Please review the information about the pension plans below to see if pension benefits may have been earned during your employment. The pension plans sponsored by Gwinnett County Public Schools have various requirements for being vested in a benefit or possibly being eligible for a refund of employee contributions.
Gwinnett Retirement System (GRS)
This Gwinnett County Public Schools pension plan is provided to employees as a replacement of the Federal Social Security Retirement Plan. The School District withdrew from Social Security in 1983 and created the Gwinnett Retirement System, which has a plan document that governs benefits that could be provided, if an employee is eligible. It includes a defined benefit pension plan and a long term disability plan. All full-time teachers, administrators, clerical, custodial, school nutrition, and bus drivers are members of this plan. One key element of your eligibility for a GRS pension benefit is the date you were employed by the School District. See the general examples below.
Did your employment end before July 1, 2012?
If your full-time employment started before July 1, 2012 and at the time of your termination you have a minimum of 5 years of creditable work experience with Gwinnett County Public Schools, you may have a vested pension benefit with GRS. Please contact the GRS office to see if you qualify.
Anyone employed prior to July 1, 2012 who remains continuously employed until they reach 5 years of service will be vested in their GRS retirement benefit at the 5 year point. Any break in service after July 1, 2012 for employees in this category who have not reached 5 years of service will result in the application of the new 9 years and 9 months vesting requirement when they are rehired.
Did your employment begin on or after July 1, 2012?
If your full-time employment started on or after July 1, 2012 and at the time of your termination you have a minimum of 9 years and 9 months of creditable work experience with Gwinnett County Public Schools, you may have a vested pension benefit with GRS. Please contact the GRS office to see if you qualify.
If your full-time employment started on or after July 1, 2012 and at the time of your termination you have less than 9 years and 9 months of creditable work experience with Gwinnett County Public Schools, there is no residual pension benefit due. You are not vested with the GRS pension plan.
What if I become reemployed with GCPS?
Once you terminate your employment with GCPS, a break in service occurs when you do not return to work in the twelve-month period following the date of your termination. If you return to work within twelve months of your termination, you are credited with service for vesting purposes during your absence, but you will not be credited with any earnings or benefit accruals during the period you were not actually employed by GCPS in a GRS Plan-eligible status.
If you had reached your vesting date prior to terminating employment with GCPS and are reemployed later, all your prior service and benefits will be taken into account for calculating future retirement benefits unless five or more years of break in service had elapsed between your latest termination and reemployment. Vested employees returning to work with GCPS after five or more years break in service must complete one year of service in order for prior accrued retirement benefits to be taken into account.
If you have not reached your vesting date and terminate your GCPS employment and are reemployed after five or more years break in service, all service credit and accrued retirement benefits attributable to your service prior to the break are permanently forfeited.
The Gwinnett School District provides funding for the pension benefit. Since employees do not contribute to the GRS pension plan, they are not eligible for a refund of contributions.
The employee contribution of 1% of gross salary to the long term disability plan is an insurance type payment and is not refundable. Your contribution provides long term disability coverage while you are working with the School District.
If you have questions about the Gwinnett Retirement System, please contact our staff.
Teachers Retirement System of Georgia (TRS)
The Teachers Retirement System of Georgia membership consists of full-time Gwinnett County Public Schools employees in these positions: teachers, paraprofessionals, teacher aides, administrators/supervisors/managers, and clerical staff. This is a State of Georgia defined benefit plan.
Membership in TRS Plan Less Than 10 Years
If you are a member of the Georgia Teachers Retirement System and have less than 10 years of full-time creditable service (employment), generally no TRS pension benefit is due. You are not vested in the TRS pension plan. However, employee contributions (payroll deduction) to the TRS pension plan are refundable. If you do not plan to be re-employed in Georgia TRS in the future, a TRS Refund Form must be completed.
Before withdrawing your employee contributions, it is recommended you consult a TRS retirement counselor/advisor about future implications should you return to work in a TRS covered position in the future.
Public School Employees Retirement System(PSERS)
The Public School Employees Retirement System membership consists of full-time Gwinnett County Public Schools employees in these positions: bus driver, food service worker and custodial worker. This is a State of Georgia defined benefit plan administered by Employees' Retirement System of Georgia (ERS).
If you are a member of the Public School Employees Retirement System and have less than 10 years of full-time creditable service, no PSERS pension benefit is generally due. However, employee payroll deductions for PSERS contributions to the pension plan are refundable. If you do not plan to be re-employed in a PSERS position in the future, a PSERS Refund Request must be made by going to the PSERS website.
Before withdrawing your employee contributions, it is recommended you consult a PSERS retirement counselor/advisor about future implications should you return to work in a PSERS covered position in the future.
BENCOR Retirement Plan
The Gwinnett County School District has selected the BENCOR National Government Employees Retirement Plan to provide retirement benefits as an alternative to Social Security for employees who are not eligible to participate in other state or locally sponsored FICA alternative plans. This plan covers those employees who are in a part-time position (work less than 20 hours per week), or are hired as seasonal or temporary employees in the Gwinnett School District. This Social Security alternative retirement plan is mandatory for any Gwinnett School District employment that is less than full-time, including substitutes. This is a defined contribution plan, administered by BENCOR, Inc., and is funded entirely by employee contributions from each payment period (payroll deduction).
GCPS Retirement Savings Plans 403(b) and 457(b)
Once you leave employment with the Gwinnett School District and payroll deductions have stopped, you will need to contact your Savings Plan provider for assistance you may need. If you have been participating in a Retirement Savings Plan, and have chosen to get a refund of contributions from TRS or PSERS or BENCOR, you may be able to transfer those contributions to your Retirement Savings Plan.
Please contact the Coordinator of Retirement Savings Plans at 470-388-7036 to learn about your options regarding your 403(b) or 457(b) account.