Applying for Benefits

Eligibility Requirements

Service Retirement Benefit

As an STRS Ohio member enrolled in the Defined Benefit Plan, you qualify for lifetime unreduced benefits after meeting one of the eligibility requirements indicated in the table below.

Eligibility Requirements for Unreduced Benefit
For Retirement Dates Minimum Age and Years of Service
Through 7/1/2015 Any age and 30 yrs.; or age 65 and 5 yrs.*
8/1/2015–7/1/2017 Any age and 31 yrs.; or age 65 and 5 yrs.*
8/1/2017–7/1/2019 Any age and 32 yrs.; or age 65 and 5 yrs.*
8/1/2019–7/1/2021 Any age and 33 yrs.; or age 65 and 5 yrs.*
8/1/2021–7/1/2023 Any age and 34 yrs.; or age 65 and 5 yrs.*
8/1/2023–7/1/2026 Any age and 35 yrs.; or age 65 and 5 yrs.*
On or after 8/1/2026 Age 60 and 35 yrs.; or age 65 and 5 yrs.*

If a member retires before the age and years of service requirements shown in the chart above, benefits are reduced. Eligibility requirements for lifetime actuarially reduced benefits are indicated in the table below.

Eligibility Requirements for Actuarially Reduced Benefit
For Retirement Dates Minimum Age and Years of Service
Through 7/1/2015 Age 55 and 25 yrs.; or age 60 and 5 yrs.*
8/1/2015–7/1/2017 Any age and 30 yrs.; or age 55 and 26 yrs.; or age 60 and 5 yrs.*
8/1/2017–7/1/2019 Any age and 30 yrs.; or age 55 and 27 yrs.; or age 60 and 5 yrs.*
8/1/2019–7/1/2021 Any age and 30 yrs.; or age 55 and 28 yrs.; or age 60 and 5 yrs.*
8/1/2021–7/1/2023 Any age and 30 yrs.; or age 55 and 29 yrs.; or age 60 and 5 yrs.*
On or after 8/1/2023 Any age and 30 yrs.; or age 60 and 5 yrs.*

If you leave Ohio public service and do not withdraw your STRS Ohio account, you will be eligible to receive a benefit when you meet one of the age and service requirements listed on the first chart or the chart above.

*Must have 5.00 years of qualifying service credit, which includes: earned credit with STRS Ohio, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) or School Employees Retirement System (SERS); restoration of withdrawn credit with STRS Ohio, OPERS or SERS; interrupted Ohio public service due to military service; and earned and restored credit that transfers from Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund, Highway Patrol Retirement System or Cincinnati Retirement System.

Disability Benefits

Disability Allowance

To qualify for disability allowance benefits, an STRS Ohio member must:

  • Meet either of the following:

Existing members on June 30, 2013, must have at least 5.00 years of qualifying service credit* on account with STRS Ohio and submit a completed application packet within two years of the last date of earned service.

New members on or after July 1, 2013, must have at least 10.00 years of qualifying service credit* on account with STRS Ohio and submit a completed application packet within one year of the last date of earned service.

  • Not be receiving service retirement benefits.
  • Have the most service credit with STRS Ohio (versus OPERS or SERS). If OPERS or SERS has the most service credit, contact the system with the most service credit for a disability application packet.

In lieu of receiving monthly disability benefits from STRS Ohio, members may terminate employment and withdraw their account (see the Account Withdrawal section for more information).

Click here to estimate your disability allowance benefit.

Read the Disability Allowance brochure for more information.

Disability Retirement

To qualify for disability retirement benefits, an STRS Ohio member who earned service credit before July 1, 2013, must:

  • Have at least 5.00 years of qualifying service credit* on account with STRS Ohio and submit a completed application packet within two years of the last date of earned service.
  • Not be receiving service retirement benefits.
  • Be younger than age 60 when the disability application is filed.
  • Stop teaching before reaching age 60.
  • Have the most service credit with STRS Ohio (versus OPERS or SERS). If OPERS or SERS has the most service credit, contact the system with the most service credit for a disability application packet.

In lieu of receiving monthly disability benefits from STRS Ohio, members may terminate employment and withdraw their account (see the Account Withdrawal section for more information).

Click here to estimate your disability retirement benefit

Read the Disability Retirement brochure for more information.

*Qualifying service credit includes earned credit with STRS Ohio, OPERS or SERS; restoration of withdrawn credit with STRS Ohio, OPERS or SERS; interrupted Ohio public service due to military service; and earned and restored credit that transfers from Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund, Highway Patrol Retirement System or Cincinnati Retirement System.

