Montana Public Employee Retirement Administration

The Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) is a public pension plan for employees of the state, university system, and local governments. The 1945 Legislature created PERS to grant service retirement, disability retirement, or survivor benefits to plan members and their beneficiaries. Unless another state plan covers the position, PERS will cover all state and university workers. Local governments may contract with the Public Employees’ Retirement Board (Board) to cover their workers under PERS.

PERS membership is mandatory if you work in a full-time PERS-covered position. There are exceptions for certain positions.

Membership will continue until you end your employment in all PERS-covered positions.

Membership and Benefits


New employees in the following positions have the option to become members of PERS:

  • Elected officials of state or local government who are paid on a salary or wage basis, or are receiving PERS retirement benefits.
  • Employees scheduled to work less than 960 hours per fiscal year (cumulative if working in more than one PERS position).
  • Employees directly appointed by the Governor.
  • Employees of the legislative branch, working 10 months or less, performing work related to the legislative session.
  • Chief administrative officers of a city or county.
  • Employees of a county hospital or rest home.

If you decline membership, you cannot later become a member of PERS while still employed with the same employer but in a different optional position.

The following types of employees are not eligible to become PERS members:

  • Inmates or residents of state institutions or correctional institutions.
  • Persons in state institutions mainly for training, but who receive compensation.
  • Independent contractors (except PERS retirees).
  • Persons who receive credit for their current employment in any other public retirement plan, except Social Security.
  • Court commissioners, elected officials, or members appointed to boards or commissions who serve part-time and receive only per diem.
  • Full-time students working at and attending the same public school, community college, or unit of the state university system.
  • Substitute teachers or part-time teachers’s aides who may elect to join the Teacher’s Retirement System (TRS).

As a new PERS-covered employee, you need to choose a beneficiary for your account.

You can designate any persons, charitable organization, estate, or trust (for the benefit of a living person) you wish as a beneficiary(ies). Beneficiaries are either primary or contingent. Contingent beneficiaries will receive a payment or a benefit only if no primary beneficiary survives you.

You can designate your beneficiaries on a PERS Designation of Beneficiary form. Click here to download a pdf form or complete the form electronically through DocuSign.

Your beneficiary information is important. It is necessary that you keep it up to-date. Consider updating your beneficiary information if you get married or divorced, become a parent or your beneficiary dies. Your beneficiary information is printed on your Annual Benefit Statement, which is mailed to you every July. Review the statement carefully. If your beneficiary information is outdated, please update it as soon as possible.

Updates to beneficiary information will take effect when received by MPERA. Any change is not effective until the form is received in our office.

If you are prohibited from changing your current beneficiary designation by a temporary restraining order (TRO) issued under § 40-4-121, MCA, such a change will not be effective while the TRO is valid.

Member Contributions

All members must pay part of their gross compensation to PERS. The current contribution rate for members is 7.9%. This rate will be reduced to 6.9% when the annual valuation determines the amortization period is below 25 years.

Interest: Your PERS account earns interest each month. Although you would receive your interest if you withdraw your account, if you retire the interest credited to your account will not affect the amount of your monthly retirement benefit. All interest credited is tax-deferred.

Taxation: Contributions paid to PERS before July 1985 were taxed. If you have taxed money on account, part of your monthly benefit or refund will not be taxed. Contributions paid to PERS after July 1985 are tax-deferred. This means state and federal taxes are not paid until you receive the money as a benefit or refund.


Employer Contributions for Fiscal Year 2022

State and University employers contribute 6.90% of their total PERS-covered payroll, plus an additional 2.07% to the pension trust fund, for a total of 8.97%.

Local government employers contribute 6.80%, plus an additional 2.07% with the State contributing 0.10% for a total of 8.97%.

School district employers pay 6.80% of their total payroll each month plus an additional 1.80% with the State contributing 0.37% for a total contribution of 8.97%.

Employer contributions are not refundable and provide “pooled” funds for retirement, disability and death benefits.

State Contributions
House Bill 648 passed by the 65th Montana Legislature created a statutorily appropriated contribution. This statutory contribution increases by 1% each year, starting in Fiscal Year 2018. This increase should remain until at least 2025, when the 69th Legislature will be required to review the 1% increase.

