PSERS Handbook

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1. Introduction

This Handbook summarizes the main provisions of laws that provide benefits to certain State of Georgia employees. Unless otherwise specifically indicated, the Handbook describes these laws as in effect on July 1, 2019.

It is important to remember that this Handbook is only a summary of the law, and therefore provides only general information. A summary cannot deal with every possible set of circumstances. Also, from time to time, the laws will be amended, and while we make every effort to update this Handbook in a timely fashion, there may be a period of time during which the Handbook does not reflect recent changes in the law. If something is not covered in detail in this summary, or if this summary can be read to be inconsistent with the governing laws, the law will control.

It is important that you read the entire Handbook. Reading only portions can be confusing and misleading.

1.1 About the Benefits Described in this Handbook

The Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS) was established in January 1970, for the purpose of providing supplemental retirement plan benefits for public school employees who do not belong to the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia (TRS).  These supplemental benefits are intended to be in addition to other retirement income.

Laws governing PSERS, enacted through the Georgia General Assembly, provide for lifetime retirement benefits, disability benefits, and death benefits to PSERS Members who earn enough years of service to qualify.  Members who have terminated employment may also choose to receive a refund of their Contributions plus Interest, regardless of the amount of service they earned.  Employee and Employer Contributions are paid into the retirement fund for the welfare of Members and their beneficiaries.  All benefits are paid from this fund.  Benefit structures may have changed over time, and any benefit provisions which no longer apply to any active member or apply only to a small population may not be covered in detail.

An independent actuarial firm specializing in pension and retirement plans examines the fund every year.  The actuarial firm prepares an annual valuation on the ability of the fund to meet future obligations, and every five years performs an actuarial experience study.  The System is also examined annually by an independent accounting firm.

PSERS is administered by the Employees’ Retirement System of Georgia (ERSGA).  A Board of Trustees is responsible for the administration of PSERS.  Daily operations are under the direct administration of the ERSGA Director and staff.  For more information about the Board of Trustees, please visit the PSERS Board of Trustees page.

The PSERS benefit is not intended to be a full income replacement plan, but an additional source of retirement income to Social Security and personal retirement savings. 

1.2 Contacting ERSGA

Through this website, you can:

  • Access your personal account information
  • Conduct transactions such as designating a beneficiary and estimating your retirement benefits
  • Review frequently asked questions
  • Obtain information about legislation under consideration by the Georgia General Assembly
  • Link to other websites

Inquiries related to retirement or general inquiries about ERSGA can be emailed to: ers.contacts@ers.ga.gov.

Mailing address:

Employees’ Retirement System of Georgia
Two Northside 75, Suite 300
Atlanta, GA  30318

Phone numbers:

General Number:  404.350.6300
Toll free: 1.800.805.4609 (outside metro Atlanta area)
Fax:  404.350.6310

Hours of Operation:  8:00 am to 4:30 pm ET

To contact Peach State Reserves, call toll free: 1.866.694.2777

2. Membership

Generally, membership in PSERS is a condition of employment for people who are employees of participating public school systems and who are not eligible for membership in the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia (TRS) or the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS).

2.1 Eligibility for Membership

The following individuals are eligible for membership in PSERS:

  • School bus drivers
  • School lunchroom personnel
  • School maintenance personnel
  • School custodial personnel

This Handbook refers to a person that meets these requirements as an Employee.  However, a person is not considered an Employee if he or she is classified by an employer as an independent contractor or a leased employee within the meaning of Section 414(n) of the federal Internal Revenue Code, even if the person is later reclassified as a common law employee by the Internal Revenue Service.

Some full-time managers in these positions are eligible for TRS or ERS membership and will not be PSERS Members so long as they are TRS or ERS Members.

Employees who are employed by more than one Employer can only be a Member through one of the Employers.  The Employer who has employed the Member the longest should be the Employer through which they are reported as a Member.  The Member is responsible for making sure other Employers are aware they are employed by another Employer that is reporting the Member’s membership.

Public school systems which may participate in PSERS include day schools conducted within the state of Georgia under the authority and supervision of a duly elected or appointed county or independent board of education.  Also included are postsecondary vocational-technical schools governed by the Technical College System of Georgia.

A list of public school systems participating in PSERS as of July 31, 2018 is provided in Appendix B.  These participating school systems are called Employers in this Handbook.

Please note:  The final conviction of certain crimes can affect a person’s PSERS status, as well as the claim to any benefits earned through PSERS.  Please contact ERSGA directly with questions regarding the right to benefits under these circumstances.

3. Contributions

The retirement benefits paid through PSERS are funded through Employee Contributions and Employer Contributions.  This section of the Handbook describes the contributions made on behalf of each participating Member.

3.1 Employee Contributions

During the period each year beginning in September and ending in May (inclusive), for each month a Member receives pay from the school system, they must make a monthly contribution to PSERS.  For Members who first joined PSERS prior to July 1, 2012, the required contribution is $4 each month. For Members who first joined PSERS on or after July 1, 2012, the required contribution is $10 each month. This amount is fixed; the Member may not make a smaller or larger contribution at their discretion, and the amount of the contribution does not depend on Member wages.  This means that a Member who first joined PSERS prior to July 1, 2012 will contribute up to a total of $36 during each annual 9-month contribution period, while a Member who first joined PSERS on or after July 1, 2012 will contribute a total of $90 during each annual 9-month contribution period.

