The vesting process is changing. Vesting will now be automatic.
Vesting is earning the right to a future retirement benefit. A member automatically vests once they have eight years of credited service, six years of which must be full-time-equivalent employment. Vesting simply means you have enough service to earn a future retirement benefit. This is different than being eligible to retire, which is when you meet both service and age criteria.
How Vesting Works
Vesting is important if you leave employment before you are eligible to retire. As a vested member, you don’t receive a retirement benefit right away. Instead, you will draw a benefit in the future – when you are eligible. The benefit at that time will be based upon the final average compensation and service credit you had accrued before leaving employment.
Zoey, age 33, terminates with 9 years of service. If she leaves her benefit intact, she may draw benefits at age 65.
George, age 57, terminates with 30 years of service. If he leaves his benefit intact, he may draw full benefits at age 60. (60 + 30 = 90)
If you leave employment after vesting, but have not reached retirement eligibility, you have a choice: keep your vested service intact or take a withdrawal. To remain vested, you will not need to take immediate action. Consider these advantages to keeping a vested benefit:
- Often, a retirement benefit over one’s lifetime has a greater value than the amount of the accumulated contributions.
- A vested benefit ensures you will receive an income from OPERS during your retirement years or provide a survivor benefit in the event of death.
- If you return to work for an OPERS participating employer, you will continue adding to your existing service credit.
Request a beneft estimate
If you have left employment with enough service to vest, you can request OPERS to calculate your benefit estimate by completing a Member Request: Benefit and Service Calculations form. An OPERS analyst will use your salary and service records to calculate your estimate benefit. Submitting a request does not indicate intent to retire or preselect your actual retirement date or options.
Keep your address updated
Members must use the OPERS Change of Address Form to change their address in our system. This form will also update your SoonerSave account, if applicable.
Apply for retirement
At least three to six months before your first eligible retirement date, you can apply for retirement. You must complete and submit the application by the 60-day deadline, so you do not miss any benefit payments. OPERS cannot pay benefits retroactively.
We encourage you to attend the OPERS Pre-Retirement Seminar a few months before starting the process. The seminar will cover retirement forms, processes and much more.