July 1, 2000. Members joining after June 30, 2000, may purchase eligible military service at actuarial cost. Employees joining OPERS after June 30, 2003, will not receive credit for military service in OPERS if the credit was already received for the same period(s) of military service in another Oklahoma state retirement system.

The actual periods for which military service can be granted are governed by Oklahoma State statute and can change from time to time. Consult OPERS or the statutes for more information.


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Purchased or Transported Service

There are several different types of service purchase available to qualifying members including:

  • Purchase of Service from other State Retirement Systems
  • Purchase of Prior Service
  • Purchase of Incentive Credit
  • Purchase of Oklahoma Employment Securities Commission (OESC) Credit
  • Purchase of Elected Service
  • Purchase of Termination Credit

Purchase Service From Other State Retirement Systems

You may purchase service credit for years of credited service you accumulated while you were a member of the:

  • Oklahoma Firefighters Pension and Retirement System
  • Oklahoma Police Pension and Retirement System
  • Uniform Retirement System for Justices and Judges
  • Oklahoma Law Enforcement Retirement System
  • Oklahoma Teachers' Retirement System.

However, service from the above systems may only be credited if you are not receiving, or eligible to receive, retirement credit or benefits for that same service in any other public retirement system.

You have an alternative to purchasing service credit for service earned with the Oklahoma Teachers' Retirement System (OTRS). "Transporting" is a way of purchasing credit in OPERS for service earned in the Oklahoma Teachers' Retirement System (OTRS). The OTRS employee and employer contributions on deposit for you, plus interest, will be available for transport to OPERS to purchase the service credit. Only currently participating members of OPERS can transport service earned with OTRS. Contact OTRS in writing to start the transport process.

Purchase of Prior Service
Prior service refers to the period of employment with an eligible employer before that employer began participating in OPERS. Certain military service also qualifies as prior service. Members who were employed by an agency which entered this System after January 1, 1975, can purchase prior service credit for their employment with that agency from January 1, 1975, until the agency's entry into this System.

Purchasing Incentive Credit
A member may purchase up to two years of age and/or participating service incentive credit combined. To qualify, you must be actively participating in OPERS and:

  1. Eligible for normal or early retirement because of age; or
  2. Within two points of eligibility for normal retirement (78 points toward the Rule of 80, or 88 points toward the Rule of 90); or
  3. Within two years of eligibility for early retirement; or
  4. A non-elected OPERS retiree who has returned to work.

Incentive credit cannot be purchased to become eligible for disability benefits. Incentive credit purchased by a retiree who has returned to work will not count toward the 36 months of full-time-equivalent re-employment required for re-retirement after waiving benefits.

Purchase of OESC Service
A member may purchase OPERS service credit for any years of employment the member had with the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC) if the member is neither receiving nor eligible to receive service credit.

Purchase of Elected Service
A currently non-elected member may purchase OPERS service credit for previous service as an Elected Official if the member is not receiving or eligible to receive retirement credit for the same service with any other public retirement system.

Purchase of Termination Credit
The purchase of termination credit allows an eligible OPERS member to preserve the same normal retirement date as he or she would have had if the member's position had not been terminated by an approved reduction-in-force.



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Free Prior Service

Prior service refers to the period of employment with an eligible employer before that employer began participating in OPERS. Certain military service also qualifies as prior service. Prior service is granted free of charge to all eligible members only if your employer joined OPERS before 1975. Proof of such service will have to be verified in writing by the Retirement Coordinator of each participating employer from payroll and personnel records on file in their office.

Members who were employed by an employer that joined OPERS after 1974, are not eligible for free prior service credit. However, you can purchase credit for service before 1975 at the actuarial cost, as computed by OPERS.



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Bonus Years

Required employee contributions you paid prior to June 30, 1977, count as bonus years of participating service credit if the contributions are on deposit with OPERS at the time of your retirement. You are entitled to no more than five bonus years. If you lost bonus years through a withdrawal from OPERS, repayment of the withdrawal will reinstate the lost bonus years.

Contributions Participating Service
$1.01 to $500 1 year
$500.01 to $1,000 2 years
$1,000.01 to $1,500 3 years
$1,500.01 to $2,000 4 years
$2,000.01 + 5 years


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Final Average Salary - State & Local Government/Hazardous Duty

Your Final Average Salary is used to calculate your OPERS retirement benefit. If you became a member before July 1, 2013, this is the average of your compensation during your highest three years out of the last 10 years of participating service prior to retirement (including highest three longevity payments). If you became a member on or after July 1, 2013, this is the average of your highest five years out of the last 10 years of participating service prior to retirement (including highest five longevity payments).

