STRS Ohio Update for Reporting Employers

STRS Ohio Employer News

Electronic Payments Required Beginning July 1

Effective July 1, 2021, STRS Ohio will no longer accept checks for member, employer and alternative retirement plan (ARP) contributions. Accepted payment methods are ACH direct debit, ACH credit or wire transfer. If a third party submits payments on your behalf, please ensure they are aware of this policy as well.

STRS Ohio’s preferred method of payment is ACH direct debit in Employer Self Service (ESS). If you are not currently using this method, the Direct Debit Setup tutorial and Direct Debit Payment tutorial can show you how to set up your account and make payments.

Please allow three business days for direct debit account authorization. Be sure to submit your setup request in advance so you can begin using direct debit by July 1.

If you prefer to submit payments through your bank using ACH credit or wire transfer, you will need to provide additional information to help us identify payments and post them to your account:

  • Include “XX” followed by your four-digit STRS Ohio employer number in one of the fields transmitted to the payee (STRS Ohio). Specific field names differ between banks, so please contact your bank to confirm which fields are visible to the payee and adjust your payment details to include this information.
  • Submit an online cash remittance to STRS Ohio to provide details about the payment.

Remember, a cash remittance is only needed for ACH credit or wire transfer payments. If you use direct debit in ESS, you do not need to submit this online form.

See the table of contents →

New Rules Affect Membership Eligibility

Recent legislation has affected STRS Ohio’s definitions of a teacher and substitute teacher. The following information explains these changes. If you have any questions, please contact your employer advisor toll-free at 888‑535‑4050.

Am. Sub. H.B. 442 — Effective April 12, 2021

Am. Sub. H.B. 442, which took effect on April 12, 2021, eliminated Ohio Department of Education (ODE) licensing requirements for several positions that required both a pupil services license from the ODE and a license from the state of Ohio in the specific area of expertise.

An ODE license is no longer required for the following positions. Instead, these professionals must obtain an ODE pupil services registration. The requirement to hold a valid license issued by the respective Ohio professional board remains unchanged.

  • Audiologists
  • Occupational therapists/occupational therapist assistants
  • Physical therapists/physical therapist assistants
  • Social workers
  • Speech-language pathologists
  • Registered nurses who hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing

The STRS Ohio definition of “teacher” has been updated to include any person who is required to have a license or registration issued pursuant to Sections 3319.22 to 3319.31 of the Revised Code. This means STRS Ohio membership will continue for the affected positions. However, there will be a change regarding nurses in schools.

Previously, only nurses who held an ODE School Nurse license in K–12 schools were members of STRS Ohio. Under the new rules, a registered nurse (RN) with a bachelor’s degree in nursing is also considered an STRS Ohio member.

  • RNs with a bachelor’s degree in nursing hired on or after April 12, 2021, should contribute to STRS Ohio upon employment.
  • RNs with a bachelor’s degree in nursing hired before April 12, 2021, should switch to STRS Ohio starting July 1, 2021.

Update: After this newsletter was published, Gov. Mike DeWine signed H.B. 6 on May 14, 2021. This bill amends H.B. 442, which took effect in April. It includes an adjustment to STRS Ohio membership eligibility for school nurses. Under the new rules, an RN is an STRS Ohio member if he or she has any bachelor’s degree, not just in nursing.

The new rules are effective May 14, 2021. RNs with a bachelor’s degree hired after this date should contribute to STRS Ohio. Existing RNs with a bachelor’s degree should switch to STRS Ohio starting July 1, 2021.

H.B. 409 — Effective Jan. 7, 2021

H.B. 409, which took effect on Jan. 7, 2021, allows the State Board of Education to issue a nonrenewable temporary substitute teaching license to an individual who does not hold a post-secondary degree. Here are key details you should know:

  • This license is valid for the 2020–2021 school year only. To qualify, the applicant must meet all other requirements and procedures contained in Section 3319.226 of the Revised Code and Administrative Code Rule 3301-23-44.
  • STRS Ohio contributions are required for temporary substitutes. Be sure to contribute to STRS Ohio for these individuals and submit any necessary new hire documentation.

You may be wondering why temporary substitutes qualify for membership. STRS Ohio membership includes any person employed with public funds in a position for which a teaching license is required. Although these licenses are temporary and nonrenewable, H.B. 409 indicates these individuals are being issued official substitute teaching licenses. Therefore, they meet STRS Ohio’s definition of a member.

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Thank You for Your Efforts!

As we look back at the past year during the pandemic, it’s clear STRS Ohio employers have been working hard. Since April 2020, employers have submitted the following reports:

  • 3,050 retirement reports,
  • 1,122 annual reports,
  • 3,651 withdrawal certifications, and
  • More than 15,500 new hire and reemployed retiree notifications.

We thank you for your extraordinary efforts. Your flexibility to adjust to new working conditions is greatly appreciated.

In addition, nearly 2,500 employer representatives have attended our live webinars and ESS training sessions. Thank you for participating in these educational opportunities.

See the table of contents →

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 2020 (July 1, 2019–June 30, 2020). You can also call STRS Ohio’s Member Services Center toll-free at 888‑227‑7877 to request a copy.

See the table of contents →

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.

  • 3307-2-01 Nomination and election of members of the retirement board
  • 3307:1-12-01 Distributions

See the table of contents →

Reporting Requirements

Annual Reports Are Due Aug. 6

Annual reporting season begins in a few weeks. This year, your annual report is due to STRS Ohio by Friday, Aug. 6. 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, 2020–June 30, 2021), as well as service credit earned by active members.

