Oklahoma Teachers' Retirement System (OTRS)

Oklahoma Teachers’ Retirement System (OTRS) provides a defined lifetime income to participating members who become eligible for retirement. OTRS is administered by the State of Oklahoma and Oklahoma laws establish the rules and procedures governing OTRS. Find more information by contacting OTRS.

Participation

All benefits-eligible university employees who have a .5 FTE appointment (20 hours or more per week), for six months or longer are eligible to participate. Temporary employees including adjunct faculty (unless proof is provided that the adjunct faculty is contributing to OTRS at another institution) at the Norman campus are not eligible to participate in this benefit.

  • Salaried & Hourly Employees: Participation for salaried and hourly employees hired after July 1, 2004, is optional* and there is no age requirement to participate in OTRS. Benefits-eligible salaried and hourly employees must make a one-time, non-reversible choice about participation in OTRS within 30 days of their date of hire or their date of eligibility. The selection whether or not to participate in OTRS will follow you to any institution that participates in the Oklahoma Teachers' Retirement System.
    *Most salaried employees hired before July 1, 2004, were required to participate in OTRS.
  • Sabbatical Employees: Employees on official sabbatical leave receiving at least one-half pay must submit the Half-Pay Sabbatical Deduction Agreement to their Human Resources office. This agreement indicates whether the employee wants to make OTRS contributions and earn OTRS Service Credit while on sabbatical. If contributions are made, they are based on the salary plus benefits earned as a regular full-time employee in the last preceding school year. The Half-Pay Sabbatical Deduction Agreement is required even if the employee chooses not to earn OTRS Service Credit while on sabbatical. A member cannot purchase sabbaticals taken after July 1, 1990, at a later date.

Participation and contributions begin the first of the month following Human Resources' receipt of the required forms from the employee. All employees must submit the OTRS form to HR accepting or declining participation in OTRS.

Employee Contributions

Your OTRS annual contribution is 7% of your total compensation package. Total compensation is the sum of base earnings, employer-paid insurance premiums (health, dental, life, and AD&D), and the amount the university contributes to your OU Contributory Retirement Plan, which is a 401(a) defined contribution plan.

OU-Employer Contributions

OU contributes a required monthly fee for plan support. Fees stay with OTRS. Find the current employer contribution rate on the OTRS website.

Termination Prior To Retirement

Members are vested in Oklahoma Teachers’ Retirement System when contributions are made for a set number of years determined by the time you joined. OTRS members whose contributions were received prior to November 1, 2017, will be vested after 5 full years of contributory service. OTRS members whose contributions were received after November 1, 2017, will be vested after 7 full years of contributory service. Once vested, employees may receive retirement benefits from OTRS when eligibility requirements are met.

If a member terminates employment after becoming vested, contributions can remain in OTRS until retirement benefits begin, or application can be made to withdraw all contributions four months after the last day of employment. Members who terminate employment within 16 years of membership will receive all OTRS contributions plus interest.

Retirement Eligibility

OTRS members who joined prior to July 1, 1992, can retire with full benefits from OTRS:

  • At age 62 with at least 5 years of OTRS service credit OR
  • When age plus years of OTRS service credit equal 80 or more (Rule of 80).

OTRS members who joined on or after July 1, 1992, can retire with full benefits from OTRS:

  • At age 62 with at least 5 years of OTRS service credit OR
  • When age plus years of OTRS service credit equal 90 or more (Rule of 90).

OTRS members who joined on or after November 1, 2011, can retire with full benefits from OTRS:

  • At age 65 with at least 5 years of OTRS service credit OR
  • When age plus years of OTRS service credit equal 90 or more (Rule of 90).

Members are eligible to apply for disability retirement benefits from OTRS at any age with at least 10 years of service credit. Members with at least 5 or 7 years of service credit (depending on date of first contribution received) may begin receiving a reduced retirement benefit when they reach age 55 or when they have 30 or more years of service, regardless of age.

Calculating Retirement Benefits

To receive a detailed personalized calculation of your OTRS retirement benefit, contact the Oklahoma Teachers’ Retirement System at 405-521-2387.

Service Credit

OTRS will grant one year of service credit for any fiscal year that a full-time member worked and made contributions. OTRS makes the final determination of all service credit.

OTRS will allow members to purchase up to a maximum of 5 years out-of-state service if it qualifies as membership service in Oklahoma. The members must have two years of Oklahoma service for each year of out-of-state service purchased. OTRS will allow members to purchase up to 5 years credit for military service. The member must have two years of Oklahoma service for each year of military service purchased.

Tax-Deferred Service Credit Purchases (OTRS Buy Back)

Have you ever wanted to purchase back years of benefits-eligible service credit from the Oklahoma Teachers’ Retirement System, but felt you just could not afford to? The Oklahoma Teachers’ Retirement System offers a tax-deferred installment plan for the purchase of years of service for OTRS. Perhaps you withdrew years of service in the past and would now like to make catch-up contributions for retirement. Tax-deferred installment payments will make member purchases more affordable, since the reduction in a member’s take home pay will be less than if the member made direct payments to OTRS in after-tax dollars.

If you are an active member of OTRS and interested in purchasing years of service credit, please contact OTRS at (405) 521-2387 to receive a billing statement.  Members can use tax-deferred payroll deductions to purchase OTRS service by signing an irrevocable payroll deduction authorization. This payroll deduction will remain in effect until the purchase is paid in full up to a maximum of 60 months. In the event of a member’s death, their beneficiary can pay the amount owed or be entitled to a pro-rated amount for the contributions made. If a member terminates employment with the university, they may continue payments with after-tax dollars or receive credit at retirement for the time paid.