ERSGA Glossary

Overview

ERSGA Glossary

Bolded terms denote terms defined in this glossary.

90% Rule (ERS)

The monthly Service or Disability Retirement benefit received from an ERSGA plan cannot exceed 90% of the highest monthly salary received as a state employee. If the calculated benefit exceeds 90% of the highest monthly salary, the member should consider receiving the excess benefit as either a partial lump sum under the PLOP option or as an additional benefit to a named beneficiary.

Actuarial Tables

Tables of factors created by actuaries that take into account age, mortality rates, and interest assumptions.  These tables are often used to calculate an Optional Form of Payment or the cost of additional pension. 

Annuitant

Any retired member or beneficiary receiving a monthly retirement benefit.

Annuity

Payment of twelve equal monthly installments for each year of the annuitant’s lifetime.

Beneficiary

Individual or entity designated by a member to receive available benefits in the event of the member’s death. Designations must be received by ERSGA to be valid. ERSGA cannot pay benefits in accordance with a will or other such document. Some death benefits are only payable to a designated living person, so it is important to review beneficiary designations regularly.

Board of Trustees

The body defined in Georgia law which is responsible for the administration, investments, and govern

ance of a pension system under O.C.G.A. Title 47.

Contribution Limits

Each year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) [IRS 402(g)] announces the maximum contribution that can be made to a 401(k) or 457 Plan for the next calendar year. The contribution limit includes both pre-tax and Roth contributions, and is applied to the Peach State Reserves 401(k) and 457 Plans separately.

Creditable Service

Creditable Service is used to determine eligibility for a benefit as well as the amount of that benefit. Creditable Service consists largely of Membership Service and can also include prior service, purchased service, transferred service, or military service, depending on the plan. Members earn a year of Membership Service for each year (according to each plan’s definition of ‘year’) they contribute to a plan.

Death Benefits

The benefits payable upon the death of a member or retiree to the designated beneficiary(ies). Before retirement, death benefits are dependent upon employment status, age, and Creditable Service. After retirement, death benefits are determined by the option elected by the retiree at retirement.

Defined Benefit Plan

A retirement plan which provides a benefit based on a formula rather than an account value. The formula is often based on Creditable Service and/or salary.

Defined Contribution Plan

A retirement plan, such as a 401(k), in which a certain amount or percentage of money is set aside each year by a member and/or employer and placed in an account for the member’s benefit. Generally, interest or investment earnings are also added to this account. The benefit at retirement is based on the account value at that time. The contributions can be made on a pre-tax or Roth post-tax basis.

Earliest Retirement Date

The earliest date at which a member is eligible to retire under their retirement plan. This date is generally based on the member’s birth date and/or the member’s Creditable Service.

Earnable Compensation

Earnable Compensation generally means the full rate of regular compensation payable to a member for their full normal working time, excluding any supplements from local funds. Some members of certain plans are subject to IRS compensation limits [IRS 401(a)(17)].

Employee Contributions

Contributions made by or on behalf of a member to their retirement plan, normally as a percentage of Earnable Compensation.

Employee Contribution Account Balance  

The sum of all amounts deducted from a Member’s Earnable Compensation, or paid by the Member to establish or reestablish credit for service together with regular Interest.  The Employee Contribution Account Balance includes the amount of Employee Contributions paid by the Employer (i.e., pickup) on behalf of the Employee, which is credited to the Employee’s individual account, together with regular Interest.  If applicable, this balance excludes employee contributions paid by the employer or the employee for Group Term Life Insurance (GTLI).

Employees’ Retirement System (ERS)  

Retirement plan administered by ERSGA covering eligible State of Georgia Employees.

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Employer Contributions

Contributions made by an employer to a retirement plan to fund plan benefits. These contributions are not applied to the member’s employee contribution account, and are not refundable to the member.

