One of the greatest misconceptions when it comes to your LAGERS benefit is that in order to be eligible for a monthly benefit, you must stay with your employer until you retire. The truth is, your benefit is more portable than you may think, and regardless of whether you plan to be a career-long local government employee in Missouri, or if you have plans to move on in the future, you have lots of different options when it comes to taking your LAGERS benefit with you!
I’m planning to move from one LAGERS employer to another
If you are planning on moving directly from one LAGERS employer to another, there’s not much you need to do when it comes to your LAGERS benefit. Your new employer will simply complete a new enrollment for you, which will create a separate LAGERS account, and you will continue to accrue service toward your future monthly benefit. Just keep in mind that while your service will continue to accrue, your final benefit will be separated by employer and calculated at each employer’s respective benefit elections.
I’m leaving the LAGERS system, but may come back in the future.
If you are leaving the LAGERS system, but plan to return in the future, you can simply leave your LAGERS benefit untouched and when you reemploy in the future, you will simply pick back up where you left off. If you are not vested when you terminate the first time, just make sure that you reemploy within ten years to preserve your past service. If you elect to take a refund or payout when you terminate, you are forfeiting that service in the future and if you do reemploy, you will begin again with zero service.
While you are between LAGERS employers, you can participate in whatever retirement plan your employer offers and it can work in tandem with LAGERS upon retirement. If your employer does not offer a retirement plan, and they are a public employer in the state of Missouri, you can actually purchase that time towards your LAGERS benefit if you reemploy with the LAGERS system in the future!
I’m leaving the LAGERS system, and don’t plan to ever work for another LAGERS employer.
While some public workers will remain in public service in Missouri for their entire careers, others choose at some point to move on, whether it be out of state or simply out of the public sector. When this happens, there are several options when it comes to an accrued LAGERS benefit. If you have less than five years of service in LAGERS when you leave, you can take your member contributions (if you have any), plus interest, with you by applying for a refund. If you were vested when you left, but have less than ten years of LAGERS service and you are more than 10 years from your normal retirement age, you can also apply for a lump sum payout of your benefit. You can roll this payment into any new retirement plan at your new employer or you can simply take the payment directly. This is a great option for members who have smaller benefit accruals in LAGERS and wish to completely transfer their benefit into a new plan. You also have the options to simply let your LAGERS benefit sit with LAGERS and begin your monthly benefit at retirement age in addition to any other retirement benefits you earn at future employers.
If you ever do leave employment with your LAGERS employer, just remember that there are many options that provide flexibility in how you choose to take your LAGERS benefit with you. If you have any questions about your options, please do not hesitate to give our office a call.