The Employee Contributions put into the Member’s Employee Contributions Account start earning 4% interest (compounded annually) after being in the account for one year.  Earned interest is posted on June 30th of each year to Employee Contributions Accounts belonging to Members who are employed at that time.  Interest is not posted to any Employee Contributions Account belonging to a Member who has terminated employment.  

3.2 Employer Contributions

In addition to the Employee Contributions made to PSERS, the State of Georgia also makes additional contributions in order to provide for the Member’s Plan benefit. The Employer Contribution amount is an actuarially determined amount that is approved by the Board. It is not applied to the Member’s Employee Contributions Account, and it is not refundable to any Member.

4. Creditable Service

Creditable Service is used to determine a Member’s benefits under the Plan.

4.1 Creditable Service Overview

Creditable Service is used to determine:

  • Whether a Member has earned a right to a retirement benefit (vesting)
  • The amount of benefits payable upon a Member’s retirement

Creditable Service is made up of Prior Service, purchased service, and service credited as a Member.

For more information about how a Member’s rights to retirement benefits are determined, please see the Handbook section titled Benefits Eligibility.

For more information about how retirement benefits are calculated, please see the Handbook sections titled Service Retirement and Service Retirement Benefit Formula.

4.2 Earning Creditable Service

Members earn Creditable Service during their years of PSERS membership.  The Board is responsible for determining how Creditable Service will be calculated.  In making that determination, the Board takes into consideration the nature of the employment being considered and the number of months, weeks, days, and hours normally worked to carry out the normal duties associated with the employment.

In any case, services rendered by the Member during and throughout a regular school year will be equal to one year of Creditable Service.

4.3 Prior Service

Prior Service refers to service as an Employee between July 1, 1945 and June 30, 1970.  A Member will have their Prior Service counted as Creditable Service free of charge so long as the Member’s Prior Service plus Creditable Service earned on and after July 1, 1970 equals at least ten years of Creditable Service.  Members should contact their Employer for certification of  Prior Service.

4.4 Credit for Service While a Member of the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia

A Member cannot receive PSERS credit for service performed in a position covered by TRS. Further, if the Member is working in a TRS-covered position at the same time as they are working in a PSERS-covered position, the Member cannot be a member of both plans at the same time – they would be covered solely under TRS.

However, once the Member’s TRS coverage ends, they can get credit under PSERS for the time also worked concurrently in a PSERS position.  The Member can buy the PSERS Creditable Service by paying PSERS an amount equal to the Employee Contributions they would have paid while covered by PSERS, plus interest.

Service Credit Example:
Suppose that you have been a bus driver under PSERS for 15 years.  You then decide to take a para-professional position that is covered under TRS, while continuing your work as a bus driver.  At that time, you would become a member of TRS, and you would not be an active Member of PSERS.

Two years later, you leave your para-professional position and again maintain your position as a bus driver.  Your TRS membership becomes inactive, and once again, you become an active PSERS Member.  At that point, you may purchase your two years of bus driver time and apply it to your Creditable Service under PSERS.

4.5 Job Related Temporary Disability / Leave Without Pay

If a Member returns to employment with an Employer after a period of leave without pay (LWOP) due to a physical or mental illness or disorder caused by a job-related disease or accident, they may establish Creditable Service for a portion of the period of the absence.  The maximum Creditable Service that the Member may receive in this manner is 12 months of such absence during any five-year period.  The Member must:

  • File a written request to establish the service
  • Make a payment to PSERS equal to the applicable Employee Contributions, plus 4% interest
  • Make the payment within six months of the date of returning to employment

The Member’s Employer must also verify that the cause of the disability meets the criteria noted above.

4.6 Refund Buyback

A Member who terminates employment before becoming eligible for retirement can receive a refund of Contributions plus Interest (a.k.a. Employee Contributions Account).  If receiving such a refund, the Member forfeits all Creditable Service for the period of employment covered by the refund.

However, if the Member returns to work for an Employer and completes two additional years of PSERS membership, Creditable Service can be re-established via a buyback.  To do so, the Member must make a lump sum payment to PSERS equal to the refund amount originally received, plus 4% interest (compounded annually from the refund date to the buyback date).

For more information about how to receive a refund of your Employee Contributions Account, please see the Handbook section titled Refund of Contributions and Interest

4.7 Military Service

The Uniformed Service Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) provides Members with certain rights regarding employment and retirement benefits, if the Member performs qualified Military Service.  If returning to employment after a military leave, the Member may receive Creditable Service for the period of leave if:

  • The Member applies with PSERS in writing to establish the service, and
  • The Member pays the applicable Employee Contributions for the period of service. These Contributions must be paid within a period up to the lesser of three times the length of the Military Service, or five years.

If the Member left public school employment to perform Military Service before October 13, 1994, they should contact PSERS for information about their rights to establish Creditable Service.

If a Member is called to active duty in the National Guard or Reserves, they are permitted to make Employee Contributions to PSERS during the period of active duty. To take advantage of this opportunity, the Member must provide PSERS with a copy of orders to active duty as soon as possible after receiving them.

5. Benefits Eligibility

This section details the types of benefits PSERS Members may be entitled to, and how a Member becomes eligible for these benefits.

5.1 Benefits Eligibility Overview

The retirement benefits available to a Member under PSERS are based upon a benefit formula and are funded through both Employee Contributions and Employer Contributions.  The Member will always have a non-forfeitable right to their Employee Contributions.  However, a Member must earn a right to receive other benefits.  This right is referred to as a vested right.