Forfeited Leave Service

Forfeited leave time (which consists of forfeited annual leave, forfeited sick leave, and accrued sick leave) may be converted to Creditable Service at the time of retirement if a total of at least 960 hours has been accrued as certified by the member’s last employer. The member will receive one month of Creditable Service for every 160 hours of forfeited leave. 

Formula Salary

Formula Salary is often used to calculate retirement benefits. 

GaBreeze

Name for the program that includes the Peach State Reserves (PSR) and flexible benefits plans for the State of Georgia.

Georgia Defined Contribution Plan (GDCP)

Retirement plan administered by ERSGA covering temporary, seasonal, and part-time employees of the State of Georgia who are not eligible for membership in the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS), the Teachers Retirement System (TRS), or any other retirement system under Title 47, Georgia State Law.

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Georgia Judicial Retirement System (GJRS) 

The Georgia Judicial Retirement System (GJRS) provides retirement benefits for Superior Court Judges, District Attorneys, State Court Judges, Solicitors-General of the State Courts, Juvenile Court Judges, and certain employees of the Attorney General’s Office or Legislative Counsel of the Georgia Assembly.

As of July 1, 1998, active, inactive, and retired members of the Superior Court Judges Retirement System, District Attorneys’ Retirement System, and Trial Judges and Solicitors Retirement Fund (Predecessor Systems) were transferred to GJRS.

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Georgia Military Pension Fund (GMPF) 

Retirement plan administered by ERSGA established for the purpose of providing Georgia National Guard members a supplemental state retirement benefit. 

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Georgia State Employees’ Pension and Savings Plan (GSEPS)

The Georgia State Employee’s Pension and Savings Plan (GSEPS) was established for employees first or again becoming ERS Members on or after January 1, 2009. The GSEPS retirement benefit is comprised of a Defined Benefit Pension Plan and a 401(k) Plan with a matching employer contribution.

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Group Term Life Insurance (GTLI)

The Group Term Life Insurance (GTLI) benefit provides a death benefit for eligible members and is administered by the State Employees’ Assurance Department (SEAD) Board. The GTLI benefit provides coverage to both active and retired members of ERS (Old and New Plans), LRS members, and certain GJRS members, who began working for the state prior to January 1, 2009,

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Interest

Interest at such a rate as determined by the Board of Trustees, which is compounded annually and is limited to a minimum of two percent (2%).

Leave Without Pay (LWOP)

Leave Without Pay (LWOP) is a temporary non-pay status and absence from duty. LWOP may affect Earnable Compensation and Creditable Service, depending on the duration of the member’s leave. In some instances, Creditable Service may be purchased for LWOP.  

Legislative Retirement System (LRS)

Optional retirement plan administered by ERSGA covering members of the Georgia General Assembly. 

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Maximum Plan Benefit 

The Maximum Plan Benefit provides the highest monthly benefit available to a new retiree, and does not provide a monthly benefit after the retiree’s death. Also known Life Annuity.

Membership

Participation in a retirement plan administered by ERSGA.

Membership Date

The beginning date of membership eligibility and contributions in an ERSGA plan. A break in service may impact membership start date. 

Membership Service

Service credited for each month contributions are made to the plan by eligible members. This is used to determine retirement eligibility and benefit amount.

New Plan

ERS Retirement Plan tier with membership start date after July 1, 1982 and before January 1, 2009.

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Normal Retirement Benefit

The full, unreduced monthly retirement benefit available to vested members at Normal Retirement Date.  

Normal Retirement Date

First date for which a member is eligible to a full, unreduced retirement benefit. This date is based on the member’s birth date and/or Creditable Service.

Old Plan

ERS Retirement Plan tier with membership start date before July 1, 1982.

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Optional Forms of Payment

Optional Forms of Payment are varying ways to receive benefit payments at retirement. Every payment option provides a lifetime monthly benefit for the member, and many of the options provide a benefit to one or more beneficiaries after the member’s death.

Partial Lump-Sum Payment (PLOP)

A lump-sum distribution of a portion of an ERS member’s pension benefit in exchange for a reduced monthly benefit.