Under the provisions of this bill, the PERS Pension Trust will receive the following amounts based off the appropriations and increases:

Fiscal Year 2022: $32.926 million
Fiscal Year 2023: $33.255 million
Fiscal Year 2024: $33.588 million
Fiscal Year 2025: $33.925 million

The amount of time you work and contribute to PERS affects the amount of your retirement benefit. Your monthly benefit will depend on the number of years you work in a PERS-covered position, whether you work full or part-time, any purchases of service and your highest average compensation.


Membership Service

We use membership service to determine if you are eligible for vesting, retirement, or other PERS benefits. You earn one month of membership service for any month you contribute to PERS, regardless of the number of hours you worked or the pay you received during that month.

Vesting

You are “vested” after you accumulate five years of membership service. Once vested, you are entitled to any retirement benefits for which you are eligible. If you withdraw your accumulated contributions, you are no longer vested and you will give up your right to any PERS benefits.

Service Credit

We use service credit to calculate the amount of your benefit. If you work 160 hours or more in any month, you earn one month of service credit. If you work less than 160 hours, you will receive proportional service credit.

For example, if you work 80 hours you earn one-half of a month of service credit. However, if you work at least 2,080 non-overtime hours in a fiscal year and are reported as working less than 160 hours in any months during that year, you will receive one full year of service credit.
Service credit is granted when you are paid.


Part-time Service

If you work part-time, we will adjust either your service credit or your Highest Average Compensation (HAC) at retirement. We adjust one or the other to prevent a double reduction of your benefit. You will not see the adjustment to your service credit until retirement.

Wondering how termination pay impacts the calculation of your retirement benefit? Lump-sum payments at termination that are includable as compensation for retirement purposes based on your retirement system, are included in the calculation of your HAC.

HIGHEST AVERAGE COMPENSATION (HAC) - your highest average monthly compensation during a set period, either 36 or 60 consecutive months of membership service and is used in the calculation of your retirement benefit.

How Does A Lump Sum Payment Affect Your Retirement Calculation? 

Each system defines compensation, or what is included as compensation for retirement purposes, slightly different. If, for example, payout of sick and vacation are considered compensation at termination, then that payout will be included in the calculation of your HAC, by replacing lower compensation months with the same number of higher compensation months. For members of PERS hired:

  • before July 1, 2011, your HAC is 36 months.
  • after July 1, 2011, your HAC is 60 months.

Contributions you make to a VEBA account at termination are not considered compensation for retirement purposes and will not be included in the calculation of your HAC.


Example:

In the following example, Wanda has her highest 36 months of compensation from 2010-2012.

2010: 12 months x $1500 per month = $18,000
2011: 12 months x $1800 per month = $21,600
2012: 12 months x $2000 per month = $24,000

$18,000 + $21,600 + $24,000 = $63,600 / 36 = $1,766

Before Payout: HAC = $1,766.

She then received a sick/annual payout of $20,000. If we divide that amount ($20,000) with her normal month’s salary ($2,000), we come up with 10 months at the higher $2,000. MPERA will drop the lowest 10 month’s salary ($1,500) (at the beginning of the 36 month period) and add 10 months at the highest salary ($2,000).

Payout = $20,000; $20,000 divided by $2000 = 10 months;
10 months of $2000 HAC is added
10 months of $1500 HAC is dropped

02 months x $1500 = $3,000
12 months x $1800 = $21,600
12 months x $2000 = $24,000
10 months x $2000 = $20,000

$3,000 + $21,600 + $24,000 + $20,000 = $68,600 / 36 = $1,905

After Payout: HAC = $1,905. When recalculated, Wanda’s HAC is $1,905 ($139 greater than the original HAC).


Compensation Limit - For a member hired on or after July 1, 2013, the following amounts of excess earnings in the calculation of a member’s highest average compensation are not included:

  • for the first year included in the calculation, any compensation that is greater than 110% of the compensation paid to the member in the previous year; and
  • for each subsequent year included in the calculation, any compensation that is greater than 110% of the compensation included in the calculation for the previous year.