The word vested means that a Member has a non-forfeitable right.  Member Contributions to PSERS are always 100% vested.  Once a Member earns ten years of Creditable Service, they have a vested right to a service retirement as early as age 60, even if the Member terminates employment before reaching age 60.

When a Member terminates employment, they may be eligible for one of the following types of benefits from the plan, depending on hire date and years of Creditable Service:

  • Normal Retirement Benefit
  • Early Retirement Benefit
  • Terminated Vested Retirement Benefit
  • Refund of Contributions and Interest
  • Disability Benefit
  • Death Benefit

Your Benefit may be forfeited under two situations:

  • Conviction of a state or federal public employment-related crime, or
  • A withdrawal of your contributions and interest 

6. Service Retirement

There are three different types of Service Retirement a Member can apply for in this Plan: Normal Retirement, Early Retirement, and Terminated Vested Retirement.

6.1 Normal Retirement

A Member can begin receiving monthly Normal Retirement benefits as early as the first day of the month following the date of attaining Normal Retirement Age. Normal Retirement Age is defined as the attainment of age 65 and ten years of Creditable Service.

6.2 Early Retirement

A Member can begin receiving monthly Early Retirement benefits as early as the first day of the month on or following age 60, provided they have at least ten years of Creditable Service. The benefit payable at Early Retirement will be an amount equal to the Normal Retirement benefit earned at that time, reduced by 6% for each year (or ½% for each month) that benefits commence prior to age 65.

6.3 Terminated Vested Retirement

A Member who terminates employment after reaching ten years of service, but prior to age 60, and does not receive a refund of Contributions and Interest, will be eligible to start drawing a reduced monthly benefit as early as age 60, or an unreduced monthly benefit at age 65.  The Member should contact ERSGA 90 days prior to the selected retirement date.

The effective retirement date will be the first day of the month in which the Member’s retirement application is received at ERSGA, or if later, the first of the month following their final month of employment.

If you withdraw your contributions and interest at any time, you will automatically forfeit the monthly benefit payable at age 60.

7. Service Retirement Benefit Formula

The Service Retirement Benefit formula is used to calculate retirement benefits.

7.1 Service Retirement Benefit Formula Overview

The benefit formula used to calculate Normal Retirement benefits under PSERS is:

Creditable Service x $15.50 = Maximum Plan Benefit

As shown above, the benefit formula calculates the amount payable at Normal Retirement Age under the Maximum Plan Benefit.  The Maximum Plan Benefit is the highest monthly benefit available, and does not provide for a monthly benefit to a beneficiary(ies).

A Member’s benefit may be reduced if they apply for an Early Retirement Benefit or if they select an optional form of payment which provides for a survivor benefit to their beneficiary(ies) upon their death.

For a reduction in benefit, the Member may elect to provide survivor benefits to a beneficiary instead of a benefit for only the Member’s lifetime. See the section titled Optional Forms of Payment.

7.2 Normal Retirement Calculation Example

You choose to commence benefits at age 65 and have elected benefit payment Option A(b), which provides for a monthly payment for your lifetime.  Upon your death, your beneficiary(ies) will receive a monthly benefit for his or her lifetime equal to 50% of the monthly benefit you were receiving.

Age at Commencement 
of Benefits
Beneficiary’s Age Years of Service
65 60 20
Step 1: Calculate the Normal Retirement Benefit

Creditable Service x $15.50
20 years x $15.50  =  $310.00 per month (Maximum Plan Benefit)

Step 2: Calculate the Option A(b) Benefit

Maximum Plan Benefit x Option A(b) Factor
$310.00 x .9055* = $280.71, monthly benefit payable to you 

$280.71 x 50% = $140.35, monthly benefit payable to your beneficiary(ies)

*The Option A(b) factor is dependent on your age and the age of your beneficiary(ies) as of your retirement effective date.  Refer to Appendix A for option factor table.

7.3 Early Retirement Calculation Example

You choose to commence benefits at age 62 and have elected to receive the Maximum Plan Benefit, which provides for a monthly payment for your lifetime. Upon your death, no further monthly benefits are payable.

Age at Commencement 
of Benefits
Years of Service
62 25
Step 1: Calculate the Normal Retirement Benefit

Creditable Service x $15.50 
25 years x $15.50 = $387.50 per month (Maximum Plan Benefit)

Step 2: Calculate the Early Retirement Benefit

Maximum Plan Benefit x Early Reduction Factor 
$387.50 x .18* = $69.75, reduction for early retirement
$387.50 – $69.75 = $317.75, monthly benefit payable to you at age 62 

*6% reduction for each year the Member is commencing benefits before age 65

8. Limitations on Benefits

Section 415 of the federal Internal Revenue Code limits the amount of benefits a Member can receive from PSERS.  The Member will be notified if the benefit that they would otherwise be eligible to receive under PSERS exceeds this limit.

9. Disability Retirement

It may be necessary for a Member to apply for a Disability Retirement at some point in their career. This section explains the requirements and process for Disability Retirement.

9.1 Disability Retirement Overview

If a Member qualifies for Disability Retirement, they will receive a PSERS benefit based upon years of Creditable Service. This benefit is not reduced for retirement earlier than age 65, regardless of age at benefit commencement.

