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SERS Home  >  Employers  >  F.A.Q.

Reporting contribution information to SERS in a timely manner is necessary to keep the retirement system financially sound. Employers that fail to report contributions on time must pay penalties. This section provides advice on avoiding these penalties.

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Employer Penalties - F.A.Q.

Q: If my payment is postmarked by the 15th but received later, will I still accrue a penalty?

A: Yes. Your payment needs to be received in SERS’ lockbox by the 15th in order to be considered on time. All contribution payments and reporting is due the 15th of the following month. Payments postmarked for the 15th are not considered “on time,” and school districts will accrue a penalty.

Q: What happens when the 15th falls on a holiday or weekend?

A: From time to time, the 15th will fall on a holiday or weekend. When this happens, the due date will be the first business day  following the 15th of the month.

Q: If a school district pays all employer contributions through the foundation, will they be subject to the employer contribution  penalty?

A: No. Foundation deductions are based on estimates and adjusted periodically. Employers which choose to make their employer contribution payments through the foundation program are always considered current for that purpose.

Q: Is a school district responsible if a contractor’s payment is late?

A: It is the responsibility of the school district to ensure that payments from contractors are received by SERS on time. Even if the school district is paying through the foundation program but the contractor is paying SERS directly, the school district will still accrue a penalty if the contractor’s payment is late.

Q: Will I accrue a late penalty if I don’t have the SSA-1945 form submitted to SERS within the member’s first 30 days of service?

A: No. This form is required by federal law and explains to your employees how public employment may affect their Social Security benefits. This form is filed with the member’s information at SERS, but it is not used to ensure membership. Although there will not be any penalties applied with this form, you are still required to submit it to SERS. SERS will accept the SSA-1945 by secure fax at 614-340-1195, Attn: Employer Services.

Q: I did not receive the Special Notice, Employer Bulletin, or any other communication announcing the due date for the Surcharge payment. Will SERS waive the penalty?

A: No. Almost all outgoing communications from SERS are now electronic. Specifically, SERS sends the Employer Bulletin and Special Notice to every email address in SERS’ employer contact listings. SERS cannot be responsible if your system blocked
SERS’ communication or placed it in your spam folder, or if you opted out of certain communications. If you believe SERS may
have the wrong contact/email information for your school district, please call us toll-free at 877-213-0861 or email us at employerservices@ohsers.org.

Q: I have received a penalty notification. How do I make payment?

A: If your school district has access to foundation funds, you have three options:

  1. Direct payment by check or EFT – please remember to complete a Payment Remittance Form
  2. Send a written request directing SERS to immediately transfer foundation funds to pay the penalty
  3. Do nothing, and SERS will automatically transfer foundation funds at year-end to pay the penalty

If your school district does not have access to foundation funds, the penalty must be paid by check or EFT. Please remember to complete a Payment Remittance Form prior to fiscal year end.

Q: I tried to make payment by ACH Debit through eSERS on the 15th, but the payment did not execute until the 17th. Why did this happen?

A: ACH debits and credits are not instantaneous. There is a minimum delay of one full day to allow for ACH processing, and depending on the processing institution, another day can be lost because the cut-off for ACH transmissions is usually early in the day. If you enter an ACH Debit date which is not valid, eSERS will display a warning message in red under the application title and change the date to the next available valid banking date. If the next available date is beyond the due date, please make other payment delivery arrangements.

Q: How do I handle my contractors?

A: If the contractor is late, the employer penalty is applied to the school district. The penalty accrues until the missing contribution  report or payment is received. If the contractor is late and a penalty is applied, it is up to the employer to reach an agreement with  the contractor on the payment of the penalty due to SERS.

Q: What about employers that submit their payroll through an Information Technology Center (ITC)? Will we be penalized if the ITC is late in submitting our payroll?

A: Payroll is due the 15th of every month. It is an employer’s responsibility to ensure that payroll detail and all contributions arrive to SERS by the 15th. Please inform your ITC that your payroll is required to be at SERS no later than the 15th.

Q: I sent my contribution/payroll report prior to the 15th, but received a penalty anyway. Why did this happen?

