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.