To be eligible for active membership with LAGERS, you must work in a LAGERS covered department and work above a certain number of hours set by your employer. You become eligible to receive a benefit once you become vested and reach a retirement age. Below is more detailed information about coverage and eligibility.
Each LAGERS employer individually elects which department(s) it will cover. At a minimum, your employer must cover a general department. The general department will include employees of administration, public works, parks, utilities, dispatchers, ambulance services, and other civilians. Each employer may also elect to cover its police department, fire department and / or Public Safety Department*.
Annual Hours Required for Coverage
When your employer joined the LAGERS system, it made an election setting the annual number of hours you must work to be covered under LAGERS. Your employer chose either 1,500, 1,250 or 1,000 hours annually as its coverage requirement.
As long as your position requires you to work above the Annual Hours Required for Coverage in a covered department, you must be covered and will continue to earn credit towards your LAGERS benefit.
If you’re an elected official at a LAGERS-participating employer, you’re working in a covered department and you’re working above the Annual Hours Required for Coverage, you must be covered by the system.
Members of the Governing Body
If you’re a member of the governing body, you can choose individually to be covered. You’re eligible if you’re paid a wage for your elected position, the wages paid are subject to Social Security withholding and the employer has 10 or more LAGERS-covered employees. If this governing body position requires you to work above the Annual Hours Required for Coverage, you may still individually opt-in or opt-out of LAGERS coverage.
To be eligible to receive a benefit from LAGERS, you must first become vested. You become vested once you earn 5 years (60 months) of credited service within the LAGERS system. Your 60 months of credited service can be earned at one employer or a combination of LAGERS employers.
Once you become vested, you’re guaranteed to receive a benefit from LAGERS regardless of whether you continue to work for a LAGERS employer until retirement.
Your employer can elect to cover its employees under normal retirement ages or the Rule of 80.
Normal Retirement Ages
- Age 60
Police Officers, Fire Fighters & Public Safety Personnel*
- Age 55
If you’re vested and working for an employer that has Normal Retirement Ages, the above ages are when you’re eligible to retire and draw a full, unreduced monthly benefit. If you’re no longer working for a LAGERS employer, delaying your retirement beyond your normal retirement age won’t increase your benefit amount. Click here for more information about this.
Early Retirement Ages
You have the option to take a reduced early retirement benefit. The ages are below:
- Between ages 55 – 59
Police Officers, Fire Fighters & Public Safety Personnel:
- Between ages 50 – 54
The reduction in your monthly benefit for choosing an early retirement is 0.5% for every month (6% per year) you are younger than your normal retirement age. So a general employee choosing to draw benefits at age 55 would have their benefit reduced by 30%. This is a permanent reduction.
Public Safety Personnel
LAGERS employers in 3rd class counties have the option to classify EMS personnel, Emergency Telecommunicators, and Jailors as Public Safety Personnel for purposes of determining an age 55 normal retirement in LAGERS. Each employer must elect to cover their public safety personnel under this option. If your employer has not adopted this provision, EMS personnel, Emergency Telecommunicators, and Jailors are considered General Employees.
Rule of 80 is an alternate retirement option selected by your employer to provide an unreduced early retirement. If your employer has the Rule of 80, you’re able to retire early when your age plus your service equals 80.
Rule of 80 Notes:
- If your Rule of 80 age exceeds your Normal Retirement Age, you’re still eligible to retire once you attain your Normal Retirement Age. See the bottom line in the example above. When hired on or after the age of 40 at a Rule of 80 employer, you may draw your benefit at your Normal Retirement Age.
- To qualify for a benefit under the Rule of 80, you must work up to or beyond your Rule of 80 eligibility date. In other words, if you leave employment before you reach your Rule of 80 date, you must wait until your Normal Retirement Age to receive an unreduced benefit.