Participating service is your period of contributing employment after your employer’s entry date into OPERS. You earn participating service credit by paying contributions on salary earned, and working or using paid leave to cover time off. You begin earning participating service the first day of the month following the beginning date of employment provided you meet the requirements of membership.
Full-time participating service credit is earned for your full-time employment. All part-time employment or periods of leave without pay are prorated in relation to full-time employment. For example, half-time employment earns half the participating service of full-time employment.
- An approved leave of absence of two years or less shall not constitute a break in service, but it shall not be counted as credited service.
- A member who is not receiving pay and for whom contributions are not being paid is not accruing participating service.
- Members do not accrue service credit while receiving Workers’ Compensation payments.
- No deductions in service credit or salary are made for involuntary furloughs as provided for by OAC 530:10-15-48 or as otherwise approved by the Office of Personnel Management.
Unused Sick Leave
A member who retires or terminates employment and elects a vested benefit is entitled to add unused sick leave to all the other service credit the member has accrued. One hundred sixty hours of unused sick leave qualifies as one month of participating service credit. A maximum of six months of unused sick leave can be added to a member’s credit.
|Hours of Unused Sick Leave||Months of Service Credit|
|0 – 159||0|
|160 – 319||1|
|320 – 479||2|
|480 – 639||3|
|640 – 799||4|
|800 – 959||5|
If the addition of the member’s unused sick leave causes the total credited service to equal or exceed a fractional year of six months, service is rounded up to the next year and the member gains a year of service credit.*
* Note: Rounding eliminated for members who begin on or after November 1, 2012. These members will be credited with full years and months of participation.
Members may be eligible to receive or purchase service credit for active military service based on Oklahoma State statue or Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). Click here for more information.
Reinstatement of Withdrawn Credit
A former member who has previously terminated employment with a participating employer of OPERS and has withdrawn his or her contributions may restore service credit lost due to a withdrawal of contributions. The former member must meet the eligibility requirements for membership, and on becoming a member of OPERS again, may pay OPERS the sum of the accumulated contributions withdrawn plus interest at ten percent (10%) per year. This repayment will entitle the member to the service credit he or she would have received if there had never been a withdrawal of contributions.
Reinstatement may be made one time only. Any further withdrawals cannot be repaid. The employee’s payment to this System may be in a lump sum or through a payroll deduction for up to 60 months (see Installment Payment Plan). Members interesting in reinstating withdrawn credit need to complete a Member Request: Benefit and Service Calculations Form to request a calculation for cost of repayment.
Bonus Years of Participating Service For Employee Contributions
|More than $1 up to $500||1 yr. participating service|
|More than $500 up to $1,000||2 yrs. participating service|
|More than $1000 up to $1,500||3 yrs. participating service|
|More than $1500 up to $2,000||4 yrs. participating service|
|More than $2,000||5 yrs. participating service|
Purchasing Service Credit
Members may be eligible to purchase certain kinds of service. Click a topic below for more information.
Purchase Service From Other State Retirement Systems
A member may purchase service credit in OPERS for years of credited service accumulated by the member while a member of the:
- Oklahoma Firefighters Retirement System
- Oklahoma Police Pension and Retirement System
- Uniform Retirement System for Justices and Judges
- Oklahoma Law Enforcement Retirement System
- Oklahoma Teachers’ Retirement System
If the member is not receiving or eligible to receive retirement credit or benefits for service in any other public retirement system. The cost to purchase such service shall be the actuarial cost to fund the member’s projected benefits with the additional service credit.
A member who wishes to purchase such service must submit to OPERS written documentation from one of the systems listed above. The documentation must include dates of membership and service, salary for each year of membership broken down by fiscal year, and a statement that he or she is no longer eligible for benefits from that system. No other documentation will be accepted.
Transporting from the Teachers’ Retirement System of Oklahoma. OPERS members have an alternative to purchasing service credit for service accrued with the Oklahoma Teachers’ Retirement System (OTRS). Click here for more information.
Purchase of Prior Service
Members who were employed by an agency which entered this System after January 1, 1975, are not eligible for free prior service credit for their employment with that agency prior to its entry into OPERS. However, members can purchase prior service credit for their employment with such an agency from January 1, 1975, until the agency’s entry into this System. The cost for the purchase will be the actuarial cost. The member and the Retirement Coordinator for the agency must complete and submit an Application for Purchase of Prior Service to OPERS. The member will be contacted directly by OPERS about the cost.
Purchasing Incentive Credit
Active, participating members of this System may purchase no more than two years of age and/or participating service combined to accelerate their retirement eligibility date and/or increase benefits. The cost of purchasing such age or service will be the actuarial cost of the projected incremental increase in benefits as a result of the additional age and/or service.
To purchase incentive age or service, a member must:
1. Have reached or is within two years of reaching normal retirement eligibility; or,
2. Have reached or is within two years of reaching early retirement eligibility.
Members must have at least four years of the required six years of full-time-equivalent employment in order to be eligible for this purchase and must accrue six years of full time equivalent employment prior to retirement.
Members interest in purchasing incentive credit need to complete a Member Request form. An analyst will calculate the cost of to purchase incentive credit and an estimate of benefit. Incentive credit may not be purchased to attain eligibility for Disability Benefits.
Purchase of OESC Service
A member may purchase OPERS service credit for any years of employment the member had with the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC) if the member is neither receiving nor eligible to receive service credit.
A member who is interested in purchasing such employment must submit written verification of the dates of employment and the salary earned during each fiscal year. The verification must be obtained from the Retirement Coordinator of OESC and submitted to OPERS. OPERS will notify the member of the cost to buy the service credit.
Purchase of Elected Service
A member who is currently a nonelected member may purchase OPERS service credit for previous service as an elected official if the member is not receiving or eligible to receive retirement credit for said service with any other public retirement system. The cost to purchase such service shall be the actuarial cost to fund the member’s projected benefits with the additional service credit. Interested members should contact OPERS in writing and state the elected official rate they wish to pay. The rate chosen may determine the benefits paid for each year of elected service.
Purchase of Termination Credit
Termination credit may be purchased in the event of a reduction-in-force. All inquiries about the purchase of service due to a reduction-in-force will only be entertained after the member’s participating employer has officially notified OPERS of those employees subject to a reduction-in-force. OPERS will then communicate detailed instructions about the purchase of termination credit to these members affected by a reduction-in-force. The cost to purchase termination credit will be an amount equal to the employee and employer contributions that would have been paid to OPERS through the member’s normal retirement date. Termination credit cannot be purchased in conjunction with incentive credit.
Installment Payment Plan
- All purchases of service at the actuarial purchase price including, but not limited to, eligible service from another State retirement system, military service or incentive credit.
- Current members, who as former members, withdrew their accumulated contributions and now wish to repay the amount of the withdrawal to reinstate service credit can repay the withdrawal either in one lump-sum payment or through the installment payment plan.
Installment plan payments must be made only through payroll deduction for a maximum time period of 60 months and will include interest at a current annual percentage rate of 7.5%. The minimum monthly payment is $25. Failure to complete all payments may result in the loss of eligibility for the service credit. For the rules governing installment payment plan purchases, see your Retirement Coordinator.