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Retirement Planning FAQs

What do I need to do to retire? 

There are only two required steps to begin your retirement with PERA: Fill out and submit your PERA Retirement Application and fill out and submit your Direct Deposit by EFT form.

Visit the Ready to Retire webpage for more information and other steps to take.

How is my retirement date determined? 

You are eligible to retire when you meet the age and service requirements on the PERA HAS Percentages table that applies to you. You are not required to retire when you are first eligible. You must terminate active employment and submit a Retirement Application to PERA. Your retirement is effective no earlier than the first day of the month following your last day on the job. Please review the Retirement Process booklet for more details.

What is the timeline to retire? 

If you’re a year away from retiring, you can request a benefit estimate by calling the Customer Service Center at 800-759-PERA (7372).

We recommend you submit your PERA Retirement Application 60-90 days before your retirement date. However, you are able to submit your paperwork as late as the day before your retirement date and still retire, but your first retirement check will likely be delayed.

Your PERA retirement date is the first day of the month after your last physical day on the job, your last day of leave used, or your termination date, whichever is later.

Benefit Calculation

How is my PERA benefit calculated? 

The basic formula for a full service, single-life retirement benefit in the PERA Defined Benefit (DB) Plan is: your highest average salary x 2.5% x your years of service = your monthly lifetime benefit amount

How many years of salary are in my HAS? 
  • Three, if you had at least five years of service credit as of 1/1/2020.
  • Five, if you did not have at least five years of service credit as of 1/1/2020.
  • One, if you are a judge and you had a least five years of service credit as of 1/1/2020.
  • Three, if you are a judge and did not have at least five years of service credit as of 1/1/2020.
At my job, pay increases take place midyear. How does this affect my HAS for the year? 

The years PERA uses to calculate your HAS aren’t required to be calendar years. A year simply means 12 months of service credit in a row. For example, one of the “years” used in your HAS could be July 2015 to June 2016. A comprehensive overview of PERA’s Defined Benefit Plan and voluntary plans can be found in the Your PERA Benefits booklet.

What is a reduced retirement? 

You reach full service retirement when your age and service credit intersect in an unshaded box on your PERA HAS table. If you retire before that, the amount you receive is reduced to account for the additional amount of time you’ll be receiving a benefit. The farther away you are from full service retirement, the greater the reduction will be.

What happens if I retire in between the boxes on the PERA HAS table? 

If you retire between full years of service, your percentage will be between the two years indicated.

Do I forfeit service credit if I retire before my work anniversary? 

No, if you retire at any point between two boxes on your PERA HAS table, the percentage you receive will be between the two numbers you see.

Will I be eligible to receive annual increases to my PERA benefit in retirement? 

Yes, the timing of when you begin receiving your annual benefit increase and the amount you will receive is dependent on when you began membership and when you retire. Please see the Annual Increases for Benefit Recipients fact sheet for more specifics.

What happens to my unused sick and vacation time? 

If you receive a lump-sum payment in exchange for unused sick or vacation time, in most cases PERA contributions are deducted from this amount. This may give you additional service credit and increase your benefit. This does not affect your retirement date.

Retirement Process

If I choose a monthly retirement benefit, how will it be paid? 

Under both the PERA and DPS benefit structures, you may choose from several benefit options. Both benefit structures have an option that provides a lifetime monthly benefit for you only and two options that provide a lifetime monthly benefit for you and a continuing monthly benefit after your death to a cobeneficiary of your choice. The DPS benefit structure also has a benefit option that provides a lifetime monthly benefit to you and a continuing benefit to a beneficiary(ies), if there are payments remaining in the guarantee payment period at the time of your death.  

How does my PERA benefit affect my Social Security benefit? 

Most PERA members don't contribute to Social Security while they work for PERA employers. If you are eligible for both a PERA benefit and a Social Security benefit, your PERA benefit will never be reduced due to any Social Security benefit you may receive. However, your Social Security benefit may be reduced if you are receiving a PERA benefit. Click here for more information.

For any questions about a reduction in your Social Security benefit, contact the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213 or


I plan to retire at the end of the school year, but my contract will continue paying me through the summer. How does this affect my retirement date with PERA? 

If you are on an academic contract, your termination date will most likely be your last physical day on the job, even if your contract will continue to pay you afterward. Your retirement date or effective date of retirement is typically the first of the month after your last physical day on the job. For example, if you leave and turn in your keys on May 20, then June 1 is your effective date of retirement. You’ll receive your first check from PERA on the last business day in June even if you continue to receive checks from your employer in June and July.

What happens to my PERA life insurance after retirement? 

If you have PERA life insurance, it will continue when you retire unless you cancel it in writing. As a retiree, your monthly premium will increase to $10.28 per unit of coverage and will be paid by a deduction from your monthly benefit.