Preparing to Retire - Human Resources at Ohio State

Preparing to Retire

When you are getting ready to retire, there are many important factors to consider. The Office of Human Resources (OHR), your unit’s human resources professional (HRP) and your retirement provider are your partners in preparing for retirement. This section includes information about the process and steps you need to follow to ensure that you have a smooth transition to retirement.

Review your eligibility for retirement benefits. Determine if you meet service and/or age requirements in order to receive benefits from your retirement system or provider. The charts in the University Guide to Retirement summarize the requirements. Review the benefits for which you may be eligible upon retirement, such as pension and retiree health benefits, a leave payout from the university and Ohio State post-retirement benefits.

Will you be a university retiree?
OPERS/STRS Participants: In order to be a university retiree, the following criteria must be met:

  • At the time of retirement, have 10+ years of continuous Ohio State service in at least a 50% FTE regular appointment.
  • Be eligible to receive OPERS/STRS benefits.

ARP Participants: In order to be a university retiree, the following criteria that must be met.

  • At the time of retirement, have 10+ years of continuous Ohio State service in at least a 50% FTE regular appointment.
  • Would have been eligible to receive retirement benefits under OPERS Traditional Pension plan or STRS Defined Benefit plan.

Will you be a non-university retiree?
If your employment at the university does not include 10 years of continuous service in a regular position, you are not eligible to retire as a university employee. You may be eligible to retire under the retirement plan to which you contributed.

OPERS/STRS Participants: In order to be an OPERS/STRS retiree, the following criteria must be met.

  • Meet age and service requirements set by OPERS/STRS.

ARP Participants: In order to be a retiree, the following criteria must be met.

  • Any age (withdrawals made before age 59 ½ may be subject to an additional federal penalty)

OPERS and STRS Retirees
If you are eligible to retire under either the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) or the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio (STRS), you are encouraged to consult with a retirement counselor at your retirement system.

  • Attend an in-person seminar or webinar offered by your retirement system for members nearing retirement.
  • Six to 12 months prior to your anticipated retirement date, schedule an appointment with a retirement counselor at your retirement system. This person can help you understand your eligibility for pension and retiree health care benefits.
    • Note: OPERS and STRS currently provide health care benefits for retirees who meet eligibility requirements. OPERS and STRS health coverage is completely separate from the university’s faculty and staff health benefits.
  • Gather the documents that your retirement system will ask you to bring to your appointment.
  • Discuss with your OPERS or STRS retirement counselor any additional in-state or out-of-state employment service you may be eligible to purchase.
  • Submit your retirement application to your retirement system. The recommended timeframes are:
    • OPERS: 2 to 6 months before retirement
    • STRS: 3 to 12 months before retirement
  • To schedule an appointment, view the online retirement application, or request a paper application contact your retirement system:

ARP Retirees
If you retire from Ohio State under the Ohio Alternative Retirement Plan (ARP), contact your ARP provider to discuss your retirement plan distribution options. Your retirement payments and distribution schedule will depend on the payment option you chose with your ARP provider.

  • If offered, attend an in-person seminar or webinar offered by your provider for participants nearing retirement.
  • Six to 12 months prior to your anticipated retirement date, schedule an appointment with a retirement counselor from your provider. This person can help you understand retirement withdrawal and distribution options available to you based on the payment option you previously chose.
  • If you could be withdrawing funds in a lump sum, check with your tax advisor to determine if a rollover to another investment vehicle might be advantageous to you.
  • Inform your provider of your distribution decision and complete any necessary paperwork.

Discuss your retirement plans with your department chair or supervisor. Submit written notification of your retirement date to your department chair or supervisor as early as possible prior to your intended retirement date, preferably at least three months in advance. Copy your HRP on this correspondence. Delay in notifying your department can delay your OPERS or STRS retirement payment and retirement health benefits, if eligible.

Your HRP or department service center enters your retirement date into the Human Resources Information System (HRIS) after verifying your Ohio State retirement eligibility.

OPERS and STRS Retirees

  • After consulting with your retirement system counselor and confirming your eligibility to receive retirement benefits, complete and submit your application for retirement to OPERS or STRS.
  • The retirement system notifies OHR’s retirement office of your scheduled retirement date and requests certification of your retirement from the university.
  • OHR certifies your retirement after your HRP has entered your retirement date in the HR system.
  • Pension payments begin on the first day of the month following the month of your last day of service. If you work or receive compensation for even one day in a month, you may not begin receiving pension payments until the first day of the following month.

ARP Retirees

  • Contact your ARP provider to discuss timing of your distributions and complete the required notification.
  • Complete the Retirement Distribution Certificate Form after the last day of employment, and submit to OHR. OHR will notify the provider of your vesting status.

Vacation and sick leave payouts are calculated after your retirement date is entered into the HR system by your HRP. See the Paid Leave Programs Policy for information on these payouts, including what portion of your sick leave will be paid. Submit your final leave requests as soon as possible.

