TRF Member Handbook: Service Credit
- Creditable Service
- Indiana Service Credit for Vesting
- Additional or Enhancement Service Credit
- General Service Credit Rules
- Important Note About Service Credit
You will most commonly earn service credit by working in your PERF- or TRF-covered position. “Creditable service” is the amount of time that can be counted when we calculate your monthly TRF retirement benefit. Other methods may be used to earn service credit, both for free and for purchase.
If you have past service as an employee of the state or participating political subdivision in a position now covered by the retirement fund, you may receive credit for this service. You must have worked before Jan. 1, 1985 in PERF or TRF and the position must have become covered prior to Jan. 1, 1985. You'll need to submit proof of this service to us.
If you have past service in a position not covered by the retirement fund, you may receive credit for this service if the position was covered after Dec. 31, 1984 by PERF or TRF and you were employed in the position prior to Jan. 1, 1985. You would have needed to stay in that position, or another position with the same employer, at least until the position became covered. You'll need to submit proof of this service to us. For more information, see IC 5-10.2-3-1.
To be a vested member of TRF, you must have 10 years of creditable service. Only certain types of service credit may be used to count toward these 10 years, under Indiana law. You can earn service credit to meet the 10-year vesting requirement with:
- regular Indiana teaching service,
- substitute teaching,
- omitted contributions,
- approved leaves of absence,
- military service credit, and
- service in a position covered by PERF.
Regular Indiana Teaching Service
Service is “creditable” only if you are in a TRF-covered position. Here is an overview:
- You will earn one year of service credit for working 120 or more days in a fiscal year (July 1 to June 30).
- You will earn one-half year of credit for working between 60 and 119 days in a fiscal year.
- Any time worked during a work day entitles you to a full day of service credit.
- You may also earn creditable service when on jury duty, sick leave, or while receiving workers’ compensation.
- You may not earn more than one year of service credit during a fiscal year.
If you voluntarily leave a TRF-covered position, you will receive credit for your prior years of service added back to your account after you earn one-half year of service credit in a TRF- or PERF-covered position.
According to Indiana law, a substitute teacher may be a member of TRF if you:
- are certified by the Indiana State Board of Education,
- have at least an associate’s degree,
- teach at least 120 days in a fiscal year (July 1 to June 30), or at least 60 days in each of two fiscal years.
You are certified by the State Board of Education if you have a teaching license, a substitute teaching permit, a temporary teaching license, or an emergency teaching license. However, if your license expires, you are no longer qualified to be a TRF member. You will qualify for membership once you obtain a new license. If you are a substitute teacher and do not meet these criteria, no contributions for your pension will be collected.
If you are a TRF member who previously taught part-time or as a substitute, you may be qualified to have this service added to your account. Before becoming a member of TRF, your employer would not have withheld contributions. However, once you became a member, this substitute service may be actuarially purchased in order to count as creditable service. If your substitute service was after becoming a TRF member, the service would be treated as omitted contributions.
There are two ways you can claim this service:
- You can pay the 3 percent mandatory contributions on a post-tax basis.
- Your employer can pay the 3 percent mandatory contributions on a pre-tax basis. This means your employer would have to submit the missing service, wages and contributions.
Here are the steps you must take:
- Fill out the Member Information portion of State Form 41625, Verification of In-State Teaching Service.
- Send the form to your former employer. They will confirm your teaching service.
- Your employer will send the form and payment to INPRS.*
Approved Leaves of Absence
You may be able to count service during a leave of absence. INPRS will generally recognize service during eligible leaves of absence. If granted by a school corporation (employer) you can earn service credit while you are:
- on sabbatical to improve your professional skills through:
- advanced study,
- work experience,
- teacher exchange programs, or
- approved educational travel
- on disability or sick leave, as allowed by your employer’s sick leave policy. This is true only if you are not already receiving a pension benefit from TRF,
- on maternity leave,
- on adoption leave.
A leave of absence does not qualify as a bona fide separation from service.
To apply, send State Form 24315 Leave of Absence Verification to INPRS. If you are on leave for disability, pregnancy, or adoption, you are not required to return to service. While on leave, you may earn no more than one-seventh of our total years of creditable service. This is known as “The One-Seventh Rule.” The only exception to this is the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA).
Military Service Credit
Military service credit is administered in conjunction with the rights of the veterans under the Federal Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act of 1994.
If your work or training as a teacher is interrupted by service in the U.S. Armed Forces, you can qualify to pay for up to six years of service credit for your time in the military. Basically, if you were working as a teacher, you must return to an actual teaching position within 24 months after discharge from active service. If your qualified military service was after USERRA was implemented, your service is immediately added and vested. If your military service was prior to USERRA, it can only be used toward vesting. It can be used as creditable service when INPRS calculates your monthly pension benefit. You must have earned an honorable discharge from active military service.
- If you served during periods of hostility or mobilization, all of your service counts toward the six-year limit.
- If you served during other time periods, your service is subject to the one-seventh rule.” You cannot earn more than one-seventh of your total years of creditable service from military service credit.
- If approved, INPRS will calculate the contribution payment due and send a cost estimate to your employer.
