FAQs

General

Who is the Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS)?

The public school employees’ retirement system is a multi-employer retirement plan created by the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This retirement plan creates a benefit to its members by receiving contributions from the member, the commonwealth and the public school employer.

How do I contact PSERS?

PSERS
toll free ph #: 1-888-773-7748
local ph #: 215-443-3495
fax #: 717-772-3860
email address: contactPSERS@pa.gov
website: PSERS.pa.gov

Who is Voya?

Voya has been contracted by PSERS to handle the 401a/DC accounts for the new membership  classes effective  July 1, 2019.

How do I contact Voya?

Voya

toll free ph #: 1-888-432-6627
website: PSERSdc.voya.com

Is it mandatory to contribute into this retirement plan?

It is mandatory to contribute to your PSERS plan. If you are scheduled to work less than the 5 hours a day or less than 25 hours a week, you will be defaulted into the plan unless you submit a request to be waived.

How can I be waived from contributing into retirement plan?

You may be eligible to be waived from contributing into the retirement plan if you are scheduled to work less than 5 hours per day or less than 25 hours/week. Please contact PSERS for further information on the additional requirements. This is a time sensitive request and can only be done within the first 30 days of entering the retirement plan.

How can I see my membership details?

You can view your membership details on the PSERS Membership Self-Service (MSS) portal.

Membership

 I am recently hired, how do I change my membership?

You have 90 days from entering the plan to contact PSERS and change your membership class. If you were previously a plan member, you may not change your membership class, as it a lifetime election.

I have been employed more than 90 days, how do I change my membership?

You may not change your membership class at this point. Your membership class is a lifetime election.

My coworker and I started around the same time but our memberships are different, why?

Please review your date of hire. If you have started on a date in which a membership class changed you would fall in the new membership class. Please click here to see membership enrollment based on date of hire.

Deductions and my paycheck

Why am I seeing two retirement deductions on my paycheck? Am I being double deducted?

If you were hired on or after July 1 2019, you will see  two retirement deductions on your paycheck. These are due to the hybrid retirement plan in which you are enrolled. The deductions should reflect contributions going to PSERS and contributions going to VOYA. Click here to see what percentage your membership class requires.

If you see you are being over deducted past your applicable contribution percentage, please contact the Retirement department.

My retirement deduction isn’t the always the same? Do I owe more money?

Your contributions are a percentage and will be based on how much was earned during that paycheck. If you paycheck is consistent, you will see a consistent amount deducted. If your paycheck fluctuates, your deduction will as well. Always double check your deduction by multiplying your earnings by your contribution percentage.

I see my usual deductions but there is an additional amount on my paycheck what is it?

If you see an additional row in your paycheck, this may be due to an over deduction or under deduction of contributions. You will always receive notification from the retirement department prior to the deduction/refund occurring.

Retirement Plan Questions

What is vesting? And how does that affect my retirement?

Vesting is the number of years that must be worked in order to receive your contribution. This includes any additional contributions made by the School District you were employed by and the Commonwealth of PA. Meeting your vesting requirement will allow you to have a secured benefit at retirement. Below is a chart of each membership and its vesting requirement:

MEMBERSHIP CLASSEMPLOYMENT PERIODVESTING
T-CPrior to July 22, 1983You are age 62 or older with at least one year of service at termination of employment.
T-COn or after July 22, 1983You have at least five (5) years of service with at least one (1) year of qualifying service rendered after July 1, 2001
T-DPrior to July 22, 1983You have at least five (5) years of service with at least one (1) year of qualifying service rendered after July 1, 2001
T-DOn or After July 22, 1983You have at least five (5) years of service with at least one (1) year of qualifying service rendered after July 1, 2001
T-EOn or After July 1, 2011You have at least 10 years of qualifying service or you are age 65 or older with at least three (3) years of service at termination of employment.
T-FOn or After July 1, 2011You have at least 10 years of qualifying service or you are age 65 or older with at least three (3) years of service at termination of employment.
T-GOn or After July 1, 2019For the DB acct with PSERS: You have at least 10 years of qualifying service.

For the DC acct with Voya: You have at least 3 years of qualifying service.
T-HOn or After July 1, 2019For the DB acct with PSERS: You have at least 10 years of qualifying service.

For the DC acct with Voya: You have at least 3 years of qualifying service.
DCOn or After July 1, 2019You have at least 3 years of qualifying service.

How do I know how many years I have towards my vesting?

You can log on to your Membership Self-Service (MSS) and review your credited service

My membership says my contribution rates are shared risk, what does that mean?

Shared risk/shared gain means that if you are in class TE, TF, TG or TH, the percentage of that you are required to contribute may go up or down based on when investments are doing well and share some of the risk when investments under perform. Your DB contribution rate may increase or decrease by 0.50% or 0.75% within the specified range of only once every three years. Please see the table below to see the increments at which your contribution percentage may increase or decrease.