A Member may qualify for a Disability Retirement if they:

  • Have attained at least 15 years of Creditable Service
  • Are an active employee when applying for Disability Retirement
  • Are on a leave of absence (with or without pay) while the Disability Retirement application is being processed
  • Are unable to perform their job or any offered alternative position due to a permanent medical condition(s)

Once a Disability Retirement application has been submitted, the Employer must offer an alternative position, if one is available.  The requirements for an alternative position are:

  • The physical requirements are compatible with the Member’s physical limitations
  • The annual compensation and possibility for future advancement are the same as or greater than the current position
  • The duties are reasonably compatible with the Member’s experience and educational qualifications
  • The position is covered under PSERS

The position must be available and offered in writing no later than 45 days after the disability application is submitted.  If offered an alternative position, then within 30 days of the offer, the Member must either accept the offer or dispute their ability to perform in the alternate position by submitting a written appeal to both the PSERS Medical Board and their Employer. If the Member does not accept an offered alternative position or dispute their ability to perform in the alternative position, the application for disability retirement will be denied.

The PSERS Medical Board evaluates Disability Retirement applications to determine whether the applicant is eligible for Disability Retirement based upon the inability to perform the original position, and, if applicable, an alternative position.  If the Medical Board determines that the applicant is capable of performing the duties of either position, the Disability Retirement application will be denied.

Important Application Information: A Member’s Disability Retirement application and supporting documentation must be received by ERSGA no more than 90 days in advance of and no later than 30 days in advance of the Member’s effective retirement date.  The Member’s Employer must also be supplied with a copy of the completed application, including supporting documentation, at the same time the Member files the application with PSERS.  Incomplete submissions will not be accepted.  Members who have applied for Social Security disability benefits must submit a copy of their Social Security application.

9.2 Returning to Gainful Occupation While Receiving Disability Retirement Benefits

Disability retirees cannot go back to work for the school system in the same position from which they retired.  Further, if a Member who is receiving disability benefits is engaged in or is able to engage in a gainful occupation, their Disability Retirement may cease or be reduced.  ERSGA performs audits of disability retirees on behalf of PSERS to determine continued eligibility for disability retirement benefits.

A Member who retires under Disability Retirement is subject to periodic medical re-examination.  Refusal to submit to the re-examination may result in a discontinuation of benefits until the re-examination occurs.  If the refusal continues for one year, all rights to a Disability Retirement under PSERS may be revoked by the PSERS Board of Trustees.

9.3 Disability Retirement Calculation Example

Age at Commencement 
of Benefits
Years of Service
50 15

Creditable Service x $15.50
15 years x $15.50 = $232.50  per month (Maximum Plan Benefit)

10. Death Benefits

The benefits payable to a Member’s beneficiary(ies) upon death are dependent upon employment/retirement status, age, and Creditable Service at the time of death.

10.1 Death Before Retirement, Monthly Death Benefit

Whether actively employed or inactive at the time of death, a Member’s named, living beneficiary(ies) will be eligible to receive a monthly Death Benefit if the Member meets both of the following qualifications:

  • Attainment of at least ten years of Creditable Service, and
  • Attainment of at least age 60

The monthly Death Benefit is equal to the amount the Member would have received if the Member had retired under Option A(b) (50% Survivor Benefit).

A non-living beneficiary, such as an estate or trust, cannot receive a lifetime monthly benefit.  If the Member meets the qualifications above, but either has not named a beneficiary(ies) or no living beneficiary(ies) have survived the Member, then the Death Benefit will be a lump sum payment of Contributions plus Interest, payable to the Member’s estate.

10.2 Death Before Retirement, Refund of Contributions plus Interest

If at the time of death, a Member does not meet both of the qualifications listed above for a monthly Death Benefit, then the Death Benefit will be a lump sum payment of Contributions plus Interest, payable to the Member’s named beneficiary(ies).  If the Member has not named a beneficiary(ies) or no living beneficiary(ies) have survived the Member, then the lump sum will be payable to the Member’s estate.

10.3 Death While Receiving Benefits

If a Member is receiving a monthly retirement benefit at the time of  death, then the benefits payable to their beneficiary(ies), if any, will be based on the optional form of payment the Member chose at the time of retirement.  Please see the Handbook section titled Optional Forms of Payment for more information.

10.4 Death on or After Normal Retirement Date and After Selection of an Optional Form of Payment but Before Benefit Commencement

If a Member dies after reaching Normal Retirement Date but before commencing retirement benefit payments, and the Member has made an election to receive a benefit under one of the options under Option A or Option B, then the Death Benefit payable will be based on that election, as if the Member had retired on the day before death.  Please see the Handbook section titled Optional Forms of Payment for more information about Option A and Option B.

11. Refund of Contributions and Interest

A Member may decide to take a refund of their contributions and interest after terminating employment. 

11.1 Refund of Contributions and Interest Overview

Members of PSERS are required to make Employee Contributions into the System. Members are always 100% vested in their Employee Contributions and any interest to which the Member is entitled in their Employee Contributions Account.

For more information about Employee Contributions, please see the Handbook section titled Contributions.

When terminating State employment, regardless of age or years of Creditable Service,a Member is immediately entitled to receive a refund of their Employee Contributions Account in a lump sum payment.  

