STRS Ohio Employer News
Working Together During the COVID-19 Outbreak
STRS Ohio understands employers are facing many challenges due to COVID-19. We appreciate the work you do for our members and your continued efforts to fulfill STRS Ohio reporting requirements on time.
As STRS Ohio associates continue to work remotely, your employer advising team is available to help you by phone toll-free at 888‑535‑4050. You can also email us at [email protected] and your questions will be answered within 24 hours. STRS Ohio will continue to use email and our website to keep you informed of any changes resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak.
During this uncertain time, employers are finding creative and unique ways to educate Ohio students. We have found that most full-time teachers are continuing to instruct students remotely and complete their contractual duties. For these individuals, it is important for employers to contribute to STRS Ohio and calculate service credit for days worked.
We appreciate your efforts to continue payroll reporting without interruption. Please contact the Employer Reporting Department toll-free at 888‑535‑4050 if you have compensation questions regarding specific payments or situations.
If members have questions about their STRS Ohio contributions or service credit, please direct them to STRS Ohio’s Member Services Center toll-free at 888‑227‑7877.
Whether you’re working remotely or in the office, these online resources can help you complete required reports.
- ESS Instructions: You can access the complete instructions in the Publications section of the employer website or browse the instructions by section.
- Tutorials: These brief three- to six-minute videos offer step-by-step demonstrations of ESS navigation, completing required reports and accessing applications.
- Recorded Webinars Library: Watch recordings of in-depth webinars on topics such as calculating service credit using days, preparing deposit and service reports and more.
- Calculators: Calculate service credit, pickup-on-pickup contributions and current leave of absence cost with these helpful tools.
Although in-person workshops and training are on hold during the coming months, the Employer Education team will be offering many live webinars to assist you. Be sure to register for the special Coffee Break webinar on May 14 that will address issues employers are facing during the COVID-19 outbreak. View a complete calendar of upcoming webinars.
STRS Ohio is continuing to serve our members during this time and are continuing to make benefit payments as scheduled on the first banking day of the month. While face-to-face counseling meetings have been canceled for the time being, members are continuing to take part in one-on-one teleconferences to meet their needs. Also, STRS Ohio Member Education seminars are now offered as online webinars.
Our Member Services Center is available and is currently taking about 1,000 calls per day. In addition, benefit applications continue to be processed, with online forms being the best option. If members have questions, they should call STRS Ohio toll-free at 888‑227‑7877.
Electronic Payments Are Preferred
Employers are encouraged to pay STRS Ohio contributions electronically. While STRS Ohio currently accepts checks, electronic payments will be required starting in fiscal year 2021–2022. Effective July 1, 2021, checks will no longer be accepted for member, employer and alternative retirement plan contributions. Detailed information about this change will be coming soon.
If you are currently working remotely, now may be a good time to start electronic payments. Accepted methods include ACH direct debit, ACH credit or wire transfer.
You can set up ACH direct debit through ESS. This is the preferred payment method. Currently, 46% of employers use direct debit in ESS to make payments. Set up entails providing your bank information and a signed authorization agreement, designating individuals authorized to make payments and waiting for the account to be approved. Approval typically takes two business days.
Once approved, you can log in to ESS to set up payments with current or future dates, as well as track the status and details of all payments. The Direct Debit Set Up tutorial and Direct Debit Payment tutorial can show you how to set up your account and make payments. A link to written instructions with screen shots is also available under each video.
Although direct debit in ESS is preferred, you can also set up ACH credit or wire transfer through your bank. Please review Payment Options for additional information.
Annual Financial Report Available
View the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for a detailed look at STRS Ohio’s investment activities, plus financial, actuarial and statistical information for fiscal year 2019 (July 1, 2018–June 30, 2019). You can also call STRS Ohio’s Member Services Center toll-free at 888‑227‑7877 to request a copy.
