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Maine Public Employees Retirement System
P.O. Box 349, Augusta, ME 04332-0349
toll free: (800) 451-9800 ● local: (207) 512-3100

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menubar graphicTeacher - Benefit Information
       
The Maine Public Employees Retirement System (MainePERS) was established to administer certain benefits that are available to Maine public school teachers (including school administrators and other licensed/certified staff) who are members of the System.  For a general summary of the benefits available, see MainePERS Benefits for Teachers. Below is information on main areas of interest within the plan:
Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) Military Time
Disability Benefits Purchasing Service Credit
Group Life Insurance Qualified Domestic Relations Order
Health Insurance and MainePERS Retirement Eligibility
Life Changes Sick and Vacation Leave Credit
Member Statement Social Security and MainePERS
Membership Eligibility Substitute Teachers
Taking Refund of Your Contributions

Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)

There will be no cumulative COLA in September 2011, 2012 or 2013.

By law, the COLA is the change in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for the 12-month period ending June 30. The COLA is capped at 3%, unless the Governor requests and the Legislature approves a higher amount. When the CPI is negative, there will be no COLA.  COLA is applicable to the first $20,000 of your retirement benefit (indexed).  

State employee and teacher benefit recipients whose normal retirement age is 60 are eligible to receive a cost-of-living adjustment in the first September after having been retired for at least 12 months. For example, if you retired on or before September 1, 2007, you are eligible for any COLA in September 2008; if you retired as of October 1, 2007, you are eligible for any COLA in September 2009. If your normal retirement age is 62 or 65, you are eligible to receive a COLA effective the first September that is at least 12 months after you reach your normal retirement age.     

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Disability Benefits


See the
Disability section of this website for information about the Disability Retirement program.

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Group Life Insurance

The MainePERS Group Life Insurance program is available to Teacher members whose employers participate in the program, and whose positions are eligible for coverage. If you complete an application for Group Life Insurance coverage within the first 31 days of becoming eligible, you may select coverage for yourself and your dependents without having to show evidence of insurability.  Additional information can be found in the
Group Life Insurance section on this Web site. 

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Health Insurance and MainePERS


MainePERS does not administer health or dental insurance. Contact your health insurance program for questions regarding health insurance. Click
here for a reference list of these organizations.

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Life Changes

Certain events in your life may affect your retirement or beneficiary designations. It is important that you notify MainePERS immediately when the following life changing events occur:

• Termination of employment
• Birth/adoption of a child
• Marriage, divorce, legal separation, annulment
• Death of spouse or dependent
• An employment status change for you
• A court order results in the gain or loss of a dependent

Note: To ensure that all information is up-to-date, members should periodically review their Designation of Beneficiary
forms for both pre-retirement death benefits and Group Life Insurance.

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Member Statement

MainePERS sends annual Member Statements to most members. The statement shows the amount of retirement service credit, retirement plan, normal retirement age, known purchasable service, as well as current beneficiary information. The Member Statement information can help you plan for your own retirement.

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Membership Eligibility

If you are a public school employee and your position falls under the legal definition of "teacher," membership in MainePERS is mandatory from the first date of employment.  

The exception to this rule is for substitute teachers, for whom membership is optional. When hired as a substitute, you make a one-time, irrevocable election whether to participate in MainePERS.  You make an election with each separate employer that hires you as a substitute.  Your election applies to all current and future optional membership positions with that employer, even if you terminate and are later rehired in a different optional membership position.  If at any time you hold a position in which membership is mandatory (e.g. tutor or classroom teacher), MainePERS membership for that position will begin from the first day of employment.

If you are a public school employee who meets one of the following criteria, your MainePERS teacher membership is mandatory:  

A. You must be an employee of a public school who holds any position that the Department of Education (DOE) requires be filled by a person who holds the appropriate certification or license for that position and who does, in fact, hold that certification or license; or  

B. You must be an employee of a public school who holds any position, the principal function of which is to introduce new learning to students.   There are two significant exceptions to this criterion:  

Adult Education teachers who teach courses for which DOE does not require certification who were employed on or after July 1, 1995, with no other basis for MainePERS membership as a State employee or teacher member, are excluded from MainePERS teacher membership from that date forward. Adult Education teachers who do have another basis for membership must contribute to the retirement system on their earnings as adult education teachers.  

Coaches hired on or after July 1, 1997, who have no other basis for MainePERS membership as a State employee or teacher member, are excluded from MainePERS teacher membership from that date forward. Coaches who do have another basis for membership must contribute to the retirement system on their earnings as coaches.

If you have any questions regarding your membership eligibility, please
contact the Teacher Unit.

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Military Time


MainePERS members who are on a leave of absence from their MainePERS-covered positions to serve in the uniformed services of the United States have, under federal and State law, specific protections, or eligibility for protections, with respect to their MainePERS membership and related benefits. For more information, click
here.

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Purchasing Service Credit

As a contributing member of MainePERS, you may be eligible to purchase additional service credit.  There are eligibility and verification requirements in order to make these purchases.  For more information, please see the
Teacher Member handbook.

