STRS Ohio News

Upcoming Studies to Provide STRS Ohio Guidance on Funding, Return Expectations, System Operations

As STRS Ohio approaches the end of fiscal year 2021 (June 30), plans are already in the works for several important studies set to kick off in fiscal year 2022. The current year has been notable as most of STRS Ohio staff is working from home and still providing a high level of service to our members, employers and stakeholders. It has also been a strong year for investment returns. The retirement system pays about $7.4 billion in benefits and collects about $3.4 billion in contributions, so investment returns are vital to the health of the pension fund.

STRS Ohio looks forward to the guidance these audits and studies will provide what is expected to be the next nine-to-18 months. Here is a brief description of the upcoming work:

  • Asset-Liability Study — This study is conducted by STRS Ohio’s investment consultant every five years to help determine investment risk-return expectations. It will help the board choose the asset mix for the fund and will set a reasonable investment return expectation. The board’s investment and actuarial consultants have said they expect lower than normal investment returns over the next 10 years. The study will begin this fall.
  • Actuarial Experience Review — Conducted by the system’s actuarial consultant every five years, the experience review looks at all economic and demographic assumptions the system uses and compares them to the system’s actual experience over the past five years. Economic assumptions include the return on assets, inflation rate and the rate of active members’ salary increases and payroll growth. Demographic assumptions include retirements, disability inceptions, withdrawals and mortality (the number of deaths among active members and benefit recipients). This study helps the board decide the assumptions used to evaluate the funded status. Changes to the actuarial assumptions impact STRS Ohio’s funded status. This study will begin in the fall.
  • Fiduciary Audit — The Ohio Retirement Study Council (ORSC) periodically selects an independent auditor to critically review and evaluate the organizational design, structure and practices of Ohio’s five statewide public retirement systems. STRS Ohio’s audit is expected to begin later this calendar year.
  • Actuarial Audit — The ORSC also periodically selects an actuary to provide an independent review of the work of STRS Ohio’s consulting actuary (Cheiron). This audit is expected to begin later this calendar year.
  • Pension and Health Care Valuation Reports — Cheiron produces an annual report that provides a detailed look at the financial and actuarial health of the pension and health care funds at fiscal year end. Cheiron will share the results in October, including the funded ratio and funding period for each fund. The funded ratio
    is, essentially, the assets on hand in the fund versus the value of the benefits expected to be paid. The funding period is a measure of how long it will take to reach a funded ratio of 100% if all future experience matches assumptions.

STRS Ohio staff will be working closely in the months ahead with the various consultants and independent reviewers to provide the information necessary to complete these reviews. We will share results of the studies through our newsletters, website and eUPDATE email news service.

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STRS Ohio Member Services Remain Available Online

STRS Ohio continues to offer our members one-on-one retirement counseling and group education opportunities as we begin to transition back to work at our Columbus office. Members can schedule an appointment through their Online Personal Account or by calling STRS Ohio toll-free at 888‑227‑7877. In addition, a listing of webinars is available on the STRS Ohio website.

Individual appointments can be scheduled as a teleconference or videoconference using Zoom. In person appointments are not available at this time, and our Columbus office remains closed to visitors for now. STRS Ohio staff continues to provide the services that our members value. The STRS Ohio Member Services Center is fully staffed each business day and many STRS Ohio services — including applying for benefits, scheduling appointments and updating contact information — can be completed on our website through a member’s Online Personal Account. Most forms and publications are also available on the website.

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Retirement Board’s Virtual Meetings Recorded, Posted to System Website

The State Teachers Retirement Board has met virtually since its May 2020 meeting, with meetings open to the public via a link to GoToWebinar. The link is available through the Public Meeting Notice that is posted on the system’s website. STRS Ohio posts a recording of the meeting along with the meeting presentations on the Most Recent Board Meeting Materials page on our website in the Retirement Board section. The recordings are available early in the week following the board meeting to allow for closed captioning to be added.

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Correthers, Fichtenbaum, Stein Win Seats on Retirement Board

Contributing teacher member Carol Correthers was reelected to the State Teachers Retirement Board in the 2021 election that concluded on May 3. Correthers is an intervention specialist for emotionally disturbed students for Lorain City Schools. In the contest for the two retired member seats, Rudy H. Fichtenbaum was elected to his first term on the Retirement Board. He retired from Wright State University, where he was an economics professor. Robert Stein was reelected to a retiree seat on the board; however, he has resigned his position on the board and will no longer serve as a board member. STRS Ohio is reviewing the procedures for filling this vacant seat and will communicate this with membership.

The term for these seats runs from Sept. 1, 2021, to Aug. 31, 2025. Board members receive no compensation for service on the board other than reimbursement for actual, necessary expenses.

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Survey Results Continue to Reflect Positive Impressions of STRS Ohio

Member research conducted in fall 2020 show that more than nine out of 10 retirees and eight out of 10 active members have positive overall impressions of STRS Ohio. The results are based on a random sample of 302 retired members of the system and 303 active members, giving the survey results a sampling error of no more than plus/minus 5.7 percentage points. Other findings from the survey included:

  • 85% of retirees and 78% of active members agree that STRS Ohio has earned the trust and confidence of its members.
  • About eight out of 10 retirees see the amount of their contributions relative to the pension benefits they receive as an excellent or good value.
  • Most members reported positive overall impressions of the Retirement Board.
  • About 90% of active and retired members believe STRS Ohio is open and honest in its communications and believe STRS Ohio keeps them well-informed about pension- and retirement-related issues.
  • About 80% of active members indicate they are setting aside additional savings for retirement beyond their contributions to STRS Ohio.
  • About 90% of retiree households have at least one source of income in addition to their STRS Ohio pension; 76% report having at least two additional sources of income beyond their STRS Ohio pension (investments, Social Security and spouse’s pension are the most common sources cited). On average, retirees indicated STRS Ohio provides about 60% of the total household income.

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Account Statements Available Online in September

The Annual Statement of Account as of June 30, 2021, will be posted to member Online Personal Accounts in mid-September. This yearly progress report on account status can be a helpful resource in retirement planning. It includes information pertaining to account balance, years of service and projected STRS Ohio retirement benefits. Members who have provided STRS Ohio with an email address will receive an email in September when the statement is available for viewing.

STRS Ohio account details are always available in the online account area, where members can also apply for service retirement or account withdrawal, access benefit calculators, make a benefits counseling appointment and change beneficiaries. To register for an online account, click here.

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