Members often come to us with questions regarding eligibility, payments, benefits and more. Learn the answers to our most frequently asked questions below.
Frequently Asked Questions for Members
Most members of the Employees’ Retirement System have a hybrid benefit plan made up of a Defined Benefit plan and a Defined Contribution* plan.
*Correctional Officers, State Police and certain public safety employers do not participate in the Defined Contribution Plan pursuant to Rhode Island General Law.
A Defined Benefit Plan pays you a specific dollar amount per month for the rest of your life when you are eligible to retire. The amount of your monthly pension benefit is based on several criteria including when you were hired, how long you have worked, and your salary.
The Defined Contribution plan allows you to save money for your retirement in a tax-deferred account that is similar to a 401(k) plan. Both you and your employer contribute a percentage of your salary to your Defined Contribution plan. TIAA invests these funds on your behalf and as you instruct and when you retire, you are able to begin withdrawing these funds.
There are many things to consider when you are thinking about retiring. Our Retirement Planning Checklist below provides step-by-step instructions on how to apply to collect your ERSRI retirement benefits.
First time users with an email address on file with ERSRI can self-register online using the Member Portal link below. If you don’t have an email address on file or if you need assistance registering or logging in, please contact us using our Contact Us page or by phone at (401) 462-7600. The ERSRI Member Service Center is open Monday - Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Once you’ve logged into your account on the Member Portal you can update your phone and email address, review your pension account information, print a current statement, review your estimated retirement eligibility date, and use the Pension Projection Tool to estimate your future benefit amount.
Download the PDF below to learn more about how to use the ERSRI Member Portal.
How to Log In and Use Your Online Retirement Account
Schedules are determined by which employer you work for, your date of hire, and the amount of accrued service and your age at certain milestone dates. Each schedule has different rules that are used to determine your retirement eligibility date, annual accruals and total service credit factor, and pension calculation and benefit amount. To learn more about your schedule, click the link below.
Your pension is calculated based on several criteria including your years of earned service credit and your final average salary.
- Service Credit Factor: Each year you work for a participating employer, you accrue a percentage of your salary which are summed by year to determine your total service credit factor. For example, for a member in Schedule B2 who has a 1% accrual per year and worked for 30 years, the total Service Credit Factor would be 30%.
- Final Average Salary (FAS): Depending on your schedule, ERSRI will use the average of either your highest consecutive 3 or 5 years of salary to calculate your pension benefit.
- Annual Pension Benefit Calculation: ERSRI multiplies your total Service Credit Factor by your FAS to determine your annual pension benefit amount.
At time of retirement, you have several payment options to choose from. Use the table below to see the available options.
|Payment Option||Amount||Spouse / Beneficiary Amount||Allowed to Switch Options One Time?|
|Service Retirement Allowance (SRA) (State, Teachers, COs, General MERS)||Full benefit paid monthly to the member||None||No|
|Service Retirement Allowance (SRA) (Police and Fire only)||Full benefit paid monthly to the member||Spouse will receive 30% of your final salary plus 10% for each child under age 18 to a maximum family benefit of 50% so long as the surviving spouse does not remarry||No|
|Option 1: Joint and Survivor 100%||Reduced benefit||Spouse or beneficiary receives same monthly benefit after member’s death||Yes - to Option 2 or SRA|
|Option 2: Joint and Survivor 50%||Reduced benefit||Spouse or beneficiary receives 50% of the monthly benefit after member’s death||Yes - to Option 1 or SRA|
|SRA Plus (applies to Schedule A and AB only)||Higher benefit prior to age 62. Reduced pension after 62.||None||No|
You will receive your first pension payment, which will be retroactive to the date of your retirement, within two to three months. Your first payment will be direct deposited into your bank account.
If you leave your job and terminate employment with a participating employer but are vested in the system (currently 5 years of contributing service), you may begin collecting your pension benefit when you meet your retirement eligibility criteria — as long as you do not withdraw your contributions.
In some cases, your eligibility date may be adjusted if you leave employment prior to reaching your retirement date. However, your benefit will be the same as it was the day you terminated employment. There are options to receive your benefit prior to reaching your full eligibility date but if you elect to retire early those options require a reduction of your benefit.
It is important to know that once you leave active employment, ERSRI will not automatically begin sending your pension benefit once you are eligible to collect your benefit. It is your responsibility to notify ERSRI of your eligibility and to fill out a retirement application approximately three to six months before you are eligible to begin collecting your benefit.
If you do not apply for your pension benefit when you first become eligible, you will not receive retroactive benefits to the date when you were initially eligible. Deferred benefits are payable beginning on your eligibility date or on the first of the month in which your completed application is received by ERSRI, whichever is later.
If you are not vested in the system (less than 5 years of contributing service) you can take a refund of your pension contributions without interest. You can roll this money over into a qualified retirement account or take the refund as cash. If taken as cash, there are important tax implications to consider, including penalties for early withdrawal.
The Rule of 95 is an alternative full benefit retirement eligibility date to allow members to retire earlier than their schedule-based eligibility date. Under the Rule of 95 members can retire when their age plus their years of service equal 95, provided that they are at least 62 years old.
For example, a member who is 62 years old could retire with 33 years of service rather than waiting until their schedule based eligibility date (62 + 33 = 95).
Upon review and qualification by ERSRI, we will follow the instructions outlined in a domestic relations order (DRO) regarding how to pay benefits awarded by the court to your ex-spouse. You should consult with your divorce attorney on how your benefit will be handled. To learn more about the impact a divorce may have on your retirement benefit please use the link below.
When you are “vested,” you have accrued at least the minimum amount of service needed to collect a future pension benefit. You may apply to collect your benefit when you meet the retirement eligibility requirements for your schedule.
You can view your up-to-date contributions balance and print a current statement by logging in to your account on the ERSRI Member Portal.
State and municipal employees earn one year of “service credit” for each full year that they work and contribute to the retirement system. Service credits may be purchased in certain instances. For additional information about service credits and their purchase, please refer to our Purchasing Optional Service Credits page.
Your designated beneficiary is eligible to receive a one-time death benefit payment regardless of pension payment option selected. The Benefit is $800 per year of completed service, up to a maximum benefit of $16,000 with 20 years of service. The death benefit reduces 25% each year of retirement to a minimum death benefit of $4,000.
The Teachers Survivors’ Benefits (TSB) Plan is for Teachers in participating school districts who contribute to the fund in lieu of Social Security to provide benefits for their survivors in the event of their death. To learn more about how the TSB Plan works, please download the PDF below.
A Guide to Understanding and Collecting Your Benefits