Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are the advantages of being a PSRS member?
  2. How much will my PSRS benefit be?
  3. What is included in my salary subject to PSRS contributions?
  4. When will I be eligible to retire with PSRS?
  5. How do I earn service toward my retirement?
  6. Am I required to be a member of PSRS?
  7. What is the difference between PSRS and PEERS?
  8. How is a defined benefit or pension plan like PSRS different than my 403(b), 401(k) or IRA?
  9. How much do I contribute to my PSRS retirement?
  10. How much does my employer contribute to my PSRS retirement?
  11. How do I find out my total contributions and interest?
  12. What interest rate do I earn on my contributions?
  13. Can I borrow from my PSRS membership or take out my money?
  14. What if I permanently leave PSRS-covered employment before I can retire?
  15. What if I take a few years off to raise a family and return to PSRS-covered employment?
  16. What happens to my PSRS membership if I die before I retire?
  17. How do I change my beneficiaries for PSRS?
  18. Do I pay into Social Security and Medicare while working in PSRS-covered employment?
  19. What happens if my position is covered by Social Security?
  20. Will I be eligible to receive both PSRS benefits and Social Security benefits?
  21. What does it mean to reinstate or purchase service?

1. What are the advantages of being a PSRS member?
As a PSRS member, you enjoy knowing that once you have earned five years of service with PSRS, you are vested and can receive lifetime retirement benefits when eligible. In most cases, the retirement benefits paid to PSRS members greatly exceed the funds they contribute to the System while working.

Advantages to members:

  • Lifetime monthly retirement benefits
  • Your contributions and interest are always returned to you or your beneficiary(ies)
  • Vesting with five years of service
  • Disability benefits if you qualify
  • Various benefit plans allowing you to provide financial protection for your beneficiary(ies) before and after retirement
  • Cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) on your retirement benefit
  • A $5,000 death benefit for the beneficiary you designate, should you die after retirement

2. How much will my PSRS benefit be?
Your benefit amount is based on a formula that takes into consideration your years of service with PSRS, your Final Average Salary (FAS) and a benefit factor set by Missouri law. You can use our Benefit Estimate Calculator to estimate your benefit amount, or contact us.

  • Your Years of Service include all service earned for employment with PSRS-covered employers, as well as your reinstated or purchased service.
  • Final Average Salary (FAS) is determined by adding your three highest consecutive annual salaries (including employer-paid health, dental and insurance premiums) and dividing the total by 36.
  • The Benefit Factor is set by law and can only be changed by legislation. The factor used depends on the type of retirement benefits you are eligible for - normal, 25-and-Out or age-reduced benefits.

3. What is included in my salary subject to PSRS contributions?
Eligible salary reported to PSRS consists of all salary from PSRS-covered employers during the school year (July 1 - June 30), including extra duties, overloads and overtime. Also included is the amount your employer pays for your health, dental and vision insurance premiums. For example, you earn $30,000 for the school year. The health, dental and vision insurance premiums paid by your employer on your behalf are $5,000. Your total salary reported to PSRS is $35,000.


4.When will I be eligible to retire with PSRS?
Once you have earned five years of service with PSRS, you are vested and can receive lifetime retirement benefits when eligible.

You are eligible for normal retirement:

  • At age 60 with at least five years of service
  • At any age with at least 30 years of service
  • When the sum of your age plus your years of service equals 80 or more (Rule of 80)

Early retirement options are available, but benefit amounts under these options are reduced. You are eligible for early retirement:

  • At age 55 with at least five years of service
  • At any age with at least 25 years of service

In addition, if you work three years beyond normal retirement, you may choose a one-time, Partial Lump Sum Option (PLSO) payment at retirement with reduced lifetime monthly benefits.


5. How do I earn service toward my retirement?

As you work in PSRS-covered employment, you earn service for each year, or partial year, you work. The formula used in your benefit calculation at retirement depends in part on your years of service at retirement. You can also purchase service.

Most members earn a year of service for each school year (July - June 30) of PSRS-covered, full-time employment if they are a 9-, 10-, 11- or 12-month employee and serve the complete term required of the position. You may not earn more than one year of service in any school year.

If you serve less than a full year, service is determined by dividing the salary earned during a school year by the annual base salary reported by your employer at the beginning of the school year. In other words, service is calculated on a salary over salary basis.

Example 1
Your full-time annual base salary is $34,000
You earn $34,000
$34,000 ÷ $34,000 = 1.00000
You receive 1.00000 year of service

Example 2
Your full-time annual base salary is $34,000
You earn $25,000
$25,000 ÷ $34,000 = 0.73529
You receive 0.73529 year of service


6. Am I required to be a member of PSRS?
Yes. PSRS membership is automatic, regardless of position, for certificated employees employed by the covered employers listed below in a position that normally requires the employee to:

  • Work the full school day, or
  • Work at least the same number of hours per week as required for such a position, and
  • Work at least 600 hours during the school year.

