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New and Prospective Members

What New Members Should Know

As a new or prospective member of the ASRS, we know you may have some questions about the ASRS, why you're contributing part of your salary to be a member and, most importantly, what's in it for you. We've got answers - read on for answers to the most commonly asked questions from our new members:

What is the ASRS? Is it like a 401(k)?

The ASRS is a defined benefit plan and is tax qualified under section 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code. It provides for a lifelong benefit based on years of service earned, or worked, and your ending salary. It is not the same structure as a 401(k) or other defined contribution plans, which provide for a benefit based upon dollars contributed, plus interest earned.

What kind of benefits will I receive for my contribution? How much will my monthly retirement benefit be?

Your contribution every pay period helps fund the three core benefit plans administered by the ASRS:
  • Defined Benefit Plan: Provides a monthly retirement benefit to a member who has reached retirement eligibility criteria, terminated employment and applied for retirement benefits. At retirement, members have 7 different payment options to choose from, including a straight life annuity that guarantees monthly payments only for the lifetime of the member, or term certain and joint and survivor annuities that will continue to make monthly payments to a beneficiary in the event of the member’s death. The amount of your monthly benefit is calculated based on your age, your years of service, your salary at retirement, and the retirement option chosen. To learn more, visit our basic benefit calculator page. In the event a member dies before reaching retirement eligibility criteria, the defined benefit plan will pay a lump sum or annuity to the member’s beneficiary(ies).

    Retirement

  • Retiree Health Benefit Supplement (also called Premium Benefit Supplement): Provides health insurance coverage for retirees and a monthly health insurance premium benefit to offset the cost of retiree health insurance.

    Healthcare

  • Long Term Disability (LTD): Provides a monthly disability benefit to partially replace income lost as a result of disability.

    Long Term Disability

To learn more about these benefits, visit our MEMBERS page. To see personalized estimates of your retirement, survivor, refund and disability benefits, log in to the secure ASRS website.

myASRS Login

How much do I have to contribute? How much will my employer contribute? How is the contribution rate determined?

Your paycheck will have two deductions: One contribution for retirement (which includes the health benefit supplement), and one for long term disability. Retirement contributions are pre-tax deductions, and the long term disability contributions are after-tax deductions. To see the current contribution rate, click here.

Contribution Rates

Your employer will make a contribution to the ASRS in an amount equal to your contribution. In other words, you and your employer will each pay 50% of the total cost of the benefit.

The contribution rate is calculated by an independent actuary at the end of each fiscal year (June 30) based on the amount of investment assets the ASRS has on hand to pay benefits, liabilities associated with the benefits members have accrued to date, projected investment returns, and projected future liabilities. Each year, usually in November, the actuary presents the recommended contribution rate to the Board for review and acceptance. Once approved, the new rate becomes effective in July of the following year (for example: Contribution rates calculated based on the June 30, 2013 actuarial valuation were presented to the Board in November 2013 and become effective on July 1, 2014).

Is my benefit safe? Can my benefits be reduced?

Your benefit is protected by Article 29 of the Arizona Constitution, which states that:
  • Public retirement systems shall be funded with contributions and investment earnings using actuarial methods and assumptions that are consistent with generally accepted actuarial standards.
  • The assets of public retirement systems, including investment earnings and contributions, are separate and independent trust funds and shall be invested, administered and distributed as determined by law solely in the interests of the members and beneficiaries of the public retirement systems.
  • Membership in a public retirement system is a contractual relationship that is subject to article II, section 25, and public retirement system benefits shall not be diminished or impaired.

Your retirement benefit is a lifetime benefit. It cannot be outlived or reduced. Protections are also in place to ensure that members and employers make payments in an amount to sufficiently fund benefits.

Will I get a benefit increase, such as a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) after I retire?

There is no provision within the ASRS defined benefit plan to provide retirees with guaranteed benefit increases to offset inflation after retirement. To learn more about benefit increases after retirement, click here.

