PEERS Celebrates 45 Years Serving Members
October 2010 - The Public Education Employee Retirement System (PEERS) celebrates its 45th anniversary this month. The rich history of this retirement system began in 1965 with the adoption of House Bill 88 by the Missouri legislature. The goal was to provide retirement security for non-certificated public school employees through the creation of a plan similar to the Public School Retirement System (PSRS).
When it was created, PEERS was called the Non-Teacher School Employee Retirement System of Missouri (NTRS). The name was changed in 2005 to better represent members of the system as to who they are, rather than who they are not.
But more than the name has changed over the years. Since 1965, PEERS membership has almost tripled, from about 24,000 to almost 70,000. The number of PEERS service retirees has grown from 741 in 1969 to more than 17,500. Average monthly benefits have increased about one-hundredfold, from around $6 per month to over $600 per month. PEERS also pays monthly disability retirement benefits and beneficiary payments to approximately 1,700 recipients.
Total annual benefits paid by PEERS have also grown from around $60,000 to approximately $116 million today. Today the total assets of PEERS are approximately $2.5 billion.
Over the years, PEERS benefits have also improved.
- The formula factor has increased from 1.25% to 1.61%.
- The lifetime Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) cap has increased from 56% to 80%.
- Early retirement under a 25-and-Out formula was added in 1996.
- The three-year Final Average Salary and the Rule of 80 were added in 2000.
- A 0.4% Temporary Benefit was added in 2000 for those retiring before reaching age 62, who also met Rule of 80 (age plus years of service total 80 or more) or had 30 years of credit. The Temporary Benefit was increased to 0.8% in 2001.
PEERS member services have also improved.
- A toll-free, nationwide phone number was added in 1995.
- In 1996, PEERS debuted an informational website for members.
- The popular Benefit Estimate Calculator was added to the website in 2000.
Today, Member Services representatives are available each working day to answer questions by telephone or email. In addition, a dedicated team of counselors coordinates hundreds of informational and pre-retirement planning seminars across the state, and has recently implemented a unique Web counseling program which allows members to speak to a counselor live via the Internet in the privacy of their own home.