Survivor Benefit

Once members meet the eligibility requirements, valuable benefits protection is in place for qualified survivors. These benefits are available to survivors of STRS Ohio members who die before retiring.

There are three types of monthly benefits available to your qualified survivors. The amount payable to qualified survivors depends on specific eligibility requirements. They are:

  1. Dependent-based benefit,
  2. Service-based benefit, and
  3. Retirement-based benefit.

Qualified survivors are automatically eligible for the calculation that provides the greater survivor benefit. Use the STRS Ohio survivor benefits calculator for estimating monthly benefits for your eligible survivors.

Partial Lump-Sum Option Plan (PLOP) Information

STRS Ohio offers a Partial Lump-Sum Option Plan (PLOP) for new retirees in the Defined Benefit and Combined Plans. See the topics below to learn more about this feature.

This information is a summary and is not intended to provide complete information about the Partial Lump-Sum Option Plan. For more information contact STRS Ohio toll-free at 888‑227‑7877.

PLOP Definition

The Partial Lump-Sum Option Plan (PLOP) allows you to take an amount from six to 36 times the monthly Single Life Annuity (SLA) benefit in a lump sum at retirement. The PLOP must be elected in $1,000 increments, unless the minimum or maximum amount is selected. Monthly benefits still begin with your retirement date and are payable for life, but they are reduced to reflect the amount taken up front in a single payment. A plan of payment for your lifetime retirement benefits — Single Life Annuity, Joint and Survivor Annuity or Annuity Certain — must be selected for determining the remainder of your lifetime benefits.

The one-time lump-sum payment may be administered in the following ways:

  • All of the PLOP payment paid by direct rollover to a traditional individual retirement account (IRA), a Roth IRA, SEP-IRA, SIMPLE IRA, an eligible employer plan or another qualified plan to defer the immediate tax withholding and possible penalty.
  • All of the PLOP payment paid to you through direct deposit to a named financial institution. The payment will be subject to any federal taxes, state taxes and penalties due.
  • Some portion paid as a rollover with the remaining amount paid to you.

Member Cost of PLOP

The table below shows the amount a monthly benefit is reduced for each $1,000 of lump-sum payment. For example, a 55-year-old Defined Benefit Plan participant retiring July 1, 2019, who receives a $25,000 lump-sum payment, would have his or her benefit reduced $164.50 a month for life ($6.58 × 25 = $164.50).

Defined Benefit Plan PLOP Cost Factor Table For retirement dates of Aug. 1, 2013, and later
Age Reduction per $1,000
53 $6.46
54 $6.52
55 $6.58
56 $6.65
57 $6.72
58 $6.79
59 $6.88
60 $6.97
61 $7.06
62 $7.17
63 $7.28
64 $7.41
65 $7.54

Used in the example in the Estimating PLOP Cost section below.

Estimating PLOP Cost

A sample Partial Lump-Sum Option Plan (PLOP) Payment estimate appears below. You can also estimate benefits with a PLOP payment by using the service retirement estimate calculator.

In the example estimate below, a 60-year-old member in the Defined Benefit Plan with a $3,000 per month Single Life Annuity (SLA) is eligible to choose a lump-sum payment from $18,000–$108,000 (six–36 times the monthly SLA benefit) and elects to take a $50,000 lump-sum payment.

The cost per $1,000 of lump-sum payment for a member retiring July 1, 2019, at age 60, is $6.97 per month. This Defined Benefit Plan member’s monthly cost for a $50,000 payment is 50 × $6.97 or $348.50.

To determine the adjusted benefit, subtract $348.50 from the original $3,000 SLA. The member would receive $2,651.50 per month after the lump-sum payment and could take a further reduction to provide survivor benefits through a Joint and Survivor Annuity or Annuity Certain. The member must choose a plan of payment that will be used to finalize the lifetime retirement benefit.

