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Georgia Retirement System

The Employees Retirement System of Georgia (ERSGA) provides a range of pension plans that mostly come with lengthy eligibility requirements. While each of its systems and plans serve different employees, some systems consist of more components than others. In addition, for users who aren’t sure which plan applies to them, ERSGA’s website provides a useful “account summary” option that details each. Eligible members also receive death and disability retirement benefits. If you want an expert to help you navigate the Georgia retirement system, check out SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching tool.

Types of Retirement Systems in Georgia

Georgia offers several different retirement systems and pension plans for employees who meet its eligibility and service requirements. Specifically, this includes public employees, public school employees, teachers, judicial employees, General Assembly members and National Guard members. Furthermore, though ERSGA offers eight pension programs, the requirements for each varies.

Georgia Retirement Systems
Plan Title Eligible Employees
Employees Retirement System (ERS): Old Plan – Current members employed on a full-time basis who’ve worked since before July 1, 1982.
-Members initially employed before July 1, 1982 who are reemployed on or after July 1, 1982 without receiving a refund on their annuity savings account, retiring or contributing less than one year of service within a period of five consecutive years as a member.
Employees Retirement System (ERS): New Plan -Employees who were hired between 7/1/1982 and 12/31/2008.
Employees Retirement System (ERS): Georgia State Employees Pension and Savings Plan (GSEPS) – Employees hired on or after July 1, 2014
-ERS members hired on and after January 1, 2009.
Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS) -Employees who qualify by years of service and age.
Teachers Retirement System (TRS) -All employees in a permanent status position with local boards of education, charter schools, colleges and universities, technical colleges, Board of Regents, county and regional libraries and RESAs.
-Certain State of Georgia agencies.
Georgia Judicial Retirement System (GJRS) -Any employees within the offices of Superior Court Judges, District Attorneys, State Court Judges, Solicitors-General of the State Courts and Juvenile Court Judges after July 1, 1998.
-Certain employees of the Attorney General and the Legislative Counsel hired before July 1, 2005.
Legislative Retirement System (LRS) -Members of the General Assembly.
Georgia Military Pension Fund – Georgia National Guard members who retired after July 1, 2002 under the following conditions:

  • Completed at least 10 consecutive years of service completed in the National Guard.
  • Is at least 60 years old and completed at least 20 years of service, of which a minimum of 15 years were served in the National Guard.
  • Was honorably discharged from the Georgia National Guard.

Overview of Georgia’s Retirement Systems

Georgia Retirement System

Employees Retirement System (ERS): Old Plan – Created under the ERS, the Old Plan’s eligibility and dates of employment requirements differ from those of the ERS’s New Plan and GSEPS. But the Old Plan also poses distinct contribution requirements. For instance, members must contribute 1.50% of their earnable compensation to the plan. In addition, members must qualify for three different types of Service Retirement under ERS rules: Normal Retirement, Early Retirement and Terminated Vested Retirement.

Employees Retirement System (ERS): New Plan – Similar to the Old Plan, members of the New Plan must also qualify for Normal Retirement, Early Retirement and Terminated Vested Retirement. In addition, members for this plan must have been hired between July 1, 1982 and December 31, 2008.

Employees Retirement System (ERS): Georgia State Employees Pension and Savings Plan (GSEPS) – The GSEPS plan differs from the Old Plan and New Plan mainly in the components it offers. GSEPS offers a combination of the defined benefit plan and the 401(k) savings plan. The defined benefit plan is mandatory and costs employees 1.25% of their salary. With the 401(k) component, on the other hand, employees are automatically enrolled and must contribute 5% of their compensation.

Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS) – Created to provide public school employees with a retirement savings strategy, PSERS offers its qualified members a variety of benefits. These include disability, death and lifetime retirement benefits. In addition, the plan comes with monthly contribution requirements.

Teachers Retirement System (TRS) – Under TRS, numerous employees of the University System of Georgia and other employees of similar, education-related fields receive notable retirement perks. These include monthly benefits that are payable to the life of the member.

Georgia Judicial Retirement System (GJRS) – Established on July 1, 1998, the GJRS provides pension for employees with judicial offices and even comes with benefits like spousal coverage. For contributions, 7.5% of the employee’s compensation is deposited into their Employee Contributions account each month.

Legislative Retirement System (LRS) – The LRS, which was established on July 1, 1967, functions to provide General Assembly members with retirement benefits. The current benefit that eligible employees receive is $36 per month for each year of service, according to the Employees Retirement System of Georgia (ERSGA).

Georgia Military Pension Fund (GMPF) – Signed into law on May 15, 2002, the GMPF offers retirement benefits to members of the National Guard who meet its eligibility requirements.

Retirement Taxes in Georgia

Federal

The money you place into your pension plan is tax-deferred. Therefore, your retirement savings plan will allow you to earn compensation with the exemption of taxes. However, you will pay income tax once you withdraw or receive any distributions. You can handle this two ways. First, you can make an estimated tax payment. Or you can pay the IRS in regular tax withholdings.

If you choose the estimated tax payment option, you’ll have to calculate the amount of taxes you owe and then pay on a quarterly basis. If you choose to withhold, however, you’ll have fixed amounts of income extracted from each of your regular checks. But exemptions can also affect how much money the IRS withholds from each check.

In some situations, you may have a retirement plan that allows you to rollover your pension earnings into another retirement account. In other words, a rollover essentially acts as an alternative to paying taxes on your pension plan. Therefore, you’ll be able to escape taxes on your distributions if you rollover to a plan like the individual retirement account (IRA). Any withdrawals you make from the funds you transferred, however, will result in taxes.

State

Georgia is one of the most tax-friendly states for retirees. The state doesn’t tax Social Security and additionally provides generous deductions on all forms of retirement income. For instance, anyone who’s at least 64 years of age receives a deduction of $65,000.

Furthermore, other forms of retirement income are also taxable in Georgia. For instance, anyone aged 62 to 64 receives a tax exclusion of $35,000. In addition, you won’t have to pay taxes if you have less than $65,000 in retirement income.

Current Financial Health of the Georgia Retirement System

Georgia Retirement System

The ERSGA holds more than $13 billion in assets, according to its 2017 Report of the Actuary on the Valuation. With its variety of pension funds and retirement plans, its total assets will likely increase. In addition to its primary pension plans, the ERSGA also provides additionally thorough retirement options. These include its Group Term Life Insurance and its Peach State Reserves options.

In July, it received its Certificate of Achievement in Financial Reporting, making that its eighth consecutive award from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA).

Tips for a Successful Retirement

  • When preparing for retirement, you may run into some questions along the way. This is why you should seek the professional guidance of a financial advisor. A financial advisor can ease the savings and retirement plan process and push you closer to your financial goals. SmartAsset’s financial advisor matching tool can help you find the best advisor suited to your needs.
  • Another important factor to consider when thinking of retirement is location. Location greatly affects the amount of taxes you’ll pay or the deductions you can earn from retirement income. Therefore, the state in which you retire could either push you closer or farther from your savings goals. Make sure to consider SmartAsset’s list of the most tax-friendly states before making a final decision.

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Rickie Houston Rickie Houston writes on a variety of personal finance topics for SmartAsset. His expertise includes retirement and banking. He graduated from Boston University where he received a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He’s contributed to work published in the Boston Globe and has worked alongside award-winning faculty for the New England Center of Investigative Reporting at Boston University. Rickie also enjoys playing the guitar, traveling abroad and discovering new music. He is originally from Wilmington, North Carolina.
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