Defined benefit retirement plans use a set or defined formula to calculate your benefit. Benefits are based on the law in effect at the time of your termination from employment; therefore, some information found here may not apply in specific cases. The formula for a PERS monthly service retirement benefit depends on your hire date, your years of membership service and years of service credit. The formula for a PERS monthly service retirement is:

Retirement Factor x Years of Service Credit x HAC = Monthly Benefit

Your benefit is calculated based on:

  • Retirement Factor - a percentage based on your years of service defined in law.
  • Years of Service Credit - the amount of service you earned through employment.
  • HAC - (Highest Average Compensation) is the average of a set number of highest consecutive months of salary, depending on when you were hired. For members hired on or after July 1, 2013, HAC will be capped at 110% on compensation earned during each year of the highest average compensation period.
If you were hired before July 1, 2011, your HAC is 36 months.
If you were hired on or after July 1, 2011, your HAC is 60 months.

SERVICE RETIREMENT For Members Hired Before July 1, 2011

To qualify for a service retirement, you must meet the following age or service requirements:

  • Age 60 with at least five years membership service;
  • Attain age 65 while employed; regardless of years of membership service
  • 30 years of membership service at any age.

Your PERS retirement benefit is based on your highest consecutive 36 months of compensation. This does not have to be your last 36 months of employment.

If you have the following years of membership service:

  • Less than 25 years: 1.7857% x Years of Service Credit x HAC
  • 25 years or more: 2% x Years of Service Credit x HAC
Members hired after July 1, 2011

To qualify for a service retirement, you must meet the following age or service requirements:

  • Age 65 with at least five years membership service; or
  • Age 70 and in active service.

Your PERS retirement benefit is based on your highest consecutive 60 months of compensation. This does not have to be your last 60 months of employment.

If you have the following years of membership service:

  • More than 5 and less than 10: 1.5% x Years of Service Credit x HAC
  • Less than 30 more than 10: 1.7857% x Years of Service Credit x HAC
  • 30 years or more: 2% x Years of Service Credit x HAC

Members hired before July 1, 2011 are eligible for an early retirement benefit with either:

  • Age 50 with at least five years membership service; or
  • 25 years of membership service at any age.

For early retirement, MPERA will reduce the amount of your service retirement benefit by an Early Retirement Factor (ERF). The ERF depends upon how many years it will take you to reach age 60, or 30 years of membership service.

Members hired on or after July 1, 2011 are eligible for an early retirement benefit upon reaching age 55 with at least five years membership service. The ERF will depend on how many years it will take you to reach age 65.

To qualify for a disability retirement, you must meet the following requirements:

  1. Your disability must occur during your active membership.
  2. You must be a vested member (have at least five years of membership service).
  3. Your disability must be permanent, or at least of extended and uncertain duration.
  4. Your disability must totally prevent you from doing the essential functions of your job even with reasonable accommodation.
  5. Your employer has defined the essential elements of your job and shown reasonable accommodation was attempted for the disabling condition(s) in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Effective Date of Disability Retirement Benefit

You should apply for the disability retirement benefit while you are still an active member, or within 120 days after termination of your PERS employment. You will need to prove your disability occurred during PERS employment. If you are approved for a disability retirement benefit, it will go into effect the day after you terminate your employment. To receive disability retirement benefits, you will need to terminate all current PERScovered employment. If you terminate your employment and apply for the disability retirement benefit after four months have passed, you will need to prove your disability occurred before you terminated and that it has been continuous from when you terminated.

Eligible members hired before July 1, 2011 - The PERS disability retirement benefit is based on your highest consecutive 36 months of compensation. This does not have to be your last 36 months of employment.

  • Less than 25 years membership service:  1.7857% x Years of Service Credit x HAC
  • 25 years or more membership service:  2% x Years of Service Credit x HAC

Eligible members hired on or after July 1, 2011 - The PERS disability retirement benefit is based on your highest consecutive 60 months of compensation. This does not have to be your last 60 months of employment.

  • More than 5 years but less than 10 years of membership service: 1.5% x Years of Service Credit x HAC
  • 10 or more but less than 30 years of membership service: 1.7857% x Years of Service Credit x HAC
  • 30 years or more membership service: 2% x Years of Service Credit x HAC

NOTE: This is the same formula used to calculate your service retirement benefit except there is no reduction in the benefit amount for early retirement. A disability retiree may elect any of the four benefit payment options available to service retirees.

