NOTE: All optional credit must be purchased prior to retirement.

General Assembly Retirement System (GARS) members may qualify to purchase additional service credit. The cost may include employee and employer contributions plus interest. GARS will require documentation to determine eligibility and provide estimate costs. Service credit starts with the first day you become a contributing member. Your service during any fraction of a month is considered a month of service.

Tax-Deferring Optional Service Purchases

GARS members have the option of purchasing service credit through payroll deductions on a pre- or post-tax basis. Members may also make payments directly to GARS on a post-tax basis. Optional service credit purchases made on a tax-deferred basis through payroll deduction or a rollover allows members to delay taxation until retirement. The pre-tax withholding is made through an irrevocable payroll agreement with specific conditions for the total service credit amount. Once all payments have been received, the member’s account is credited for the service purchased and reflected on future benefit statements. If this method is selected, the payroll withholding cannot be terminated or changed for any reason other than termination of employment, disability or death. If the member dies before completing the irrevocable payroll agreement, partial service credit may be granted based on contributions and interest paid before the member’s date of death.

In the case of retirement, termination or absences of more than one year, the member can choose to make an after-tax lump sum payment for the balance due, or the contributed amount can be refunded with taxes withheld and reported as income in that calendar year. Any after-tax lump sum payment must be made no later than 30 days after the member has been notified by GARS of the amount due.

Rollovers

GARS members may also transfer funds from a qualified retirement to purchase permissive service credit or repay a refund. You may rollover tax-sheltered funds from a qualified retirement account or pension plan to purchase optional service credit. Members may also transfer money while still employed from their deferred compensation account (457) or tax-sheltered annuity (403(b)) to purchase service credit or repay a refund. Contact GARS to request required forms needed to process a rollover.

There are several types of optional service available for purchase. To inquire about your service and/or eligibility to establish optional service credit, please contact the General Assembly Retirement System at 217-782-8500. If it is determined that you have optional service credit available for purchase, you will be notified in writing of any amount due, and the credit that may be established.

Additional information on tax-deferring optional service purchases is available on the Tax Deferring Optional Service Purchases Fact Sheet.