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News and Updates

 
 

2/13/17 Active Members - APERS is introducing a new pension administration system in March. COMPASS offers many exciting online tools for members and employers. Please be aware that from March 13, 2017 through April 17, 2017, fewer counseling appointments will be available and estimate requests may be delayed. Retirement applications are expected to be processed on time. We appreciate your patience as we implement COMPASS and apologize in advance for any inconvenience.

01/04/17 - Active Members - Our schedule of retirement seminars for 2017 is now available. Click here to register online or download a printable registration form.

8/31/16 - Active Members - Beginning September 1, active members can request a duplicate copy of their annual member statements, which were mailed out two weeks ago. If you did not receive your statement or need a copy, use our duplicate statement request form which is available on the Active Member Forms page. For more information, see our Annual Statement page and the APERS Blog.

08/26/16 - Active Members - A PDF copy of our combined 2016 summer newsletter for active and retired members is now available for download on the Publications page.

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Are you vested in the system and considering a termination refund?
If you are a contributory member and are ending your employment with an APERS participating employer, you can elect to have your contributions refunded to you. If you have five or more years of service, you are probably vested in the system and should consider carefully before withdrawing your contributions and losing your credited service. For more information about this important issue, we suggest you download and read our "Vesting Notice" pamphlet that outlines some of the potential advantages of preserving your service credit and vested benefits even when leaving the system.
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QUICK TOPICS

Welcome to the System

Welcome to the APERS Active Member page. Here we hope to help you understand what being a member of APERS is all about. We understand that as a new member of the retirement system some of our procedures, processes and the words we use to describe them may be a bit confusing and we hope that the following information will be helpful to you. As always if you have questions feel free to contact us!

Being a Member of the System

Congratulations on being a member of the Arkansas Public Employees Retirement System (APERS). Our staff is committed to ensuring that your membership rights are guaranteed, but you must also contribute to our partnership by meeting your responsibilities, including

  • Reviewing your annual benefit statement from APERS and informing us in writing of any errors (e.g. your name, address, date of birth, service, etc.).
  • Reading the handbooks, newsletters and other materials provided by APERS.
  • Informing APERS if your status or situation changes (e.g. change of address, marital status, beneficiary, etc.) even if you leave covered employment.
  • Contacting our office when you have questions about your plan and benefits and letting our counselors help you make informed retirement choices.
  • Sharing your benefit information with your family.

Our responsibilities to you as members include:

  • Administering retirement benefits to each eligible member of APERS.
  • Providing handbooks that contain information regarding your benefits.
  • Keeping you informed of your benefit rights and options.
  • Keeping you updated on legislative changes that affect your options and benefits.
  • Providing individualized counseling when you request it.

As always, if you have questions feel free to contact us!

Vesting

Being vested means that you are eligible to receive a future retirement benefit. You will be vested under the Arkansas Public Employees Retirement System after completing five (5) years of service.

Termination Refund Process

A member who terminates contributory service may request a refund of the contributions he or she has made to the system provided that the member accrued contributory service before January 1, 1978 or after July 1, 2005. The refundable balance is composed of the member's contributions plus any interest earned on those funds. The employer's contributions are not refundable. By accepting the refund, the member forfeits any contributory service associated with it. A cashed refund check cancels any future benefit based on contributory service. Members may elect to receive their refund as follows:
  • As a rollover to an independent tax-deferred retirement account (e.g. an IRA); or
  • As a lump-sum payout of taxable income with 20% federal witholding deducted by APERS.
The downloadable Termination Refund Packet is available on the active member forms page.

Purchasing Service

Standard Service: To be eligible to purchase service, you must be an active (working) member of APERS or a reciprocal retirement system and have the required service in the system. Types of service that may be purchased include:

  • APERS contributory service cancelled by a refund of contributions
  • Time lost due to an event covered by Workers' Compensation
  • Educational leave time
  • Service for which the member was paid by a federal grant
  • Service with a non-participating municipality (for members of APERS only)
  • Service with a federal agency (for members of APERS only)
  • Service with a public employer in another state (for members of APERS only)
  • Service with a employer prior to that employer joining APERS

The current interest rate on purchases of service is 7.5 %.

Active Duty Military Service: You may purchase anywhere from one month to five years of active duty military service for credit in the System. You do not have to be an active APERS member to purchase military service credit, but you must do it before the effective date of your retirement benefits. To purchase active duty military service you

  • Must be vested with at least five years of actual service in APERS-covered employment or five years combined service between reciprocal systems;
  • Must have received an honorable discharge;
  • Must document service by providing a Form DD-214 showing the start and end dates for the active duty; and
  • May not purchase more than five years total of any combination of credited service for APERS (e.g. active duty, National Guard or Reserves, federal, public employment in another state, etc.).