PLOP Estimate Worksheet — Defined Benefit Plan Participant
Retirement age of member in example: 60 Retirement date: July 1, 2019 Example: $50,000 PLOP
I. Calculate PLOP range
1. Single Life Annuity (SLA) $3,000.00
2. SLA times 6 (minimum PLOP) $18,000.00
3. SLA times 36 (maximum PLOP) $108,000.00
4. Your PLOP amount (must be within minimum and maximum range) $50,000.00
II. Calculate cost of PLOP
5. PLOP reduction factor based on age at retirement (from PLOP cost factor table) $6.97
6. PLOP amount divided by $1,000 $50.00
7. Monthly cost of PLOP (line 5 x line 6) $348.50
III. Calculate PLOP-adjusted benefit
8. Single Life Annuity (SLA) $3,000.00
9. Cost of PLOP from line 7 $348.50
10. PLOP-adjusted SLA (line 8 - line 9) $2,651.50
11. Plan of payment option rate — the percent of SLA used to determine a Joint and Survivor Annuity or an Annuity Certain plan of payment* 90.94%
12. PLOP-adjusted plan of payment amount (line 10 x line 11) $2,411.27

*The plan of payment option rate may be found on retirement estimates you received from STRS Ohio or by using the Service Retirement Benefit Estimate calculator.

Payment

Payment of Monthly Retirement Benefits

STRS Ohio issues retirement benefits on the first banking day of each month. Most service retirees who file a Service Retirement Application at least 30 days before their effective retirement date receive a partial monthly benefit payment on the date of their retirement.

Monthly retirement benefits are paid through direct deposit to the financial institution listed on the member’s Service Retirement Application.

Payment of Lump Sum

The PLOP payment will be paid 91 days after your retirement date or the date all necessary information is received and your retirement benefit is finalized, whichever is later. 

A PLOP payment from STRS Ohio can be processed three ways. You can have:

  1. All of the PLOP payment paid by direct rollover to a traditional individual retirement account (IRA), a Roth IRA, SEP-IRA, SIMPLE IRA, an eligible employer plan or another qualified plan to defer the immediate tax withholding and possible penalty.
  2. All of the PLOP payment paid to you through direct deposit to a named financial institution. The payment will be subject to any federal taxes, state taxes and penalties due.
  3. Some portion paid as a rollover with the remaining amount paid to you.

The PLOP payment will be electronically deposited to the same financial institution you listed to receive your monthly benefits, unless you elect to roll over the PLOP payment to a qualified plan. If you are married and elect to take a PLOP payment, spousal consent is required on your Service Retirement Application.

Items to Consider

Before considering a lump-sum payment, it is important to estimate how much it will reduce the monthly retirement benefit.

The monthly benefit reduction due to the PLOP is permanent. Future benefit changes, if applicable, will be calculated on the reduced benefit. Members should carefully consider the reduced benefit they will receive after taking the lump-sum payment to be sure they can still meet future financial obligations. Remember, the monthly benefit will be further reduced by federal and state taxes and, if applicable, health care, dental and vision premiums, and deductions for the optional retiree-funded death benefit.

Before electing a PLOP, an individual counseling session with an STRS Ohio benefits counselor is strongly recommended.

Employment After Retirement and a PLOP Payment

Employment in a public position in Ohio is restricted during the first two months following retirement. If you are employed by only one public employer at the time of retirement, you must wait two months after your date of retirement to return to public employment.

Retirees who return to public employment within two months after their retirement date must forfeit their monthly benefit for each month worked during the violation period. The amount a retiree forfeits by violating the two-month waiting period is the Single Life Annuity monthly benefit calculated before the reduction for a PLOP payment and a Joint and Survivor Annuity or Annuity Certain, if selected. The difference between the actual monthly benefit amount and the pre-PLOP Single Life Annuity benefit will be deducted from future monthly benefits.

Special Tax Provisions

Before selecting a PLOP payment, it is important to understand the tax implications of receiving a lump sum at retirement as well as the restrictions on rollovers. Under federal tax laws, lump-sum payments paid directly to you that are eligible for rollover are subject to a mandatory 20% federal tax withholding. In addition, you may be subject to a 10% penalty for early withdrawal. This penalty does not apply if you withdraw the lump sum after you reach age 59-1/2, or you have separated from service and have taken payment in or after the year in which you turned age 55. If you are age 70-1/2 or older, you may be subject to the required minimum distribution rules established by the Internal Revenue Code and will not be eligible to roll over the entire PLOP amount.

A PLOP payment is also subject to Ohio income tax for residents of the state and may be taxable in the state of residence for non-Ohio residents. Upon request, STRS Ohio will withhold Ohio income tax from your PLOP payment. STRS Ohio is unable to withhold income tax for any other state. For further information regarding special tax provisions, consult your tax advisor. STRS Ohio cannot provide tax advice.

If you elect a PLOP payment, a 1099-R form will be mailed to you in January of the year following your PLOP payment or can be accessed online via an Online Personal Account.