A: This generally happens if the contribution/payroll file contains certain types of errors, including incorrect header information, or if the file contains too many errors, including missing hours and days. If your report needs corrections before it could be uploaded into the system, the report will not be considered received until it has been corrected. If you have questions, please contact your  contribution/payroll representative or email us at employerservices@ohsers.org.

Q: How can I avoid a penalty for coaches and other supplemental employees when I cannot get the information in a timely manner?

A: SERS will not assess a late enrollment penalty as long as you enroll the member prior to receiving the first contribution/payroll  report for that member. If you have enough information to properly pay the employee, you should have enough information to enroll the member through eSERS.

Q: My payroll system is being replaced, and our vendor has just informed me that the new system will not be ready in time for this month’s reporting. What can I do?

A: SERS has much more flexibility in extending due dates than adjusting penalties after-the-fact. If you know that extreme circumstances will cause a delay in reporting or payment, please contact Employer Services as soon as possible to make alternate
arrangements.

Q: What is the Employers Trust Fund, and why is it mentioned in penalty discussions?

A: Any payment made by an employer to SERS that hasn’t been withheld from the employee, or made in lieu of an employee contribution, goes into the Employers Trust Fund. This includes employer matching contributions (14%), Surcharge, Service Credit Purchase (SCP), and Early Retirement Incentive (ERI).

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Get tips on submitting member records and confirming that SERS has received your contribution/payroll files and payments.

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Records, Reports, and Payment Submission - F.A.Q.

Q: How do I submit member enrollments now that SERS no longer accepts paper forms?

A: Employers must enroll all members, including
reemployed retirees, electronically through eSERS. To enroll a new member, login to your eSERS account. Next, use the “Member Enrollment” application or the Member Enrollment file upload to enroll members. For the specifications guide for the upload, click this link.

Q: How can I be sure that SERS has received my contribution/payroll file and payment?

A: It depends on how you submitted the report or payment.

1. For a contribution report submitted through:

a. eSERS Payroll application: Select the “Payroll Entry” application, highlight the “Submission Group Name” in question, and select the “Payment Submission” button. Check that a “Y” appears in the Web Submitted column. If a “Y” does not appear, the payroll has not been submitted.

b. Filezilla/SecureFTP: Select the “Financial History” application in eSERS and see if the report activity appears there. If the activity does not appear there, SERS has not received or processed the item.

2. For a contribution payment submitted through:

a. eSERS “ACH Debit” application: Select the “ACH Maintenance” application and check to see that the scheduled payment appears there.

b. ACH Credit/Paper Check: Select the “Financial History” application in eSERS and see if the payment activity appears there.

 

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SERS and State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio (STRS Ohio) provide retirement benefits to all public school employees; however, selecting the correct retirement system for some positions is difficult. SERS and STRS have worked together to provide guidance on enrolling employees in the correct retirement system.

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Membership Determination - F.A.Q.

Q: You state that interpreters for the hearing impaired should be STRS. We have interpreters that are degreed in STRS but our non-degreed interpreters that have a para-professional  license are in SERS. Are you sure you want the para-professionals in STRS, even though they are non-degreed?

A: Interpreters for the hearing impaired are required by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) to hold an interpreter for the hearing impaired associate license. These individuals should contribute to STRS Ohio. Individuals who are required to hold a paraprofessional associate license should contribute to SERS.

Q: You do not mention English as a Second Language (ESL) interpreters, currently we have them in SERS, is that correct?

A: Yes, ESL or English Language Learners (ELL) interpreters should contribute to SERS.

Q: "We presently code our psychologist interns to STRS, is that correct?"

A: Yes, school psychology interns are required to have a temporary pupil services license by the ODE and should contribute to STRS Ohio.

Q: We do not currently have an EMIS Coordinator but will be adding one soon. Is that position STRS or SERS? Will the requirement of an administrative certificate make a difference as to what retirement system the individual is in?

A: EMIS Coordinators should contribute to SERS. An administrative certificate will not make a difference in the retirement system because an administrative certificate or license is not required by the ODE for this position.

