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Return to Work

The Basics

Many members who are eligible for retirement benefits have an interest in continuing to work while receiving their monthly pension benefit.

To help explain the rules and walk you through the process, the ASRS has created this short, interactive eLearning on the ins and outs of returning to work and the potential impact on your pension benefit.

The four simplest ways to return to work without it affecting your pension are:

  1. Work for a non-ASRS employer.
  2. Work as a leased or temporary employee for an ASRS employer.
  3. Work directly for an ASRS employer, but for less than 20 hours per week.
  4. Work directly for an ASRS employer for 20 hours or more per week after you have reached the normal retirement threshold and at least 365 days have passed since your termination.

If you choose to return to work under any other circumstances, you can still return to work for an ASRS employer but only under very specific conditions.

In general, if an ASRS retiree returns to work for an ASRS employer and works or agrees to work 20 or more hours a week for 20 or more weeks in a fiscal year (referred at 20/20 criteria), their pension will be suspended and active membership resumed. 

If you intend to work more than 20/20, it is important to understand the rules and consequences.

For Members Who Retired at Normal Retirement

  • Before 365 consecutive days since Termination

    If you retired at normal retirement and terminated employment, you may return to work directly for an ASRS employer and continue to receive your pension benefits if you (a) work less than 20 hours per week for any length of time, or (b) work 20 hours or more a week for no more than 19 weeks in the fiscal year (the 20/20 criteria). The remaining 33 weeks in that fiscal year must be below 20 hours per week in order to retain your pension.

  • After 365 consecutive days since Termination

    After that initial 365 day period since full termination described in the prior bullet point, a retiree at normal retirement is eligible to work unlimited hours and continue to draw a pension benefit, unless the initial retirement was without terminating employment.

For Members Who Retired at Early Retirement

  • Before 365 consecutive days since Termination

    If you retired at early retirement, you must terminate employment in order to return to work for an ASRS employer in any capacity. Within the first 365 days since termination, you may return to work directly for an ASRS employer and continue to receive your pension benefits if you (a) work less than 20 hours per week for any length of time, or (b) work 20 hours or more a week for no more than 19 weeks in the fiscal year (the 20/20 criteria). The remaining 33 weeks in that fiscal year must be below 20 hours per week in order to retain your pension.

  • After 365 consecutive days since Termination

    An early retiree must wait until the later of 365 days after termination and the date on which you meet normal retirement criteria before returning to work for an ASRS employer at more than 20 hours per week for 20 or more weeks per year while concurrently retaining your monthly benefits. After both reaching normal retirement and having been terminated 365 consecutive days, a member can work an unlimited number of hours and weeks while retaining their monthly benefit.

For Members Who Did Not Terminate

Members who retire after reaching normal retirement but do not terminate employment with ALL ASRS employers must remain under the 20/20 criteria for the duration of their post-retirement employment with any ASRS employer.

Working for an ASRS Employer via a Third-Party Private Vendor or Agency

Members who retire are permitted to accept employment with any non-ASRS employer and continue to receive their monthly benefit. If however, employment is with a third-party vendor that supplies workers to an ASRS employer the ASRS employer is required to remit an Alternate Contribution Rate to the ASRS on behalf of that worker.

Working for a non-ASRS Employer

Members who retire and receive a monthly benefit may work for any non-ASRS employer without restrictions.

Compliance

It is the member’s responsibility to ensure compliance with the ASRS Return to Work rules and statutes. Failure to do so can result in suspension of benefits and repayment of unlawfully paid benefits. The ASRS has a new Working After Retirement tool in your myASRS secure pages that can assist members and retirees in this process.

Non-retired members can use the Working After Retirement tool to plan future ASRS post-retirement employment.

Retired members are required to use the Working After Retirement tool. The electronic form is required for new retirees accepting employment at an ASRS employer and for current retirees who have a change in their work status.

Log in now to use the tool.

myASRS Login

Additional Details

Returning to work with reduced hours (A.R.S. § 38-766)

Arizona law allows all retirees who have terminated employment to return to work less than 20/20 after retirement without a suspension of pension. However, a retiree’s pension will be suspended if any of the following conditions are met:
  1. Member did not reduce hours below 20/20.
  2. Member worked 20/20 prior to retirement then, after retirement but in the same fiscal year, agrees to or does work even one more 20 hour week; or
  3. Member worked some 20 or more hour weeks prior to retirement and then, after retirement but in the same fiscal year, agrees to or does work additional 20 hour weeks so that the total weeks of at least 20 hours worked before and after retirement equals or exceeds 20; or
  4. Member who meets or exceeds 20/20 in any fiscal year after retirement without having attained normal retirement AND been terminated from employment for at least 12 months.

Returning to work after 12 months (A.R.S. § 38-766.01)

The 12-month rule allows members who meet all of the following conditions to return to work full time without a suspension of pension:
  1. Member must have either retired at normal retirement age or at least reached normal retirement age prior to returning to work.
  2. A termination of employment is required.
  3. Member must wait 12 months from date of termination to return to work (not from retirement date).
  4. During the 12-month wait the member cannot meet 20/20 criteria for active membership:
    • If the member has already worked one or more weeks of 20 or more hours in the fiscal year before retirement, those weeks will count toward the 20/20 criteria.
    • Member cannot work any 20 or more hour weeks in the same fiscal year after termination if already worked 20/20 before termination of employment.
  5. Member cannot take an ongoing 20 or more hour per week job that starts before the 12 months have expired.
  6. Member must sign a statement acknowledging all these conditions, including no further ASRS contributions, no LTD eligibility and no additional service credit. The Return to Work for an ASRS Employer form may be used for this purpose. The statement or form must be signed and filed with the employer within 30 days of returning to work.
  7. Members retired from being a certified teacher must return without tenure.
  8. The decision to return to work without a suspension is irrevocable for the remainder of the employment period.

    Returning to work and participating in another state retirement plan (A.R.S. § 38-727)

    If a member terminates employment and retires the member may return to work in a 20/20 position without a suspension of pension benefits if that position satisfies all of the following:
    1. Results in a true change in position, job duties and job title from the position occupied by the member before ASRS retirement
    2. Does not require participation in the ASRS
    3. Either:
      • Requires participation in another state retirement system and the member makes those contributions unless coverage is waived by an individual eligible for the Elected Officials Retirement Plan, or
      • Permits a member to participate in another state retirement system and the member makes that election.

    Retiring without terminating employment (A.R.S. § 38-764 (I) )

    Arizona law allows a member to retire, receive a pension and continue working without first terminating employment if all the following conditions are met:
    1. Member must have reached normal retirement on or before the date of retirement.
    2. Member’s work hours must be reduced below 20/20 after retirement. If the member has already worked one or more weeks of 20 or more hours in the fiscal year before retirement, those weeks will count toward the 20/20 criteria.
    3. Member’s employer must agree to the reduced work hours.

    Violation of Return to Work Statutes

    Each Retiree Return to Work for an ASRS Employer form is evaluated by the ASRS. If you are found to be in non-compliance, the ASRS will send you and your employer a letter notifying you of the non-compliance. You then need to complete a form letting the ASRS know what action you will take. You will be required to return that form to the ASRS by the due date listed on the form. If the form is not received, the ASRS will suspend your pension and you will be responsible to repay any pension overpayment made to you.

    If You Receive a Non-Compliance Letter

    Members have the right to appeal the determination. If you think a form was completed incorrectly, the ASRS must receive a letter from your employer correcting their error along with the appeal letter.

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