Sixty-day Rollover Option

If you initially choose to have a PLOP payment paid directly to you and later decide to roll it over to a qualified plan, you can do so up to 60 days after you receive the PLOP payment. You can roll over all or part of the PLOP payment to an eligible employer plan that accepts rollovers. The rollover will need to be done by you, not STRS Ohio. The portion of your payment that is rolled over will not be taxed until you take it out of the qualified plan.

You may roll over up to 100% of the eligible rollover distribution (subject to IRS required minimum distribution regulations), including an amount equal to the 20% of the taxable portion that was withheld for federal tax. If you choose to roll over 100%, you must find other funds within the 60-day period to contribute to the qualified plan to replace the 20% that was withheld. Conversely, if you roll over only the 80% of the payment that you received, you will be taxed on the 20% that was withheld for federal tax.

Purchasing Service Credit & PLOP

Many members are eligible to purchase service credit that will increase their monthly benefit. The availability of a PLOP can be a useful tool to help determine if purchasing credit is worthwhile.

Example:

Assume you are planning to retire on or before July 1, 2019, at age 60 with 31.00 years of STRS Ohio credit and a final average salary (FAS) of $50,000. Also assume you have 3.00 years of withdrawn STRS Ohio service credit which you can restore at a cost of $20,000.

Without the purchased credit, your monthly Single Life Annuity benefit (with 31.00 years of service credit) would be $2,841. The benefit is calculated by multiplying the 31.00 years of contributing service credit* by 2.2% of the FAS.

Single Life Annuity Benefit (Without the Purchased Credit)
2.2% x 31 68.2%
$50,000 x 68.2% $34,100
$34,100 ÷ 12 $2,841

With the purchase of 3.00 years of withdrawn service credit, your monthly Single Life Annuity benefit (with 34.00 years of credit) increases by $275 for a total of $3,116.

Single Life Annuity Benefit (With the Purchased Credit)
2.2% x 34 74.8%
$50,000 x 74.8% $37,400
$37,400 ÷ 12 $3,116

If you plan to purchase credit, you may wish to use a PLOP payment to replenish funds used to buy the service credit. This may be more advantageous if the increase in the monthly benefit resulting from the purchase is more than the monthly reduction to the benefit for the PLOP payment. For example, the PLOP reduction for the 60-year-old Defined Benefit Plan member (retiring July 1, 2019) is $6.97 for each $1,000 of PLOP payment. Therefore, a $20,000 PLOP payment would result in a $139.40 (20 × $6.97) monthly reduction. As noted above, the purchase of this member’s three additional years of service credit resulted in a monthly increase of $275. After taking a $20,000 PLOP payment, this member would have a net monthly increase of $135.60 ($275 – $139.40).

A member may not want to take a PLOP payment if the minimum payment is considerably larger than the cost of the service, and the monthly benefit after the PLOP payment will be lower. For example, a member may be eligible to purchase one year of service that would increase the monthly benefit by $90; however, the minimum PLOP payment may cause a $150 reduction, resulting in a net decrease of $60.

If you are purchasing service credit, all purchasable service must be certified and a cost statement issued before your retirement date. The service must be purchased within three months after your retirement date. PLOP payments will be paid 91 days after your retirement date or the date all necessary information is received and your retirement benefit is finalized, whichever is later.

Because credit must be purchased before the PLOP payment is issued, you must use funds from some other source to purchase credit and use the PLOP payment to replenish those funds. There are two ways you can use the PLOP payment to replenish funds used to purchase credit:

  1. You can roll money from an IRA, qualified plan or eligible employer plan to purchase credit and take a PLOP payment to cover the amount needed to replenish the account.
  2. You can take a PLOP payment to pay yourself back directly for any service credit purchased. You will need to request a PLOP payment amount that also covers the taxes that will be withheld on payments paid directly to you.

If you plan to purchase credit, please review the Purchasing Service Credit brochure and talk to an STRS Ohio benefits counselor for further details on purchasing service credit, certification of credit and payment options.

Members who plan to purchase credit should review the purchasing service credit section and talk to an STRS Ohio benefits counselor for further details on purchasing service credit, certification of credit and payment options.

Retirement Calculations

As an STRS Ohio member enrolled in the Defined Benefit Plan, you qualify for lifetime unreduced benefits after meeting one of the eligibility requirements indicated in the table below.