Peach State Reserves (PSR)

Peach State Reserves (PSR) is comprised of two Defined Contribution retirement plans, which are sponsored by ERSGA and administered through GaBreeze. The two separate plans, a 401(k) and a 457(b), offer eligible participants the opportunity to save and invest funds for retirement.

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Pension Benefits 

The retirement benefits available to a member of an ERSGA plan are based upon a benefit formula and are funded through Employee Contributions and/or Employer Contributions. The member will always have a nonforfeitable right to their Employee Contributions. However, a right to receive other benefits must be earned through Creditable Service. This right is referred to as a Vested right.

Pension ID

The unique code which identifies a Member’s record in the ERSGA system.

Post-Retirement Benefit Adjustment

An increase in retirement benefits after retirement. Also referred to as a Cost-of-Living Adjustment COLA.

Each year, the Boards of Trustees may consider post-retirement benefit adjustments for retirees.  The decision is based on the long-term financial soundness of the pension systems.  Post-retirement benefit adjustments are not guaranteed and financial decisions should not be based on the possibility of an increase. GSEPS members hired on or after July 1, 2009 are not eligible for an increase to their benefit.

Prior Service

State service prior to becoming a member of an ERSGA plan, which can be used as Creditable Service (under certain plans and conditions). 

Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS)

Supplemental retirement plan administered by ERSGA covering public school employees who do not belong to the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia (TRS). 

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Refund 

Under certain ERSGA plans, a member who terminates employment, but has not yet retired (or is not eligible to retire) has the option to receive a refund of employee contributions and interest in a single payment. Members who receive a refund of contributions and interest waive all other benefit rights in the ERSGA plan.  No other benefits will be payable to the member or beneficiary(ies). 

Note: If a member is vested, taking a refund will forfeit pension benefits for life.

Refund Buyback

If a member takes a refund and is later rehired, the member may make a repayment of the refund amount plus interest to re-establish Creditable Service (subject to service requirements).

Rollover

Upon separation from service, certain funds may be rolled into another qualified defined contribution plan in order to maintain the tax-sheltered status of the assets. 

Roth Contribution Savings Plan Option

Roth Contributions Saving Plan Option allows after-tax dollar contributions to Peach State Reserves (PSR) plans. Withdrawal of those Roth contributions and their investment earnings are tax-free after retirement (subject to certain restrictions).

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Section 415 Limit

Section 415 of the Internal Revenue Code limits the amount of benefits that can be received from a retirement plan. Members will be notified if their retirement benefit exceeds this limit.

State Employees’ Assurance Department (SEAD)

The Group Term Life Insurance (GTLI) benefit is administered by the State Employees’ Assurance Department (SEAD) Board. The GTLI benefit provides coverage to certain active and retired members of ERS, LRS, and GJRS. No new members can be added to the GTLI plan per legislation passed in 2008 and 2009.

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State Health Benefit Plan (SHBP)

The State Health Benefit Plan (SHBP) is a Division of DCH. It serves as the state’s administrator of health insurance coverage for State employees, Teachers, Public School employees, Retirees, and Former Employees, and Covered Dependents. Pursuant to 29 U.S.C § 1003(b), SHBP is a non-federal governmental self-insured plan, which is exempt from the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).  

Survivor Annuity

Benefits payable to a person who is entitled to an Annuity based on the service of a deceased member (if applicable).

Teachers Retirement System of Georgia (TRS)

TRS administers the fund from which teachers in the state’s public schools, many employees of the University System of Georgia, and certain other designated employees in educational-related work environments receive retirement benefits. 

Vesting

Vesting in an ERSGA retirement plan is the irrevocable right to a retirement benefit at normal retirement age, generally by attaining a certain number of years of Creditable Service

Vesting in PSR under GSEPS is the right to a refund of Employer matching contributions by attaining a certain number of years of Creditable Service.