Taking a refund, however, has several consequences:

  • The Member waives all other benefit rights in the PSERS plan. 
  • No other benefits will be payable to the Member or to any beneficiary(ies). 
  • If a Member has 10 or more years of Creditable Service and is vested and eligible for a monthly benefit, taking a refund cancels the right to receive a monthly benefit in the future.
  • Plan membership is terminated. If the Member is later rehired, they will become a member again under the terms of the plan in effect at the rehire date.  This is true even if the Member later buys back their refunded Creditable Service.

Employer Contributions are not refundable to the Member.

11.2 Applying for a Refund

To access your account and apply for a refund, use the Log In button at the top of the page.

For more information about buying back Creditable Service after taking a refund, please see the Handbook section titled Creditable Service, subsection Refund Buyback.

12. Optional Forms of Payment

When retiring, a Member has several ways in which to receive benefit payments. Every payment option provides a monthly benefit for the Member’s lifetime, and many of the options provide a benefit to one or more beneficiaries after a Member’s death.

12.1 Optional Forms of Payment Overview

The Maximum Plan Benefit provides the highest monthly benefit available, because it does not provide a monthly benefit to anyone after a Member’s death.  Other benefit options pay a reduced monthly benefit to the Member, in order to provide for certain specified beneficiary payments. Detailed descriptions of the various options are shown in the table below and on the following pages.

Actuarial tables are used to determine the amount of the reduction of the retirement benefit, in the event that a Member chooses one of the optional benefits. Tables used to determine the benefit payable under Options A and B are provided in Appendix A to this Handbook.  Please contact ERSGA for further information about the actuarial tables.

It is important that a Member thinks carefully about the decision before making a payment option selection.  In most cases, the Member cannot change their payment option after receiving the first monthly benefit payment.  Before making this decision, the Member should obtain an estimate calculation of the amounts payable under the various payment options.

If a Member is not married when beginning to receive their retirement benefit, and subsequently marries, they may change their benefit payment option within six months of marriage to a benefit that provides the Member’s new spouse with a survivor benefit.

Please see the section of this Handbook titled Designating a Beneficiary for more information regarding how to designate a beneficiary.

12.2 Benefit Payment Options

Maximum Plan Benefit 
(Life Annuity)

Payable to the Member:  The highest monthly benefit available, payable for the Member’s lifetime.

Payable to a Beneficiary:  No monthly benefit is payable after death.  If the Member dies before receiving total payments which at least equal the Employee Contributions Account balance, the Member’s beneficiary(ies) will receive the difference in a single payment.

Who May Be a Beneficiary:  An estate, a charity, a trust, or a living person(s).

Changing a Beneficiary:  This may be done at any time.

Option A(a)
(100% Survivor Benefit)

Payable to the Member:  A reduced monthly benefit, payable for the Member’s lifetime.

Payable to a Beneficiary:  A monthly benefit equal to 100% of the monthly benefit received during the Member’s lifetime, payable for the lifetime of the beneficiary(ies).

Who May Be a Beneficiary:  A living person(s).  If multiple beneficiaries are named, each beneficiary will receive a partial amount based on their respective ages. 

Note: This option may not be available with the election of a non-spouse beneficiary who is more than 10 years younger than the Member.

Changing a Beneficiary:  Beneficiary(ies) may not be changed after the Member receives the first monthly benefit payment.

Option A(b)
(50% Survivor Benefit)

Payable to the Member:  A reduced monthly benefit, payable for the Member’s lifetime.

Payable to a Beneficiary:  A monthly benefit equal to 50% of the monthly benefit received during the Member’s lifetime, payable for the lifetime of the beneficiary(ies).

Who May Be a Beneficiary:  A living person(s).  If multiple beneficiaries are named, each beneficiary will receive a partial amount based on their respective ages.

Changing a Beneficiary:  Beneficiary(ies) may not be changed after the Member receives the first monthly benefit payment.

Option A(c)
(Member-Determined Survivor Benefit)

Payable to the Member:  A reduced monthly benefit, payable for the Member’s lifetime.

Payable to a Beneficiary:  A monthly benefit equal to the amount chosen at the time of retirement, payable for the lifetime of the beneficiary(ies).

Who May Be a Beneficiary:  A living person(s).  If multiple beneficiaries are named, each beneficiary will receive a partial amount based on their respective ages.

Note:  This option may not be available with the election of a non-spouse beneficiary who is more than 10 years younger than the Member.

Changing a Beneficiary:  Beneficiary(ies) may not be changed after the Member receives the first monthly benefit payment

Option A(d)

Payable to the Member:  A reduced monthly benefit, payable for the Member’s lifetime.

Payable to a Beneficiary:  A monthly survivor benefit, the amount of which is determined at retirement to be the maximum amount allowed by the IRS for a non-spouse beneficiary. The survivor benefit is payable for the life of the beneficiary(ies).

Who May Be a Beneficiary: A living person(s).  If multiple beneficiaries are named, each beneficiary will receive a partial amount based on their respective ages.

Changing a Beneficiary:  Beneficiary(ies) may not be changed after the Member receives the first monthly benefit payment

Option B
(Period Certain)

Payable to the Member:  A reduced monthly benefit, payable for the Member’s lifetime.

Payable to a Beneficiary:  The benefit is guaranteed to be paid for a period of time selected at retirement (5, 10, 15, or 20 years).  If the Member lives longer than the guarantee period, there is no benefit payable to their beneficiary(ies).  If the Member dies before the end of the guarantee period, any remaining guaranteed payments will continue to be paid to their beneficiary(ies), and will stop when the end of the guarantee period is reached.

