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FAQ

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FAQ

Membership in the Louisiana School Employees’ Retirement System (LSERS) is mandatory for non-instructional individuals employed by a Louisiana parish or city school board in the following positions: school bus operators, janitors, custodian workers, maintenance workers, bus aides, attendants/monitors or any other regular school employee who works on a school bus helping with the transportation of school children. Employees must work more than 20 hours per week to qualify as a member of LSERS.

Refer to Fact Sheet 2 – LSERS Membership.

LSERS members contribute a percentage of their salary to the retirement system. LSERS invests these funds and earns income through a broad and diversified portfolio of investments. The contributions and investment earnings are used to pay retirement benefits to retirees and beneficiaries and to provide for the operating expenses of the system. The current member contribution rate is 7.5% or 8.0%, if enrolled on or after July 1, 2010.

See Member and Employer Contribution Rates on LSERS’ website.

Yes, member contributions and retirement benefits are considered community property in Louisiana. You should consult with an attorney for questions concerning the effect of divorce, remarriage, property settlements, etc., on the refund of your retirement contributions or payment of your retirement benefits.

Note: If a legally married member selects a retirement option that does not leave his/her spouse at least 50% of his/her pension, the spouse must sign a spousal consent affidavit form stating that he/she is aware of this decision. This form is provided during the refund or retirement application process.

Refer to Fact Sheet 10 – Benefit Options and Fact Sheet 12 – Regular Service Retirement.

Survivor benefits may be paid to your surviving spouse and/or minor child and/or your child with a total physical and/or intellectual disability if you have at least 5 years of service credit at the time of your death. If you have less than five years of service in LSERS, member contributions are refunded to the named beneficiary(ies).

Refer to Fact Sheet 17 – Survivor Benefits for more information.

A member statement is an annual statement that includes your total years of service credit, total contributions as a LSERS member, and the name of your designated beneficiary. The statement includes all of your credit in the retirement system through June 30th of the previous fiscal year. You should contact LSERS immediately, in writing, if there are any discrepancies on the member statement. Correcting this information in advance will help LSERS and you with processing your long-awaited and well-deserved retirement in a timely manner.

You are entitled to a “refund” of your contributions after a 90-day waiting period.

If you have at least 10 years of service (at least 5 years if enrolled in LSERS 7/1/10 or after) and decide to quit work; you are allowed to leave your contributions with LSERS and draw a benefit at age 60.

If you have at least 25 years of service; you are allowed to draw a benefit at age 55.

You should note that if you have at least 5 years of service credit with LSERS you may choose to stay in LSERS if you move to a job covered by either the Louisiana State Employees’ Retirement System (LASERS) or the Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana (TRSL). This includes positions that do not normally qualify a person for membership in LSERS.

Refer to Fact Sheet 7 – Refunds & Vested Retirement.

You may qualify for disability benefits if you have a total disability and are certified as having a permanent disability and are no longer able to perform your current job.

To qualify for a disability benefit you must be an active contributing member and have at least 10 years of service credit or 5 years if enrolled before July 1, 2006. Service credit earned while you were receiving Workers’ Compensation cannot be used to meet the minimum requirement. Also, service credit earned while on extended sick leave may not be used to meet the minimum requirement.

You must be certified as having a permanent disability by the Louisiana State Medical Disability Board.

You can obtain a packet containing disability retirement forms from your employer. It will include forms to be completed by you, your supervisor, your employer, and your physicians.

Refer to Fact Sheet 16 – Disability Retirement for more information about disability.

There are several ways to transfer service credit between systems: reciprocal agreements, actuarial transfers, and reverse transfers. Members may also purchase time for refunded service, military service, or substitute employee time. Certain restrictions and costs may apply to your particular situation. You should contact LSERS for a more detailed explanation.

Refer to Fact Sheet 6 – Purchase of Credit.

Here are some helpful suggestions for planning your “Road to Retirement.” Refer to Fact Sheet 12 – Regular Service Retirement and Fact Sheet 10 – Benefit Options.