Earnings Limit

While receiving a disability benefit, you can earn income (other than from PERS-covered employment), but your benefit will be reduced if the amount of your benefit plus your income together exceed the monthly amount you were earning when you became disabled. For any month that your other income plus your disability retirement benefit is more than the limit, MPERA will reduce your benefit $1 for every $1 your earnings are over the limit.

After receiving a disability retirement benefit for 36 months, the board will annually adjust your limit for inflation.

The earnings limit applies to income you earn from employment in a position that is not covered by PERS. If you accept a PERS-covered job, we will reinstate you to active service and cancel your disability retirement benefit.

Disability Reviews

At its discretion, the Board may review the medical condition of any member receiving a disability benefit. Periodic reviews are performed to determine if the member still qualifies for disability retirement. The Board may require the recipient of a disability retirement benefit to undergo a medical examination at the Board’s expense.

Disability Benefit Cancellation

The Board will cancel your disability retirement in the following cases:

  • You are no longer disabled; or
  • You accept another PERS-covered job; or
  • You refuse to submit to a current medical exam or provide updated medical records. Contact us for complete details about disability benefits and how to apply.

NOTE: If you are still disabled when you reach normal retirement age, we will convert your disability retirement to a service retirement. The benefit amount will not be recalculated. Converting to a service retirement will end medical reviews and eliminate the disability earnings limit. If you accept a PERS-covered job after conversion, your earnings limits will be the same as for all other service retirees.

At retirement, PERS offers four benefit payment options. The option you choose determines whether or not the benefit continues to someone else (a contingent annuitant) after your death. If you choose an option to provide income for someone after you die, your monthly retirement benefit will be reduced. The reduction depends upon the option you choose, your age and the age of your named contingent annuitant.

Generally, once you receive and accept your first benefit payment, you cannot change your retirement option, except under specific circumstances.

For more information regarding option factors, see Board Admin 09 on our website at mpera.mt.gov and the Administrative Rules of Montana.

OPTION 1

Option 1 provides a monthly benefit for your lifetime only and is the largest monthly amount you can choose. Option 1 is also the basis for calculating all other options. The benefit is computed using the defined benefit formula.

Upon your death, your designated beneficiary will receive any balance left in your account. That balance will be your contributions plus interest available at retirement, minus the total benefits already paid to you. All Option 1 monthly benefit payments end upon your death.

OPTION 2

To calculate a benefit for Option 2, your Option 1 benefit is multiplied by an actuarial factor based on both your age and your contingent annuitant’s nearest whole age at your retirement.

Option 2 provides a monthly benefit to you for your lifetime. When you die, your contingent annuitant will receive the same monthly benefit for the rest of their life, subject to annual benefit increases. Upon his/her death after receipt of any benefits, your remaining account balance, if any, will revert to the PERS trust fund. You may not change your option election or your contingent annuitant except in limited circumstances (see below).

The benefit amount of Option 2 is less than Option 1 because the lifetime value of your benefit is spread over two lives instead of one.

According to IRS regulations, if the age difference between you and your non-spouse contingent annuitant is greater than ten years, you may not select Option 2. This limit does not apply to a spouse.

OPTION 3

Option 3 will provide a monthly benefit to you for your lifetime. When you die, your contingent annuitant will receive one-half (½) of that amount for the rest of their life, subject to annual benefit increases. Upon his/her death after receipt of any benefits, your remaining account balance, if any, will revert to the PERS trust fund. You may not change your option election or your contingent annuitant except in limited circumstances (see below).

The benefit amount of Option 3 is less than Option 1 because the lifetime value is spread over two lives instead of one. The Option 3 factor is based on both your age and your contingent annuitant’s age at your retirement date. However, because the contingent annuitant receives only one-half (½) of your benefit, your Option 3 benefit would be larger than the Option 2 benefit. Your Option 3 benefit is calculated by multiplying the Option 1 benefit by an Option 3 factor. The Option 3 factor is based on both your age and your contingent annuitant’s age at your retirement date.

Changing Your Option If You Elected 2 or 3

There are only two circumstances under which you can change your Option 2 or Option 3 payment or contingent annuitant. You may only change if:

  • your original contingent annuitant dies; or
  • you and your contingent annuitant divorce and there is no Family Law Order in place, giving your contingent annuitant the right to receive part of your benefit.

