COVID-19 Updates: uc.edu/publichealth
Employees of Ohio public institutions do not contribute to the federal Social Security system, other than contributions to Medicare (employees hired after April 1, 1986). While employed by the university, your retirement contributions must be directed to one of the state retirement plans (OPERS, STRS) or to the Alternative Retirement Plan (ARP).
New employees have a deadline of 120 days to make their election to the ARP. If their election is not made within 120 days of the start of their employment they will be defaulted to the applicable state system.
Voluntary Savings Options (faculty and staff)
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the university's retirement program mandatory?
- Yes, employees are required by Ohio law to participate in the retirement program. Ohio public institutions do not participate in the federal Social Security system, other than required contributions to Medicare.
What retirement programs are available to me if I am 100% FTE?
- Newly hired, full-time employees of the university have a choice between two retirement systems: the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System [OPERS] [staff] or State Teachers Retirement System [STRS] [faculty] and the Alternative Retirement Plan (ARP). The ARP is only available if your appointment is 100% FTE. The decision is irrevocable; once a retirement system is chosen, the employee remains with that system throughout his/her employment with the university.
What retirement programs are available to me if I am not 100% FTE?
- Newly hired employees whose FTE is less than 100% will be enrolled in either STRS or OPERS.
- OPERS and STRS offer a choice of three plans within their system to new members. Those who have previously contributed to a state retirement system should contact OPERS (1-800-222-7377) or STRS (1-888-227-7877) to verify options. New members will receive information from OPERS/STRS shortly following employment.
How do I select my retirement plan?
- Eligible full time employees (100%) must enroll in one of the university's retirement plan options within 120 days of their eligible appointment date. To make your elections, download and complete the Retirement Plan Election Form. The completed Retirement Plan Election Form must be received by the Human Resources Department by the 120 day deadline or you will default into the public retirement system (OPERS or STRS).
- If eligible, during the 120-day enrollment period, you may elect to participate in the Alternative Retirement Plan (ARP). Only those faculty and staff whose appointment is 100% are eligible to elect participation in the ARP.
When is the enrollment deadline?
- Your deadline is based on date of eligible appointment, which may be:
- Initial employment date
- Date of transfer from an ineligible appointment to an eligible appointment
- The HR website has current year deadlines.
Can I fax or email my Retirement Plan Election form to Human Resources in order to meet their deadline dates?
- Yes. The mail location is Human Resources Department, University Hall, Suite 340 or Mail Location 0039. The fax number is (513)556-9652. The email address is email@example.com.
- The Retirement Plan Election form must be received by the deadline date. The HR website has current year deadlines.
What happens if I don't make an election?
- If you fail to elect a retirement program within 120 days, you will default into the state retirement system (OPERS or STRS) where you have an additional 60 days to choose an option within OPERS or STRS.
When can I change my retirement elections?
- Retirement elections are final and irrevocable and once you have elected or defaulted into a retirement plan you do not have an opportunity to make changes to your retirement plan election.
What is Ohio Public Employees Retirement System [OPERS]?
- The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) is a retirement plan option available to staff. For further details see the OPERS website.
- Eligible staff and librarians will be enrolled in OPERS unless they choose the Alternative Retirement Plan (ARP). Staff who are not eligible to enroll in the ARP will automatically be enrolled in OPERS.
What are my options under Ohio Public Employees Retirement System?
- Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) is available for eligible staff of any FTE. Staff employees are automatically enrolled in OPERS. Staff who are 100% FTE may elect to participate in the ARP. If enrolling in OPERS, you have 180 days from your eligible appointment date to elect enrollment in one of the three OPERS plan options:
- Traditional Pension Plan - Guaranteed pension plan where your retirement income depends on your age, years of service and final average salary. This is the default plan.
- Member-Directed Plan - Defined Contribution Plan that gives the employee the responsibility of making the investment decisions (similar to the ARP).
- Combined Plan - This plan combines the Traditional Pension Plan option with the Defined Contribution Plan option.
- Additional information on OPERS is available at OPERS.org.
What is State Teachers Retirement System [STRS]?
- The State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) is a retirement plan option available to faculty members. For further details see the STRS website.
- Eligible faculty will be enrolled in STRS unless they choose the ARP. Faculty who are not eligible to choose the ARP will automatically be enrolled in STRS.
What are my options under State Teachers Retirement System?
- State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) is available for eligible faculty of any FTE. Faculty are automatically enrolled in STRS. Faculty whose FTE is 100% may elect to participate in ARP. If enrolling in STRS, you have 180 days from your eligible appointment date to elect enrollment in one of these three STRS plan options:
- Defined Benefit Pension Plan - Guaranteed pension plan where your retirement income depends on your age, years of service and final average salary. This is your default plan.
- Defined Contribution Plan - Gives the employee the responsibility of making the investment decisions (similar to the ARP).
- Combined Plan - This plan combines the Defined Benefit Plan option with the Defined Contribution Plan option.
- Additional information on STRS is available at strsoh.org.
What is the Alternative Retirement Plan [ARP]?
- The Alternative Retirement Plan (ARP) is available to any university employee (faculty or staff) whose appointment is 100% FTE. Learn more about the ARP.
What are my options under the Alternative Retirement Plan?
- The Alternative Retirement Plan (ARP) is an alternative to OPERS/STRS for eligible faculty and staff. It provides a retirement investment program but does not offer additional benefits (i.e., medical or disability) after retirement. ARP is a Defined Contribution Plan option where the employee chooses both the vendor and the investment options.
- ARP is available for eligible faculty or staff with an FTE of 100%. If enrolling in ARP, you have 120 days from your eligible appointment date to elect enrollment in ARP. You must choose from one of UC's approved vendors and activate an account with your chosen ARP vendor.
Can I change my ARP vendor?
- You may change your ARP vendor at any time by completing and returning an ARP Vendor Change Form to Human Resources. Your new vendor election will become effective with the first available payroll period following receipt of your request.
What is the mitigating rate?
- According to state law, Ohio Revised Code Section 3305.6(d) allows the public retirement systems to withhold a portion (up to 6%) of the employer's contribution to offset any negative financial impact the Defined Benefit Plans may experience by the offering of alternative retirement plan options. OPERS and STRS may annually determine if the alternative retirement plans offered (OPERS Member-Directed Plan, OPERS Combined Plan, STRS Defined Contribution, STRS Combined Plan and the Alternative Retirement Plan) have had a negative financial impact on the OPERS/STRS Defined Benefit Plans. If a negative impact exists, then OPERS/STRS may require a percentage of the employer contributions be redirected to the OPERS Traditional Plan and STRS Defined Benefit Plan in order to compensate for the loss.
- More information regarding mitigating rate is located on the OPERS or STRS websites.
Will I contribute to Social Security while employed by UC?
- You will not contribute to Social Security while employed by UC. You may have contributed to Social Security prior to working for UC. In this case, you should be aware of the Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision. Under the Windfall Elimination Provision, your Social Security retirement or disability benefit is figured using a modified formula when you are also entitled to a pension from a job where you did not pay Social Security tax. As a result, you will receive a lower Social Security benefit than if you were not entitled to a pension from this job. This provision recuses, but does not totally eliminate, your Social Security benefit.
- For additional information, please refer to the Social Security publication, “Windfall Elimination Provision.” If you elect to contribute to the Alternative Retirement Plan, you will be impacted by the Windfall Elimination Provision as defined on this Social Security website.