Active Members Frequently Asked Questions
The following are frequently asked questions for Active Members. See also Retired Members FAQs. If you do not see an answer to your question below please contact us.
Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)
Can I find out how much money I have contributed to MainePERS and/or how much creditable service time I have on record?
A: Yes. Call or e-mail our Retirement Services department to request an Account Summary showing how much money you have contributed, how much service credit you have earned and other information about your retirement account. We will ask for your name, current address and Social Security number.
What is a statement of my service credit?
A: A statement of creditable service (or Member Account Summary) shows how much creditable service you have earned and money you have contributed towards your MainePERS retirement. Creditable service is one the three factors used to calculate the amount of your retirement benefit (the other two are your age and average final compensation). It also determines whether you are “vested” for purposes of receiving a retirement benefit.
You earn service credit in three ways:
- automatically while you are contributing to the MainePERS via regular payroll deductions
- through certain leaves of absences
- by purchasing credit for previous eligible service
There are several categories of service that members may qualify to purchase. Each category has specific criteria. If you are interested in the purchase of service credit, call or e-mail our Retirement Services unit or refer to your Member Handbook.
At the time of your retirement we will review and verify your creditable service history; however, at any time you may request a statement of how much service credit you have on account with us.
What does purchasing additional service credit mean?
You may be eligible to purchase additional service credit in the categories below. Note: There are specific eligibility and verification requirements to make these purchases. If you would like information on purchasing service credit, check that box on the Information Request form and we will contact you.
|Type of Service||Description||Maximum
|Active Military||Active duty military service before you became a|
|Out-of-State||Service earned working for a state other than Maine.||10 years|
|Non-Contributory MainePERS||Time that you worked in MainePERS-covered employment before you became a MainePERS member.||No Limit|
|Refunded||MainePERS service time that you previously refunded.||No Limit|
|Private/Parochial Teaching||Time that you were a teacher in a parochial school, or public or private academy.||10 years|
|Teacher Prior Service||Time that you taught in Maine's public schools before July 1, 1947, the date that MainePERS began to cover Maine's public school teachers.||No Limit|
|Federal Service||Time that you worked for the federal employment service before it was returned to state control.||No Limit|
|Head Start||Time that you worked in one of Maine’s Head Start programs||No Limit|
|CETA||Employment under the U.S. Comprehensive Employment and Training Act||No Limit|
|VISTA||Time that you were a member of Volunteers in Service to America||2 Years|
|Fulbright Exchange||Time that you were a member of the Fulbright Exchange Program||2 Years|
|Peace Corps||Time that you were a member of the Peace Corps||2 Years|
|Foreign Teaching||Time during which you taught children of United States Foreign Service Corps personnel or United States armed forces personnel.||2 Years|
|Teacher’s Aide||Time that you were employed as a teacher's aide or Education Technician I in Maine’s public schools prior to becoming a "teacher."||No Limit|
What does it mean to be vested?
A: Being vested means you have met the requirements to receive a monthly benefit at normal retirement age under your plan. In order to be vested, members in service on or after October 1, 1999, must have five years of creditable service. Any member whose last date of MainePERS service was before October 1, 1999, must have 10 years of creditable service to become vested.
Can I buy time toward my retirement and receive additional service credit?
A: There are several categories of service that members may qualify to purchase. Each category has specific criteria. You will find a list of categories in the member handbook for your plan. For more information, call or e-mail our Retirement Services unit.
Can I borrow money from my retirement account for emergency purposes?
A: No. If you terminate all MainePERS-covered employment, you may apply for a full refund of your contributions and accrued interest. MainePERS does not issue partial refunds.
What are my options if I leave my current employment?
A: If you are leaving your current employment for employment with an employer that has coverage under MainePERS, call or e-mail MainePERS to discuss how this change may affect your benefit.
If you stop working in a MainePERS-covered job, you may apply for a refund, or you may leave your contributions in the System. If you are not vested, MainePERS will refund your account balance to you three years after you terminate, unless you instruct us to leave your funds on account with MainePERS.