Three years before you anticipate retirement

  • Understand your pension options. What are the economic, tax, and estate planning results for each retirement plan available to you?
  • Request an estimate of your monthly retirement benefit under the plans you are considering. Requests for estimates are now available on LSERSWeb.
  • Create a preliminary retirement budget. This will guide your decision-making process.
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One year before you anticipate retirement

  • Make sure you have a social security card and birth certificate or other proofs of age for you and your beneficiary(ies).
  • Review your life insurance. Figure out what you will need and can afford.
  • Check home and auto insurance. Are you adequately protected?
  • Begin to think about which benefit option will be best for you.
  • View a webinar or review Fact Sheets to learn about benefit plans and options.
  • Request an estimate of benefits from LSERS.

 

Refer to Fact Sheet 4 – Checklist for Retirement/DROP for more information.

Contact your employer to complete the retirement application. Your employer should mail the retirement application to LSERS. The application can be submitted up to 6 months prior to the effective date of retirement. LSERS will send you and your employer a letter acknowledging receipt of the application and requesting any additional information needed to process your retirement.

LSERS must have a copy of your Social Security card and birth certificate. If you cannot locate your birth certificate, you can reach out to Bureau of Vital Statistics in the state you were born to apply for a duplicate. In lieu of a birth certification, you can furnish at least two(2) of the documents from the following list:

  U.S. passport
  Baptismal certificate
  Voter registration card
  Marriage license (if age is indicated)
  Military records
  School records

If you cannot locate your social security card, you must contact the Social Security Administration and apply for a duplicate; there are no alternative documents in lieu of a copy of your social security card.

Proof of age is required for any sole beneficiary you choose to receive a monthly benefit in the event of your death. And a copy of social security card is required for any types of beneficiary(ies).

Refer to Fact Sheet 8 – Retirement Application Process.

You may continue working, and begin contributing to retirement and accruing additional service credit again (unless at 100% accrual).

In lieu of returning to work, you may officially retire, and begin receiving your monthly benefits and withdrawing from your DROP account.

Refer to page 3 of Fact Sheet 13 – DROP (Deferred Retirement Option Plan) for more information.

DROP

You are eligible to withdraw funds after you quit work and officially retire. You cannot receive any funds from your DROP account until your monthly retirement benefit is processed.

IBRP

You cannot receive any funds from your IBRP account until your monthly retirement benefit is finalized.

You do not have to begin withdrawing your DROP or IBRP funds immediately. However, at age 70 ½, you must begin withdrawing a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD), per IRS Code.

Refer to Fact Sheet 24 – DROP/IBRP Account Withdrawals for more information.

If you were eligible to retire before 1/1/2004, you can contact LSERS at webmaster@lsers.net or 1.800.256.3718. Payments are issued on the 5th of the month. You may change your established withdrawal option twice a year. Your withdrawal options are listed below:

  • Rollover all or part of your funds to an IRA or other qualified retirement plan;
  • Withdraw your funds in a lump sum or a partial lump sum;
  • Withdraw your funds monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually.
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If you were eligible to retire on or after 1/1/2004, please contact Empower Retirement regarding your withdrawals. They can be reached at www.louisianadcp.com or 1.800.701.8255.

Refer to Fact Sheet 24 – DROP/IBRP Account Withdrawals for more information.

If you choose to rollover, your funds are not taxed at that time; however, you will owe taxes when you withdraw the money from your IRA or other qualified retirement plan.

We are required to withhold 20% for federal income tax purposes if you deplete your balance in a period of less than 10 years.

If you are under age 55 when you begin withdrawals from your account, you will also be subject to a 10% penalty when you file your tax return.

You must include the funds that you withdraw from your account as taxable income for federal income tax purposes.

If you receive a withdrawal that comes directly from LSERS, it is La. state tax exempt. If your withdrawal comes directly from the LSERS Self-Directed Plan provided by the Empower Retirement, it remains exempt from state tax.