For members who did not elect to pay contributions on compensation above $25,000 prior to 1994, annual compensation for years 1988 to 1994 is capped at $25,000, if used to calculate your Final Average Salary. Additional salary caps may apply in limited circumstances if salary from more than ten years ago is used to determine your Final Average Salary.



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Highest Annual Compensation - Elected Official

Your highest annual compensation received as an Elected Official prior to retirement is used to calculate your OPERS retirement benefit. Only compensation on which retirement contributions have been paid is used in the calculation.



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Maximum (Single-Life Annuity)

Members may choose from one of four types of retirement benefit payments. Each of these payment options has one thing in common: they each pay a lifetime monthly benefit to the member. The payment options differ in what, if any, benefit is left behind for a survivor upon the death of the member.

The Maximum benefit, as the name suggests, is the maximum retirement benefit you can receive from OPERS. It is an unreduced benefit and is paid monthly for your lifetime and ceases the last day of the month you pass away. There is no survivor benefit to be paid with the Maximum option. Married members may elect this type of benefit only with spouse consent.



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Option A (1/2 Joint and Survivor Annuity)

Members may choose from one of four types of retirement benefit payments. Each of these payment options has one thing in common: they each pay a lifetime monthly benefit to the member. The payment options differ in what, if any, benefit is left behind for a survivor upon the death of the member.

Under Option A, you will receive a reduced retirement benefit during your lifetime. After your death, one-half of your reduced retirement benefit will be paid to your surviving joint annuitant for the remainder of his or her lifetime. Your joint annuitant must be a specific person. All married members must retire under Option A, unless your spouse consents to your retirement under one of the other benefit options. If you are divorced or your spouse is deceased, you will need to provide proof of the divorce or death.



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Option B (100% Joint and Survivor Annuity)

Members may choose from one of four types of retirement benefit payments. Each of these payment options has one thing in common: they each pay a lifetime monthly benefit to the member. The payment options differ in what, if any, benefit is left behind for a survivor upon the death of the member.

Similar to Option A, Option B provides a reduced retirement benefit to you during your lifetime. After your death, the same monthly benefit is paid to your surviving joint annuitant for his or her lifetime. Under federal limitations, Option B is only available to you if you choose your spouse as joint annuitant or you choose a non-spouse joint annuitant who is no more than 10 years younger than you. Married members may only elect this type of benefit with spouse consent.



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Option C (Single-Life Annuity with a 10-Year Term Certain Period)

Members may choose from one of four types of retirement benefit payments. Each of these payment options has one thing in common: they each pay a lifetime monthly benefit to the member. The payment options differ in what, if any, benefit is left behind for a survivor upon the death of the member.

Under Option C, a reduced retirement benefit is paid to you during your lifetime. If you die within the first 10 years of the start of benefit payments, the same monthly payment will be made to your beneficiary (or beneficiaries) for the balance of the 10-year period. If you live longer than 10 years after your retirement date, no monthly benefits will be paid to your beneficiary after your death. Your beneficiary does not have to be a specific person, and multiple beneficiaries may be named.

The amount of benefits payable under Option C is based on your age. Married members may only elect this type of benefit with spouse consent.

If you die with no living beneficiaries, or if your beneficiaries die before the expiration of the 10-year period, the person responsible for the estate will be given the option for the estate to either: 1) receive monthly benefits for the remainder of the 10-year period; or 2) receive the present value of the remaining benefit payments in a one-time, lump-sum distribution.

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Maximum (Single-Life Annuity with Automatic 1/2 Survivor Annuity) - Elected Only

This option is only available to those who have accured at least six years of Elected Service and are retiring as an Elected Official. The maximum type of benefit is paid monthly for your lifetime and includes an automatic 50% survivor benefit for your eligible spouse. Your surviving spouse must have been married to you for at least three continuous years preceding your death. Your surviving spouse is disqualified from receiving survivor benefits when he or she remarries. If your spouse predeceases you, your Maximum benefit ceases the last day of the month of your death. Married members may elect this type of benefit only with spouse consent

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