Permanent Benefit Increase

It is important for every new member to know that the ASRS was designed to be one of three forms of retirement savings for its members, with social security and personal savings making up the other two forms of savings. Many employers offer supplemental retirement savings programs to help employees save for retirement. The ASRS also offers its employers supplemental retirement savings programs that they can participate in and offer to their employees. To learn more about supplemental retirement savings, click here.

Supplement Your Retirement

When am I vested? What is the vesting schedule?

The ASRS benefit programs do not have a “vesting” schedule. However, members must meet certain eligibility requirements before receiving the following benefits:
  • Retirement Eligibility: Retirement eligibility is based on your age and the number of service years you have accrued with a participating ASRS employer. The ASRS allows members to retire as early as age 50; however, the amount of the retirement benefit will be reduced if the necessary age and service requirements have not been met. For a full description of retirement eligibility, please see our Retirement Eligibility page.

    Retirement Eligibility

  • Retiree Health Insurance: All members who retire with an ASRS benefit are eligible to participate in the ASRS Retiree Group Health Insurance program. Certain employers also permit retirees to remain in their employer health insurance program after retirement. For more information, visit our Healthcare page.

    Healthcare

  • Premium Benefit Supplement: To be eligible for the premium benefit supplement, members must retire with five or more years of service and be enrolled in health insurance coverage through the ASRS or a participating ASRS employer. For more information, visit our Healthcare page.

    Healthcare

  • Long Term Disability:To be eligible for long term disability benefits, members must be actively contributing at the onset of disability. To learn more, visit our Disability page.

    Long Term Disability

  • Service Purchase: To purchase service, members must be actively contributing and have service that qualifies for purchase. To learn more, visit our Service Purchase page.

    Service Purchase

What happens to my account if I leave my job?

If you are leaving your current job for employment with another participating ASRS employer, your contributions and service accrual will automatically pick up where you left off.

If you leave your current job and will no longer be employed by an ASRS employer, you can

  • Check to see if you are eligible for a monthly retirement benefit.
  • Leave your funds on account until you become eligible to retire.
  • Withdraw (refund) your contributions, forfeiting all rights to current and future ASRS benefits

myASRS Login

Can I take a loan from my ASRS account?

No. There are no benefit provisions that would allow members to borrow from their ASRS account.

Can I buy back service that I previously refunded (forfeited)? Can I buy more service?

The ASRS does provide active members with an opportunity to increase their benefit by purchasing certain types of governmental service, including previously forfeited ASRS service. To learn more about the types of service that can be purchased, the cost to purchase, and the methods of payment accepted, please visit our Service Purchase page.

Service Purchase

How do I find out about my ASRS account? Will I get an account statement?

The ASRS secure website has all the information you will need throughout your career to stay informed and plan for retirement. Within the secure website, you can:
  • View your account balance
  • View, save, or print an account statement containing a summary of your account information as of the most recent contribution received
  • View or change your address, beneficiary, and contact information
  • Initiate a request to purchase service
  • Apply for retirement or for a refund of your account balance
  • View retirement benefit estimates that are customized to you, and can also be customized by you
  • View estimates of your refund, survivor benefit, and disability benefits
  • Enroll in an in-person or online group counseling session
  • Send a secure email to an ASRS benefit advisor

myASRS Login

What New Members Should Do

GET REGISTERED

When you were hired, your employer should have given you an Enrollment Code to use in completing your online enrollment. If you have never enrolled and haven’t received your Enrollment Code, please contact your employer’s human resources division. If you have your Enrollment Code and are ready to enroll, click on the button below.

Enroll Online

CREATE YOUR SECURE myASRS ACCOUNT

If you are enrolled, but never registered for secure access, now is the time. Behind your login, you will see what the ASRS has on account for you, how we think we can contact you and who we think are your beneficiaries in case we need them. Log in now.

myASRS Login Why Register?

LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR BENEFITS

Wondering what your contributions are going toward? Join one member on his journey to learn the true value of his ASRS membership:

 

To learn more about your ASRS benefits in an educational setting, including an interactive map and series of videos, we encourage you to visit our Member Education Page for new members.

Route 1: Your Journey Begins
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