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What is the definition of Early Retirement?

Early retirement can be defined as wishing to retire BEFORE either:
Reaching the age of 65; or
Earning 28 years of Actual Service.

Does APERS allow for early retirement?

The Arkansas Public Employees Retirement System does have options available for active members who wish to retire early.

Are there any requirements for retiring early?

An active member can retire before the age of 65 or before they have earned 28 years of actual service, with a reduction in the benefit amount if they have: At least 5 years of service on or after July 1, 1997 or 10 years of service before July 1, 1997 and attained the age of 55.

Can I take early retirement before the age of 55?

A person with at least 25 years of actual service may retire with reduced benefits at any age. NOTE: The temporary benefit (an annuity that is available to non-contributory members who retire before age 62, except due to disability) is not reduced.

How does APERS figure the reduction for early retirement?

In the case of an early retirement, APERS determines what the monthly annuity will be and then applies the appropriate reduction to that amount. To determine the amount of reduction an active or deferred member will have, APERS looks at the amount of actual service that person has at the time of retirement.

How important is the amount of actual service in determining my reduction?

The amount of actual service is very important! If the member has less than 25 years of actual service the reduction is 1/2 of 1% for each month before 65. That can be a substantial reduction. An example of a reduction with less than 25 years of actual service would be if a member retires at age 62 with 5 years of service. At age 62 you have 36 months until age 65. 1/2 of 1% for 36 months is 18. The reduction is 18%. At age 60 you have 60 months until 65. ½ of 1% for 60 months is 30. The reduction is 30%!

What is the reduction if I have 25 or more years of service?

If the member has at least 25 but less than 28 years of actual service the reduction is the lesser of: 1/2 of 1% for each month before 65 or 1% for each month before 28 years of service.

Can I see an example?

Here is an example of a reduced benefit due to early retirement. An APERS member who is 60 years old with 25 years of service decides to retire. How will his benefit reduction be determined?

From Age 65 - At age 60 you have 60 months till 65. 1/2 of 1% for 60 months is 30. The reduction based on age is 30%.

From 28 Years of Service - At 25 years of service you have 36 months until 28 years of service. 1% for 36 months is 36. The reduction based on service would be 36%.

In the above example the reduction that would be applied to the monthly annuity would be the 30% based on age, as it is less than the 36% based on service.

Can I receive early retirement due to a disability?

Although no one wants to face this personal situation, some APERS members have suffered total and permanent disabilities that force them to retire. An APERS member with a disability may retire if they meet certain eligibility requirements.

What are the requirements for retirement under disability?

Any APERS member can retire with a disability if they:
Have at least five (5) years credited service; have credited service for 18 of the 24 months immediately preceding the disability occurrence; and must be ruled eligible for Federal Social Security Disability Benefits due to a total and permanent disability.

Should I wait for Social Security to rule me disabled before applying with APERS?

While the Social Security Administration (SSA) often has at least a five-month waiting period, you should file immediately for disability with APERS. If you are approved for disability benefits by SSA, you will receive an annuity (a series of regular payments) which is paid to you each month for as long as you are disabled.

What if Social Security denies my claim?

If your disability claim is initially denied by Social Security, you must appeal the ruling through the Administrative Law Judge of the Social Security Administration before a separate appeal to the Board of Trustees of the Retirement System will be accepted. You should contact APERS for specific instructions after appealing through the Administrative Law Judge of the Social Security Administration.

What if I didn’t work 18 of the 24 months immediately before the disability, can I still apply?

Any former member who was or is approved for disability by the Social Security Administration but whose onset date does not meet the provision that requires credited service for 18 of the 24 months immediately before the disability, may be retired by the APERS Board of Trustees upon written application to the Board, if the onset date determined by the SSA is within 24 months of the date the member terminated from covered employment.

Am I eligible for any benefits while my claim is being decided?

If you are within 10 years of your normal retirement age (for most that is at least 55 years of age) you may receive reduced benefits pending approval of your disability.

I feel better; can I go back to work?

If you return to work, you do run the risk of jeopardizing your disability benefit. Much like Social Security, APERS has monthly limitations on earnings by retirees. If you are considering returning to work, please contact the Benefits Unit for more information before you make your decision.

Where can I get more information about Early Retirement and Disability

For more information contact:
Arkansas Public Employees Retirement System
124 W. Capitol Ave., Suite 400
Little Rock, AR 72201
501-682-7800 Local Phone
1-800-682-7377 Toll Free