Eligibility Requirements for Unreduced Benefit
For Retirement Dates Minimum Age and Years of Service
Through 7/1/2015 Any age and 30 yrs.; or age 65 and 5 yrs.*
8/1/2015–7/1/2017 Any age and 31 yrs.; or age 65 and 5 yrs.*
8/1/2017–7/1/2019 Any age and 32 yrs.; or age 65 and 5 yrs.*
8/1/2019–7/1/2021 Any age and 33 yrs.; or age 65 and 5 yrs.*
8/1/2021–7/1/2023 Any age and 34 yrs.; or age 65 and 5 yrs.*
8/1/2023–7/1/2026 Any age and 35 yrs.; or age 65 and 5 yrs.*
On or after 8/1/2026 Age 60 and 35 yrs.; or age 65 and 5 yrs.*

If a member retires before the age and years of service requirements shown in the chart above, benefits are reduced. Eligibility requirements for lifetime actuarially reduced benefits are indicated in the table below.

Eligibility Requirements for Actuarially Reduced Benefit
For Retirement Dates Minimum Age and Years of Service
Through 7/1/2015 Age 55 and 25 yrs.; or age 60 and 5 yrs.*
8/1/2015–7/1/2017 Any age and 30 yrs.; or age 55 and 26 yrs.; or age 60 and 5 yrs.*
8/1/2017–7/1/2019 Any age and 30 yrs.; or age 55 and 27 yrs.; or age 60 and 5 yrs.*
8/1/2019–7/1/2021 Any age and 30 yrs.; or age 55 and 28 yrs.; or age 60 and 5 yrs.*
8/1/2021–7/1/2023 Any age and 30 yrs.; or age 55 and 29 yrs.; or age 60 and 5 yrs.*
On or after 8/1/2023 Any age and 30 yrs.; or age 60 and 5 yrs.*

If you leave Ohio public service and do not withdraw your STRS Ohio account, you will be eligible to receive a benefit when you meet one of the age and service requirements listed on the first chart or the chart above.

*Must have 5.00 years of qualifying service credit, which includes: earned credit with STRS Ohio, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) or School Employees Retirement System (SERS); restoration of withdrawn credit with STRS Ohio, OPERS or SERS; interrupted Ohio public service due to military service; and earned and restored credit that transfers from Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund, Highway Patrol Retirement System or Cincinnati Retirement System.

Calculations

When you retire, your benefit will be calculated using a salary-related benefit calculation, which is based on your:

  • Age at retirement,
  • Total years of service credit, and
  • Final average salary (FAS). The FAS is the average of your five highest years of Ohio public earnings.

For members who were eligible to retire on or before July 1, 2015, the benefit is calculated by multiplying the first 30 years of contributing service credit* and all noncontributing service credit (including Ohio-valued purchased credit) by 2.2% of the FAS (See "Transition Benefit" below).

With 30 years of service credit, this calculation provides 66% of your FAS.

Example: 30 x 2.2% = 66%

The 31st year of contributing service credit is multiplied by 2.5% of the FAS. An additional one-tenth of a percent is added to the calculation for every year of contributing service over 31 years (2.6% for the 32nd year, 2.7% for the 33rd year and so on).

For STRS Ohio members with 35 or more years of contributing service credit, the benefit is calculated by multiplying the first 31 years of contributing service by 2.5% of the FAS. All noncontributing service is multiplied by 2.2% of the FAS. Contributing service credit over 31 years continues to be calculated at the escalating formula noted previously until 100% of the FAS is reached. A member with 35 years of contributing service credit will receive 88.5% of the FAS.

If you retire with less than 30 years of service credit and before age 65, benefits are reduced. The reduction is based on your total years of service credit and your age at retirement.

Click here to view the shaded area of the benefit calculation table on Page 34 of the Service Retirement and Plans of Payment brochure which reflects this early retirement reduction.

For members retiring Aug. 1, 2015, and later:
The benefit is calculated by multiplying all years of service by 2.2% of a five-year FAS.

The early retirement reduction chart is reflected in the shaded areas of the benefit calculation tables, beginning on Page 36 of the Service Retirement and Plans of Payment brochure. Click here to view.

*Contributing service credit includes contributing service (for which contributions were made to STRS Ohio, OPERS or SERS at the time of employment) and withdrawn service that has been restored in one of those systems. Also included is credit purchased for public teaching in Ohio after July 1978; military service; police, fire or highway patrol service; leaves of absence pursuant to Section 3307.77, R.C.; Cincinnati Retirement System service acquired under 3307.763, R.C.; and service purchased as a result of resignation due to pregnancy.

