If you are a member of STRS Ohio, you may currently retire at any age and receive unreduced pension benefits once you reach 31 years of service or at age 65 with 5 years of service. Pension reform in 2012 changed these eligibility requirements, and you may find you need (or want) to work after retirement.
But what if teaching is all you’ve known? How do you find the “next thing” and may you still remain a member of STRS Ohio?
The truth is working after retirement outside of an STRS position is relatively easy. But should you want to remain in the STRS system after your official retirement, many rules come into play surrounding your retirement benefits.
Here are some things to consider when contemplating whether to return to work after retiring.
Make it a passion
You’ve spent all, or a good part of, your career teaching. Maybe you still love it and want to go back, maybe not. If you’re not sure what you want to do, spend some time thinking about what you’re passionate about. Think about what you would do for no compensation, and then try and find someone who will pay you to do it!
What will you do with the money?
For some retirees, they will need the income to supplement their pension. For others, it can be “fun money”. If you do not need the money, it would be wise to save some of it for the future. As pension changes can affect retirees, the future is somewhat uncertain. As a result, having a bigger nest-egg could prove to be worthwhile.
If you plan on retiring and returning to work in another STRS eligible position, you have to make sure you follow some rules. First, in order to qualify for retirement benefits, you must experience a one-day break in service, at a minimum.
Working during your first two months of retirement may cause you to forfeit some benefits if you were employed by one one employer at the time of your retirement.
Think you’ll just “volunteer” for your same position the first two months of retirement? Think again! Volunteering for the same position during your first two months of retirement is in violation of the rules.
If you work for multiple employers at the time of retirement, there’s a slightly more complex set of rules you must follow to remain eligible for retirement benefits.
Once you retire and obtain reemployment status, you and your employer will contribute to the retirement system. A new benefit will accrue, which you may be eligible to receive as a lump sum or annuity payment, depending on your age.
Further details regarding the STRS Ohio reemployment rules may be found here. If you are a retired member of STRS Ohio and are considering a return to public employment, I encourage you to contact STRS Ohio prior to accepting any position.