ERS Employee Termination
If I terminate employment with the state, what retirement benefits can I get?
- If you are age 60 and have at least 10 years of creditable service under the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS), you can retire with a lifetime monthly benefit.
- If you have at least 30 years of creditable service, you can retire with a lifetime monthly benefit.
- If you have at least 25 years of creditable service, you can retire with a reduced lifetime monthly benefit. The reduction is 7% for each year of service fewer than 30 years, or for each year you are under age 60, whichever is less.
- If you are under age 60 and have at least 10 years of creditable service, but not 25 years, you are eligible for a lifetime monthly benefit beginning at age 60.
To find out the amount of your monthly benefit, use the Log In button at the top of any page to access your account. Choose Generate a Benefit Estimate on your dashboard. You can also call ERSGA and request an estimate in the mail.
What about my balance in the Peach State Reserves (PSR) 401(k) and 457 Plans?
If you have funds in Peach State Reserves (PSR) account, you will have two decisions to make:
- What to do with your ERS retirement benefit
- What to do with your PSR balance.
If you are retiring directly from employment and would like to use all or part of your PSR balance to buy additional lifetime income, call ERSGA and request a quote for Air Time.
If your PSR account, including vested Employer contributions in your 401(k), is at least $1,000, you can leave your balance in PSR with the following benefits:
- Continued tax-deferred status on your investments
- Access investment advice
- Ability to manage your investments and transfer money among funds.
If you want to withdraw your balance from PSR, you must wait until 30 days after leaving employment to request your withdrawal. You will owe tax on all funds from non-Roth accounts, and Roth accounts that have not met the five-year investment rule.
If you are under age 59 ½, there is an early withdrawal penalty for any funds withdrawn from your 401(k). You can access your PSR account at GaBreeze.ga.gov.
I don’t have 10 years of ERS service. What can I get?
You can get a refund of your ERS contributions and interest. You may also leave the money with ERS if you plan to return to state service and again become a contributing member of ERS. Your account will not accrue any further interest while you are not a contributing member.
Should I get a refund from ERS?
Anyone who has terminated employment can get a refund from ERS. Taking a refund, however, has several consequences:
- You give up any right to a lifetime monthly benefit.
- You end your plan membership. If you are later rehired, you will become a member again under the provisions of law in effect at your date of rehire.
- If your ERS membership date is currently before 2009, your ERS Group Term Life Insurance (GTLI) coverage will end when you take a refund.
If you do not take a refund and begin another position covered by ERS within 4 years of termination, you retain the membership rights you had at termination and will pick up where you left off.
What if I get a refund and return to state service at a later date?
If you take a refund of your ERS contributions and interest, upon rehire you will be covered under the retirement plan offered to new hires at the time of rehire. You may buy back your refunded service by:
- Completing 2 additional years of ERS membership, and
- Repaying a lump sum equal to the withdrawn amount plus 4.25% interest compounded annually from the date of refund to the date of repayment.
Upon receipt of payment, service will be credited to your current, active ERS membership.
What if I find employment covered by the Teachers Retirement System (TRS)?
If you have at least 10 years of ERS service and have not received a refund, you can choose to remain a member of ERS – but you must make this decision within 60 days of your TRS hire date.
If you become a TRS member, you can transfer your ERS service to TRS. If you have taken a refund of your ERS service, you might be able to buy back your ERS service in TRS by repaying your refund to TRS. If you become a TRS member, you should contact TRS for further information.
If I get a refund, will I have to pay taxes?
You will be responsible for paying federal taxes, and any penalties (if applicable), on the untaxed money in your account. Generally, your contributions to ERS have already been taxed and only the interest earned on your contributions is taxable.
If your taxable amount is at least $200, you can roll it over to a qualified retirement plan or individual retirement account. Monies rolled over are not taxable until they are withdrawn. If your non-taxable amount is at least $200, you can roll it over to a Roth IRA. Consult a tax professional or the IRS for further information.
How can I apply for a refund of my contributions?
To request a refund, use the Log In button at the top of any page to access your account, and choose Request a Refund.
What happens to my life insurance?
You may have two kinds of life insurance:
Group Term Life Insurance (GTLI) through ERS (pre-2009 members only)
If your ERS membership date is before 2009 and you start your ERS retirement benefit immediately upon termination of state employment, you will keep your GTLI coverage. At retirement, the amount of coverage reduces to 70% of your coverage prior to retirement (or at age 60 if earlier) and no further premiums are payable.
If you are not yet eligible for ERS retirement but you have at least 18 years of ERS service, you can continue your GTLI coverage. Premiums of 1% of your final monthly salary accumulate each month until you retire.
Life Insurance through Flexible Benefits (that you choose each year during Open Enrollment)
For more information about your Flexible Benefits, contact GaBreeze.
Can I buy additional service?
If you are retiring directly from active employment, you can buy up to 3 years of Air Time service at retirement. You pay the full cost of the increase in your monthly pension benefit, so this is much more expensive than just your employee contributions.
Air Time cannot be counted toward the 10 years of service needed to become vested in an ERS benefit, but it can be used to help you reach 25 or 30 years of service.
I’m eligible to purchase prior refunded service or military service. Can I buy that later?
You may only purchase service while you are an active, contributing member under ERS – not after terminating employment.
Can I keep my Health Insurance and Flexible Benefits?
If you are retiring directly from active employment, you can keep your health and dental insurance. All questions concerning health insurance should be directed to the State Health Benefits Plan (SHBP) at shbp.georgia.gov. All questions concerning Flexible Benefits should be directed to the Department of Community Health or call GaBreeze at 1.877.342.7339.
If my employment is terminated, when will I get my check for unused annual leave?
Questions about payments for unused annual leave should be directed to your HR or payroll office. If you’re interested in sheltering your annual leave payment from income taxes, you can contribute most of the payment into the Peach State Reserves 457 plan (if eligible).