Recently, a member emailed the following question to our infobox: "What are my payout options as it relates to my retirement fund? For example . . . if I needed car repairs, could I pull some out for that?" My immediate thought was to respond with a solid "NO," but then I started thinking about situations which allow a member to receive their own contributions before reaching normal retirement age.
Though LAGERS does not allow loans against your pension or hardship withdraws, there are certain situations where you may receive your contributions before retirement. You must quit working for a LAGERS covered employer and wait a minimum of one calendar month, and then you have the option to take a refund of your accumulated employee contributions. These are the 4% contributions you made while employed if your employer was "Contributory." If your employer was "Non-Contributory," and you have never paid in 4% contributions or purchased service, then you would not qualify for this refund.
Once you take this refund, after leaving LAGERS covered employment, all your contributory service (time you worked at your employer) will be forfeited, and you will not receive a monthly benefit for this service upon retirement. The only other time you could possibly receive your contributions (without terminating from employment) is if your employer elects to refund all employees' contributions after being non-contributory for at least 2 years. As well, if you return to LAGERS covered employment at a later date within 10 years, you can redeposit your member contributions (plus accrued interest).
So, while there are some retirement accounts that allow for loans against your account or hardship withdraws, LAGERS pension is not one of them.