Who May Be a Beneficiary: A living person(s).  If multiple beneficiaries are named, each beneficiary will receive a partial amount based on their respective ages.

Changing a Beneficiary:  Beneficiary(ies) may be changed at any time.

13. Benefit Payment Details

Benefit payments are made the last working day of each month. Before the payments can begin, a Member must complete the retirement process and leave State employment.

13.1 Post-Retirement Benefit Adjustments

The decision to grant a Post-Retirement Benefit Adjustment will be based on the long-term financial soundness of the pension system.  Post-Retirement Benefit Adjustments are not guaranteed and financial decisions should not be based on the possibility of an increase until a Post-Retirement Benefit Adjustment has been announced.

13.2 Protection of Benefits

Benefits from PSERS are not subject to execution, garnishment, attachment, writ of sequestration, or any other process or claim, except with regard to an IRS levy, court-ordered child support, or court-ordered sanctions due to conviction of certain criminal acts. Benefits are not assignable even with a Domestic Relations Order (DRO).

13.3 Correcting a Benefit Error

The Board of Trustees of PSERS is in charge of all records of the retirement system. If a Member receives more or less than the benefit to which they are entitled due to an error, the error will be corrected upon discovery and the benefit will be adjusted accordingly. With errors, there is a potential for underpayments or overpayments. Underpayments will be made as soon as possible. For any overpayments, your repayment is required and repayment options will be discussed with the Member.

13.4 Deductions

PSERS retirement benefits are generally not assignable.  This means that only limited deductions may be made from retirement payments, such as:

  • Federal income tax 
  • Georgia state income tax 
  • Health insurance premiums 
  • Dental insurance premiums 
  • Some Credit Unions

13.5 Taxes

Employee Contributions made by a Member are contributed to PSERS on an after-tax basis, and the portion of the retirement benefits which are attributable to these Employee Contributions is determined on a pro-rated basis using tables found in the Internal Revenue Code to provide a partial tax exemption each calendar year.  

However, Employee Contributions only provide a small portion of each monthly payment. The majority of the monthly payment is taxable to the retiree and/or beneficiary(ies). When the Employee Contributions are exhausted, the total benefit check is taxable.  Each year a 1099-R is issued to every retiree and beneficiary receiving benefits to identify taxable retirement benefits when filing for income taxes.

Withholding elections (forms W-4P for federal and G-4P for Georgia state taxes) are completed at retirement. Retirees can change their tax withholding and direct deposit elections at any time by logging in to their account at the ERSGA website, or by contacting ERSGA.

14. Returning to Public School Employment

14.1 Re-employment after Commencement of Retirement Benefits

If a retiree returns to PSERS-covered employment after retirement, and is over age 65 upon rehire, the returning employee must choose whether to continue to receive their retirement benefit or to become an active PSERS Member again.  If the employee chooses to become an active Member, their retirement benefit will be suspended, they will make Employee Contributions to the pension system, and they will accrue additional Creditable Service.  Once the Member retires again, the sum of all of their Creditable Service will be used to determine their final retirement benefit.

If the employee is less than age 65 at rehire, they will automatically become an active Member upon rehire.  The Member’s retirement benefit will be suspended, and they will make Employee Contributions to the System, and will accrue additional Creditable Service.  Once the Member retires again, the sum of all of their Creditable Service will be used to determine their final retirement benefit.

If a Member attains age 65 during their period of rehire, they will have the opportunity to elect whether to continue as an active Member, or to resume receiving retirement benefits based on the Member’s new total Creditable Service accrued up to age 65.  If the Member chooses to begin receiving a retirement benefit again, then they will no longer make Employee Contributions to PSERS or accrue additional Creditable Service while remaining actively employed.

There must be a one-month break in service between the retirement date and the date of rehire.

14.2 Re-employment before Receiving a Refund of Employee Contributions Account

A Member who leaves public school employment and leaves their Employee Contributions Account with PSERS, will retain their membership rights under PSERS.  In the event that they return to active PSERS-covered employment, any previously earned Creditable Service will be added to any Creditable Service earned after re-employment.

14.3 Re-employment after Receiving a Refund of your Employee Contributions Account

When a Member receives a refund of their Employee Contributions Account, they forfeit any Creditable Service attributable to that same period of employment.

When returning to PSERS-covered employment, the Member receives a new PSERS membership date that disregards any prior membership under PSERS.  The Member’s benefits will be based on the plan rules in place for new hires at the time of re-employment.

A Member may re-establish the Creditable Service forfeited when receiving a refund, after returning to active employment and completing two additional years of PSERS membership.  To re-establish Creditable Service, the Member must make a lump sum payment to PSERS in an amount equal to the refund originally received, plus 4% interest compounded annually from the date of the refund.

Even if a Member establishes forfeited Creditable Service by paying back the refund of their Employee Contributions Account, their membership date will not be adjusted back to their original membership date, and the Member’s benefits will be based on the plan rules in place for new hires at the time of re-employment.

15. Designating a Beneficiary

15.1 Actively Employed

All active PSERS Members are strongly encouraged to designate one or more beneficiaries to receive the PSERS benefit which may be payable at the Member’s death.  

Failure to designate a beneficiary(ies) will result in any applicable death benefits for an active Member being paid to the Member’s estate.  In certain circumstances, the death benefit payable to a living person beneficiary is larger than the death benefit which may be paid to an estate. Please see the Handbook section titled Death Benefits for more information.