Note: The current interest rate on purchases of active military service is 6%. Service may be purchased in whole month increments. Federal disability retirement benefits do not disqualify a member from purchasing active duty military service credit.

Reserve or Guard Military Service: An APERS member may purchase up to five years of National Guard or Armed Forces Reserve service for APERS service credit. To be eligible, you must

  • Be vested with at least five years of actual service in APERS-covered employment or five years combined service between reciprocal systems;
  • Be an active member of APERS or a reciprocal plan on the date of purchase;
  • If separated from the National Guard or Armed Forces Reserve, have an honorable discharge and submit a Form DD 214, an NGB 22, or other official proof of service;
  • If still a member of the National Guard/Armed Forces Reserves, provide APERS official proof of current service; and
  • Not purchase more than five years total of any combination of credited service for APERS (e.g. active duty, National Guard or Reserves, federal, public employment in another state, etc.).

Note: The current interest rate is 6% on purchases of National Guard or Armed Forces Reserve military service. After confirming service, APERS will provide the member a cost statement.
For more information, see the full FAQ page on purchasing service

Survivor/Beneficiary Information

When an active, vested member dies in service, his or her spouse, children, or dependent parents may qualify for survivor benefits. Inactive members who are not vested for future benefits do not have survivor benefit protection.

Surviving Spouses

  • Spouses of deceased, vested members are automatically eligible for benefits providing they have been married to the member for at least one year before the member's death.
  • A spouse's annuity will be the greater of Option B-75 or 10% of the member's covered compensation at the time of death.
  • If the member had 20 or more years of service at the time of death, then the spouse will draw a lifetime benefit.
  • If the vested member had fewer than 20 years service at the time of death, then the following conditions can restrict the survivor benefits of a spouse:
    • A spouse will continue to draw survivor benefits as long as he or she has care of dependent children of the member.
    • The survivor benefits of a spouse without dependent children will cease when the spouse remarries.

Dependent Children

  • Dependent children will receive an annuity that depends on the number of children eligible for benefits. Up to two children will receive the greater of 10% of the member's covered compensation or equal shares of $150. Three or more children share the greater of 25% of the member's covered compensation or equal shares of $150.
  • Benefits will be continued past age 18 and beyond for any dependent child who has been deemed physically or mentally incompetent by an Arkansas court of competent jurisdiction for as long as such incompetence exists.
  • A competent dependent child's benefits terminate at age 18 unless the child continues uninterrupted as a full-time student at an accredited secondary school, college, or university.
  • No benefits will be paid to a competent dependent child past the age of 23.
  • The marriage or death of a competent dependent child terminates benefits.

Dependent Parents

If there is no eligible spouse or child, each parent who was dependent on the member for at least 50% of his or her financial support may be eligible for benefits.
Each dependent parent will receive an annuity of 10% of the member's covered compensation at the time of death or an equal share of the $150 monthly minimum, whichever is greater.

NOTE: If you die in service, you have employee contributions in your account, your surviving spouse is also your named beneficiary, and you have no dependent children, then your surviving spouse may opt to receive a monthly benefit or a lump sum refund.

What is the Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)?

If you are involved in a divorce, a judge may issue a court order called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) that designates your ex-spouse or dependent children as "alternate payees" with rights to some or all of your member retirement benefits. The United States Department of Labor defines a Qualified Domestic Relations Order as a domestic relations order that creates or recognizes the existence of an alternate payee’s right to receive, or assigns to an alternate payee the right to receive, all or a part of the benefits payable to a participant under a pension plan. A QDRO may be submitted to APERS on behalf of an active, inactive, or retired member. You or your attorney can request a QDRO form from APERS with the template and model language needed to draft a QDRO that complies with Arkansas law and APERS requirements. The order must be completed and filed with the court in the format approved by the APERS Board of Trustees. Once the QDRO has been filed in court, a file-marked copy of the signed original must be submitted to APERS before benefits can be paid to the alternate payee. If this procedure is not followed, Arkansas law prohibits APERS from honoring the QDRO. For more information on QDRO, visit the QDRO FAQ page. You can also download a PDF copy of the Active Member QDRO Model Language form or a PDF of the Retired Member QDRO Model Language form.