As a public safety officer, you face a unique set of challenges and demands from your job. Your LAGERS benefit takes into account your job classification and provides certain benefit provisions specific to public safety officers.
The following pages detail some of these provisions as well as other important information about your benefit.
Retirement Ages for Public Safety Officers
Your retirement age in LAGERS depends upon your employee classification at your employer.
Police Officer – An employee of the police department possessing the duty and power to enforce the general criminal laws of the state or the ordinances of any political subdivision of the state, who is required to be certified by the “Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission.”
Normal Retirement Age – 55*
Firefighter– An employee of the fire department who is employed for the duty of fighting fires, or whose duties include supervision of firefighting personnel.
Normal Retirement Age – 55*
EMT, Jailer, & Dispatcher – As of August 28, 2019, your subdivision may have the individual option of adding a Public Safety Department for the purposes of determining an age 55 normal retirement. If your employer has not added this provision, you are classified as a General Employee.
*Normal Retirement Age (Public Safety) – 55
Normal Retirement Age (General) – 60
LAGERS Early Retirement Provisions
Regardless of an employee’s classification, every LAGERS member may individually elect to retire up to five years before their normal retirement age with a reduced monthly benefit.
An employer may elect to cover all employees, regardless of employee classification, under the Rule of 80, which can provide for an alternate full retirement age for an employee whose age and credited service total the number 80.
Social Security and My LAGERS Benefit
In general, participating in LAGERS does not affect Social Security benefits and vice versa. However, some employers have opted out of participating in Social Security and use LAGERS to provide a comparable retirement benefit.
Benefit Program for Non-Social Security Participating Departments
- Employers in LAGERS who do not participate in Social Security, have the option to elect the L-11 benefit program. The L-11 is a 2.50% multiplier that was added to LAGERS’ governing statutes in 2000. This benefit election is not available to employees who participate Social Security.
- Employers are normally prohibited from electing different benefit programs for different employee groups; with the exception that if one group of employees is covered by Social Security and another is not, an employer’s governing body may elect different benefit programs for each group.
- An employer who does not participate in Social Security must provide a FICA qualified retirement benefit. In LAGERS, that constitutes a minimum benefit election of the L-7 benefit multiplier and a 3 year final average salary.
Taking Care of Your Loved Ones
Ensuring that your loved ones are financially cared for in the event of your death or permanent disability is an especially important concern of LAGERS’ public safety officers. In LAGERS, all members are automatically covered by both Disability and Survivor Benefits. Survivor and Disability Benefits pay monthly, lifetime benefits in the event of a permanent disability or member death.
Regardless of any beneficiary designation you make with the LAGERS office, Missouri state law decides who the eligible recipient will be on a LAGERS monthly survivor benefit. A spouse of at least two years will be considered the first eligible recipient. The two year rule is waived if the member’s death was accidental or duty related. If there is no eligible spouse, the recipient will automatically be any dependent child. If there is no eligible spouse or dependent children, there is no monthly survivor benefit payable. However, if you made contributions to LAGERS, your account balance would be refunded to your beneficiary on record.
Healthcare Enhancement for Local Public Safety (HELPS) Retirees Act Election
Certain public safety retirees may be eligible for a special tax benefit known as HELPS. This deduction works in connection with premiums for applicable qualified health insurance premiums. LAGERS can deduct this premium from your benefit and pay directly to your qualified provider. Up to $3,000 of what LAGERS deducts on your behalf may be excluded from your taxable income.
To qualify, you must have:
• Been serving as a public safety officer (as defined by applicable federal law) when you retired.
• Retired under the normal retirement provision of the system (meaning that you did not take an early retirement) or you must have taken a disability retirement. Rule of 80 qualified retirement does qualify.
The definition of eligible public safety officers is included in federal law (42 U.S.C. 3796b(9)). Generally, they are individuals who served a public agency in one of the following official capacities:
• An individual involved in crime and juvenile delinquency control or reduction, or enforcement of the criminal laws (including juvenile delinquency), including, but not limited to police, corrections, probation, parole, and judicial officers
• Professional firefighter
• Officially recognized or designated public employee members of a rescue squad or ambulance crew
• Chaplains serving in a police or fire department.