Q: I’m thinking about retiring. When should I contact ERSRI?
A: Please start by using our online calculators by clicking on the Account Login and signing into your account. This will be a great way for you to view the information in your account and calculate your eligbility date for retirement. Feel free to contact ERSRI Customer Service Center six to nine months before retirement. If you have never been counseled previously, ERSRI offers group counseling at our Warwick office and will be able to schedule you for an appointment.
Q: I keep hearing the term “vested.” What does that mean?
A: When you are “vested,” you have earned a pension benefit, although you may not collect your benefit until you meet retirement eligibility requirements.
Q: How do I find out who I’ve named as my beneficiary? Can I change my beneficiary?
A: You can view your beneficiary by logging in to your online retirement account. You may change your beneficiary at any time by completing a Beneficiary Designation form and mailing or faxing it to ERSRI.
Q: What happens to the money I’ve contributed if I decide to leave my job before I’m eligible to retire?
A: Contributions may be rolled over to another qualified retirement plan or IRA. There is no interest on the return of contributions. If you decide to take your contributions as cash, you will be subject to any applicable taxes and penalties. A member who is not vested can leave his or her money in the system; however, no interest is accumulating and when a refund is finally requested, it will be the same amount as when he or she left the system. Members with less than five years of service may opt to leave their money in the system if they may eventually return to public service as a state employee, teacher or member of a participating municipality and eventually become vested.
Q: How do I find out how much money I’ve contributed so far?
A: You can view your contributions by logging in to your online retirement account or by requesting a Statement of Contributions from ERSRI.
Q: What are service credits?
A: 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 see An Employee's Guide to Understanding the Rhode Island Retirement Security Act.
Q: I’m getting a divorce. How will this affect my pension benefit?
A: ERSRI will follow the instructions outlined in a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) 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 click here.
Q: I keep hearing about “Option 1” and “Option 2.” What do these terms mean?
A: Members may choose from several retirement options to structure how they receive their pension benefit when they retire. Under Option 1, when you die, your beneficiary will receive the same monthly retirement allowance that you received for the duration of his or her lifetime. To finance this, an actuarial reduction based on the age difference between you and your beneficiary will be made to your pension benefit. Under this option, you will receive a lesser monthly amount, but your beneficiary will continue to receive that same amount after you die.
If you choose Option 2, when you die, your beneficiary will receive half the monthly pension benefit that you received. Under this option, the actuarial reduction to your benefit is less during your lifetime. Other options are also available; please see An Employee's Guide to Understanding the Rhode Island Retirement Security Act.
Q: Will my survivors receive a death benefit?
A: Your designated beneficiary is eligible to receive a one-time death benefit payment regardless of retirement option selected. The Benefit is $800 per year of completed service, up to a maximum benefit of $16,000 with 20 years of service. Benefit reduces 25% each year of retirement to a minimum death benefit of $4,000.
Q: What is the Teachers Survivors' Benefits Plan?
A: The Teachers Survivors' Benefits (TSB) Plan was created in response to teachers' requests for a plan to leave benefits to their survivors. Teachers, in participating school districts, contribute to a 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 see Teachers Survivors' Benefit Information.