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Returning to Work After Retirement

According to a 2016 Employee Benefit Research Institute survey, 67% of workers say they plan to work for pay after they retire. And while a smaller percentage (27%) of retirees actually reported having worked for pay since retiring, work in retirement remains an important topic to retirees.


Rules for Retirees Returning to Work

If you choose to return to the workplace after retirement, there are rules and earnings limitations to consider.

First, you should know that returning to a non-OPERS-participating employer will not affect your retirement. You may work for a non-OPERS entity and continue to receive your monthly OPERS retirement benefit without interruption.

However, if you return to work for an OPERS-participating employer, state law and IRS code prohibit any pre-arranged agreements that permit you to retire and then be rehired by the same employer on any basis and continue to receive your OPERS benefit. An OPERS retiree is prohibited from returning to work in any capacity with the same employer from which he/she retired for a period of one year without waiving benefits. This includes full-time, part-time, seasonal, or temporary employment.

You may return to work for a different OPERS-participating employer one month following your retirement date. For example: If you retired from the Department of Transportation (ODOT) on February 1, 2017, you could begin work as soon as March 1, 2017 for any OPERS agency, excluding ODOT. Retirement benefits will be cancelled for anyone who returns to work for an OPERS-participating agency within the first month of his/her retirement date.


Earnings Limitations

Social Security -
 Normal Retirement Age 
Year of Birth 
Age
1937 and prior65
193865 and 2 months
193965 and 4 months
194065 and 6 months
194165 and 8 months
194265 and 10 months
1943-195466
195566 and 2 months
195666 and 4 months
195766 and 6 months
195866 and 8 months
195966 and 10 months
1960 and later67

Certain earnings limitations may apply if you retire then go back to work with an OPERS-participating agency. OPERS uses the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) earnings limitations. Whether or not these earnings limitations will affect you is based on your SSA Full Retirement Age. You can find your Full Retirement Age in the table to the right or on the Social Security Administration’s website, www.ssa.gov.

The earnings limitations apply to a retiree’s annual income with an OPERS-participating employer. The 2017 Social Security Administration Earnings Limitations are as follows:

  • There is no earnings limit for those who have already reached SSA Full Retirement Age.
  • The earnings limit for those who will reach SSA Full Retirement Age in 2017 is $44,880.
  • The earnings limit for those who will remain below SSA Full Retirement Age in 2017 is $16,920.

Here is an example: If you retire, return to work for an OPERS-participating employer, and will not reach SSA Full Retirement Age in all of 2017, your monthly retirement benefit will cease once $16,920 is earned from the new OPERS job. The same principle applies for those who will reach Full Retirement Age in 2017. The retiree will continue to receive a monthly OPERS benefit, unless and until $44,880 is earned at the new OPERS-participating job.


We Are Here To Help

Retirees choose to go back to work for a number of reasons, including earning extra income or finding greater purpose and fulfillment in retirement. Whatever the reason, you may have questions when choosing to return to work. Please contact OPERS if you have questions about returning to OPERS-covered employment or visit www.opers.ok.gov/returning-to-work. We would be happy to walk you through any issues you may encounter.

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