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Maine Public Employees Retirement System
46 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333
toll free: (800) 451-9800 ● local: (207) 512-3100

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  Click one of the buttons below to review FAQs regarding new rules for optional membership.
Employees Employers

 
Employees

Q.

Why did the law change?

A.

To comply with federal Internal Revenue Service rules for qualified retirement plans, such as MainePERS.


Q.

When did the law take effect?

A.

The effective date of the legislative change was July 12, 2010.


Q.

Can I change my option once the law goes into effect?

A.

No.


Q.

For purposes of this law, what does “same employer” mean? 

A.

Generally, the System uses employers’ Employer Identification Number/Tax Identification Numbers (EIN/TIN) to determine if the employer is the same employer for purposes of making an election. We consider all employment for an employer using one EIN employment with the same employer. There are times when the IRS will issue a single employer more than one EIN. So, we must also determine whether an employer-employee relationship exists. That relationship exists when a town or municipality has control over the employee and the payment of their salary. This is true whether the person works.  


Q.

If I was a member of MainePERS on the date the law took effect, can I still suspend membership while working for the same employer?

A.

No.


Q.

If I was not a member of MainePERS on the date the law took effect, can I join later while working for the same employer?

A.

No.


Q.

Am I still eligible to purchase service?

A.

Yes, if you were eligible to purchase service when the law became effective.


Q.

As an example, if I decline membership as a substitute teacher at Portland School Department, can I later become a member as an employee of the City of Portland?

A.

No, because the school department is a part of the City.


Q.

As an example, if I decline membership as a substitute teacher at RSU 13 (which includes Rockland), can I later become a member as an employee of the City of Rockland?

A.

Yes, because the RSU is not a part of the City.


Q.

What if I am not a vested member (having 5 or more years of service credit) on the date the law goes into effect?

A.

The law has no effect on your membership--if you elect to remain a member you will continue to earn credit and will become vested once you have rendered/purchased a total of 5 years of service.

   
   
Employers
 

Q.

How do I know which employees have "optional membership?"

A.

For more information, contact Retirement Services:

PLD –
PLD@mainepers.org

State – State@mainepers.org

Teacher – Teacher@mainepers.org


Q.

Does the new legislation apply to Adult Education and/or Coach positions in the schools?

A.

No, Coach and Adult Education positions do not have optional membership. 


Q.

If an employee is not eligible on date of hire but becomes eligible at a later date, when does the employee need to make the election?

A.

The employee would make the election on the first date of eligible employment in the optional position.


Q.

Does this law affect substitute teacher members with optional membership?

A.

Yes.


Q.

For purposes of this law, what does “same employer” mean? 

A.

Generally, the System uses employers’ Employer Identification Number/Tax Identification Numbers (EIN/TIN) to determine if the employer is the same employer for purposes of making an election. We consider all employment for an employer using one EIN employment with the same employer. There are times when the IRS will issue a single employer more than one EIN. So, we must also determine whether an employer-employee relationship exists. That relationship exists when a town or municipality has control over the employee and the payment of their salary. This is true whether the person works.  


Q.

Does a substitute teacher member’s election cover employment at all school districts or is the election specific to each district?

A.

The election is specific to each school district. 


Q.

If an employee is a member of MainePERS on the date the law takes effect, can the employee ever suspend membership while working for us? 

A.

No.


Q.

If an employee is not a member of MainePERS on the date the law takes effect, can the employee ever join while working for us?

A.

No, unless the employee moves into a position with mandatory MainePERS membership.


Q.

Who will track the employee's previous elections?

A.

MainePERS. We recommend you keep a copy of the employee's election for your records.


Q.

Does this law change Group Life Insurance rules?

A.

No.


Q.

 Does this change have any effect on an employee’s participation in the MaineSTART Defined Contribution program?

A.

No, the changes only relate to MainePERS’ defined benefit program.


Q.

If a new employee wants to join MainePERS, what paperwork does MainePERS need?

A.

A membership application indicating the employee’s wish to join in needed.


Q.

If a new employee does not want to join MainePERS, what paperwork does MainePERS need? 

A.

A membership application indicating the employee’s wish to decline is needed.


Q.

For teacher employers, are the only positions that have optional membership substitute teacher members? What if an employee is a substitute teacher and a tutor?

A.

Membership in MainePERS is only optional for the substitute position.  All other teacher positions still require membership.


Q.

What will be the process after the law takes effect?

A.

Continue to offer membership to all eligible employees on first date of eligible employment.  Document the employee’s choice to join or decline by submitting a membership application.


Q.

What is considered “same employer” for deciding whether the employee has made the one-time election with an employer?

A.

The System will use the employer’s Tax Identification Number to determine if the employer is a different employer for purposes of making another election. For example, the City of Augusta and the Augusta School department have the same Tax Identification Number; therefore the System considers them the “same employer” for purposes of making the one-time election.


Q.

As an example, if an employee declines membership as a substitute teacher at Portland School Department, can he/she later become a member as an employee of the City of Portland?

A.

No, because the school department is a part of the City.


Q.

As an example, if an employee declines membership as a substitute teacher at RSU 13 (which includes Rockland), can he/she become a member as an employee of the City of Rockland?

A.

Yes, because the RSU is not a part of the City.


Q.

How can we help our employees make an informed decision about joining or declining, especially now that employees have only one opportunity to choose with an employer?

A.

You can direct your employees to the MainePERS website for retirement benefit information and/or ask them to contact MainePERS Retirement Services Unit.


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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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