Under these conditions, if you had selected either Option 2 or 3 when you retired, you may:

  • revert to the higher Option 1 retirement benefit that was available at the time of your retirement, plus any guaranteed annual benefit adjustments (GABA) you have received; or
  • change your benefit Option and name a new contingent annuitant; or
  • keep the same Option and name a new contingent annuitant.

To change your payment option or contingent annuitant, you must designate a new contingent annuitant or payment option in writing, within 18 months of the death of or divorce from the contingent annuitant. Please note your retirement benefit calculation will change if you select Option 1. Also, if you select a new contingent annuitant your benefit amount will change because the calculations are based on your age and your new contingent annuitant’s age at the time of the election. Contact us to receive an estimate of the new benefit and an application form.

OPTION 4

Option 4 will provide a continuing benefit to one or more contingent annuitants. As with all options, you will receive the monthly benefit for your life. If you die before the end of the “certain” or guaranteed period, your contingent annuitant will receive the benefit for the balance of the guaranteed period. If you name more than one contingent annuitant, they will receive the continuing benefit payment, divided equally, for the remainder of the guaranteed period. Payments to the contingent annuitant(s) will stop when the guaranteed period ends.

This benefit has two alternatives:

10-year Period Certain. You must be age 75 or younger when you retire to be eligible for this benefit. The 10-year period begins on your effective date of retirement. You will receive this benefit for life. If you die before the 10-year period ends, then your contingent annuitant(s) will receive the same benefit for the remainder of the 10-year period.

20-year Period Certain. You must be age 65 or younger when you retire to be eligible for this benefit. The 20-year period begins on your effective date of retirement. You will receive this benefit for life. If you die before the 20-year period ends, then your contingent annuitant(s) will receive the same benefit for the remainder of the 20-year period.

You can change your Option 4 contingent annuitant designation after retirement at will. Contingent annuitant(s) receiving the Option 4 benefit may, in turn, designate their own contingent annuitants.

NOTE: The Option 4 benefit will be calculated using Option 4 factors which are based on your age only.

As a retiree, you might wish to work in a job covered by PERS. However, you cannot have an agreement with your previous employer (either written or verbal) to come back to work after you retire and you must be retired for more than 90 days before you take a PERS-covered position as a working retiree, including work performed through a temp agency or as an independent contractor.

If you return to work before a 90 day break in service, you become an active member, your retirement will be canceled and your benefits must be repaid to MPERA.

If you return to work after a 90 day break, and:

  • If you are less than age 65, and work in PERS-covered employment in excess of 960 hours, your benefit will be reduced $1.00 for each $1.00 earned from PERS covered employment and any other concurrent nonPERS-covered employment with the same employer. The limit applies to each calendar year. MPERA reduces benefits only if you exceed the limit.
  • If you are age 65 or older, but less than age 70½, the limit is either 960 hours or an earning limitation, whichever is higher. The earning limitation is equal to your HAC adjusted for inflation. The sum of your retirement benefit and all PERS-associated earnings must be less than the earnings limitation (HAC adjusted for inflation). Earnings from other sources will not apply to the limit. Both limits apply to a single calendar year and we only reduce benefits for those years that your hours or earnings exceed the limit. Your benefit will be reduced $1.00 for each $1.00 earned from employment exceeding the limit.
  • If you are age 70½ or older, there are no hours or earnings limits.

These limits apply to PERS retirees who return to PERS-covered employment. If you are unsure if PERS covers the position, ask potential employers before you start work.

If you return to full-time employment in a PERS-covered position, your retirement benefit will be canceled and you become an active member.

Benefit Upon Second Retirement

If your initial retirement date is before January 1, 2016:

  • If you accrue less than two years of service credit during your reemployment, your contributions will be refunded to you in the first month following your termination and you will begin to receive the same retirement benefit amount paid immediately prior to returning to employment.
  • If you accrue more than 2 years of service credit during your reemployment, you will receive a recalculated retirement benefit based on provisions enacted after your initial retirement.