Transition Benefit

Members who were eligible to retire on July 1, 2015, but continue working beyond that date, will receive the greater of: (a) the benefit the member would have received if he/she had retired on July 1, 2015, or (b) the benefit calculated upon retirement under the new formula, based on all service credit earned up to the date of retirement.*

Example:

  • A member eligible to retire July 1, 2015, with 35 years of contributing service credit and a three-year FAS of $70,000 would receive a monthly benefit of $5,162 (88.5% × $70,000 ÷ 12).
  • If this member had worked four more years and retired July 1, 2019, with no salary increase, 39 years of contributing service credit and a five-year FAS of $68,000, he/she would receive a monthly benefit of $4,862 (85.8% × $68,000 ÷ 12); however,
  • Since the benefit amount the member would have received on July 1, 2015, is higher, the member will receive that higher benefit of $5,162 per month.

Click here for a PDF of the Benefit Calculation Tables and Estimate Worksheets.

*The transition benefit applies to the Single Life Annuity plan of payment. If you choose a plan of payment other than the Single Life Annuity, your benefit amount may be lower than what it would have been had you retired on July 1, 2015.

Final Average Salary (FAS) Limitations

Under certain conditions, the law limits the amount of earnings used in calculating FAS for retirement purposes. Ohio retirement law requires salary limits to protect the stability of the system. The contribution rate is set, based on the assumption of a steady level of earnings growth for each individual member. When a member’s level of increase during the two highest years of earnings goes above those assumptions, the lifetime benefit for the member is not fully funded by the contributions.

If the percentage increase in compensation in the highest two years exceeds the highest percentage increase during any of the three years immediately preceding the earlier of the two highest years of earnings, the excess is not included when calculating the FAS. The limit may affect either or both of the two highest years. Compensation for a partial year may also be limited. In many cases, at least a portion of the earnings for additional duties is included in a member’s FAS, resulting in a higher FAS than if the member had not received the increase or performed the additional work.

Member contributions on any earnings not used in determining FAS are used to calculate a monthly annuity that is included in the regular pension benefit.

Examples where limitations will apply:

  • A supplemental contract or summer school was offered to all qualified teachers in your last two years of teaching and you accepted the extra duties.
  • You assumed extra duties in addition to those in your contract, which required working extra days or hours.
  • If you stop working a few days before the end of the school year or work only part of your final year, this year may also be limited in addition to the two highest years of earnings.

Your FAS will be limited in these examples if the extra earnings cause the increases in your last two years to be greater than the increases during any of the three years immediately preceding the earlier of the two highest years of earnings. While these are common reasons for FAS limitations, these are not exclusive examples.

ExceptionFAS will not be limited if you received an increase that was applied to all members employed by your employer.

Examples where limitations will not apply:

  • Teachers from a financially troubled district do not receive a raise in base contract earnings for two years due to a salary freeze. In the third year (the year following the salary freeze), the district grants an increase in base contract salary to all teachers in the district. A teacher is paid according to the new adopted salary schedules.
  • A teacher earns a master’s degree, which puts the teacher into a different category of the teacher salary schedule and causes a significant increase in salary for that year.

If the increases in the above examples are your only increases in the highest two years of earnings, the FAS limitation will not apply.

Appeals — Retired members whose accounts are affected by the FAS limitation will receive a letter outlining their FAS calculation. They will also be provided instructions for appealing the limitation.

Beneficiary Options

When you retire, you have the option to choose to provide ongoing benefits to a beneficiary through various plans of payment offered by STRS Ohio. Each plan of payment option and its beneficiary coverage are outlined below. For more information contact STRS Ohio toll-free at 888‑227‑7877.

Single Life Annuity

If you choose a Single Life Annuity plan at retirement and later marry, you may change your plan to a Joint and Survivor Annuity with your new spouse as beneficiary within the first year of your marriage. This is the only circumstance in which you may change a Single Life Annuity plan.

A copy of your marriage certificate must accompany the application to change to a Joint and Survivor Annuity. The new selection is effective on the date the application is received by STRS Ohio and the new benefit amount is paid beginning on the first of the next month.

Joint and Survivor Annuity with Reversion

If you select this choice, you may revert to the Single Life Annuity plan of payment if:

  • Your beneficiary dies before you. A copy of the death certificate must accompany the application to revert to the Single Life Annuity plan. The effective date of the new benefit amount is the first day of the month following the beneficiary’s death.
  • Your marriage to the beneficiary terminates, provided that you have written consent from your former spouse or the appropriate court documentation authorizing such a change. The new selection is effective on the latter of the date the application is received by STRS Ohio or the date of divorce. The new benefit amount is paid the first of the next month.

