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South Carolina Retirement Systems (SCRS)

The South Carolina Retirement System (SCRS) is a defined benefit plan available to all Coastal Carolina University employees. Members of the SCRS contribute a percentage of their salary on a pre-tax basis. The percentage to be contributed is set by State Legislatures and may be changed at their discretion. The University contributes an appropriate amount (as defined by the State) to fund the defined benefit plan. Members joining SCRS prior to July 1, 2012 are vested after (5) five years of earned service and eligible to file for a monthly annuity upon attaining age 60. Members joining SCRS after July 1, 2012 are vested after (8) eight years of earned service and have satisfied the Rule of  90 (age + years of service must equal 90). Benefits are defined by the retirement formula. Enrollment is required within 30 days of the hire date.

Permanent, full-time and part-time employees must join unless specifically exempted by statute. Temporary employees may choose whether to join. Membership starts with your effective date of employment. You must continue membership if you have contributions on deposit from previous employment.

Terminating Employment
If you terminate employment, you may choose to have the funds paid directly to you, roll over the funds into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), a 401(k) plan, or 401(a) eligible plan, a 403(b) plan, or a 457 plan, or leave your contributions in your retirement account. Funds left on deposit will not continue to accrue interest. If you terminate employment with at least five (5) years of earned service and leave your contributions in your account, you will be eligible to receive a reduced deferred annuity at age 60. (Applies to those individuals who joined prior to July 1, 2012.) If you joined after July 1, 2012 and terminate employment, you must have at least (8) eight years of earned service and leave your contributions in your account to be eligible for a reduced deferred annuity at age 60.

If you terminate employment, you may request a refund of your employee contributions plus interest, but you forfeit your rights to any future service retirement or disability annuity. You are not required to withdraw your contributions and interest at termination. Employer contributions are not refunded.

By law, there is a minimum 90-day waiting period from your date of termination until a refund can be made. The Retirement Systems must withhold federal taxes of 20 percent on any portion of your taxable refund not transferred directly into another qualified retirement plan. Other taxes may apply as well.

You may name as many beneficiaries and/or trustees as you wish. Multiple beneficiaries share equally in survivor annuities. You may name your estate; however, monthly payments cannot be paid to an estate. As an active member, you may name trustees or contingent beneficiaries in case of death of the primary beneficiaries. All primary beneficiaries must be deceased before any contingent beneficiaries are paid. You may change your beneficiaries at any time before retirement.

Establishing Service Credit
While you are an active member, you may establish service credit for various types of previous employment, leaves of absences, and up to five years of non-qualified service. You may purchase service credit by a lump-sum payment, an installment service purchase (after-tax, plus interest), or a tax-deferred rollover from an IRA, a 401(k) plan, a 401(a) eligible plan, a 403(b) plan, or a 457 plan.

You may purchase each type of service credit once within a fiscal year. Payment for service purchases must be remitted in full prior to your retirement date or termination.

Service Retirement
You must file an application to retire; it is not automatic. You may file your application up to six months prior to your desired effective date of retirement but no later than 90 days afterward.

Please refer to the South Carolina Retirement Program web site, http://www.peba.sc.gov/  for specific eligibility requirements, or you may contact benefits personnel in the Office of Human Resources at Coastal Carolina University.

TERI Program
Active members of the South Carolina Retirement System who are eligible for service retirement may elect to participate in the Teacher and Employee Retention Incentive (TERI) program.  TERI allows you to retire and begin accumulating your retirement annuity on a deferred basis without terminating employment. The TERI program will end effective June 30, 2018 and all participants will be required to end participation at that time.  

By participating in TERI, you will defer receipt of your retirement annuity up to five years (or until the end of the program) and is accumulated in your TERI account.  No interest is paid on annuity benefits accumulated in your TERI account. Upon termination of employment, or at the end of your TERI period, whichever is earlier, you may receive the balance of your TERI account in either a single-sum distribution payable directly to you or through a rollover into a qualified retirement plan.  Any distribution paid directly to you is subject to ordinary federal and state income taxes and may be subject to an additional 10 percent federal early withdrawal penalty. 

SCRS members who elect to TERI will no longer earn service credit, will be ineligible for disability benefits and will have no grievance rights.  In addition, employees who enter the TERI program will be required to make active member retirement contributions on earnable income for the duration of their covered employment. 

A TERI employee’s monthly retirement annuity will be calculated using the formula for regular retirees.  At the end of the TERI period, retirement contributions will be deducted on the value of up to 45 days of unused annual leave paid at termination of employment at the end of the TERI period.  The average final compensation (AFC) will be recalculated to include this annual leave payment in the average final compensation for the member’s post-TERI monthly annuity.  

TERI participants will be eligible for a group life insurance benefit equal to their one-year’s annual salary for the duration of their TERI period.

For more information related to the South Carolina Retirement Systems TERI program, go to http://www.peba.sc.gov/ .

Returning to Covered Employment
A member who retires from SCRS or PORS after January 1, 2013, and returns to covered employment after having been retired for at least 30 consecutive days may earn up to $10,000 each calendar year without affecting his retirement benefits. If a retiree continues in service after earning $10,000 from covered employment during a calendar year, his retirement benefit is discontinued during his period of employment for the remainder of the year. The earnings limitation does not apply if the member retired before January 2, 2013, was at least 62 years old (SCRS) at retirement (or 57 years old at retirement for PORS members), returns to an elected or certain appointed position, or is a teacher employed by a school district to teach in a critical academic or geographical need area. The 30-day break in service and earnings limitations do not apply to those retired under an ORP.

TERI participants are considered retired from SCRS at the beginning of the participant’s TERI program period.  Therefore, each day of TERI participation counts toward the 30 consecutive calendar days of “retirement” required before a TERI participant can return to covered employment.  Although a TERI participant may satisfy the 30-day retirement requirement through TERI participation, state and federal laws require a severance from employment before a TERI participant can receive a distribution of his or her accumulated TERI funds or draw an annuity.  In accordance with Coastal Carolina University Policies and Procedures, the minimum period of time that is required for a severance of employment between a member’s termination from employment at the end of TERI and the rehiring of the member is one work day.

Retired members (SCRS and PORS) who work for a covered employer are required by state law to contribute to the SCRS or PORS.  This includes SCRS members who participate in the Teachers and Employee Retention Incentive (TERI) program.  The University is required to pay its portion as well.

SCRS, PORS and ORP members who return to covered employment or who participate in the TERI program will be eligible for an increased group life insurance benefit similar to that provided for active members.  S.618 legislation provides that if a retired SCRS, PORS or ORP member who has returned to covered employment or is participating in the TERI program dies while employed by an employer covered by group life insurance and while making the active employee contribution, his or her beneficiary could receive a benefit equal to the dollar amount of the retiree’s annual salary. This benefit would be provided in lieu of the retired member group life insurance benefit of $2,000, $4,000 or $6,000.

Employment during any post-TERI or post-retirement appointment is at-will, and may be terminated at any time, with or without cause, at the discretion of the hiring administrator.  Post-TERI and other employees do not have faculty or staff grievance rights (as defined by the Faculty Manual or the State Employee Grievance Procedure Act) or tenure status.

For more information on retirees returning to covered employment, go to http://www.peba.sc.gov/.