Can I Opt Out of a State Pension Plan in Arizona?

by Sheila Mason, Demand Media
    Most employees in Arizona's state retirement programs may not opt out.

    Most employees in Arizona's state retirement programs may not opt out.

    Four statewide retirement programs serve public workers in Arizona: the Arizona State Retirement System, the Corrections Officer Retirement Plan, the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System and the Elected Officials' Retirement Plan. Tucson and Phoenix have separate systems. The largest of the four is the Arizona State Retirement System (ASRS), with a reported membership of more than 500,000 in 2012. In the wake of the 2008 economic downturn, all four systems became underfunded.

    Arizona State Retirement System

    The Arizona State Retirement System (azasrs.gov) covers state, county and municipal workers, public school teachers and those working for Arizona's three state universities.
    If you meet membership criteria for the Arizona State Retirement System, you may not opt out of the program. You are a member and must make contributions to the fund if you work for an ASRS employer for a total of 20 or more hours a week for 20 or more weeks in a fiscal year and you contribute to Social Security under Section 218 of the Social Security Act.
    The employee monthly contribution rate for fiscal year 2013 is 11.14 percent of an employee's gross pay. The pension amount is determined by years of credited service, based on a formula.

    Corrections Officer Retirement Plan

    The Corrections Officer Retirement Plan (CORP) covers eligible full-time state and county detention officers. The state Department of Corrections, the Department of Juvenile Corrections, 12 counties and the town of Oro Valley are employers in the plan. The plan has nearly 20,000 members.
    Employee monthly contribution rates in this plan range from 8.41 percent to 7.65 percent in fiscal 2013. The pension amount is determined by years of credited service, based on a formula.
    Employees may not opt out of the plan.

    Public Safety Personnel Retirement System

    PSPRS (psprs.com) is a public pension fund serving Arizona police and firefighters. It has more than 30,000 members. The pension amount is determined by years of credited service, based on a formula.
    The PSPRS also manages the Corrections Officer Retirement Plan and the Elected Officials' Retirement Plan.
    The fiscal year 2013 employee monthly contribution rate is 9.55 percent.
    Employees may not opt out of this plan.

    Elected Officials' Retirement Plan

    The Elected Officials' Retirement Plan covers elected officials in the state of Arizona. It has nearly 2,000 members. The fiscal year 2013 employee monthly contribution rate is 11.5 percent. The pension amount is determined by years of credited service, based on a formula.
    Of the four Arizona public retirement plans, this is the only one from which employees may opt out.

    About the Author

    Sheila Mason has been a writer and editor for more than 20 years. She has worked in the translation field, handling technical manuals for Fortune 500 companies such as Siemens, and served as nation/world editor at the "Wisconsin State Journal." Mason has also contributed business, academic and medical writing to the University of Notre Dame and the Medical College of Wisconsin.

    Photo Credits

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