Here are important reminders as you prepare to submit your report:

  • 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.
  • You can access annual reporting instructions and other helpful resources on our website beginning June 1. We will also offer these live webinars in June to assist you: Employer Basics 101: Annual Reporting and Annual Reporting for ESS Users. You will receive an email when registration begins.
  • Use only one method to submit your report (ESS or secure file upload). If you want 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.
  • 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. View 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.

See the table of contents →

Retirement Reporting Is Booming

Retirement reporting season is in full swing. 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 benefits included in compensation (pickup-on-pickup). This is not offered to most 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 instructions for completing a deposit and service report.

Additional resources to assist you include:

If you have any questions, please contact your retirement reporting representative toll-free at 888‑535‑4050.

See the table of contents →

Have You Sent Your Salary Schedules?

If you haven’t already done so, please submit your salary schedules for the 2020–2021 and 2021–2022 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.

See the table of contents →

Pay Date Calendars Due June 4

Each spring STRS Ohio asks employers to send their pay dates for the upcoming fiscal year. Pay date calendars, which are due by June 4, 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.

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Email Addresses Required for New Hires Effective July 1

Email is the primary way STRS Ohio communicates with members, so it is important that we receive a valid email address for each STRS Ohio member.

Member email addresses are already required for new hire notifications submitted through ESS. Beginning July 1, email addresses will also be required for new hire information sent in an electronic file via secure file upload. View the record layout for new hire notifications.

STRS Ohio prefers a personal email address, but a work email address is acceptable.

For K–12 employers using an Information Technology Center (ITC) or a third party to submit new hire information, please ensure the member’s email address is included in the payroll/human resources software file from which new hire information is extracted.

See the table of contents →

Secure File Upload Is Preferred

Employers are encouraged to submit electronic files using secure file upload. You can access secure file upload from the menu banner at the top of the employer website home page.

By entering your four-digit STRS Ohio employer number and browsing for a file, you can securely send information to STRS Ohio. Uploaded files can contain any or all of the following record types:

  • Payroll report
  • Annual report
  • New hire notification
  • Reemployed retiree notification
  • PDF of SSA-1945 form for new hires
  • Prior fiscal year/backposting adjustment
  • Salary schedules
  • TPO contribution certification

Here are a few tips to ensure successful transmission of your files:

  • Use the proper record layout. View record layouts.
  • Use only one period in the file name. File names with more than one period will be rejected.
  • Ensure the PDF file is 8.5” x 11” and in portrait orientation. PDFs larger than 8.5” x 11” or in landscape orientation will not be accepted. View Adobe's instructions on how to resize PDFs.

See the table of contents →

Compensation Limits Set for 2021–2022

The Internal Revenue Service places annual 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 2021–2022 compensation limits for Defined Benefit and Combined Plan members are:

  • $290,000 for new members on or after July 1, 1996, and
  • $430,000 for members before July 1, 1996.

The IRS has not yet released 2021–2022 limits for Defined Contribution Plan members. (The current amount is $246,494.) 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.

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Employer Education

Upcoming Education Opportunities

STRS Ohio offers webinars and training sessions to help you meet STRS Ohio reporting requirements. Currently, all education opportunities are being held virtually. You will receive an email from STRS Ohio when registration is available.

A selection of upcoming webinars is listed below. View the Calendar of Events for a complete list of programs. You can also access our collection of ESS tutorials and recorded webinars for additional training.

Employer Basics 101: Calculating Service Credit Using Days

May 19, 10 a.m.

This webinar will explain the impact of correct service credit calculation and demonstrate how to use the “days method.” We will provide examples and help you locate the web resources available as you calculate service credit for active STRS Ohio members. We will also explain the service credit calculation for part-time employees. Registration began May 3.

Employer Basics 101: Account Withdrawal

May 27, 10 a.m.

Inactive STRS Ohio members and reemployed retirees may choose to withdraw their accounts. What is the employer’s responsibility when this occurs? Attend this webinar to learn the basics of STRS Ohio account withdrawal and how to complete the required forms. Registration began May 3.

Employer Basics 101: Annual Reporting

June 8 and 16, 10 a.m.

Join us to get all the information you need to prepare and submit your annual report. We will offer helpful tips to resolve issues you may encounter when your annual report doesn’t balance and discuss what to expect after your annual report has been submitted. Registration begins May 24.

Annual Reporting for ESS Users

June 23, 10 a.m.

Join us for detailed information on submitting your annual report using Employer Self Service (ESS). During this live webinar we will provide ESS tips for calculating your annual report, tools to use in ESS and processing and submitting the annual report. This webinar is designed to help those employers who process annual reports using ESS only. Registration begins June 14.

Quarterly Coffee Break

June 30, 10 a.m.

We understand your time is valuable. Attend a short webinar break to catch up on current STRS Ohio employer news. Coffee Break webinars are designed to share information you need to know when you need to know it. These 15–20 minute webinars are presented quarterly and include an opportunity for you to ask questions. Registration begins June 21.

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What’s Ahead

View a complete list of annual processes and due dates.

June 1

Annual reporting resources are available on our website.

June 4

Pay date calendars are due.

July 1

  • 2021–2022 fiscal year begins.
  • Annual reports are available in ESS.
  • Checks are no longer accepted.

Aug. 6

Annual reports are due.

Aug. 26

Service credit verification reports are due.

Sept. 29

Accrued verification reports are due.

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