Retirement planning is a process. But don’t let that worry you. OPERS staff is available to answer questions along the way. We are partners in your retirement process. Your goal is to have a comfortable transition into retirement. Our goal is to help you achieve it.
Apply for Retirement Online. When you are ready, you can now apply for retirement online. The digital application is easier, faster and reduces your chance of errors. We have instructions and a video to help you prepare and guide you through the process.
You may be wondering
The information below will answer those and many more questions you may have.
Retirement Planning Timeline
The retirement journey begins many years before completing a retirement application. When you are ready to start the process, OPERS has an ESSENTIAL Retirement Checklist to guide you step-by-step through the rest of the journey. We hope this document will help you feel confident about the retirement process.
Two Years Before Retirement: Attend Pre-Retirement Seminar
Plan to attend an OPERS Pre-Retirement Seminar when you are at least two years away from being eligible to retire. The seminar will cover the retirement forms, process and much more. The seminar will cover the retirement forms, process, insurance and much more.
Review SoonerSave balances and investments to make sure they are in line with your retirement goals. You can manage your account three ways:
- Online at www.soonersave.com
- Download the Empower app
- Calling the voice response system at 877-538-3457.
At Least Three to Six Months Before Retirement: Contact Retirement Coordinator
You will start the process by completing the Retirement Application. You should also contact your Retirement Coordinator to obtain information and other forms for your retirement. We recommend meeting with your coordinator no less than 90 days before your planned retirement date. Your coordinator can assist you in completing the Retirement Application, which starts the retirement process and is used to select your retirement date and benefit option. OPERS retirement dates are always the first day of a given month.
At least 60 Days Before Retirement: Application Deadline
Submitting your Retirement Application begins the retirement process. Submit your Retirement Application with the following forms (included as part of the Retirement Application) and documents:
- Direct Deposit Authorization
- Withholding Preference Certificate
- Beneficiary Designation for Retiree Death Benefits
- Vital documents: *
- Proof of birth (you and your joint annuitant). Acceptable documents include a valid, unexpired driver’s license, passport or birth certificate. Please see Acceptable Forms of Proof of Birth Document List or contact OPERS for more information.
- Marriage license, divorce decree and/or spouse’s death certificate
- *Legible copies of these documents are acceptable. You may be able to request copies of vital documents at www.usa.gov/replace-vital-documents. Documents will not be returned.
Your completed application must be signed and received in the OPERS office in Oklahoma City at least 60 days before your retirement date (see Dates and Deadlines). We cannot accept retirement applications more than six months in advance for a retirement date.
45 Days Before Retirement: Acknowledgement and Paperwork
Approximately 45 days before your retirement date, OPERS will send you an Acknowledgement Letter requesting any missing documents required to complete your retirement. If you do not provide these documents by the specified due date, the payment of your retirement benefits will be delayed until the end of the following month.
15 Days Before Retirement: Preliminary Benefit Statement
Approximately 15 days before your retirement date, OPERS will send you a Preliminary Benefit Statement, which will provide the following information:
- An accounting of your total service credit in OPERS;
- An estimate of your gross monthly benefit amount; and
- The date your first two benefit payments will be issued.
You will also receive information about the Medicare Gap Benefit Option, and rules for returning to work after retirement.
Congratulations! Your retirement is officially the first day of the month. OPERS will process your retirement benefit according to your wishes. All requests for information from OPERS must be submitted before your retirement date.
55 Days After Retirement: Final Letter
Approximately 55 days after your chosen retirement date, OPERS will send you a final letter just before your first two months of benefit payments are issued stating the following:
- A final statement of benefits (gross benefit amount, withholding for insurance, federal and state income tax, and net amount); and,
- A statement showing the total contributions (both after tax and pre-tax) you have paid into OPERS.
60 Days After Retirement: Direct Deposit Retirement Benefit
Your first two months of benefit payments will be deposited on the last working day of the second month of your retirement (about 60 days after your retirement date). For example, if you retire July 1, your first two benefits will be deposited the last working day of August. There will be two deposits, one for the first month and one for the second month.
Thereafter, benefit payments will be made on the last working day of each month.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get a Retirement Application Packet?
Contact your retirement coordinator no less than three months before your retirement date to request a Retirement Application Packet. Your retirement coordinator is required to complete a portion of your application and may have their own deadlines.
How do I get a Retirement Application Packet if I am vested and do not have a Retirement Coordinator?
In OPERS, you can only vest your benefit if you leave employee before you are eligible for retirement and submit an Application for Vested Benefits. If you have submitted an Application for Vested Benefits and kept your address updated with OPERS, you will receive a retirement packet in the mail a couple months before your first eligible retirement date. You can also contact OPERS if you did not receive a packet or would like to get started earlier on the paperwork. Remember, keep your address updated with OPERS.
What if I don’t have 60 days before my employment ends?
OPERS requires notice of your intention to retire at least 60 days prior to your retirement date. In some cases, you do not have 60 days before your employment ends in which to notify OPERS. In such cases, you have two choices.
- You may seek to have the Executive Director waive the 60-day notice requirement; or,
- You may may apply for the next available retirement date for which you can meet the 60- day OPERS deadline.
Can I get an exception to the 60-day notice requirement?
Can I postpone or cancel my retirement?
Once you have submitted your Retirement Application, you may only postpone, cancel, or change your retirement in writing before the effective retirement date. If you postpone or cancel your retirement and you wish to retire at a later date, you must complete a new Retirement Application. If the retirement is canceled, you must again meet the 60-day notice requirement. We also recommend talking to your employer first about postponing or canceling your retirement before contacting OPERS.
Can I change my retirement benefit option?
You can only change your retirement benefit option and/or joint annuitant in writing before the effective retirement date.
The type of benefit payment may not be changed on or after the effective date of retirement. If you have chosen to retire under a retirement option, neither your option nor your joint-annuitant may be changed on or after your retirement date. For those who retire from OPERS under Option A or Option B, they may change their benefit option to the Maximum benefit (no survivor option, no reduction in benefits) upon the death of the member’s selected joint-annuitant.
For more information, check out our Retirement Options.
What are my SoonerSave account options
You may contribute any accumulated annual leave into your Sooner Save account. Contributing these funds will delay taxation and it is a last chance cash infusion before retirement. After you retire, no further deferrals can be made to SoonerSave.
Funds may be withdrawn in a number of ways.
- Lump Sum, Full or Partial– What you withdraw, you will be responsible for the tax liability that year.
- Installment payments – Monthly, quarterly or annual dispersement.
- Roll over