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    Plan 3 Overview

    Plan 3 is composed of two separate retirement benefit components: defined contribution and defined benefit. This hybrid structure allows for more flexibility in retirement planning.

    The defined benefit component is employer financed and- once you meet service credit requirements- provides for a lifetime monthly benefit at age 65, an unreduced lifetime benefit at age 62**or a reduced lifetime monthly benefit as early as age 55. The amount of the benefit is based on your years of service credit and your average final compensation. See the Plan 3 Member Handbook for additional details regarding the defined benefit component.

    The defined contribution component is member financed and provides a tax-deferred investment program that you may access any time after you separate from covered employment. The amount of retirement income generated by the defined contribution component depends on how much you contribute and the investment performance. You choose how much you contribute, where your contributions are invested, and how and when you take payment.

    The Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) Plan 3, created by the Washington State Legislature in 1995, became effective on July 1, 1996. Anyone who became a TRS member between July 1, 1996 and July 1, 2007, automatically became a TRS Plan 3 member. Anyone first hired on or after July 1, 2007 has 90 days to choose between Plan 2 and Plan 3.*

    The School Employees’ Retirement System (SERS), created by the Washington State Legislature in 1998, became effective on September 1, 2000. SERS membership includes all eligible classified employees of school districts and Educational Service Districts.

    The Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) Plan 3 was created by the Washington State Legislature in March 2000 and became effective March 1, 2002, for state agencies and higher education institutions;* and September 1, 2002, for local governments and municipalities.

    * Effective July 1, 2011: New employees of a higher education institution must contact their employers to find out if they're eligible to participate in a Higher Education Retirement Plan (HERP). If they are, they have 30 days from their hire date to choose a HERP or PERS Plan 3. If they do not make a decision within 30 days, they will default to a HERP.

    ** This early retirement benefit is effective September 1, 2008. If a court of law decides the repeal of gain sharing is invalid, the reductions for early retirement that were in place before passage of the new law will apply.

    Changing Employers or School Districts?

    Plan 3 members who change employers or school districts have 90 days to select a new contribution rate and investment program. Getting to Know Plan 3 seminars offer great information for helping you make those decisions.