If your initial retirement date is on or after January 1, 2016:

  • If you accrue less than five (5) years of service credit during your reemployment your contributions will be refunded to you at your final termination and your initial retirement benefit will be reinstated at the same amount paid immediately prior to returning to active service.
  • If you accrue more than five (5) years of service credit during the reemployment, your original benefit will be reinstated at the amount paid immediately prior to returning to active service and a second benefit will be calculated for the new service credit based on the laws in effect as of your rehire date.

Please be aware that Guaranteed Annual Benefit Adjustment (GABA) increases will not accrue on your suspended retirement benefits when you return to full-time employment.

Independent Contractors

Starting on July 1, 2013, PERS retirees working as independent contractors in a PERS-covered position are subject to the working retiree limitations. An independent contractor is an individual engaged in an independent trade, occupation, profession, or business who works under contract; and who is free from control or direction when performing services under the contract. Generally, factors that determine whether services are free from control or direction include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Exercise of control - contractor control of the means by which the work is done shows independence.
  • Furnishing of equipment - contractor-furnished equipment shows independence.
  • Method of payment - payment based on hours shows employment rather than independence.

If you are not an independent contractor but an employee, you are subject to the above limits. Since 2005, Montana law has required independent contractors to either have an independent contractor exemption certificate, or purchase workers’ compensation insurance coverage for themselves.

Failure to obtain the exemption or insurance may result in your being treated as an employee subject to these limits.

If a PERS retiree returns as an independent contractor to what would otherwise be PERS-covered employment, general contractor overhead costs are excluded from PERS working retiree limits.

Temporary Positions

PERS retirees working in PERS-covered positions through a professional employer arrangement, an employee leasing agreement, or a temporary service contractor (temp agency) are also subject to working retiree limitations.

If you are an employee of the State or university system, involuntarily terminated, and eligible for service or early retirement under PERS, there is a special provision that requires the State and university system to pay a part of the cost of buying additional service for employees. Termination could be the result of reorganization, closure of an agency, or a reduction in force (RIF). You will need to waive any other benefits that you may be eligible for under the State Employee Protection Act. The provision allows you to receive up to three years of additional service if you are eligible; but the State may only pay part of the cost.

If you accept the additional service, then special restrictions besides those previously discussed will apply. You may work in the same jurisdiction for 959 hours in a PERS-covered position or in a position covered under any of the other public retirement systems. All state agencies and units of the university system are the same jurisdiction which is the State of Montana. Local government units are separate.

If you exceed the limit, you will forfeit the additional service. We will recalculate your benefit without the additional service credit.


Example:

If you are eligible for early or service retirement and are involuntarily terminated from a state agency due to reorganization, you may decide to retire and the state will pay part of the cost of buying three years of additional service. You can accept lesser service, or pay the additional amount to receive three full years. Later, if you accept a PERS-covered position with a state agency, we will apply the 959-hour limit. After 959 hours, you will lose the additional service.

We will recalculate your benefit without the employer paid share of the three years of additional service.

Death Before Retirement

If you die while a PERS member, your designated beneficiary(ies) can receive either a lump-sum payment or a monthly survivorship benefit.

Lump-sum PaymentPayment will be the sum of:

  • your accumulated contributions; and
  • an amount calculated as 1/12 multiplied by your last twelve months of pay multiplied by the lesser of six or your years of service credit, plus interest on the amount above to the first day of the month when the payment is made.

This lump-sum death payment will be paid if your death occurs in any of the following cases:

  • While in active service.
  • Within six months after a disability benefit begins.
  • If disabled continuously since leaving active service, when you are not receiving a disability retirement benefit.
  • If the member dies while inactive.

A beneficiary can choose to receive the payment as a lump sum or a fixed monthly annuity payment.

Non-Increasing Annuity - The fixed monthly annuity payment is guaranteed for life. The amount of the monthly payment will not change. Increases (such as GABA) that may apply to other monthly benefits will not apply to monthly annuity payments.

To receive the monthly annuity payment, your beneficiary must send a written election to the Board.

Survivorship Benefit - Generally, a beneficiary eligible to receive a service death payment can choose to receive a survivorship benefit instead. A survivorship benefit is calculated based on the value of a vested member’s potential benefit if the member had not died before receiving the benefit.

A survivorship benefit is also a monthly payment for life, but may be more than the monthly annuity payment. Benefit increases such as the GABA which do not apply to death annuity payments, do apply to the survivorship benefit.

