GSEPS FAQ

The new Georgia State Employees' Pension and Savings Plan (GSEPS) has two components –

▪ a traditional Defined Benefit plan component (guaranteed by the state), and
▪ a 401(k) savings plan with an employer matching contribution.

The GSEPS Defined Benefit Plan has a pension benefit formula of 1% x years of service x highest average salary* and does not include Group Term Life Insurance, therefore the employee contribution is correspondingly reduced from 1.5% to 1.25%. Vesting is 10 years minimum creditable service.

Current employees who were ERS members as of December 31, 2008 (i.e. covered under the ERS “New” plan) or who are rehired with “New” plan coverage may opt-in to GSEPS at any time on or after January 1, 2009. This transfer of retirement plan membership significantly alters your pension benefit rights. Please review the Opt-In information carefully before choosing to transfer your membership. Once transferred, the decision is irrevocable.

*Average of the highest 24 consecutive calendar months of salary while a member of the retirement system.


Comparison of the ERS “New” plan (membership prior to 1/1/09) to GSEPS
 Feature  ERS "New" Plan GSEPS
  Vesting Period for Pension 10 years creditable service
  Vesting Period for 401(k) Employer Match Not Offered 5 Years

(for “New” plan members who transfer membership, vesting begins as of date of Opt-In)

  Group Term Life Insurance Available Not Available
  Pension Benefit Formula Pension Benefit Formula
Salary x 2% x years of
Creditable Service
Pension Benefit Formula
Salary x 1% x years of
Creditable Service
  Pension Benefit Formula Salary Average of 24 highest consecutive calendar months
  Employee Pension Contribution* 1.25% of Compensation
GTLI Employee Contribution .25% of Compensation None - no GTLI coverage
  Service Retirement Eligibility Normal Retirement- minimum 10 years creditable service at age 60, certain law enforcement positions, 10 years creditable service at age 55;

30 Year Retirement – 30 years of creditable service at any age,

Early Retirement - 25 years – 29 years 11 months creditable service under age 60 with a reduction of 7% for each year under age 60 or each year under 30 years service, whichever is less. There is a maximum reduction of 35%.
  Disability Retirement Monthly Death Benefit (calculated as follows):
Employed prior to July, 2007 13 years 4 months - 18 years 0 months =
75% of age 60 benefit; no change in salary

18 years 1 month - 22 years 9 months=
Age 60 benefit; no change in salary

22 years 10 months - 27 years 6 months=
75% of age 65 benefit; no change in salary

27 years 7 months or more=
Age 65 benefit; no change in salary
 Employed after July, 2007 through January 2009 13 years and 4 months of creditable service and have at least 24 consecutive months as an ERS member              

 

Not eligible if age 60 or attained 30 years creditable service. Disability benefits for these employees will be calculated the same as a service retirement under the New Plan, but without regard to age:

 

Pension Benefit Formula Salary x 2% x years of Creditable Service
  Employed after January 1, 2009 15 years of creditable service and have at least 24 consecutive months as an ERS member

 

Not eligible if age 60 or attained 30 years  creditable service. Disability benefits for these employees will be calculated the same as a  service retirement under the New Plan, but without regard to age:

 

Pension Benefit Formula Salary x 1% x years of Creditable Service


*"Old Plan" retirement plan members have slightly different contribution rates and benefits. Please review the ERS Member Handbook for full details on retirement benefits for members currently covered under either the "Old" or "New" retirement plan.


How does GSEPS work?

It’s really simple. GSEPS is a combination Defined Benefit/401(k) plan and works as follows:

The Defined Benefit (DB) plan component:
Mandatory – with a cost to the employee of 1.25 % of salary (same as the ERS "New" plan). The benefit multiplier is 1% for each year of service. Vesting has the same requirement as the ERS "New" plan (10 years). The cost to the state is based on actuarial requirements (same as the ERS "New" plan).

The 401(k) plan component:
Uses the Peach State Reserves 401(k) Plan. Effective July 1, 2014, new employees are automatically enrolled* to contribute 5% of their compensation. The 5% contribution enables employees to take full advantage of the available employer matching contributions, resulting in an addtional 3% of eligible compensation being invested toward the employee's retirement.

Employees may contribute more than 5%, subject to federal rules, with no match. State matching contributions to the 401(k) plan will vest over 5 years at 20% per year. The employee’s own savings amounts are always 100% vested. See example match calculation below, as well as vesting schedule.

*Employees can choose to “opt-out” of this contribution and forego any match. Once enrolled, they will have 90 days to discontinue participation and receive a refund of contributions. After 90 days, employees may still discontinue and reenroll at any time, however no refund of contributions will be made.


Example of a 401(k) Match:
Based on an annual salary of $30,000 paid semi-monthly
Contribution Contribution amount
per pay period
Employer Match
per pay period
1% $12.50 $12.50
2% $25.00 $18.75
3% $37.50 $25.00
4% $50.00 $31.25
5% $62.50 $37.50

Employee may contribute over 5% to the plan, but will only be matched on contributions through the 5th%

$37.50
401(k)Vesting Schedule*
Years of continuous service in a
GSEPS-eligible position
Vested Amount
After 1 year 20%
After 2 years 40%
After 3 years 60%
After 4 years 80%
After 5 years 100%


*Note: For the GSEPS 401(k) plan component, any break in service of greater than 31 days will cause the 5-year 401(k) vesting schedule to begin again as of the new date of hire. For employees who transfer retirement plan membership to GSEPS, the 401(k) vesting begins as of the date of Opt-In.


