505 Retirement Benefits

505.01 Retirement

Georgia law requires membership in the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia (TRS, a defined benefit plan) or the Optional Retirement Plan (ORP, a defined contribution plan) for all regular faculty who are under age 60 and who work half-time or more.

The employee's mandatory contribution to TRS or ORP is 5% of gross base salary, and the University also makes contributions on the employee's behalf. For employees hired after 1/1/96 who particpate in ORP, contributions are made on the first $170,000 of salary paid in a calendar year. For employees hired after 7/1/96 who participate in TRS, contributions are made up to the same $170,000 cap. Participants hired before those dates are not subject to the caps. Additional compensation beyond contracted base salary may not be eligible for retirement contributions. This contribution rate is applicable regardless of the source of salary. Employee contributions are deducted from pre-tax dollars but Social Security earnings are not reduced. Federal and State of Georgia income taxes are deferred until the account is withdrawn or retirement benefits are received.

Vesting in the Teachers Retirement System occurs at ten years of service. Vesting in the Optional Retirement Plan is immediate. Election of either TRS or the ORP must be made withing 60 days of employment. If no election is received within 60 days, TRS enrollment is mandated. This action is irrevocable.

Teachers Retirement System of Georgia

The Teachers Retirement System is a defined benefit plan. Benefits to faculty (or survivors) depends on the employee's age, length of service, and salary. Permanent disability retirement is available at any age if the member has 9.5 years of service.

Up to five years' credit may be obtained for service in the armed forces of the United States during periods of national emergency. Service may also be purchased for teaching in the public schools of Georgia, State of Georgia employment, maternity leave, and study leave. After six years of membership in TRS, credit may also be purchased in some cases for prior out-of-state teaching in public schools or colleges.

Employees who leave the university before retirement are advised to investigate their options regarding the TRS funds. All withdrawals of funds (except rollovers) that have been deducted on a pre-tax basis are subject to 20% federal income tax withholding. Tax penalties that may be imposed on certain early withdrawals. The funds available for withdrawal include the employee's contributions plus interest only.

Optional Retirement Plan

The current optional retirement plans (ORPs) are defined contribution plans. The University currently offers four plans. Several investment options are available under each plan. Contributions may be distributed among the funds. Members may change companies and/or distribution allocations once per calendar year during open enrollment. Full vesting is immediate in the Optional Retirement Plan.

In accordance with BOR Policies 802.0901 and 302.03, certain administrative officers of research universities may be designated by institutional Statute to hold ex officio faculty status for the purpose of participation in the Regents Optional Retirement Plan (ORP).

The Georgia State University Statutes designate as ORP-eligible those administrator positions listed in Appendix A of the Faculty Handbook.


To be considered a "retiree" from the University System of Georgia (and be eligible for retiree benefits), an individual must be eligible for retirement under Teachers Retirement rules either by age, disability or service. In general, individuals must be at least age 60 and must have at least 10 years of continuous service in the State system, the last two of which must be with the University System of Georgia. Individuals with at least 30 years of service may retire at any age. Individuals who qualify for disability retirement may do so with at least 9.5 years of service, regardless of age.

Employment Beyond Retirement

When an individual retires from the University System of Georgia and is receiving benefits from the Teachers Retirement System, the Employees Retirement System, or the Regents' Retirement Plan, he/she shall not be re-employed by the University System without prior approval of the Board of Regents. When an employee has retired from the University System of Georgia, he/she may be re-employed by the University System of Georgia under the following conditions:

  1. The re-employment of a University System of Georgia retiree must be approved by the Board of Regents;
  2. A rehired retiree must have a minimum break of one month between the effective date of his/her retirement and the effective date of his/her re-employment;
  3. The work commitment of a rehired retiree must be less than half-time; i.e., less than 50%;
  4. The salary that is paid to a rehired retiree must be either:
  5. The salary that is paid to a rehired retiree must be consistent with his/her work commitment.

[BR Minutes, April 2002; November, 2007]

505.02 Tax Sheltered Supplemental Retirement Accounts (403(b) Accounts)

Georgia State University allows employees to contribute to tax-sheltered supplemental retirement accounts (SRAs) as authorized under Section 403(b) of the Internal Revenue Code. Salary reduction agreements are processed through the Benefits Office of Human Resource Services. A variety of insurance and mutual fund companies are available for participants. Contact the Benefits Office for a complete list of available options.

505.03 Automatic Debit of Insurance Premiums After Retirement

Retired faculty may pay insurance premiums by automatic debit from their bank accounts, for convenience and to ensure timely payment. Contact the Benefits Office for details.