The Member will be asked to designate a primary beneficiary and a contingent beneficiary(ies) for their PSERS plan benefits. The Member may designate one or more primary and one or more contingent beneficiaries for each benefit.  If the Member wants their Estate to be their primary beneficiary, they do not need a contingent beneficiary.

A primary and a contingent beneficiary do not share benefits.  A contingent beneficiary(ies) will only receive a benefit if there is no surviving primary beneficiary(ies) at the time the death benefit is to be paid, or if the primary beneficiary (ies) does not survive the Member by at least 32 days.

A Member may designate their retirement plan beneficiary(ies) online by using the Log In button at the top of the page, or by contacting ERSGA directly.

All beneficiary designations must be received in the ERSGA office prior to the death of the Member in order to be effective.

15.2 At Retirement

When retiring, a Member will be asked to choose the form of the benefit they wish to receive and designate the applicable beneficiary(ies) at that time.  Please see the Handbook section titled Optional Forms of Payment for more information.

16. Appendix A – Optional Form Factors

The percentages in the following tables show the proportion of the Maximum Plan Benefit payable to you when choosing a survivor benefit.  To calculate Options A(a), A(b), and B, find the percentage relating to your age and your beneficiary’s age as of your retirement date and multiply the Maximum Plan Benefit amount by that factor.  For multiple beneficiaries or Member/beneficiary ages not listed in the table, please contact ERSGA.

Because of certain limitations under the federal Internal Revenue Code, you might not be eligible to elect the 100% Survivor Benefit under Option A if you elect a non-spouse beneficiary who is more than 10 years younger than you.  If this is applicable, you will be notified of the maximum permissible amount which can be allocated to the non-spouse beneficiary.

16.1 Option A(a):  100% Survivor Benefit

The following table shows the percentage of the monthly Maximum Plan Benefit as a result of receiving a monthly benefit in the form of Option A(a), effective July 1, 2019.

Option A(a) Factors
Beneficiary Age Retiring Member’s Age
  60 61 62 63 64 65
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
86.04%
86.55%
87.05%
87.57%
88.09%
88.61%
89.13%
89.64%
90.16%
90.67%
91.17%
91.67%
92.16%
92.64%
93.11%
93.57%
84.88%
85.40%
85.94%
86.48%
87.02%
87.57%
88.12%
88.67%
89.22%
89.76%
90.30%
90.84%
91.37%
91.88%
92.39%
92.88%
83.66%
84.20%
84.76%
85.32%
85.89%
86.47%
87.05%
87.63%
88.21%
88.79%
89.37%
89.94%
90.51%
91.06%
91.61%
92.14%
82.37%
82.93%
83.51%
84.09%
84.69%
85.29%
85.90%
86.52%
87.13%
87.75%
88.36%
88.97%
89.58%
90.17%
90.76%
91.34%
81.02%
81.60%
82.19%
82.80%
83.42%
84.05%
84.69%
85.33%
85.98%
86.63%
87.28%
87.93%
88.58%
89.22%
89.85%
90.47%
79.59%
80.19%
80.81%
81.44%
82.08%
82.74%
83.40%
84.07%
84.75%
85.44%
86.12%
86.81%
87.50%
88.18%
88.85%
89.52%

16.2 Option A(b):  50% Survivor Benefit

The following table shows the percentage of the monthly Maximum Plan Benefit as a result of receiving a monthly benefit in the form of Option A(b), effective July 1, 2019.

Option A(b) Factors
Beneficiary Age Retiring Member’s Age
  60 61 62 63 64 65
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
92.50%
92.79%
93.08%
93.37%
93.67%
93.96%
94.25%
94.54%
94.82%
95.11%
95.38%
95.66%
95.92%
96.18%
96.43%
96.68%
91.82%
92.13%
92.44%
92.75%
93.06%
93.37%
93.68%
93.99%
94.30%
94.60%
94.90%
95.20%
95.49%
95.77%
96.04%
96.31%
91.10%
91.42%
91.75%
92.08%
92.41%
92.74%
93.07%
93.41%
93.74%
94.06%
94.38%
94.70%
95.02%
95.32%
95.62%
95.91%
90.33%
90.67%
91.01%
91.36%
91.71%
92.06%
92.42%
92.77%
93.12%
93.47%
93.82%
94.16%
94.50%
94.83%
95.16%
95.47%
89.51%
89.87%
90.23%
90.59%
90.96%
91.34%
91.71%
92.09%
92.46%
92.84%
93.21%
93.58%
93.94%
94.30%
94.65%
94.99%
88.64%
89.01%
89.38%
89.77%
90.16%
90.55%
90.95%
91.35%
91.75%
92.15%
92.54%
92.94%
93.33%
93.72%
94.10%
94.47%

16.3 Option B:  Period Certain

The following table shows the percentage of the monthly Maximum Plan Benefit as a result of receiving a monthly benefit in the form of Option B for various guarantee periods, effective July 1, 2019.

