What Types of Maine State Pensions are offered?
The state of Maine provides a large state-funded program to all state public employees that will assist in retirement costs. The Maine Public Employees Retirement Program known as PERS public employees are divided into classifications depending on the line of service they provide including:
State Employees– general employees’ contribution rates are 7.65% of payroll
Teachers– member contributions are 7.65% of payroll
Local District PLD– employee contributions are between 6.5% and 8.0% depending on the benefit plan chosen
Within each division, members will find specific information underlining coverage details which will vary slightly by occupation. In general each plan will provide members with the necessities for after retirement living including Retirement fiscal plans, group life insurance and disability retirement.
In general each individual program is a Defined Benefit Plan (DB) which guarantees employees a regular month benefit after retirement, as well as other benefits once vesting periods have been reached. Defined benefits are based on years of service, annual pay rate and retirement age which are plan specific. In addition, depending on the type of service performed, social security positions may affect benefit amounts.
Group Life Insurance, death and disability Benefits
PERS Group Life insurance is available to all general state employees, teachers and those in the PLD program whose employers participate. Group life insurance is available for both employees and their dependents and will be both basic and supplemental coverage. Each qualifying member will submit an application and name beneficiaries at the start of employment. Coverage rates and plans vary between the individual employments classifications.
Death benefits are also available in those plans that have coverage. In addition, disability is covered in each member plan though details will vary based on employee field of work. In general, disability coverage is for temporary cases where the employee will be allotted a benefit while on leave and still continues to receive service credit. Disability retirement is also available under specific circumstances. Survivor benefits include several options for payout that each employee will designated at the time of enrollment.
In addition, all classifications may elect to purchase additional service credit in multiple ways through out the time of employment. Purchased service credit is combined with worked service credit when determining if the employee has reached qualifying vesting time. An employee for example that has acquired 5 years service credit while working 10 years will be considered to have 15 years service credit. Each classification has several options specific to employment in which to purchase credits.
Descriptions of Divisions within PERS
While some aspects of benefit plans apply to all state employees, other information regarding benefits is employment specific. Full information brochures are available on the main website for each employment classification as well as the following general summaries:
General state employees– the member contribution is 7.65% of pre-tax payroll. Retirement benefits are available after 25 years of service credit have been reached. Benefits are available at ages 60, 62 and 65 with 5 to 10 years of service credit acquired. Vesting for state employees is as follows:
- 10 Years of service credit before October 1, 1999
- At least 5 years of service if employed after September 30, 1999
Teachers– Participation in the PERS system is mandatory from the first day of employment. Retirement benefits are available after 25 years of service has been reached. Employees may take full benefit retirement at age 60, 62 or 65 with at least 5 to 10 years of service credit. Vesting for public teachers is:
- 10 years if employment was before October 1, 1999
- At least 5 years service credit if enrolled after September 30, 1999
Qualifying PLD employees– Membership depends on employer participation. In some cases, PLD members may elect PERS coverage optionally under circumstances such as the employee already qualifying for social security benefits. Members may take retirement benefits in full with 10 years service credit if hired before October 1, 1999 beginning at age 60. Members enrolled after September 30, 1999 must have at least 5 years service credit and reach age 60 to qualify for full retirement benefits.
- If vesting periods have been reached, PLD employees may retire beginning at age 60
- 10 years service credit reached by age 60 if employed before October 1, 1999
- 5 years service credit if employed after September 30, 1999 if employee reaches age 60
- All other retirees qualify once reaching 25 years of service credit
Legislative and Judicial– For Legislative employees, retirement is aviable at age 60 with 10 years service credit, 62 years old with 5 years service credit and age 65 with less than 5 years credit. Judicial employees normal retirement age is 60 years old with at least 10 years service credit. Other Judicial retirement qualifications are:
- Normal retirement is also available at age 62 with less than 10 years service credit before July 1, 1993 or at least 5 years service credit before July 1, 2011.
- Ages 65 may retire if less than 5 years service credit was acquired before July 1, 2011
- All other retirees may take full benefit retirement after a 25 year vesting period
Cost of Living and inflation protection and what is the level for 2012, 13 and 14
COLA benefits are calculated yearly in the month of June and do not exceed 3% unless specifically requested by legislation for all covered employee plans.