Membership ClassDB Base RateShared Risk/Gain IncrementMinMaxDC Component
T-E7.50%+/-0.50%5.50% 9.50%NA
T-F10.3%+/-0.50%8.30% 12.30%NA
T-G5.50%+/-0.75%2.50%8.50%2.75%
T-H4.50%+/-0.75%1.50% 7.50%3.00%

What is the difference between early retirement, special early retirement and normal retirement?

Early Retirement – is a reduced retirement benefit available to members who do not meet the normal retirement requirements. Please contact PSERS to see if you are eligible for an early retirement.

Special Early Retirement – is a retirement benefit available to members in TC thru TH memberships, in which you may be eligible to receive a benefit if you are at least age 55 and have 25 or more years of credited service. Please contact PSERS to see if you qualify and what the restrictions are.

Normal Retirement– is an unreduced retirement benefit were all vesting and age requirements have been met. A monthly benefit will be made available to you at retirement age.

What is a disability retirement?

If you become mentally or physically incapable of continuing to perform the duties of your position while you are employed, you may be eligible to collect a disability retirement. Please contact PSERS to see the requirements and if you are eligible to collect.

How do I know how much I have contributed into my retirement plan?

You can log on to your MSS portal and review your contribution balance. Alternatively, you will also receive a statement of account every year to reflect your year to date contribution on your retirement plan.

Voya

 What target fund am I defaulted into?

Your contributions in your Voya account are automatically vested in a target date investment based on your estimated normal retirement age determined by your date of birth. For specific information on the fund please contact Voya directly.

How do I change my investment fund with Voya?

You can change all or a portion of you investment fund at any time by accessing your PSERS DC plan account through member self-service, or my contacting Voya directly.

Purchase of Service

I worked at another school district, how do I purchase that time into the PSERS plan?

Please contact PSERS directly to determine if services rendered at another school district are eligible to be purchased with PSERS.

I worked as a city employee, can I purchase that time with PSERS?

Service earned while a city employee is not eligible to be purchased into the PSERS plan.

I was advised I could not purchase additional time, how can I transfer my previous retirement plan to the school district of Philadelphia?

If you wish to move the funds from a previous employer but are not eligible to purchase them into the PSERS retirement plan, you may choose to open a 403b or a 457b account with one of our providers. These accounts are individual accounts and do not receive any funding or matches from the school district of Philadelphia. If you would like more information on these accounts, please click here.

Accessing My Funds

Can I borrow against my retirement plan?

You may not borrow against the PSERS retirement plan. Funds may only be accessed once you have terminated your employment, and are no longer an employee, employed with any PSERS participating employer.

I have left employment, how can I get my contributions back?

Once you have stopped your employment with the School District of Philadelphia or any participating employers with PSERS, you may reach out to PSERS and request an application for refund of contributions

I have retired, how can I commence my retirement?

Once you have stopped your employment with the school district of Philadelphia or any participating employers with PSERS, you may reach out to PSERS and request a retirement application.

How quickly can I get my funds?

* This information is shared from PSERS website.

PSERS  processes most retirement benefits within 4 to 6 weeks after they receive all of the following information:
·         Your properly completed application
·         date of termination
·         Your last salary and service reported by the school district.

The school district will provide PSERS your date of termination and final earnings the month following the distribution of your final pay (if applicable, reserve pay must be distributed as well before your information may be updated with PSERS).

Important: if you terminate employment in June and receive your balance of contract payments in July or August, you will likely receive your first retirement benefit payment in October.

Other Resources

How do I assign a beneficiary to my retirement plan in the event of my death?

You can log into your MSS portal and review/change your beneficiaries. You may also reach out to PSERS for further assistance on who is eligible to be your beneficiary.

Paper forms are also available here.

Does my 403b/457b account affect my retirement plan?

No, your 403b/457b accounts are independent of your retirement plan.

Do I need to have a 403b/457b account to retire?

No, you do not need to have a 403b/457b account to retire, but you will require to open one to receive your term pay if you are age 55 or older or turning age 55 in the year you separate from employment.

Will my retirement plan offset my social security benefits?

No, PSERS retirement benefit is independent of your social security benefits.

Does the School District of Philadelphia offer retirement planning services?

The Retirement department cannot provide financial planning services. If you need financial planning assistance with a VOYA account, please contact them directly. If you need financial planning assistance with a 403b/457b plan, please contact the vendor of your choosing directly. If you need assistance with financial planning in general, The School District of Philadelphia offers an employee assistance program through Guidance Resources who can assist with finding you financial planning services. For more information please click here.