New to STRS Ohio? Start Here!

As a new member of STRS Ohio, there is a lot you should know! You have access to many resources online at strsoh.org, and will (or already have) receive a lot of information regarding plan options, election deadlines, and online registration, amongst other things. The purpose of this article is to help you sort through a few of your options so you may devote the majority of your time towards job-related responsibilities.

Online Registration
One of the first things to do as a new member of STRS Ohio is register for an online account. The STRS Ohio online account is your portal to access important plan information. While working, you may view accrued benefits, beneficiary designations, important system documents, and upcoming STRS Ohio seminars. Once retired, you may view monthly pension payment details, update tax withholding elections, or review health insurance options.  In addition, you may easily update contact information should something change.

Plan Election
As a new member of STRS Ohio, you have 180 days to elect which plan you will participate in. One important note is the election to participate in the defined benefit plan may not be revoked. However, should you enroll in the defined contribution or combined plans, you will have the option to switch plans during your fifth year of membership. Failure to make an election within 180 days will result in automatic enrollment in the defined benefit plan.

Types of Plans
Ohio STRS provides three plans to choose from: Defined Benefit, Defined Contribution, or Combined. The following chart provides a summary of each plan and isn’t intended to be a comprehensive review of each plan’s advantages and disadvantages:

Plan TypeEmployer ContributionEmployee ContributionInvestment RiskRetirement IncomeRetiree Health Insurance
Defined Benefit14%13%*STRS OhioBased on age, years of service, and final average salary (FAS)Yes**
Defined Contribution9.5%13%*YouBased on investment performanceNo
Combined14%13%*STRS Ohio and YouBased on all factors of the Defined Benefit and Contribution PlansYes**
*Effective July 1, 2016, contributions will increase to 14%
**Current requirement is 15+ years of service. Requirement for members retiring on or after August 1, 2023 will be 20+ years of service

There isn’t a “one size fits all” solution when it comes to the plan election that’s best for you. Here are some questions to consider when electing a plan:

  1. What are your long-term career and/or family goals?
  2. Do you anticipate remaining in Ohio or desire to move out of state?
  3. What sources of income might you be eligible for during retirement and how does STRS Ohio impact those future benefits?
  4. Are you married or do you anticipate getting married in the future?
  5. How would your family be protected in the event of your death or disability?
  6. How comfortable are you with investment risk and what previous experience do you have investing?

Only after an evaluation of your unique circumstance should you make a plan election. The majority of STRS Ohio members participate in the Defined Benefit plan, however, that doesn’t mean it’s the best option for you!

Unsure how to proceed? Take advantage of the various counseling, seminars, and webinars STRS Ohio offers or reach out to a financial planner with experience helping members of STRS Ohio plan for their future.