Covered employers include:

  • Public school districts in Missouri, except the St. Louis (city) and the Kansas City public school districts
  • Public two-year colleges in Missouri
  • Statewide non-profit educational associations that have elected to join

Note: Certificated employees who are employed less than full time but for at least 17 hours per week on a regular basis in a position that normally requires 600 hours during the school year are automatically PSRS members, unless they choose to be a member of the Public Education Employee Retirement System of Missouri (PEERS). This choice must be made within the first 90 days of the part-time employment as a certificated employee or teacher.


7. What is the difference between PSRS and PEERS?
Both PSRS and PEERS are Defined Benefit (DB) plans.

PSRS was established by the Missouri legislature in 1946 to provide certificated public school employees and their families with a significant and stable source of retirement income, disability and survivor benefits.

The Non-Teacher School Employee Retirement System of Missouri (NTRS), was created on October 13, 1965. The goal was to build a plan similar to PSRS, but for non-certificated public school personnel. The name of the non-teacher system was changed to the Public Education Employee Retirement System of Missouri (PEERS) in August 2005 to more positively represent members.

  • PEERS members participate in the federal Social Security program, but most PSRS members do not.
  • PSRS members contribute at a higher rate to their retirement system than do PEERS members, and the benefit factors used in retirement benefit calculations are different.
  • PSRS members who participate in Social Security pay into PSRS at two-thirds the normal PSRS contribution rate.

8. How is a Defined Benefit or pension plan like PSRS different from my 403(b), 401(k) or IRA?
Because PSRS is a Defined Benefit, or DB, retirement plan, your benefits are calculated using a formula set by law and are guaranteed for your lifetime. The amount of money in your PSRS membership when you retire does not impact the amount of benefits you receive.

Unlike defined contribution, or DC, retirement plans such as 403(b), 401(k) or Individual Retirement Account (IRA) plans, you don't have to make investment decisions regarding your retirement funds. Investment decisions are handled by PSRS' professional investment staff and managers.

While DC retirement plans are an important piece of your overall retirement savings, they can be less effective because they provide benefits based on account balances in those plans at retirement. That means a retirement based on DC plan savings alone can run out and leave you without the retirement income you need.


9. How much do I contribute to my PSRS retirement?
While working, you contribute a percentage of your salary to PSRS to help fund your benefits. The contribution rate is set each school year by the PSRS/PEERS Board of Trustees, based on the recommendation of the Systems' actuary after the annual actuarial valuation is complete. Contributions are automatically deducted from your pay, before taxes.

For the 2016-2017 school year, the contribution rate is 14.5% of your salary. Members who hold positions that require Social Security withholding contribute to PSRS at two-thirds the normal contribution rate, or 9.67%.


10. How much does my employer contribute to my PSRS retirement?
Your employer contributes an amount equal to your contributions. All employer contributions are placed in a general reserve account used to help fund benefits for retirees and beneficiaries of deceased members.


11. How do I find out my total contributions and interest?
Each fall, you receive a Member Statement. It includes the amount of your contributions and accumulated interest, as well as your years of service, salary history and beneficiary designation.

You can also create a user name and password to access the secure portion of our website. There you can see the most current information about your membership, including your balance.


12. What interest rate do I earn on my contributions?
The interest rate is set each year by the PSRS/PEERS Board of Trustees and usually compares favorably with rates credited on most savings accounts. Interest is credited to your membership each year on June 30 and is calculated based on your previous June 30 balance. The interest rate applied on June 30, 2016 was 1%.


13. Can I borrow from my PSRS membership or take out my money?
The law does not permit partial refunds or loans from your PSRS membership. Therefore, you cannot take funds out of your PSRS membership while you are working in covered employment.

If your PSRS-covered employment ends, you can take a refund of your contributions and interest in a lump-sum payment. When you do so, you forfeit your service and any rights to future benefits.


14. What if I permanently leave PSRS-covered employment before I can retire?
If your PSRS-covered employment ends, you can take a refund of your contributions and interest in a lump-sum payment. When you do so, you forfeit your service and any rights to future benefits.

If you have fewer than five years of service (not vested), you can leave your funds with PSRS for the next five school years and earn interest. If you return to PSRS-covered employment within the five-year period, you continue with the same membership. If you do not earn any PSRS service within the five-year period, your membership terminates and your contributions no longer accrue interest.

If you have five or more years of service (vested), you can leave your funds and they will continue to accrue interest. You can apply for lifetime monthly benefits when you reach retirement eligibility.


