Questions and Answers
Below are answers to some commonly-asked questions. You will find this information in the handbook. Should you need a more detailed explanation, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
1. How much of my salary do I pay towards retirement?
Members of the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Retirement System contribute 8% of their gross pensionable salary towards retirement. Their employing agency contribute 11% of the gross pensionable salary.
2. When am I eligible for retirement?
A member of the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Retirement System is eligible for retirement after completing 20 years of actual service.
3. What is credited service?
Credited Service is the period during which the member participated in the System as an eligible employee of one of the participating agencies.
4. Does my time in other systems count towards my credited services?
If you were initially in the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System “OPERS” and were transferred into OLERS by legislation, that time with OPERS is treated as credited service. This service time will count as credit service and will count towards your necessary 20 years of service for retirement or vesting.
If you changed positions that moved you from OPERS, another state pension plan, or other law enforcement retirement system to OLERS, then the service time (up to 5 years of service time) must be purchased within two (2) years of entering OLERS. However, this service does not count towards your twenty years for retirement. Once again you must purchase this time within two (2) years of becoming a member of OLERS.
5. Does my prior law enforcement time count towards my credited service?
You can purchase up to 5 years of prior law enforcement time. However, you must purchase the time within two (2) years of entering OLERS. This time will not count towards your initial twenty (20) years of service for retirement.
6. How does my sick leave affect my retirement?
You can use up to one (1) year (1,920 hours) of sick leave towards your retirement. You cannot use the year of sick leave to reach the necessary twenty (20) years of credited service. The sick leave only increases the years for benefit calculation purposes. If you enter the Forward DROP plan, you can only use the sick leave that you have accrued at the time of electing Forward DROP.
7. Can I use sick leave if I vest?
Yes. You can use sick leave if you vest. However, the sick leave time will not entitle you to begin receiving vested benefits any earlier. The sick leave will only increase your monthly benefit once you begin to receive it. If you return to work under a position covered by OLERS you will not be able to use sick leave a second time.
8. Do I have to complete 20 years of service to be entitled to a benefit?
No. If you are sixty-two (62) years of age and you have 10 years of service you are eligible for a retirement benefit. Also, if you are sixty-two (62) years of age and would have been vested had the member remained in OPERS instead of transferring to OLERS.
9. What is vesting, and how many years does it take to vest?
Vesting is when you complete ten (10) years of service with OLERS. If you have completed ten (10) years of service you are entitled to terminate service and elect a vested benefit. This benefit will be based on 2.5% for each year of credited service, multiplied by your final average salary. You are not entitled to begin to draw this benefit until which time you would have completed twenty (20) years of service. You can also use any accrued sick leave to increase your monthly benefit.
10. What if I have fewer than 10 years of service?
If you have less than 10 years of credited service you can request a refund of your accumulated 8% contributions. Once your contributions are paid to you, your credited service goes to zero.
11. What if I return to work under OLERS and I had previously refunded all my contributions
If you return to work WITHIN 3 years of your previous termination, you can repay the amount of refunded contributions and regain your credited service. If you return to work AFTER 3 years you will have to purchase your prior law enforcement time. (see FAQ #5)
12. What is the final average salary?
Final Average Salary is the average of the 30 highest, consecutive paid gross salaries. It is commonly called “High 30.”
13. I have completed my Twenty (20) years of services. What am I entitled to?
You are entitled to a monthly benefit based on your final average salary, multiplied by 2.5% of each year of credited service. This monthly benefit is pro-rated on a monthly basis as well. At 20 years of credited service you are eligible to enroll in Forward DROP. You can run estimates from the OLERS website.
14. Do I have to retire at Twenty (20) years of service?
No, you can continue to work until you choose to quit.
15. What is DROP?
“DROP” stands for Deferred Retirement Option Plan. The Deferred Retirement Option Plan was started to give retirees more options when it came to retirement. DROP allows the members with more than twenty (20) years of service the opportunity to save their monthly retirement benefit and continue to work for their employing agency for a maximum of five (5) additional years. When you enter DROP your monthly benefit amount is calculated and frozen at that time. The only increases that will be made to your benefit will be COLAs granted by the legislature. Your
monthly benefit will be put into an account for you along with half of the 11% employer contributions made by your employing agency. This account will accrue interest. The interest rate will be 2% points less than the investment return of the fund for the fiscal year, or at a minimum, the assumed interest rate which is currently 7.5%.
16. What is BACK DROP?
Back Drop is the same thing as DROP, only you do not have to elect to enter the plan until you are ready to actually leave the service of your agency. Back DROP gives you more freedom with your retirement decisions. The accumulated total and monthly benefit are the same for both DROP and Back DROP when you are looking at the same five year period. You will also receive a refund of member contributions that you paid during the Back DROP period.
17. If I wish to do the BACK DROP and something happens to me before I elect to participate, does my spouse have this option?
Yes. If something happens to you before you make the Back DROP election and you have at least 20 years of service, your spouse will be able to elect Back DROP or a DROP conversion.
18. Do I have to withdraw my money from OLERS?
Yes. Once your five (5) years is completed, you must withdraw your total accumulated monies from DROP. You have the option to take cash payment or roll it directly into some other type of financial vehicle. When making the decision of what to do with your DROP money, please seek financial advice. There are serious tax consequences if you do not make wise decisions.
19. How do I retire?
Contact the OLERS office around 60 days prior to your last day you will be paid, and we will assist you with all the necessary steps to retire.
20. What should I know about insurance retirement?
There are many things to keep in mind regarding insurance once you retire. OLERS provides a monthly $105 medical benefit that helps you, the member, pay for the member’s health insurance in retirement as long as you stay with one of Oklahoma’s state health insurance plans.
OU/OUHSC/OSU Police do NOT receive the $105 medical benefit as they are not covered by the Oklahoma state insurance plans
If you are going to work for another agency covered by state insurance OR your spouse is currently covered by another Oklahoma state agency, you will want to “defer” your insurance with OLERS so that once you terminate your employment with that agency, you can start your insurance deduction with us. You MUST notify OLERS once you plan on returning your insurance to OLERS. Once that happens, you will receive the $105 medical benefit.
21. What if I want to find my own health insurance?
You can find your own health insurance coverage, BUT you will lose the $105 medical benefit and you will NOT be able to return to any of the state’s insurance plans.
22. I'm over 65, what do I need to know?
If you are over age 65, you are Medicare eligible and will need to be enrolled in Medicare Part A & B at least 60-90 before your retirement. Once you retire, you will be able to sign up for one of the state’s Medicare Supplement plans and you will get the $105 medical benefit.
23. Is there an OLERS insurance guide available?
Yes, it can be found here on the OLERS website, you can request a copy to be emailed or stop by our office.