Also, if a Joint and Survivor Annuity with reversion is selected and a non-spouse is named at retirement and you later marry, you may reselect your spouse as the new beneficiary within the first year of your marriage.

Joint and Survivor Annuity Without Reversion

With this choice you may never revert to a Single Life Annuity payment. Neither the plan of payment nor the primary beneficiary may be changed after retirement. You maintain this plan of payment even if your beneficiary dies or your marriage to the beneficiary terminates.

Annuity Certain

If you choose the Annuity Certain plan at retirement, you cannot reselect a different plan after retirement. However, you may name a different beneficiary for the remaining years on the guaranteed period.

Benefits Calculator

The benefits calculator has been created to help you estimate your retirement benefits.

Read the instructions below or click here to go to the benefits calculator now.

  1. Complete each request-for-information field.
  2. To move from field to field, use the tab key or single click on the field box.
  3. The date of birth fields must include month, day and year in the following format:

    Month — Enter a numeric value from 1 to 12.

    Date — Enter a numeric value from 1 to 31.

    Year — Enter a four-digit numeric value (e.g., 1980).

  4. The years of service fields should be completed in the following manner:

    Contributing — Enter your number of years of contributing service at the time of your anticipated retirement.

    Noncontributing — Enter the number of years of noncontributing service credit you have purchased or will purchase prior to your retirement.

  5. Enter your projected final average salary at the time of your expected retirement. (Final average salary is the average of your five highest years of Ohio public earnings. For retirement dates July 1, 2015, and before, the FAS is the average of the member's three highest years of earnings.)
  6. Single click on the “Calculate” button. The benefits calculator will compute an estimate of projected retirement benefits. If an error message appears, follow the instructions for correcting the error.
  7. Click the “X” in the left-hand corner of the window to close the calculator.

How to Apply for Service Retirement Benefits

Defined Benefit Plan members may complete and submit their Service Retirement Application online through the Personal Account Information area. The application offers step-by-step instructions, can be completed at your own pace and provides you the opportunity to view and print a summary of your selections. It also allows you to save your progress and return later to complete and submit the application, allowing you to make changes prior to submitting. Members who submit their application online at least 30 days before their retirement date will receive their first partial benefit payment on their retirement date.

An online application can be accessed using your Online Personal Account. Log in and select “Member Information” at the top of the page. Then select “Apply for Service Retirement” under Useful Links. If you do not have an Online Personal Account, click here to register for one.

STRS Ohio recommends the following guidelines be used when applying for retirement:

Six to 12 Months Before Retirement

  • Schedule an individual conference with an STRS Ohio benefits counselor.
  • Request a recalculation of your service retirement estimate.
  • Schedule meetings with your retirement planning advisors.

Three to 12 Months Before Retirement

  • Read the Service Retirement and Plans of Payment brochure.
  • Complete and submit a Service Retirement Application.
  • Finalize plans to purchase service credit (Defined Benefit and Combined Plan members).
  • Finalize plans to complete deposits on military service (Defined Contribution Plan members).
  • Review STRS Ohio reemployment guidelines.
  • Notify your employer of your intent to retire.

For additional information, or if you have questions, contact STRS Ohio via email or toll-free at 888‑227‑7877. Please note that email submissions on this site are unsecured, so only include your name, the last four digits of your Social Security number or STRS Ohio account number with your message.

How to Apply for Disability Benefits

If you qualify for a disability benefit contact STRS Ohio toll-free at 888‑227‑7877 to have a disability application packet sent to you.

The member should apply for disability benefits in a timely manner to avoid exhausting sick leave before the application process is complete. If the member is also contributing to OPERS and/or SERS, the application must be filed with the retirement system where the member has the most service credit. Due to the number of different review processes, members should allow at least four to six months for consideration of a disability application. Listed below are the steps to follow when applying for disability benefits.

  1. Member contacts STRS Ohio to request a disability application packet, which includes the following:
    • Disability Benefit Application
    • Report by Employer
    • Attending Physician’s Report
    • Disability Benefit Application Checklist
    • Questions and Answers booklet
  2. All forms included in the packet must be completed and received by STRS Ohio before processing of your application begins. The Report by Employer should be returned to STRS Ohio by the employer with a copy of your most recent official job description. The applicant's physician is also responsible for submitting medical evidence including hospital records or test results from the last 12 months that support the disabling condition.

    For a condition to be evaluated as part of the disability application process, a current report from your treating physician (M.D. or D.O.) must be received with the application packet. The physician must certify on the report that the condition is and will continue to be disabling for at least 12 months from the date the application is received by STRS Ohio.

