Montana Public Employee Retirement Administration

Leaving Employment

If you are leaving employment, you have several options regarding your retirement funds. You are not required to make an immediate decision regarding your retirement contributions.

It is your choice. 

You may leave your contributions in the plan administered by MPERA to grow tax deferred, up until you reach age 72.  If you leave your contributions in a plan and later return to the same retirement system, you can rejoin the plan and continue your membership where you left off. 

  • If you are vested, you can leave your money on account and draw a lifetime benefit once you reach normal retirement age. 
  • Keep your service credit and earn additional credit if you return to a covered position.

By law, we are required to refund money to members with an account balance of:

  • less than $200; and
  • between $200 and $1,000 unless you submit a rollover application within 90 days from your termination of service.

You can choose to roll funds of $200 or more into another eligible plan.  However, if your account balance is less than $1,000 we must receive your rollover application within 90 days from your termination of service or it will be distributed to you as a lump-sum.  An application to rollover an account balance greater than $1,000 is not subject to the 90 day time limit to submit a rollover application.

You are responsible for confirming that the new plan will accept your rollover.

If you take a refund or distribution from your account, the federal law requires us to withhold 20% of the distribution for federal income tax purposes. State tax withholding may also apply.

Once you take a refund or distribution, you also have the option of rolling it over into an IRA or a qualified employer’s plan. Amounts not rolled over within the 60-day time frame will be taxed to you as ordinary income tax in the year received.

If you are under 59 ½ years old, you may also have to pay a 10% additional income tax for early distributions. Please contact a tax professional before making a final decision.

If you choose a direct rollover or distribution, you will need to have severed employment for at least 30 days and have been paid out all compensatory, annual and sick leave.

Defined Benefit Plan Members:

You will receive a refund of your contributions plus interest.  Per Montana statute, employer contributions are not refundable.

Defined Contribution (DC) Plan Members (PERS only):

  • Non-vested members: You will receive a refund of your contributions plus earnings.  If you are not vested, employer contributions are not refundable.
  • Vested members (5 years of membership): You will receive a refund of your contributions and the employer contributions plus earnings.

For more information or to schedule a meeting with an Empower Representative, visit mperadcplans.com

If you are a vested, retirement eligible member at the time you leave employment, you can apply for your retirement benefit. If you are an inactive member who becomes retirement eligible and does not intend to return to work for an employer who participates in a MPERA administered retirement system, consider applying for your retirement benefit. Your lifetime retirement benefit will not grow beyond what you earned when you were working for a MPERA administered plan-participating employer.

If you separate from employment, you have the following options with your 457(b) account:

  • Leave your account in the 457(b) until a future date.
  • Withdraw your money in one of the approved methods.
  • Roll over your money to another qualified retirement plan.

The IRS requires you to take a required minimum distribution starting at age 72 unless you are still employed. As with any financial decision, you are encouraged to discuss moving money between accounts, including rollovers, with a financial advisor and to consider costs, risks, investment options and limitations prior to investing.