Administrative Code Rules Updated
The following Administrative Code Rules have been amended during the past 12 months. You can view all Administrative Code Rules in the Publications section of the employer website.
Generally Applicable Rules
- 3307-1-03 Release of names, addresses and account information
- 3307-8-01 Payments of benefits
Defined Benefit Rules
- 3307:1-1-01 Definitions
- 3307:1-2-01 Service Credit
- 3307:1-3-01 Interest rate and cost calculation for restoration and purchased service
- 3307:1-3-02 Purchase of service credit
- 3307:1-3-03 Determination of purchasable service credit under sections 3307.70 and 3307.74 of the Revised Code
- 3307:1-3-04 Military service credit
- 3307:1-3-05 Non-paid professional leaves approved by the retirement board
- 3307:1-3-06 Contributions during non-teaching periods
- 3307:1-3-07 Other Ohio public service
- 3307:1-3-08 Establishment of service credit for leaves of absences and resignations due to pregnancy or adoption
- 3307:1-3-09 Purchase of credit for service as a school board member
- 3307:1-3-11 Payroll deductions for purchase and restoration of service credit
- 3307:1-3-13 Determination of cost for service credit purchased under section 3307.70 of the Revised Code
- 3307:1-4-01 Compensation includible in the determination of final average salary
- 3307:1-5-01 Selection and reselection of plan of payment for retirees on or before September 1, 1989
- 3307:1-5-02 Selection and reselection of plan of payment for retirees on or after October 1, 1989
- 3307:1-5-03 Court orders
- 3307:1-5-04 Amounts due and unpaid at death of benefit recipient
- 3307:1-5-05 Early retirement reduction factors
- 3307:1-7-01 Disability benefits — definitions
- 3307:1-7-04 Disability benefits — treatment
- 3307:1-7-07 Disability benefits — earnings and employment statements
- 3307:1-12-02 Maximum permissible benefits
- 3307:1-13-01 Reemployment restrictions applicable to retirants
Defined Contribution Program
- 3307:2-1-01 Definitions
- 3307:2-2-01 Establishment of defined contribution program, including a defined contribution plan and combined plan
- 3307:2-2-02 Rescinded
- 3307:2-2-03 Rescinded
- 3307:2-3-01 Initial election by new members
- 3307:2-3-02 Rescinded
- 3307:2-3-03 Rescinded
- 3307:2-4-01 Rescinded
- 3307:2-4-02 Military service
- 3307:2-4-03 Combined plan participant leaves of absence
- 3307:2-5-01 Distributions
- 3307:2-5-02 Distributions from defined contribution plan
- 3307-2-5-03 Distributions from the combined plan
- 3307:2-5-06 Rescinded
- 3307:2-5-07 Rescinded
- 3307:2-5-08 Rescinded
- 3307:2-5-09 Plans of payment for monthly benefit
- 3307:2-5-10 Rescinded
- 3307:2-6-01 Combined plan disability benefits
- 3307:2-6-02 Combined plan survivor benefits
- 3307:2-6-03 Rescinded
- 3307:2-7-01 Rescinded
- 3307:2-7-02 Rescinded
- 3307:2-7-03 Rescinded
Annual Reporting Deadline Is Aug. 7; No New Requirements
Annual reporting season is about to begin. This year, your annual report is due to STRS Ohio by Friday, Aug. 7. All employers must submit this electronic report that lists all member contributions on compensation earned by STRS Ohio active members and reemployed retirees during the fiscal year (July 1, 2019–June 30, 2020), as well as service credit earned by active members. No extensions will be granted to the deadline, so please plan to have staff available to complete the report or coordinate its submission to STRS Ohio.
Instructions and other resources to assist you with the annual reporting process will be available on our website on June 1. We are also offering these live webinars in June: Calculating Service Credit Using Days and Annual Reporting Overview and Troubleshooting. You will receive an email when registration begins. Recorded versions of these programs will be posted on our website if you are unable to attend a live session.