If you leave your contributions in the System and are vested, you can draw a benefit when you reach normal retirement age. Call or e-mail our Retirement Services department to find out your vested status and the normal retirement age for your plan.
Is MainePERS a 401(k) plan?
A. No, it is a federally qualified defined benefit plan under IRS Code Section 401(a).
Can I roll my 401(k) funds into my MainePERS account?
A: Yes, if you have MainePERS service credit available for purchase. MainePERS accepts tax-deferred direct rollovers as payment, in full or in part, for the purchase of creditable service. For information about available categories and qualifications of purchasable service call or e-mail our Retirement Services department, or refer to the member handbook for your plan.
Can I contribute additional amounts to my MainePERS account?
A: Not to your defined benefit plan. MainePERS does offer MaineSTART, a defined contribution (DC) tax-deferred savings plan for Participating Local District plan members Contact our DC Plan Administrator for more information about MaineSTART.
I am getting a divorce. How does this affect my contributions or pension?
A: Your contributions or pension may be affected depending upon how your assets are divided by the court pursuant to a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO). If you have questions about your funds and divorce, contact MainePERS and ask to speak with the QDRO Administrator.
I am going to receive service retirement benefits from MainePERS and Social Security. How will this affect me?
A: The amount of your MainePERS service retirement benefit is not affected by the amount of your Social Security retirement benefits.
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.
For more information about the effect of receiving MainePERS benefits and Social Security benefits, go to www.ssa.gov. You also can locate the SSA office nearest you by referring to your local phone book under “United States Government – Health and Human Services.”
What are the effects of Military Service while on leave of absence from MainePERS-Covered Employment?
A. MainePERS members who are on a leave of absence 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.
What is the effect of a Workers’ Compensation leave on my MainePERS membership?
A; Earnings you receive while on a workers’ compensation leave are earnable compensation. That means you will continue to earn service during your leave if you pay MainePERS contributions on your workers’ compensation earnings. If you receive workers’ compensation earnings from a provider other than your employer, contact MainePERS. We will determine the cost to you and can explain the impact the purchase will likely have on your benefits so you can decide whether to make the purchase. Delaying payment will result in an increased cost to you because interest will be added to the amount you will need to pay in order to receive the credits you are entitled to. If you do not pay contributions on a leave and receive workers’ compensation benefits to replace lost wages again in the future, the cost for all available Workers’ Compensation service is combined for one amount due.
When can I retire?
A: When you can retire depends on your retirement plan.
In most cases, you can retire:
At age 60, 62 or 65 (your normal retirement age)
With at least one (1) year of creditable service immediately before retirement, if you have reached your plan’s normal retirement age, or
At any age, with at least 25 years of creditable service
Your employer can tell you under which plan you are covered. You can find additional information on this Web site, by phone at 1-800-451-9800, or by e-mail at:
State Employees, Legislators and Judges – [email protected]
Teacher Members – [email protected]
Participating Local District members – [email protected]
How do I determine my normal retirement age (NRA)?
State and Teacher Member
Your normal retirement age is 60 if, before July 1, 1993, you had:
– at least 10 years of service credit or,
– reached age 60 and had at least a year of service credit immediately prior to reaching age 60.
Your normal retirement age is 62 if:
– before July 1, 1993, you had:
– less than 10 years of service credit and
– not reached age 60 with at least a year of service credit.
– before July 1, 2011, you had:
– at least 5 years of service credit or,
– reached age 62 and had at least a year of service credit immediately prior to reaching age 62.
Your normal retirement age is 65 if, before July 1, 2011, you had:
– less than 5 years of service credit and
– not reached age 62 with at least a year of service credit.
Your normal retirement age is the age at which you can retire without your benefit being subject to an early retirement reduction. If you are covered by a regular retirement plan, and you participated in the Consolidated Plan on or before June 30, 2014, your normal retirement age is 60. If your first date of MainePERS membership as a PLD member in the Consolidated Plan is on or after July 1, 2014, your normal retirement age is 65. Changing employers within the Consolidated Plan does not make you a “new” member under this provision.