Option B Factors
Member Age B-B05
5 Year 
Certain &
Life Option
B-B10
10 Year 
Certain &
Life Option
B-B15
15 Year 
Certain &
Life Option
B-B20
20 Year 
Certain &
Life Option
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
99.38%
99.28%
99.18%
99.07%
98.95%
98.81%
98.65%
98.46%
98.25%
98.02%
97.77%
97.48%
97.17%
96.82%
96.42%
95.97%
97.61%
97.28%
96.93%
96.54%
96.10%
95.62%
95.09%
94.49%
93.83%
93.11%
92.33%
91.46%
90.51%
89.46%
88.29%
86.99%
94.98%
94.36%
93.70%
92.97%
92.17%
91.31%
90.36%
89.31%
88.18%
86.97%
85.65%
84.23%
82.70%
81.04%
79.26%
77.35%
91.86%
90.96%
89.99%
88.95%
87.83%
86.62%
85.32%
83.91%
82.41%
80.83%
79.15%
77.38%
75.52%
73.57%
71.52%
69.40%

17. Appendix B

17.1 Departments and Agencies Participating in PSERS as of July 1, 2018

Appling County Schools
Atkinson County Schools
Atlanta City Schools
Bacon County Schools
Baker County Schools
Baldwin County Schools
Banks County Schools
Barrow County Schools
Bartow County Schools
Ben Hill County Schools
Berrien County Schools
Bibb County Schools
Bleckley County Schools
Brantley County Schools
Brooks County Schools
Bryan County Schools
Bulloch County Schools
Burke County Schools
Butts County Schools
Calhoun County Schools
Camden County Schools
Candler County Schools
Carroll County Schools
Catoosa County Board of Education
Charlton County Schools
Chatham County Schools
Chattahoochee County Schools
Chattooga County Schools
Cherokee County Schools
City of Bremen Schools (Haralson)
City of Buford Schools (Gwinnett)
City of Calhoun Schools (Gordon)
City of Carrollton Schools (Carroll)
City of Cartersville Schools (Bartow)
City of Chickamauga Schools (W
City of Commerce Schools (Jackson)
City of Dalton Schools (Whitfield)
City of Decatur Schools (Dekalb)
City of Dublin Schools (Laurens)
City of Gainesville Schools (Hall)
City of Jefferson Schools (Jackson)
City of Marietta Schools (Cobb)
City of Pelham Schools (Mitchell)
City of Rome Schools (Floyd)
City of Social Circle Schools (Walton)
City of Thomasville Schools (Thomas)
City of Trion Schools (Chattooga)
City of Valdosta Schools (Lowndes)
City of Vidalia Schools (Toombs)
Clarke County Schools
Clay County Schools
Clayton County Schools
Clinch County Schools
Cobb County Schools
Coffee County Schools
Colquitt County Schools
Columbia County Schools
Cook County Schools
Coweta County Schools
Crawford County Schools
Crisp County Schools
Dade County Schools
Dawson County Schools
Decatur County Schools
Dekalb County Schools
Dodge County Schools
Dooly County Schools
Dougherty County Schools
Douglas County Schools
Early County Schools
Echols County Schools
Effingham County Schools
Elbert County Schools
Emanuel County Schools
Evans County Schools
Fannin County Schools
Fayette County Schools
Floyd County Schools
Forsyth County Schools
Franklin County Schools
Fulton County Schools
Furlow Charter School
Georgia Magnet Charter School
Gilmer County Schools
Glascock County Schools
Glynn County Schools
Gordon County Schools
Grady County Schools
Greene County Schools
Gwinnett County Schools
Habersham County Schools
Hall County Schools
Hancock County Schools

Haralson County Schools
Harris County Schools
Hart County Schools
Heard County Schools
Henry County Schools
Houston County Schools
Irwin County Schools
Jackson County Schools
Jasper County Schools
Jeff Davis County Schools
Jefferson County Schools
Jenkins County Schools
Johnson County Schools
Jones County Schools
Kipp Metro Atlanta Collaborative Inc
Lamar County Schools
Lanier County Schools
Laurens County Schools
Lee County Schools
Liberty County Schools
Lincoln County Schools
Long County Schools
Lowndes County Schools
Lumpkin County Schools
Macon County Schools
Madison County Schools
Marion County Schools
McDuffie County Schools
McIntosh County Schools
Meriwether County Schools

Metro RESA
Miller County Schools
Mitchell County Schools
Monroe County Schools
Montgomery County Schools
Morgan County Schools
Murray County Schools
Muscogee County Schools
Newton County Schools
Northwest Georgia RESA
Ocmulgee Regional Library System
Oconee County Schools
Oglethorpe County Schools
Paulding County Schools
Peach County Schools
Pickens County Schools
Pierce County Schools
Pike County Schools
Polk County Schools
Pulaski County Schools
Putnam County Schools
Quitman County Schools
Rabun County Schools
Randolph County Schools
Richmond County Schools
Rockdale County Schools
Schley County Schools
School for Arts Infused Learning Sail
Scintilla Charter Academy
Screven County Schools
Seminole County Schools
Southwest Georgia Stem Charter Schools
Spalding County Schools
Stephens County Schools
Stewart County Schools
Sumter County Schools
Talbot County Schools
Taliaferro County Schools
Tattnall County Schools
Taylor County Schools
Telfair County Schools
Terrell County Schools
The Globe Academy
Thomas County Schools
Tift County Schools
Toombs County Schools
Towns County Schools
Treutlen County Schools
Troup County Schools
Turner County Schools
Twiggs County Schools
Union County Schools
Upson County Schools
Walker County Schools
Walton County Schools
Ware County Schools
Warren County Schools
Washington County Schools
Wayne County Schools
Webster County Schools
Wheeler County Schools
White County Schools
Whitfield County Schools
Wilcox County Schools
Wilkes County Schools
Wilkinson County Schools
Worth County Schools