Death After Retirement

If you were receiving an Option 1 benefit, and you die before receiving benefits equal to your account balance, your beneficiary will receive your remaining account balance. Your remaining account balance is your contributions, plus interest to date of retirement, minus any benefit payments you received. Your designated beneficiary may request the lumpsum payment be received as an annuity.

If you chose Options 2, 3 or 4, see Retirement and Disability Payment Options tab for details on death benefits.

Death Benefit Claim

Upon notification of your death, MPERA will send a death benefit claim to your designated beneficiary. To claim a death benefit, the beneficiary must return the completed form to MPERA along with a certified copy of your death certificate.

 

Types of Service Available For PERS Defined Benefit Members to Purchase

If you leave your job and request a refund of your accumulated contributions (contributions plus interest) and later return to a PERS-covered position, you can purchase the refunded service at anytime prior to retirement if you are an active member.

You must be vested to purchase refunded service if you are inactive, which means you have terminated employment and are no longer contributing to PERS.

To purchase the refund, you must repay the accumulated contributions you received and pay the interest that would have been credited to your account had the refund not taken place.

Refunded service is both membership service and service credit.

Retroactive service is service with a PERS-covered employer that was’t credited to PERS at that time. For example: you may have been part-time and chose not to contribute. As a full-time contributing member of PERS, you may buy all or a part of that service.

Retroactive service is both membership service and service credit.

You do not need to be vested (have five years of PERS membership service) to purchase Retroactive Service.

If you refunded (or you are eligible to receive a refund) from other public service employment with the state of Montana or a political subdivision, you may be eligible to purchase that service in PERS at actuarial cost. You cannot buy service from another public retirement system that will make you eligible for retirement in PERS until you receive a refund of the service from the other public system.

You must be an active PERS member to be eligible to purchase this service. Documentation from your prior retirement administration showing the dates of your employment is required.

Montana public service is both membership service and service credit.

You do not need to be vested (have five years of PERS membership service) to purchase Montana Public Service.

You can purchase time that you are absent from work due to a work-related injury or illness if you did not refund your account.

Upon return to work, you and your employer need to file a written application to buy the time. MPERA needs to receive certification the injury was work-related within one year of your return to work.

The time which can be purchased may not exceed five years. If you are eligible and pay the contributions and interest, the absence will count as both membership service and service credit.

This service counts as both membership service and service credit.

You do not need to be vested (have five years of PERS membership service) to purchase Absence Due to Illness or Injury.

For each five-year period of membership service, you can buy one year of service credit. You may buy up to five years of “One-for-Five” years. You could also buy less than a full year.

“One-for-Five” service is not membership service and cannot be used to make you eligible to retire or to purchase other types of service.

You will need to have at least five years of PERS membership service to purchase "One-For-Five" service.

At any time prior to retirement, you may purchase up to five years of your active military or reserve military service at the actuarial cost. You can purchase reserve military time prior to your separation from service in the reserves. You cannot purchase military time if you are receiving a retirement benefit from the military or from another retirement system or plan, for that same period of time.

Reserve military service cannot be purchased if you have already received service credit under USERRA for that time period.

You will need to provide a DD-214 to MPERA to purchase this service.

This service is both membership service and service credit.

You must be vested (have five years of PERS membership service) to purchase Military/Reserve Military Service.

You may purchase up to five years of your volunteer service in a United States service program, such as the Peace Corps. You can also purchase any documented, successfully completed required term of service in the Americorps Vista, Americorps National Community Conservation Corps; or any other National and Community Service Act (NCSA) program that requires the volunteer to enroll for a specific term of service.

You will need to provide documentation of this service to MPERA.

This service is both membership service and service credit.

You must be vested (have five years of PERS membership service) to purchase Volunteer in a U.S. Service Program.

You may buy service covered by another state, local or federal government retirement system. If you received a refund of your account with another system, you may buy up to five years of that service in PERS.

You may also buy the service if it occurred before the employer adopted a public retirement system. Also, you may only count it as service credit if your last five years of service are with a PERS employer.

You will need to provide documentation for that time in order to purchase this service.

You must be vested (have five years of PERS membership service) to purchase Other Public Service.