If you are covered by a special retirement plan, see the tables in the back of the PLD Member Handbook which indicates the normal retirement age that applies to your plan. If you are unsure which retirement plan you are covered under, contact your employer’s payroll office.
I am thinking about retiring. When should I contact MainePERS?
A: Call or e-mail MainePERS to request an estimate when you are within 6 to 12 months of your anticipated retirement date. This gives us time to prepare your estimated benefit under each of the eight benefit options. It also gives you (and/or your financial advisor) time to review the information and meet with Retirement Services staff who can explain your options and assist you in completing your retirement paperwork. Call or e-mail us with your questions.
How does MainePERS determine the amount of my retirement benefit?
A: We determine your benefit using the formula specific to your retirement plan. In general, your retirement benefit is based on:
– Average of your three highest years of earnings
– Years of creditable service
– Age at retirement
You can find general information about the benefit calculation formula in your members handbook (see Publications) or for greater detail, please call our MainePERS Retirement Services department at 1-800-451-9800, or e-mail at:
State Employees, Legislators and Judges: [email protected]
Teacher Members: [email protected]
Participating Local District members: [email protected]
When will I get a Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA)?
A: Beginning the September following your first 12 months of receiving benefit payments, you may be eligible to have a COLA applied to future benefit payments. If you’re a state employee or teacher, eligibility also depends on your normal retirement age.
Can I receive a refund of contributions I’ve made to MainePERS?
A: If you terminate all MainePERS-covered employment, you may apply for a refund. Call or e-mail MainePERS for a Refund Application Package or click here for a downloadable version. MainePERS does not issue partial refunds. By refunding your contributions, you give up your rights to any MainePERS benefits. This is an important decision that can affect your future benefits. For more information, see the “Taking a Refund” section in the member handbook for your plan.
Will my refund include contributions my employer has made to MainePERS on my behalf?
A: No. If you decide to take a refund, you receive only your contributions plus interest. Any employer contributions remain on account with MainePERS.
What is available to my survivors if I die before retiring?
At the time of your death, if you are a member of MainePERS and in service, or are receiving a disability benefit from MainePERS, the beneficiary you designated on your Pension Beneficiary Designation for Pre-Retirement Death Benefits form will choose from available death benefit options. Eligibility for each option varies. Depending on their eligibility, your beneficiary(ies) will choose from:
- A monthly benefit calculated as if you retired on the day you died. This option provides the same benefit to your beneficiary as it would have provided you in retirement; or,
- A lump sum refund of all your contributions and interest; or,
- A Survivor Benefit, which is a monthly benefit payment in an amount set by law. Eligibility for and the amount of a survivor benefit is based on the relationship between you and your beneficiary.
MainePERS is available to assist your beneficiaries in understanding each benefit option.
Who do I have listed for my current beneficiary(ies)?
When you became employed, you should have completed two Designation of Beneficiary forms. One is used to designate a beneficiary(ies) to receive any survivor benefits in the event of your death prior to retirement. The other is for those who have MainePERS Group Life Insurance and have listed a beneficiary(ies). If you would like to know who you have listed for your beneficiary(ies), please crequest the info via the Benefit Information Request Form and we will contact you.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: You may change your life insurance beneficiary at any time and as often as you wish. Designation of Beneficiary – Group Life Insurance forms may be obtained from your payroll personnel, by contacting MainePERS or you may download them from the links below. In order for a change of beneficiary form to be valid, it must be received at MainePERS or postmarked prior to your date of death.
Designation of Beneficiary – Group Life Insurance (GI-0912)
Pension Beneficiary Designation for Pre-Retirement Death Benefits – (CL-0722)
You choose the benefit payment option under which you will receive your service retirement benefit. (See > Choosing a Benefit Payment Option When You Retire for more information.)