Your HRP will communicate the leave payout amounts to Payroll Services. Your HRP can tell you the estimated leave payout you can expect to receive on your final pay.

Your final pay will:

  • Include earnings through the last day worked; all regular deductions will be taken
  • Include any leave payout, if your HRP notifies Payroll Services in time for final payroll processing
  • The payout for unused sick and vacation time may extend to the next regular paycheck if the payroll deadline is missed. Early notification of your retirement date is essential for leave payouts to appear on your final regular pay.

Leave payouts are considered wages and therefore taxable. Federal and state income taxes on these amounts can be substantial, and some individuals find it advantageous to defer all or a portion of their vacation or sick leave payouts into the 403(b) or 457(b) plans.

You may contribute up to the annual maximum amount allowed by the IRS. These accounts are tax-deferred, which means you pay taxes on the money when you withdraw it, not when you deposit it. Consult your financial advisor to determine if this is a good option for you.

Advance planning is required to contribute final payouts to the 403(b) or 457 plans. The 457(b) election form must be submitted to OHR the month prior to the final payout. Late forms are not accepted.

Refer to the SRA Contribution Start Date Calendar to determine the payroll deadline for when your election should be made.

In order for your SRA deductions to be included in your final paycheck, you must follow these steps:

University Benefits after Retirement
You are considered an Ohio State retiree if you are eligible to receive an OPERS or STRS benefit and at the time of retirement you have 10 years of continuous Ohio State service in a regular appointment of at least a 50% FTE. If eligible for these benefits, you will receive information from the Office of Human Resources after you have retired providing you with enrollment details. Review the Retirement section under life events to explore any additional post-retirement benefits.

Group Term Life Insurance (GTLI)
If you retire before age 70, you may continue your GTLI coverage (up to $200,000 maximum) after retirement at your expense. To continue retiree coverage, you pay a quarterly or annual premium to the university. This benefit may be continued until age 70. (See Life Insurance Benefits)

If you retire before age 70 and choose not to continue your GTLI coverage, or you retire after age 70, you may convert coverage to an individual life insurance policy.

You must apply for and make your first premium payment within 31 days of the termination of coverage. Contact Minnesota Life for information on conversion and premium amounts.

If you become re-employed with Ohio State in an eligible position, you will automatically be enrolled in GTLI as an active employee. You should contact the Office of Human Resources to stop retiree coverage and your premiums upon re-employment and again when you cease to be an employee in order to reinstate your retiree coverage if you meet eligibility criteria.

Post-Retirement Life Insurance Benefit
A university-provided post-retirement life insurance benefit is available to Ohio State retirees:

  • Who do not continue Group Term Life Insurance at retirement
  • Who reach age 70 (when retiree Group Term Life Insurance coverage ends)

The benefit amount is based on your years of continuous employment in an eligible appointment at the time of retirement from the university. It is payable to your designated beneficiary(-ies) as follows:

  • 10-14 years of service: $2,000
  • 15-19 years of service: $3,000
  • 20-24 years of service: $4,000
  • 25 years of service or more: $5,000

Dependent and Voluntary Group Term Life Insurance
Dependent Group Term Life Insurance (DGTLI) and Voluntary Group Term Life Insurance (GTLI) do not continue after retirement. You may apply directly to Minnesota Life if you wish to continue this coverage. Application and payment of the first premium must be made within 31 days of retirement. Contact the company at (866) 293-6047.

Long-Term Disability
Long-Term Disability may be eligible for conversion to an individual policy. Application must be made within 31 days of retirement. (see Long-Term Disability (LTD) Conversion Form)

Tuition Assistance for Dependents
Your dependents may be eligible for tuition assistance. Refer to Dependent Tuition Assistance for a description of the benefit levels and eligibility requirements.

Note: Eligible dependents must begin this benefit within five years of the original retirement date.

Ohio State University Retirees Association (OSURA)
Retirees are invited to join the Ohio State University Retirees Association (OSURA), a volunteer organization providing educational, informational, cultural, social, travel, and volunteer opportunities. Retirees stay connected to the university through monthly newsletters, interest groups, and sponsored events.

Lifetime Email Forwarding Service (LEFS)
The university provides a free email forwarding service to OSU retirees so you can continue receiving your Ohio State email after retirement. LEFS forwards your university email (name.#@osu.edu) to your off-campus email account. This service is forwarding only, not an actual email account or Internet access. To change your email delivery address, log into my.osu.edu using your lastname.# and password.

Social Security
In addition to OPERS, STRS, or ARP benefits, you may be eligible for Social Security benefits. Contact a local Social Security office for assistance to determine your eligibility status or visit ssa.gov.

Medicare Verification Letter
A Medicare Verification Letter for health care coverage and separation of employment are available by contacting HR Customer Service.