I'm currently a member of the ERS "New" Plan. If I transfer my retirement plan membership to GSEPS, how will this affect my pension benefit?

With GSEPS the vesting period for the pension plan is the same (10 years of creditable service, including service already completed under the ERS “Old” or “New” plan), but the Pension Benefit Formula Factor upon which the amount you receive at retirement is based changes from 2% for each year of service to 1%. If you transfer membership from the ERS “Old” or “New” plan by opting-in to GSEPS, your pension plan retirement benefit will be calculated as a pro-rata share of both Formula Factors, based upon actual service under each plan. This means the benefit for the years of service completed prior to Opting-In is frozen at the 2% rate, and all service completed after Opting-In will be calculated at the 1% rate (assuming you accrue enough total years of service to vest for the pension benefit — 10 years).



Age 29, with 1 year creditable service as of date of Opt-In - retires at age 58
Pension Benefit Formula Pro-Rated Benefit % of Formula Salary
1 year x 2% (ERS 'New' Plan) 2%
29 years x 1% (GSEPS) 29%
Total 31%
Formula Salary $4,000
Retirement Benefit $1,240



I currently participate in the Peach State Reserves 457 Plan. Will my 457 contributions be matched if I’m covered under GSEPS?

For current participants in the Peach State Reserves 457 plan, your 457 contributions will NOT be matched. If you are a member of the ERS “New” plan and want to transfer your retirement plan membership to GSEPS, completion of the GSEPS Opt-In form and election of a contribution percentage will automatically enroll you in the 401(k) plan, however 457 contributions will not change unless you access your PSR account and change or stop those contributions.


I’m a member of the ERS “New” plan and currently participate in the Peach State Reserves 401(k) Plan. If I Opt-In to GSEPS, will my current contributions automatically be matched?

If you are a member of the ERS “New” plan and want to transfer your retirement plan membership to GSEPS you must make a new contribution election as a percentage of salary, via the GSEPS Opt-In form.



If I’m currently covered under either the ERS “Old” or “New” plan, and I leave my job with the state but return to state employment at a later date will I be covered under GSEPS?

There are various scenarios that affect your retirement plan eligibility. You will be covered by GSEPS on your return if:

at separation from state service, you accepted a refund of your contributions or
at separation from state service, you had less than 10 years of service (vested) and your break in service was greater than 4 years.

Note: If you left with vested rights under ERS (10 years of creditable service) and did not take a refund, you would retain your Old or New Plan coverage under ERS regardless of the length of the break in service. For the GSEPS 401(k) plan component, any break in service of greater than 31 days will cause the 5-year 401(k) vesting schedule to begin again as of the new date of hire.


Will Appellate court judges continue to have the optional benefits provided in Code Section 47-2-244 in lieu of GSEPS?

Yes. Any “appellate court judge” (any Judge, Presiding Judge, or Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals and any Associate Justice, Presiding Justice, or Chief Justice of the Supreme Court) shall be entitled to receive the benefits under provisions of Code section 47-2-244 in lieu of any retirement allowances otherwise available under this retirement system and in lieu of the appointment to or the holding of any emeritus office upon written notice of same to the ERS Board of Trustees within 60 days after the commencement of the judge’s term of office. The election is irrevocable. Such judge shall resign from office as an appellate court judge on or before the day upon which he or she attains 75 years of age or on the last day of the term in which such appellate court judge is serving when he or she attains age 70, whichever is later. After ten years of service as an “appellate court judge”, such judge shall be entitled to receive during life a retirement benefit payable monthly equivalent to 75 percent of the salary of an appellate court judge then serving in the office from which such judge retired. The monthly employee contribution is 8.5% of the judge’s earnable compensation for each pay period and an additional .50% for group term life insurance.


Will Law Enforcement Personnel continue to have special benefits under GSEPS?

Yes. Line of Duty Disability for any member in service in the Uniform Division of the Department of Public Safety, a conservation ranger or deputy conservation ranger of the Department of Natural Resources, a parole officer employed by the State Board of Pardons and Paroles, an officer or agent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, an alcohol and tobacco officer or agent of the Department of Revenue, and a probation officer employed by the Department of Corrections.

Injury occurred in the line of duty
Benefit equal to the greater of, 24% of monthly salary plus $150, or 1% x service at age 55 x monthly salary
Maximum payable for life of member only – no optional allowances for survivor


Early Service Retirement for any member in service in the Uniform Division of the Department of Public Safety as an officer, noncommissioned officer, or trooper, an officer or agent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, a conservation ranger of the Department of Natural Resources, an alcohol and tobacco officer or agent of the Department of Revenue, or an officer or agent of the Special Investigations Unit of the Department of  Revenue.

Must have minimum 10 years of creditable service
Must be at least age 55
Benefit equal to 1% x years of service x average of highest 24 consecutive calendar months of salary while a member of the retirement system
Choice of maximum plan payable for life of member only or optional allowance

 

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