Like past years, you can submit your annual report using ESS or secure file upload. Use only one method to submit your report. If you would like to change the method, please contact your annual reporting representative before submitting your report. If you use ESS, your report will be available on July 1.
Keep in mind, you may be asked to verify service credit and/or accrued contributions for members after your annual report has been processed. If verification is required, you will be notified when service credit verification and accrued verification reports are available for completion in ESS. Please watch the online tutorials showing you how to complete these reports.
Thank you for your efforts to complete the required annual reporting processes on time. This information is necessary to update member accounts and prepare actuarial information. If you have questions about annual reporting, please contact your employer advisor.
Retirement Reporting Season Is Here
Retirement reporting is in full swing as the school year comes to an end. When completing deposit and service reports, please remember the report is designed to cover a variety of retiring members (full-time, part-time, and 260-day employees). Each line may not be used for every type of employee, so be sure to check each line for accuracy.
We commonly receive questions about the notification process and when employers will receive retirement reports. Reports are required for service retirement and disability benefit applicants, as well as deceased members eligible for survivor benefits. Notifications are sent via email to your school’s retirement reporting contact on file with STRS Ohio. Each notification is sent separately and the timing varies depending on the report type.
- Service retirement — Notices are sent 60 days prior to the retirement effective date if STRS Ohio has received the member’s application for retirement.
- Disability benefits — Notices are sent once the STRS Ohio medical examiner recommends that disability benefits be granted.
- Survivor benefits — Notices are sent once STRS Ohio is notified of a member’s death. The report should be completed as soon as possible.
We also receive questions about the different types of pickup plans and whether to complete Line 5 of the report that asks for a percentage of pickup included in compensation for retirement purposes. You should complete Line 5 only if the employee has fringe benefit included in compensation (pickup-on-pickup). This is not offered to the majority of employees and will commonly remain blank for full-time teachers and part-time employees.
In addition, most employers withhold employee contributions on a pretax basis. On Line 8 of the deposit and service report, pretax contributions are referred to as picked up (tax-deferred). If employee contributions are pretax, you should complete Line 8 and leave Line 7 for regular (after-tax) contributions blank. See line-by-line instructions for completing a deposit and service report.
Additional resources to assist you include:
- Instructions for completing a request for additional information
- Retirement reporting checklist for full-time or part-time employees
- Retirement reporting checklist for 260-day employees
- Recorded webinar on preparing deposit and service reports
If you have any questions, please contact your retirement reporting representative toll-free at 888‑535‑4050.
Have You Sent Your Salary Schedules?
If you haven’t already done so, please submit your salary schedules for the 2019–2020 and 2020–2021 fiscal years. This information is necessary for STRS Ohio to accurately determine retirement benefits, specifically if a member’s final average salary is limited by Ohio law.
When processing retirement reports, STRS Ohio may need to contact you to collect any unreported salary schedules. Depending on the fiscal year in need, this information may be difficult for you to locate. Providing salary schedules now will ensure we have the necessary information to process future retirements.
If teacher salary schedules are not used, please provide the average salary increase applicable to all STRS Ohio contributing members for each of the requested fiscal years. If your school was on a salary freeze, please notify STRS Ohio that the salary schedule was frozen for the appropriate fiscal year.
Verify Social Security Numbers for New Hires
Incorrect Social Security numbers are a common issue that continues to grow. When completing a new hire or reemployed retiree notification in ESS, please take a moment to verify the Social Security number you provide matches the employee’s Social Security number in your payroll system.
When you submit a payroll report, it sends contributions under the Social Security number in your payroll system. Frequently, due to a typo, the number provided in a new hire or reemployed retiree notification differs from the number in your payroll system. This causes two accounts to be created for the member.