    Note: The member’s spouse or a person acting on the member’s behalf may also file the application. The member must complete the Authorization for Release of Retirement Account Information form and submit it to STRS Ohio before the disability application can be discussed with a family member or any other individual representing the member.

  3. Member is examined by an independent medical examiner and chosen by STRS Ohio. Most STRS Ohio examiners are located in the Columbus, Ohio, area. STRS Ohio pays the examiner’s fee, but not the member’s travel expenses.
  4. STRS Ohio’s Medical Review Board may recommend a period of medical treatment for up to six months before a recommendation is made to the State Teachers Retirement Board.
  5. The Medical Review Board evaluates the applicant’s medical records and makes a recommendation to the Retirement Board.
  6. Disability allowance:
    If the Medical Review Board recommends approval of the application, the member must stop working by the end of that month.
    Disability retirement:
    If the Medical Review Board recommends approval of the application, the member must stop working by the end of that month or at age 60, whichever is earlier. Members who apply for disability retirement benefits must stop working before age 60 even if the approval of the application is not complete.
  7. Retirement Board determines whether the application for disability benefits is approved.
  8. STRS Ohio notifies the member of the Retirement Board’s decision.
  9. If the disability application is approved, STRS Ohio requests final average salary and service credit information from the member’s employer to calculate the benefit payments. (Allow at least 90 days from the approval date to receive the first benefit payment.)
  10. If the disability application is not approved, information about the appeal process is mailed to the applicant.

For additional information about the disability process, or if you have questions, contact STRS Ohio via email or toll-free at 888‑227‑7877. Please note that email submissions on this site are unsecured, so only include your name, the last four digits of your Social Security number or STRS Ohio account number with your message.

How to Apply for Survivor Benefits

Survivor Benefit

Once members meet the eligibility requirements, valuable benefits are in place for qualified survivors. These benefits are available to survivors of STRS Ohio members who die before retiring.

There are three types of monthly benefits available to your qualified survivors. The amount payable to qualified survivors depends on specific eligibility requirements.

Dependent-Based Benefit

This benefit is payable when a member dies before service retirement. Existing members as of June 30, 2013, must have at least 1.50 years of qualifying service credit* before death. New members on or after July 1, 2013, must have at least 5.00 years of qualifying service credit* before death. The benefit is based on the final average salary and number of qualified survivors.

*Qualifying service credit includes earned credit with STRS Ohio, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) or School Employees Retirement System (SERS); restoration of withdrawn credit with STRS Ohio, OPERS or SERS; interrupted Ohio public service due to military service; and earned and restored credit that transfers from Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund, Highway Patrol Retirement System or Cincinnati Retirement System.

Service-Based Benefit

This benefit is payable when a member with 20 or more years of service credit dies before service retirement. The benefit is based on the final average salary and service credit.

Retirement-Based Benefit

This benefit is payable when a member who is eligible for retirement dies before actually retiring with STRS Ohio and there are no children who are qualified survivors. The benefit is based on the service retirement benefit calculation (age, years of service credit and final average salary) in effect at the time of the member's death.

If a member's death occurs after the benefit period of up to 27 months (for existing members) or 12 months (for new members, July 1, 2013, and after) and the member was not receiving a disability benefit, the retirement-based benefit plan is the only plan which allows monthly benefits to be paid to the member's surviving spouse or a designated financially dependent beneficiary.

If a sole qualified survivor is eligible for more than one type of benefit, this survivor may elect which benefit he or she wants to receive.

If there are one or more children who are qualified survivors, the primary beneficiary must select between the dependent-based and the service-based benefit. However, once the children no longer qualify for benefits (due to age or marital status, for example), the primary beneficiary may change to the retirement-based benefit, provided the deceased member was eligible for retirement at death.

In providing estimates, STRS Ohio will assume a qualified survivor wants to receive the benefit providing the highest monthly payment unless directed otherwise.

Applying For Survivor Benefits

If an STRS Ohio member dies before retirement, call STRS Ohio toll-free at 888‑227‑7877 and report the death. This will begin the survivor benefit application process. The amount payable to qualified survivors depends on specific eligibility requirements.

STRS Ohio will then send you the appropriate Survivor Benefit Packet based on the deceased member’s age, service credit and number of dependents.

If the deceased member was receiving a service retirement benefit that included a beneficiary, you may receive all or a portion of their service retirement benefit. Click here for information on service retirement benefits that include beneficiaries.

Click here for more information on survivor benefits.