PERA awards you one service credit for each month in which you worked and were compensated by your employer. You may also receive credit for up to three months while on a layoff status. As an example, school employees who work full time during the school year and are on layoff over the three summer months receive 12 months of service credit for the year. You are vested in PERA after 36 months of public service (60 months for members hired after June 2010). Being vested means you qualify for benefits at the minimum allowable age.
Leaves of Absence
You may also purchase service credit based upon your salary for various types of leaves if you meet the requirements described below:
Military Leave – If you are a public employee, go on a military leave and return to public service upon your discharge, you may purchase credit for any or all of your leave, up to a maximum of five years. To obtain credit, you must make your employee contribution. Your contribution will be based on the average of the last 12 months of salary before the leave. Full payment must be made within three times the length of the leave or five years, whichever is shorter. You have a minimum repayment period of one year. Employer contributions and any interest due are the obligation of the governmental agency reemploying you when you return from military service.
Authorized Leaves – You will automatically receive service credit while on a paid leave of absence of any type. The normal employee contributions are deducted from your salary and your employer makes employer contributions.
You may also purchase service credit for up to one year of employer-authorized leave, including leave under the federal Family Medical Leave Act.You must make your employee contribution, as well as your employer’s contribution. (Your employer may elect to pay the employer share for you.) Payments are based on your salary during the six months prior to the leave and must be made within one year after you return to public service or 30 days after termination of service, whichever is sooner. Interest will be charged from the date your leave ends until full payment is made. You must return to active public service for a minimum of three months to be eligible for the purchase of any subsequent authorized leave of absence.
Our pamphlet Building Service Credit With PERA has additional details, including purchasing service on an actuarial basis for leaves that no longer qualify for a contributory purchase.