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QDRO (Qualified Domestic Relations Order)

The purpose of a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) is to permit a retirement system to make direct payment to the party who is not the member, retiree, or beneficiary of the system. Direct payment by MainePERS is not possible, even if the court awards an interest in the benefits to the non-member or retiree, unless the court enters an order that MainePERS determines is "qualified." Also, even if the order is a qualified domestic relations order, no payment will be made to the former spouse until an amount is payable to the MainePERS member or retiree or beneficiary. A qualified domestic relations order does not entitle the former spouse to immediate payment of the portion of the benefit awarded to him or her by the court. Click
here for more information.

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Retirement Eligibility

You qualify to receive a benefit once you have at least 25 years of service credit.    

You qualify to receive a benefit upon reaching your normal retirement age of 60, 62 or 65, whether or not you are in service, provided that you have earned creditable service of 5 or 10 years, whichever amount is applicable to you.    

You qualify to receive a benefit upon reaching your normal retirement age of 60, 62 or 65, provided you have earned at least one year of service credit immediately prior to your retirement.  

For more information on eligibility and qualification to receive a service retirement benefit, please see the
Teacher Member handbook.

Vesting


If your final termination from MainePERS-covered employment was before October 1, 1999, you must have at least 10 years of service credit in order to be eligible to draw a benefit at normal retirement age.  

If your final termination from MainePERS-covered employment is after September 30, 1999, you must have at least 5 years of service credit in order to be eligible to draw a benefit at normal retirement age.

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Unused Sick Leave and Vacation Leave

For some members, payment for a maximum of 30 days of unused sick and/or vacation leave can be included in the calculation of their AFC. (For purposes of this provision, "a day" is considered your normal working day, up to a maximum of eight hours; for contract employees, a day is considered your per diem rate.)    

This applies to those Teacher members who:  

- had 10 or more years of service as of July 1, 1993, or

- had reached age 60 before July 1, 1993, and had been in service for at least one year before
July 1, 1993.

However, please note that if the employer makes such a payment as a retirement incentive/bonus, MainePERS will not include it in the amount of earnable compensation used in the calculation of your AFC.  For more information on retirement incentives, see the section titled "Retirement Incentives" the
Teacher Member handbook.

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Social Security and MainePERS


If you are eligible to receive Social Security retirement benefits either because you worked in a Social Security covered job or because your deceased spouse did, the amount of your Social Security benefit may be affected by your receipt of a MainePERS benefit.  

The relevant Social Security provisions are the
Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), which are Social Security benefits for your own work; and, the Government Pension Offset (GPO), which are Social Security benefits as a spouse or widow(er).  

Neither Maine law nor MainePERS policies cause the effects of these provisions. The effects result from federal law administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). To obtain information about any effect of receiving MainePERS benefits on your Social Security benefits, please contact SSA directly.  

Social Security Administration (Augusta Office)
Toll-free: 1-866-882-5422 
Fax: (207) 622-8398
www.ssa.gov

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Substitute Teachers 

Q.  What membership options are available to substitute teachers?
 
A:  Answers are as follows:

A current substitute teacher who chooses to continue contributing to MainePERS:

Has exercised their right to join the System and will contribute to MainePERS on all optional membership earnings with their current employer. Should they be hired in an optional membership position with a different employer, they will make a separate election that will apply to optional membership with that employer.

A current substitute teacher who chooses to stop contributing to MainePERS on their substitute earnings: 
Has exercised their right not to join the System.  This decision applies to all current and future optional membership positions they hold with their current employer.  Should they be hired in an optional membership position with another employer, they will make a separate election that will apply to optional membership with that employer.

A new substitute teacher who elects to join MainePERS:
Has exercised their right to join the System and will contribute to MainePERS on all optional membership earnings with their current employer. Should they be hired in an optional membership position with a different employer, they will make a separate election that will apply to optional membership with that employer.

A new substitute teacher who elects not to join MainePERS:
Has exercised their right not to join the System This decision applies to all current and future optional membership positions they hold with their current employer.  Should they be hired in an optional membership position with another employer, they will make a separate election that will apply to optional membership with that employer.  

Q.If an employee was a substitute teacher, but is now a member in the Teacher or State Plan for a position other than a substitute teacher, can that member request a refund of contributions on the prior substitute teacher position?

A. A member must terminate all MainePERS-covered employment in order to be eligible to receive a refund of their contributions.  A member is not allowed to obtain a refund of previous contributions when other basis for membership continues.

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Taking a Refund of Your Contributions

If you terminate all MainePERS-covered employment, you may apply for a refund. The Refund Application Package  includes information to consider before making a decision to request a refund. By refunding your contributions, you give up your rights to any MainePERS benefits. Since it may not be in your best interest to withdraw your contributions, we suggest you investigate the pros and cons of taking a refund.  For more information, see “Taking a Refund” in the Teacher Member handbook

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Information contained on this Web site is neither a legal reference nor a complete statement of the laws or MainePERS administrative rules. In any conflict between this information and Maine laws or administrative rules, the laws and administrative rules shall prevail.

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