If an employee is included in a payroll report but STRS Ohio has not received a new hire or reemployed retiree notification, STRS Ohio will send you a delinquent notifications report requesting information about the new employee. The report will list the last four digits of the employee’s Social Security number, employee’s name, first pay date and type of notification requested. If you have already submitted a notification for an employee listed, please check the Social Security number. If it needs to be corrected, contact the Employer Reporting Department so we can update the member’s account.
Pay Date Calendars Due June 5
Each spring, STRS Ohio asks employers to send their pay dates for the upcoming fiscal year. Pay date calendars, which are due by June 5, must be submitted in ESS. You can access your calendar by logging in to ESS and clicking on "Pay Date Calendar" in the Additional Tools menu or Outstanding Reports section. See instructions for completing your pay date calendar.
Compensation Limits Set for 2020–2021
Each year the Internal Revenue Service places limits on the amount of compensation on which contributions can be remitted for STRS Ohio members. Any payment to a member that exceeds the compensation limit is excluded from compensation for retirement purposes. The 2020–2021 compensation limits for Defined Benefit and Combined Plan members are:
- $285,000 for new members on or after July 1, 1996, and
- $425,000 for members before July 1, 1996.
The IRS has not yet released 2020–2021 limits for Defined Contribution Plan members. (The current amount is $242,244.) View a complete list of annual compensation limits.
Compensation limits are presented for your information only. STRS Ohio does not require you to track the retirement plans your employees participate in. We will monitor contributions and compensation for each STRS Ohio member and notify you if contributions reported are within $2,500 of the limit or exceed the maximum contributions allowed by the IRS. If limits are exceeded, we will refund excess contributions and ask you to stop submitting contributions for affected members through the end of the fiscal year.
Upcoming Education Opportunities
STRS Ohio will be offering an assortment of live webinars to help you meet STRS Ohio reporting requirements. You will receive an email from STRS Ohio when registration for each webinar is available. More information is also available in the Calendar of Events on the employer website. In addition to live webinars, be sure to check out our collection of ESS tutorials and recorded webinars for additional training.
Upcoming live webinars include:
- Special Coffee Break — May 14
- Calculating Service Credit Using Days — June 3
- Annual Reporting Overview and Troubleshooting — June 9 & 17
- Annual Reporting for ESS Users — June 25
- Quarterly Coffee Break — June 30
- Employer Basics 101: Membership — Aug. 14
- Employer Basics 101: Compensation and Payroll Reporting — Aug. 19
- Understanding Employer Pickup — Sept. 11
- Employer Basics 101: Leaves of Absence and Purchasing Service Credit — Sept. 24
- Quarterly Coffee Break — Sept. 30
- Account Adjustments and Backpostings — Oct. 9
Special Coffee Break webinar to address issues employers are facing during the COVID-19 outbreak
Registration begins for:
- Calculating Service Credit Using Days webinar
- Annual Reporting Overview and Troubleshooting webinar
Annual reporting resources are available on the employer website
Calculating Service Credit Using Days webinar
Pay date calendars are due
June 9 & 17
Annual Reporting Overview and Troubleshooting webinar
Registration begins for Annual Reporting for ESS Users webinar
Registration begins for quarterly Coffee Break webinar
Annual Reporting for ESS Users webinar
Quarterly Coffee Break webinar
- 2020–2021 fiscal year begins
- Annual reports are available in ESS
Registration begins for:
- Employer Basics 101: Membership webinar
- Employer Basics 101: Compensation and Payroll Reporting webinar
Annual reports are due
Employer Basics 101: Membership webinar
Employer Basics 101: Compensation and Payroll Reporting webinar
Registration begins for:
- Understanding Employer Pickup webinar
- Employer Basics 101: Leaves of Absence and Purchasing Service Credit webinar
Understanding Employer Pickup webinar
Registration begins for quarterly Coffee Break webinar
Employer Basics 101: Leaves of Absence and Purchasing Service Credit webinar
Registration begins for Account Adjustments and Backpostings webinar
Quarterly Coffee Break webinar
Account Adjustments and Backpostings webinar