BEFORE YOU CALL: ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
As SERS staff continues working remotely, we wanted to remind you of information you can get on your own, and answer some common questions we get every day.
Member Annual Statements
Paper statements were mailed in September. You also can access your annual statement in Account Login.
SERS continues to process Refund Applications. Please allow 6-8 weeks for payment to be issued from the date SERS receives the completed form. Also please keep in mind that refunds cannot be issued unless you have terminated your SERS-covered position and three months have passed since your last date of service.
NOTE: Recent legislative changes have been made regarding the taxation of certain retirement account withdrawals. Please review SERS’ COVID-19 Related Withdrawal Notice for more information.
My school is closed due to the COVID-19 emergency, but I am still getting paid. Will I earn service credit for this time?
You receive service credit for days of paid service for a school or college; this is called contributing service credit. A paid leave day that is used, such as sick and vacation, counts as a day of paid service. Paid leave also includes pay from your employer for time when you were not able to work for reasons related to COVID-19 (such as emergency paid leave and expanded paid FMLA leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act).
I have been temporarily laid off (furloughed) by my school employer. Can I receive service credit for COVID-19 related unpaid leave?
If you are laid off without pay, you will not earn service credit during this time. Also, you do not have the option of purchasing service credit for an unpaid lay off.
Depending on your work history for the current school year and the length of an unpaid lay off, you might still earn a full year of service credit for the current school year. A full year of service credit is granted upon completion of 120 or more days of paid school employment within a school year (July 1 through the following June 30), not a calendar year.
This means that if you are a 9-month employee who works five days a week, you typically complete 120 days by February of each school year. If you are a 12-month employee who works five days a week, you typically complete 120 days by the end of December of each school year.
If you received an Inactive Statement and wish to refund your account, please complete the form you received with your Inactive Statement. You may also download the Member Refund Application from SERS’ website, complete the application, and mail it to us.
Reporting the Death of a Member
If you need to report the death of a member, we will need the member’s full name and date of death. You may email that information to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your phone number so someone from our Survivor Benefits/Post Retirement Department can contact you to collect additional information.
Does the Stock Market Decline Affect My SERS Pension?
The good news for SERS benefit recipients is that stock market declines do not affect benefit amounts. All benefit payments are being processed as usual and will be delivered on time.
Under current Ohio law, once you retire your pension is guaranteed for life and cannot be reduced. This is one big advantage that defined benefit (DB) pension plans like SERS have over defined contribution (DC) plans such as 401(k)s, IRAs, and 403(b) retirement plans.
The reason DB plans like SERS can offer this guarantee is because our investment strategy takes a long-term approach to investing. SERS does not have to reduce exposure to certain types of investments as a member gets closer to retirement age like DC plans do. In addition, SERS’ assets are diversified among many different types of investments, so a shock to one type won’t affect the others.
SERS was able to withstand the 2008-09 Great Financial Crisis and we will be able to recover from the current market decline as the economy improves after the COVID-19 disruption.
Get Your Benefit Payments on Time with Direct Deposit
For those who still receive paper checks, we cannot guarantee timely delivery through the mail, and also please note that in-person banking transactions are largely being limited to drive-through stations or scheduled appointments. Accordingly, we strongly urge you to have your future benefits delivered via direct deposit. Direct deposit ensures timely payment and requires less staff resources to process. Complete the Direct Deposit Form, which is available on our website, and send or fax it to us.
If you have a question that is not addressed here, there are four ways to contact us:
- Use Account Login to send us a private message
- Email your question to email@example.com
- Call us at 1-800-878-5853. Please be patient, as a limited number of our support team is answering calls. Your call will be answered in the order it was received.
- Leave a voicemail message for our support team. We will return your call as soon as possible.
Please, only use one of the above contact methods. Contacting us more than once will cause a longer delay in our response time.