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FAQs

IPERS’ definition of retirement means you have applied for and begun receiving IPERS retirement benefits. You must live into your first month of entitlement to receive benefits regardless of your age. To qualify for IPERS benefits you must terminate all employment with all covered employers (you do not need to stop working if you are age 70 or older) and file a properly completed application for benefits, which IPERS must approve.

If you quit working for all IPERS-covered employers, you can apply for a refund. However, you should consider your alternatives carefully, including leaving your money at IPERS or rolling over your account to another retirement plan.

You can use the IPERS benefit estimator by logging in to My Account, or call IPERS to check on current or future monthly benefits that may be available to you.

Retirement benefits may start the first month following the month in which you terminate employment with all IPERS-covered employers, provided you have filed an application and are 55 years of age or older.

Benefits may begin before age 55 if you qualify for disability benefits or if you are a Special Service Member.

If you have chosen to have your monthly retirement benefit direct deposited, IPERS pays on the last business day of each month.

Vested regular class members can start drawing monthly payments as early as age 55 (earlier if vested and receiving Social Security disability or Railroad Retirement disability payments).

You must apply for payments and terminate employment with all IPERS-covered employers, unless you are over age 70.

Regular members icon
Regular Members 

Some Special Service Members can start receiving benefits at an earlier age.

Deputy icon
Vested Members: Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs


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Protection Occupations

Before choosing a retirement date, contact IPERS and provide:

  • Your full name
  • Address
  • Telephone number
  • Member ID number
  • Birthdate
  • The birthdate of your beneficiary
  • Possible retirement date(s).

An estimate of benefits under the various payment options and an application form will be prepared and sent to you.

Learn more about the retirement process for your member class:

Regular members icon 
Regular Members (majority of IPERS members)
 

Deputy icon 
Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs


Protection icon 
Protection Occupations

All of the following types of employment count toward retirement:

  • Pre-1946 service for those who qualify under the pre-1946 provision.
  • Prior service credit based upon service between January 1, 1946, and July 4, 1953, for those who have a prior service investment.
  • Membership service credited after July 4, 1953.
  • Active service in the Armed Forces of the United States if you were in covered employment immediately before entry into the Armed Forces and return to covered employment within 12 months after your release from active duty.
  • Authorized leaves of absence not exceeding 12 months prior to July 1, 1998.
  • Additional service credits acquired through a service purchase.
  • Certain leaves under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

The Internal Revenue Service mandates that pension plans like IPERS require a bona fide retirement period. The Iowa Code mandates the length of the IPERS bona fide retirement period.

An IPERS member has a bona fide retirement if the member severs all IPERS-covered employment for the first four months of receiving retirement benefits. In addition, a member cannot work for an employer that participates in IPERS for the first month of those four months, whether or not the actual position is one that is covered by IPERS.

See the Member Handbook for exceptions to the bona fide retirement rules.

If your new employer provides IPERS benefits, your membership in IPERS continues automatically.

If your new job is not covered by IPERS, you can decide what to do with your IPERS account. You may leave your money at IPERS, roll over your money to another retirement plan or take a refund.

If you are a vested member or plan to return to work in a job covered by IPERS, it may be best to leave your money at IPERS.

Read more about the alternatives available to you and the consequences of your decision.

If you are vested, you may retire at any time without an early-retirement reduction if you qualify to retire because of disability. 

Special Service members may choose between Regular and Special disability benefits. 

More information about Understanding Your Disability Benefits, or please contact IPERS.

The Rule of 88 is when a member is age 55 or older, and the sum of the member’s age at the last birthday and years of service equals or exceeds 88.

The Rule of 62/20 is when a member is age 62 and has at least 20 years of service.

A member can reach normal retirement age by meeting either of these rules, or by reaching age 65.

A member who retires before normal retirement age has an early-retirement reduction applied to his or her benefit.

No. If you are vested, you may start collecting a retirement benefit as early as age 55 if you are no longer employed with an IPERS-covered employer.

However, if you are younger than age 65 and do not meet the Rule of 88 or the Rule of 62/20, and you are not retiring because of a disability, your monthly benefit will be reduced.

Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs may qualify to retire before age 55.

Yes, it is available when you log in to My Account. You will see an estimate of your refund amount with the application.

The application also includes IPERS’ Special Tax Notice Regarding Plan Payments. Like all IPERS publications and forms, members can request the application and the Special Tax Notice be mailed to them from IPERS for free.

If you prefer not to log in to access the form, call IPERS to request your personalized refund application.

If you have designated one person as your beneficiary, he or she may be eligible for a lifetime monthly benefit or a lump-sum payment. IPERS also has important information, Death Benefits Beneficiaries, for you to share with your beneficiary.

If you’ve named more than one person, or an estate or trust, as your beneficiary, the only payout option is a lump-sum payment. Lump-sum payments may be rolled over to avoid tax penalties. 

Note: It is important to keep your beneficiary designation updated. Check your beneficiary designation by logging into My Account.

For members who are age 65 and over, there is no IPERS earning limit. For members under age 65, the earnings limit is $30,000 or the current Social Security limit, whichever is higher. A member’s IPERS benefit will be reduced by 50 cents for each dollar the member earns over the earnings limit for the remainder of the calendar year. The earnings limit is determined annually, using the calendar year. The limitation on earnings does not apply to members who are elected to public office.

A member returning to work in an IPERS-covered job will again start contributing to IPERS and accrue service credits. However, the person cannot receive any additional benefits until the person again terminates employment and completes another bona fide retirement period.

The benefit amount is determined by a formula. The formula includes your average annual salary from the five years when you earned the most and a multiplier based on your years of service.

The multiplier for Regular members is 2% a year for the first 30 years of service and 1% a year for the next 5 years, up to a maximum of 65%.

The multiplier for Special Service members is approximately 2.7272% a year for the first 22 years and then 1.5% for years 23–30, up to a maximum of 72%.

Whether you are just starting your public service career or are thinking about retirement, IPERS has information specific to your circumstances.

You have several options for finding out more information:

  • IPERS representatives travel throughout the state meeting with members individually and presenting information in a group setting. 
  • IPERS holds several presentations at the IPERS office, hosts webinars and posts recorded webinars on various topics to this site for your convenience. 
  • Call an IPERS representative with any questions you have.
  • Contact IPERS online.

If you have not started receiving benefits yet, you can view and print a copy of your benefits statement, and see your accumulated contributions and interest, by logging into My Account.

Yes. If you later return to covered employment, you are enrolled in IPERS as a new member without credit for any service before the refund.

It is possible to restore the previous time by purchasing service once you become a vested member and are ready to retire. However, buying back service can be expensive so it is important to consider that before deciding to take a refund.

Your contributions are always yours. Your refund also will include any interest credited to your account.

If you are a vested member, you will receive a portion of your employer’s accumulated contributions based on a formula:

  • Regular Members: Divide your years of service by 30.
  • Sheriffs, Deputy Sheriffs or other Protection Occupations: Divide your years of service by 22.

Yes. Members do not begin to receive IPERS benefits automatically, even if the member meets all the qualifications to begin drawing his or her pension.
 
A member must submit a completed application, and the member decides when to do this. However, IRS laws require if a member reaches age 70½ and has terminated employment, the member must start receiving benefits.

No, not through payroll deductions. You may contribute to IPERS only if you are employed with an IPERS-covered employer in a covered position.

If you are a vested member in IPERS, you may be able to purchase service credit in IPERS when you are ready to retire. 

IPERS requires that a member terminate employment and complete a bona fide retirement period. A member’s right to draw an IPERS pension is not affected by how the member terminates employment, unless the termination is a sham.

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