Q: You state that preschool teachers are SERS. We have a handicapped preschool program that is integrated with regular students taught by degreed, licensed staff that has always been in STRS. I believe you mean preschool teachers in a voluntary program should be in SERS. Correct?

A: A head teacher in a special education preschool program should contribute to STRS Ohio. Other teachers or aides in special education preschool programs and any teachers (including head teachers) or aides in regular preschool programs should contribute to SERS. "Head Teacher" is defined in OAC 3301-37-01 as a person hired to guide and instruct a class of preschool children enrolled in the program and who may supervise the preschool program. Directors of either special education or regular preschool programs should contribute to STRS Ohio.

Q: We have a position titled "Family Services Special” that we have placed in SERS. We have five individuals working in this position. I have attached the job posting for this position. Please confirm that this should be SERS.

A: Yes, Family Services Specialists should contribute to SERS.

Q: When am I required to switch affected individuals to the correct retirement system under the new determinations?

A: All individuals must be contributing to the appropriate retirement system beginning July 1, 2014.

Q: Can I switch an affected individual before July 1?

A: No. Both STRS Ohio and SERS operate on a fiscal year that begins July 1 and ends June 30. All transitions need to occur at the beginning of the fiscal year.

Q: Are there any penalties if I do not switch an affected individual to the correct retirement system?

A: If it is determined in the future that an individual was not switched to the appropriate retirement system, interest will be assessed for any account corrections at the time of transfer. The current interest rate is 7.75% compounded annually based on the date of receipt by the correct retirement system.

Q: How do I switch an affected individual to the correct retirement system, and what information is needed to set up the account?

A: SERS — You will need to follow the same process as reporting a new hire. Submit the member enrollment information and Form SSA-1945 to SERS. List the first date of service as the first date the member is contributing (July 1, 2014, or after). Once membership is switched, be sure to include these members on your monthly contribution report and report contributions at the correct member contribution rate.

STRS Ohio — You will need to follow the same process as reporting a new hire. Submit a new hire notification and Form SSA-1945 to STRS Ohio. List the first date on payroll as the first date the member is contributing (July 1, 2014, or after). Once membership is switched, be sure to include these members on your payroll report and report contributions at the correct member contribution rate.

Q: What should I tell affected individuals who ask why they are required to switch retirement systems?

A: STRS Ohio and SERS have the authority to make membership determinations as set forth by Chapters 3307 and 3309 of the Revised Code. Both STRS Ohio and SERS have reviewed position requirements and have made a joint determination.

Q: Will members receive any information from the new retirement system once the switch is made? Whom should they contact with questions about how this change will impact their retirement benefit?

A: STRS Ohio —Yes. If members do not already have an account with STRS Ohio, they will receive a welcome packet, which includes retirement plan options, after new hire information is received. If members have questions about how this switch will impact their retirement benefit, they should call the STRS Ohio Member Services Center toll-free at 1-888-227-7877.

SERS — Yes. If members do not already have an account with SERS, they will receive an information package after the member enrollment process is completed. If members have questions about how this switch will impact their retirement benefit, they should call the SERS Member Services Department toll-free at 1-866-280-7377.

Q: Are all affected individuals required to switch retirement systems?

A: Yes. STRS Ohio and SERS have made a joint decision and have the authority to make membership determinations as set forth by Chapters 3307 and 3309 of the Revised Code.

Q: How do I know if requirements for an exception for speech-language pathologists or audiologists under Section 3319.224 of the Revised Code have been met?

A: If your school did not receive a specific exception from the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) authorizing employment of an individual not currently licensed by ODE in these positions, then an exception has not been granted.

Q: Do I need to correct contributions from previous years for affected individuals who are required to switch retirement systems?

A: No. STRS Ohio and SERS are not requiring the transfer of contributions from previous years to the correct retirement system. These contributions may be combined when the member retires if the member has a defined benefit retirement plan with STRS Ohio.

Q: What if a coach previously held a teaching license, but the license lapsed?

A: Membership for coaches and athletic directors is based on whether or not the member currently holds a valid ODE teaching license. If the individual is no longer licensed, membership should be switched to SERS from STRS Ohio.

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