Refer to Fact Sheet 24 – DROP/IBRP Account Withdrawals for more information.

DROP accounts begin to draw interest once deposits stop.

IBRP accounts begin to draw interest when the account is setup. The account cannot be setup until the benefits are finalized.

Refer to Fact Sheet 13 – DROP (Deferred Retirement Option Plan) and Fact Sheet 14 – IBRP (Initial Benefit Retirement Plan) for more information.

Your Regular Service Retirement, Early Service Retirement, or IBRP estimated benefit can be received as early as the 1st of the month following your retirement date provided your properly completed Estimated Affidavit and Direct Deposit form have been received by LSERS.

If you entered DROP your estimated benefit will begin the 1st of the month following your termination date provided a properly completed Form 10C – Application for Retirement After DROP, and Form 8 – Authorization for Direct Deposit, and Form W4P – Withholding Certificate for Pension or Annuity Payments are received by LSERS.

Refer to Fact Sheet 8 – Retirement Application Process.

Yes, in fact, it is mandatory for all members after July 1, 2010. LSERS Form 8 – Authorization for Direct Deposit is located at www.lsers.net > Resources > Forms. Your monthly retirement benefit will be electronically deposited into your account on the 1st business day of the month.

Refer to Fact Sheet 9 – Electronic Direct Deposit.

  • Regular monthly retirement checks are dated for the 1st of each month and mailed one business day before the 1st.
  • DROP/IBRP (eligible to retire prior to 1/1/2004) withdrawals are dated for the 5th of each month and mailed one business day before the 5th.
  • If LSERS mails you a paper check and you have not received it by the 7th business day after the check date, please contact us at webmaster@lsers.net or 1.800.256.3718.
  • If LSERS directly deposits your payment into your designated checking/savings account, the payment is scheduled to post on the next business day if the 1st or 5th falls on a weekend or holiday.
  • See check mailing/deposit dates on our website at www.lsers.net.
  • DROP-LA/IBRP-LA (eligible to retire on/after 1/1/2004) withdrawals are issued by Empower Retirement effective 1/1/2020. Contact them at www.louisianadcp.com or 1.800.701.8255.

A PBI is a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) that is a permanent benefit increase granted to eligible retirees and beneficiaries upon recommendation by the LSERS Board of Trustees and approved by the Legislature when funding is available.

Yes. An LSERS service retiree can return-to-work as a retiree and receive both his retirement benefit and salary from his employer if his earnings during the fiscal year (July 1 – June 30) are less than 50% of his final average compensation (FAC). If the retiree earns more than 50% of his FAC, he must repay LSERS every $1 earned over the 50% limit. The employer can rehire a retiree under the earnings limit provisions at any time. Another return-to-work provision allows an employer to rehire a full-time bus operator who has been retired for 12 months if there is a certified shortage of qualified operators. Under the full-time bus operator provision, the retiree can receive both full retirement and salary from his employer. The retiree pays contributions into LSERS while working as a full-time bus operator and those contributions are refunded to the retiree upon termination of employment.

Refer to Fact Sheet 18 – Retirees Who Return to Work.

Contact your employer’s Human Resources office for information about insurance coverage.

Refer to Fact Sheet 8 – Retirement Application Process.

Your LSERS benefit will not be reduced if you receive a benefit from the Social Security Administration (SSA). However, SSA may reduce your benefit because you are receiving a public pension. SSA uses two formulas to determine the reduction: one is a widow/widower benefit based on your spouse’s earnings documented with SSA (GPO – Government Pension Offset) and the other is based on your own earnings documented with SSA (WEP – Windfall Elimination Provision).

All Social Security benefit reduction amounts must be computed by SSA. LSERS representatives cannot provide this information to our members. Contact the Social Security Administration at 1.800.772.1213 between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. at your state local SSA office or visit their website at www. Ssa.gov for more information on any of the reductions mentioned above.

Refer to Fact Sheet 19 – Social Security and You.

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