Oklahoma State Icon
The Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS)

Provides Two Types Of Retirement Pensions

For eligible state workers hired before November 1, 2015, the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) provides a Defined Benefit pension that provides a lifetime monthly annuity upon your retirement.

Employees hired on or after November 1, 2015, participate in a Defined Contribution pension plan known as Pathfinder which does not provide a guaranteed lifetime benefit (details below). For both types of plans, participation is mandatory.

Defined Benefit Plan (If Hired Before November 1, 2015)

The OPERS Defined Benefit plan provides a guaranteed lifetime monthly benefit that’s calculated on a formula based on your compensation and the number of years of credited service you’ve accrued throughout your career.

As a state employee, you contribute 3.5% of your pre-tax earnings to OPERS while your employer contributes 16.5% to the fund.

You become fully vested in the OPERS Defined Benefit plan once you reach eight years of service. However, at least six of those years must be full-time employment with a participating state employer.

Members of the OPERS Defined Benefit plan can also participate in SoonerSave – a voluntary program to help you save even more for your retirement. SoonerSave has two components – the Deferred Compensation (457) Plan and the Savings Incentive 401(a) Plan. Your SoonerSave contributions are deferred into the 457 Plan and a $25 employer contribution is contributed to the 401(a) Plan.

Pathfinder: Defined Contribution Plan (If Hired On or After November 1, 2015)

You fall under the OPERS Defined Contribution plan, known as Pathfinder, if you were hired on or after November 1, 2015, and have no prior participation in any OPERS plan.

As a member of Pathfinder, you contribute a minimum of 4.5% of your pre-tax earnings and your employer contributes a 6% match. If you increase your pre-tax contribution to 7% you’ll receive a 7% employer match. You may choose to contribute more than 7% however your employer match will not be increased.

Your initial 4.5% contribution is mandatory and placed in the 401(a) plan. Any contributions you make in excess of 4.5% are voluntary deferrals placed in the 457(b) plan.

As a Pathfinder member, you’re immediately 100% vested in your employee contributions and voluntary deferrals (as well as any gains or losses on your contributions).

You become vested in a percentage of contributions made by your employer based on the following vesting schedule:

  • 1 Year of Employment: 20%
  • 2 Years of Employment: 40%
  • 3 Years of Employment: 60%
  • 4 Years of Employment: 80%
  • 5 Years of Employment: 100%

Keep in mind, a defined contribution plan like Pathfinder doesn’t provide you with a guaranteed, lifetime source of retirement income. The amount you receive upon retirement depends upon how much you contributed and how well your investments performed. Also note, as a Pathfinder participant you are not eligible to participate in the SoonerSave program.

Normal Retirement Age & Early Retirement

The normal retirement age for receiving your full, unreduced benefits depends on the date you were hired.

If you became a member before November 1, 2011:

  • Age 62 with six full years of full-time-equivalent employment.
  • Or, when the sum of your age and years of service equals 80, if you became a member before July 1, 1992.
  • Or, when the sum of your age and years of service equals 90 if you became a member after June 30, 1992.

If you became a member on or after November 1, 2011:

  • Age 65 with six full years of full-time-equivalent employment.
  • Or, when you are at least 60 years of age and the sum of your age and years of service equals 90 (note: you’ll need six full years of full-time, active employment).

For early retirement, you can begin receiving reduced retirement benefits when you meet the following requirements:

  • If you became a member of before November 1, 2011: when you reach age 55 and have at least 10 years of participating service.
  • If you became a member of on or after November 1, 2011:when you reach age 60 and have at least 10 years of participating service.

Other Oklahoma Pension Plans

Oklahoma provides other state employee pension plans including:
  • 1.Uniform Retirement System for Justices and Judges
  • 2.National Guard and Naval Militia Retirement System (NGNMRS)
Oklahoma Pension Plans

OPERS FAQ's

How long do I need to work before I am vested in OPERS?

If you were hired before November 1, 2015, you’re a member of the OPERS Defined Benefit plan and you become fully vested once you reach eight years of service. However, at least six of those years must be full-time employment with a participating state employer.

If you were hired on or after November 1, 2015, you fall under the Pathfinder program. Under Pathfinder, you’re immediately 100% vested in your employee contributions and voluntary deferrals. You become vested in a percentage of contributions made by your employer based on the following vesting schedule:

  • 1 Year of Employment: 20%
  • 2 Years of Employment: 40%
  • 3 Years of Employment: 60%
  • 4 Years of Employment: 80%
  • 5 Years of Employment: 100%

What is the OPERS retirement Age?

PERS Tiers I through III retirement benefits are taxable by the Federal government however a portion of your monthly benefit may be tax excludable. Since PERS Tier IV is a pre-tax savings plan, the amount of taxes you pay are determined by whether you take retirement payments directly or make a direct transfer to a traditional IRA or other qualified plan. If you became a member before November 1, 2011:
  • Age 62 with six full years of full-time-equivalent employment.
  • Or, when the sum of your age and years of service equals 80, if you became a member before July 1, 1992.
  • Or, when the sum of your age and years of service equals 90 if you became a member after June 30, 1992.
If you became a member on or after November 1, 2011:
  • Age 65 with six full years of full-time-equivalent employment.
  • Or, when you are at least 60 years of age and the sum of your age and years of service equals 90 (note: you’ll need six full years of full-time, active employment).
For early retirement, you can begin receiving reduced retirement benefits when you meet the following requirements:
  • If you became a member of before November 1, 2011: when you reach age 55 and have at least 10 years of participating service.
  • If you became a member of on or after November 1, 2011:when you reach age 60 and have at least 10 years of participating service.

Do I have to pay Federal Income Taxes on my OPERS retirement benefit?

The PERS retirement age varies, from age 55 to 60, depending upon your tier; tiers are based on your starting employment date.

Will my OPERS retirement benefits be reduced by Social Security Benefits I receive?

No, OPERS does not reduce your benefit once you become eligible for Social Security.
Pension Navigators Logo

This educational website provides an overview of what we can provide to State Departments seeking to help their employees stay current with the ever-changing rules and requirements of their retirement plans.

  • 905 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive Suite 620 Tarpon Springs, FL 34689

Who We Are

Pension Navigators is an educational organization dedicated to helping State Employees make informed decisions when planning their retirement. The educational resources we provide are designed to provide them with the most current information on their State Pension Benefits plus strategies for achieving their retirement income goals.

This website provides an overview of what we can provide to State Pension Agencies to help their employees stay current on the latest rules and requirements of their pension plans.

Disclaimer

Pension Navigators provides no-obligation educational information about State Retirement Benefits. Nothing is ever sold, marketed or sent to visitors of this website unsolicited.

© 2019 Pension Navigators | All Rights Reserved.