State Optional Retirement Program (ORP)
If you were hired after June 30, 2003, and are otherwise eligible for SCRS membership, you may elect membership in the State Optional Retirement Program (ORP) in lieu of SCRS membership. Election of State ORP membership must be made within 30 days of your date of hire. The ORP is a defined contribution plan offered through the following vendors: MetLife, Tiaa, Valic and Mass Mutual. In the ORP, the University contributes an appropriate amount (as defined by the State, currently 5 percent) to each employee's account. Employees contribute a percentage of their salary as mandated by State Legislature on a pre-tax basis. With this plan, you are immediately vested.
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If you choose State ORP membership, an account is established in your name through the investment provider you select. Your employee contributions and a portion of the University's contributions are invested in the investment products you select from the products offered through your ORP provider. Your retirement benefit will be based on the balance in your account when you retire. You must complete a Retirement Plan Enrollment (Form 1100) electing State ORP membership. You will also need to select one of the four authorized investment providers name above. You will also need to complete a State ORP Active Group Life Beneficiary Designation (Form 1106). Completed and signed forms may be given to the University benefits administrator for submission.
Once you retire, you may choose from a variety of payout options, including single-sum withdrawals, systematic withdrawals, or a guaranteed monthly pension benefit based on your account balance at the time payments begin. State ORP also provides portability of the money in your account, which includes the contributions made by you and your employer, and the investment earnings.
To compare the SCRS Plan and the State ORP plan, the South Carolina Retirement Systems offers a computer program that estimates and compares the benefit under State ORP and SCRS using information and assumptions you provide. These estimates are intended to help you choose the plan that's right for you; they are not a prediction of actual results. Your actual benefits will vary. To use this program, visit http://www.peba.sc.gov/ and follow the links.
There is an annual open enrollment period (Jan. 1 to March 1) during which a State ORP member may change investment providers or irrevocably switch to SCRS if the member has between one and five years of State ORP service. If, as a State ORP member, you do not make the election within the allotted time, you will, be default, continue your State ORP membership and forfeit your one-time opportunity to elect SCRS membership. If you join SCRS during the allotted time, you may purchase all or a portion of your State ORP service at any time after joining SCRS. In order to obtain the cost of time to be purchased, specific forms must be completed and submitted to SCRS. These forms may be obtained through the benefits division of the Office of Human Resources at Coastal Carolina University.
For more information on the Optional Retirement Program, contact HREO or South Carolina Retirement Systems at 1-800-260-9430 or visit http://www.peba.sc.gov/sorp.html