Montana Public Employees' Retirement System

As a Montana University System (MUS) employee, if you are hired into a position covered by the Montana Public Employees’ Retirement System (MPERS), you have 12 months to choose which retirement option is right for you.  PERS offers two retirement plan options (a traditional defined benefit pension plan and a defined contribution plan), but as a MUS employee, the Montana University System Retirement Plan (MUS-RP) is also an available option to you.  Please review all of the information about your options carefully so you ensure you are electing the best retirement choice for your personal and financial circumstances.  Please see the below information regarding your Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) options and for more information please visit the PERS website and review their new hire handbook.

If you are a new employee of the MUS, but are a current active or inactive member of one of the PERS Plans, you may choose to remain in your current retirement option or transfer to the MUS-RP.  If you are eligible, written election to move to the MUS-RP must be done within 30 days of becoming eligible to participate or you will remain in your current retirement plan.  Please contact PERS to discuss your options.

Plans

PERS –Defined Benefit Retirement Plan

In the Defined Benefit Retirement Plan (DBRP) you and your employer contribute to a pension trust fund. 
The DBRP guarantees a specified retirement benefit when you retire. The amount of the benefit payment is calculated with a formula using your membership service factor, highest average compensation and your eligible years of service credit.  Your monthly benefit will be paid to you during your lifetime.  When eligible, your monthly benefit may be increased each year by a Guaranteed Annual Benefit Adjustment (GABA).

PERS –Defined Contribution Retirement Plan

The Defined Contribution Retirement Plan (DCRP) is similar to the MUS-RP in that you are in charge of controlling how your contribution is invested.  The contributions into the plan are known; the benefit is not. 
The DCRP establishes individual member accounts and offers a variety of investment options.  Members direct contributions in their account to investment options selected from those offered by the plan.  The retirement benefit received is based on the account balance.  The account balance equals the contributions plus investment earnings, less administrative expenses.  Your account balance, in turn, depends on the contributions and the investment earnings.  Investment earnings can either be positive or negative during any period of membership with the plan.  In the DCRP you assume the investment risk, but are also entitled to all investment returns. 

Employee and Employer Contribution

Montana statute specifies how much you and your employer contribute to the plan.  By law, you cannot make additional payroll contributions more than the amount defined in the statute.

DBRP Contributions

Member contributions are calculated based on your gross compensation, before any pre-tax deductions.  This means your contributions are made on a pre-tax basis and grow tax deferred until you withdraw the funds.  At that time, you pay taxes on the amount you withdraw. 

Total contributions to PERS are 16.37%.

  • 7.90% Employee
  • 8.47% Employer

Employee contribution

7.9% of gross compensation

Employer contribution

8.47% of covered payroll

Allocation of employer contributions as determined by §19-3-316, MCA

6.9% - Pension trust fund which covers:                  
-Administrative cost                                                    
-Normal costs
-Disability benefits                                        
-Education fund 
1.57%  Additional Contribution                                  
8.47% Total   















 

You are vested when you complete five years of membership service which means you are guaranteed a retirement benefit when you meet the age and membership service requirements.  Once vested, you may also be eligible for disability retirement.  Being vested in the DBRP means you have a right to a benefit.

DCRP Contributions

Member contributions are calculated based on your gross compensation, before any pre-tax deductions.  This means your contributions are made on a pre-tax basis and grow tax deferred until you withdraw the funds.  At that time, you pay taxes on the amount you withdraw. 
Total contributions to your individual PERS account are 16.03%

  • 7.90% Employee
  • 8.13% Employer

In addition to contributions to your account, your employer contributes the following:

  • 0.30% to the Long-Term Disability Fund
  • 0.04% to the Education Fund

Employee contribution

7.9% of gross compensation

Employer contribution

8.47% of covered payroll

Allocation of employer contributions as determined by §19-3-316, MCA

8.13% - Individual account                                   
                                          
0.30% - Disability fund                          
0.04% - Education fund    

8.47% Total  

 

 









 

 


Member contributions and other contributions are always vested.  This means you have a right to those funds when you terminate PERS-covered employment.  You will never forfeit funds in the “member contribution” component of your individual account. 

Employer contributions are credited to the "employer contribution" component of your individual account. Once you have 5 years membership service you are vested for all employer contributions and earnings credited to your PERS individual account.

Other Funds

Funds that you may have transferred or rolled over to your DCRP individual account, as well as any earnings, are also immediately 100% vested.  If you transfer or roll over funds from another eligible retirement plan, those funds will be credited to the “other contribution” component of your PERS individual account.  Be sure to consult your financial or tax advisor to avoid rollover penalties.

Employer contributions are credited to the “employer contribution” component of your individual account.  Once you have five years of membership service, you are vested for all employer contributions and earnings credited to your PERS individual account.

How To Enroll

You must make a one-time, irrevocable decision about enrollment in a retirement plan within 12 months of your hire date.  Please allow yourself time before the enrollment deadline to obtain the necessary literature and complete your enrollment application.  If you do not make a choice and complete the necessary paperwork within the 12 month election window, by statute, you will “default” to the PERS DBRP.  We encourage you to make an election to ensure you are in the retirement plan that you feel best meets your needs.

Your campus benefits office will be able to provide you with the enrollment paperwork.  To make your election, complete and sign the PERS Retirement Plan Election form and mail it to PERS before the end of your 12-month election window.  Giving your election to your employer or payroll clerk does not constitute filing with the Montana Public Employees’ Retirement Board.


The Montana Public Employees’ Retirement Board
P.O. Box 200131
Helena, MT  59620-0131  

Access Funds Upon ending Employment (Before Retirement)

If you are leaving employment with the MUS, you may have several choices regarding your retirement funds.  Please note that in-service distributions from PERS are not permitted.  Please contact PERS for refund options.

What happens if I change jobs within the MUS?

While working at the MUS, if you change positions and your position is no longer a PERS classified position, or your position is reclassified, you may have the option to join the MUS-RP as a professional employee or remain in your current PERS plan.  You have 30 days to transfer to the MUS-RP or you default into your current PERS retirement plan.  Please contact your HR office to discuss your options.

Manage Your Retirement

MPERA provides informative workshops for its members who are either new to the workforce, seeking ways to supplement their retirement and/or ready to retire after years of hard work.  Please visit the MPERA Education Calendar for more information.  If you are ready to retire, please visit the MPERA Steps to Retirement.

MPERA Contact Information

Public Employee Retirement Administration
100 North Park Avenue Suite 200
P.O. Box 200131
Helena, MT  59620-0131

Toll Free:  1-877-ASK-PERB (1-877-275-7372) 
Phone:  406-444-3154
Fax:  406-444-5428
Website:  http://mpera.mt.gov
e-mail:  mpera@mt.gov


Disclaimer: If there are any discrepancies between this website or the information on the PERS website or handbooks, the Public Employees’ Retirement Board’s (PERB) interpretation of the statue or rule, statute or rule will apply.
The MUS, MPERA nor the Boards provide professional financial or tax-related services.  We encourage you to compare all of your retirement options based on your personal situation and consult with a financial planner and/or tax advisor as needed.

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Montana University System • Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education
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