15. What if I take a few years off to raise a family and return to PSRS-covered employment?
If your PSRS-covered employment ends, you can take a refund of your contributions and interest. However, if you plan to return to covered employment, it may be advantageous to leave your funds with PSRS.

If you leave covered employment with fewer than five years of service (not vested), you can leave your funds with PSRS for the next five school years and earn interest. If you return to PSRS-covered employment within the five-year period, you will continue with the same membership. If you do not earn any PSRS service within the five-year period, your membership terminates and your contributions no longer accrue interest.

If you return to PSRS-covered employment after your membership has terminated, you can take a refund of your contributions and interest from your terminated membership, or you can roll your funds from that membership into your new one.

If you leave covered employment with five or more years of service (vested), you can leave your funds and they will continue to accrue interest. You can apply for lifetime monthly benefits when you reach retirement eligibility.

Any time you return to PSRS-covered employment after taking a refund, you can buy back, or reinstate, all or any portion of the service to your new PSRS membership.


16. What happens to my PSRS membership if I die before I retire?
Your beneficiary may be entitled to one of three types of survivor benefits:

  1. A one-time, lump-sum refund of your contributions and interest
  2. Monthly dependent-based benefits
  3. Lifetime monthly retirement-based benefits

It is important to keep your beneficiary designations up-to-date so benefits are paid according to your wishes if you die before retirement.

Any time you have a change in life status (marriage, divorce, birth or adoption of a child), you must file a new beneficiary designation form. If you do not, your beneficiaries will be determined by Missouri law.


17. How do I change my beneficiaries for PSRS?
You can change your PSRS beneficiary designation any time before retirement. During the first 18 months of your membership, you can designate and change your beneficiaries by logging in to Web Member Services. For your security, after that time, you must make changes using a Pre-Retirement Beneficiary Designation form.


18. Do I pay into Social Security and Medicare while working in PSRS-covered employment?
Most PSRS members do not contribute to the federal Social Security program on their PSRS-covered earnings. There are no provisions of law that allow individual PSRS members to choose to participate in Social Security. It is based on your employer and your position.

PSRS members who work in positions subject to both Social Security and PSRS pay Social Security taxes (6.2% for 2016) and two-thirds the normal PSRS contribution rate (9.67% for 2016-2017) , as required by law. If you are unsure whether your position is affected, contact your employer.

PSRS members hired by a PSRS-covered employer before April 1986 and who have not changed employers since that time, do not pay into Medicare on PSRS-covered wages. They will have to pay a premium for basic Medicare (Part A) coverage when they become eligible.

PSRS members hired by a PSRS-covered employer since April 1986 have Medicare contributions (1.45%) withheld from their salary These individuals will receive basic Medicare (Part A) free when eligible.


19. What happens if my position is covered by Social Security?
In some cases, if your employer and the State Social Security Administrator determine that your position is subject to Social Security contributions, your earnings are subject to Social Security taxes and two-thirds of the normal PSRS contribution rate. Attainment of PSRS retirement eligibility, calculation of your Final Average Salary and your service are not affected by the Social Security coverage.

Members paying into PSRS at two-thirds the normal PSRS contribution rate (9.67% for 2016-2017) have benefits for affected years of employment calculated at two-thirds the normal benefit amount, and also receive Social Security units based on their salary.

If you are unsure whether your position is affected, contact your employer.


20. Will I be eligible to receive both PSRS benefits and Social Security benefits?
If you qualify for PSRS retirement benefits and also for Social Security benefits either because you have sufficient Social Security-covered employment or through a spouse, two Social Security laws could cause a reduction in your Social Security benefit. They are the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO).

We recommend that you contact Social Security at (800) 772-1213, visit their website, www.socialsecurity.gov, or visit your local Social Security office to determine how the WEP and GPO laws affect you. To get an accurate estimate of your Social Security benefit, you must inform them you will be receiving a PSRS benefit.


21. What does it mean to reinstate or purchase service?
One of the many advantages of PSRS membership is the ability to increase your benefit amount or become eligible for retirement earlier by purchasing, reinstating or transferring additional service to your PSRS membership.

If you have previous PSRS service you forfeited by taking a refund, you can buy back, or reinstate, all or any portion of the service. In most cases, you will receive information regarding any service you are eligible to reinstate at the time you establish your PSRS membership. This will include a cost estimate.

In addition to reinstating previously forfeited PSRS service, there are other types of service you may be eligible to purchase. If you were on military, sick or maternity leave, or had a break in your PSRS-covered employment when you worked elsewhere, you may be eligible to purchase service for that time. You can also purchase service for employment prior to becoming a PSRS member. In limited cases, members may be able to transfer or recognize service earned with other Missouri public retirement systems.