You can earn creditable service if you started a four-year college teacher training before your induction and then returned to that training within 24 months after your honorable discharge. You must provide copies of transcripts of college work before your induction into active military service and/or after your honorable discharge.
You also qualify if you received a Bachelor’s degree in teacher training before your active military service. If you did not teach before joining the military, you must provide copies of your college transcripts before your active military service and/or after your honorable discharge.
Reporting Military Service
To apply for military service credit, you must complete the State Form 24315 Leave of Absence Verification.
- Enter your entire compensation from military service for the fiscal year in the “Compensation” section of the form. If your service covers more than one fiscal year, please fill out a separate form for each year.
- Your employer needs to code your leave of absence as being “USERRA service.”
You must also provide military documents that show your date of entry into active military service and the date you were honorably discharged from active military service.
NOTE: Normally, you can provide this information by sending in the Department of Defense (DD) Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty.
These documents should be mailed to:
Indiana Public Retirement System
One North Capitol, Suite 001
Indianapolis, IN 46204
If you need help locating the DD Form 214, visit the Department of Defense’s website.
For other military records, you can contact:
National Personnel Records Center
Civilian Personnel Records
1 Archives Drive
St. Louis, MO 63138
According to the Heroes Earning Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2008 (HEART), if you die while performing qualified military service, your survivor may be entitled to a survivor benefit.
You can earn service credit for work in a PERF-covered position. However, if you work in your TRF- and PERF-covered positions on the same days, you will only get credited for one day of service in either TRF or PERF.
For example: Tom serves as a school teacher during the day in a TRF-covered position. He drives a snow plow in the evenings in a PERF-covered position. Tom has accounts with both TRF and PERF. Even though he is a member of both funds, at retirement he will get one day of service credit for each of the days he worked for both PERF and TRF.
There are three other ways you can earn creditable service:
- out-of-state service credit,
- additional service credit, and
- private school service credit.
These types of service do not count for vesting purposes. They can be used when INPRS calculates your monthly pension benefit. You must already be vested to use these types of service credit.
Out-of-State Service Credit
You can earn creditable out-of-state service if you:
- taught in another state at a public school in which service is covered by a retirement fund comparable to TRF (10 years of creditable service, not including PERF or military service),
- taught military dependents on a regular and continuing basis. Service could be inside or outside of the U.S.
- were on a leave of absence from service, or
- served at a federal agency in a position comparable to teaching in Indiana.
You cannot use your out-of-state service to receive any additional benefits from another state retirement system or the federal retirement system. If you qualify for a benefit for another state or federal retirement pension, you cannot use that service to get creditable service with TRF.
NOTE to teachers who became members of TRF before July 1, 1981. You may add up to eight years of out-of-state service at no cost to you. To qualify, you must:
- be vested with TRF (10 years of creditable service, not including PERF or military service), and
- have earned your out-of-state service before July 1, 1981.
If you do not qualify for free transfer of out-of-state credit, INPRS can calculate the cost for you to purchase this type of service. We compute your cost actuarially.
NOTE: If you taught out of the country, but not to military dependents, you may be able to purchase service credit.
Here are the steps for claiming out-of-state service:
- Fill out State Form 49530, Verification of Out-of-State Teaching Service.
- Send the form to the out-of-state school where you worked.
- Your former employer (school) sends the form to the pension system in that state.
- You send a copy of your latest teaching contract to INPRS.
- The other state’s pension system verifies your service.
- INPRS sends you an estimate of the cost to buy the additional creditable service in TRF.
If you taught military dependents, you can request documentation from the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC). Per the Civilian Personnel Records Center, following is information on how to request documents from your personnel folder:
You need to send a signed request. It can be faxed or mailed to the NPRC. Turnaround time to receive your information is about 10 business days, plus mail time. Your request should include:
- a brief statement of what information is needed,
- your full name used during federal employment,
- your Social Security Number,
- your date of birth,
- the name and location of federal agency employer,
- the approximate dates of employment,
- your handwritten signature (without this the NPRC cannot process your request),
- your address or fax number, and
- your daytime telephone number.
You may fax your request to (618) 935-3014 or mail it to the following address. (You do not need to address your request to a specific person.)
National Personnel Records Center
Civilian Personnel Records
1411 Boulder Blvd
Valmeyer, IL 62295
We will also send you the IRS Section 415 Limitation form. This form allows you to find out how much service credit the Internal Revenue Service will allow you to purchase in one calendar year.
If you decide to purchase service, send the completed IRS Section 415 Limitation form and a check for the amount of your purchase to INPRS:
Indiana Public Retirement System
One North Capitol, Suite 001
Indianapolis, IN 46204
If you have at least 10 years of combined PERF and TRF service, you may purchase additional service credit. You can buy one extra year of service for each five years of service credit you earned.
Private School Service
You can buy service credit for private teaching. You must have at least one year of credited service in TRF. This service only applies to Indiana schools. The private school where you taught must be accredited. Go to the Indiana Department of Education website to check if your school qualifies.
There are a few general rules on service credit. Not all rules will apply to you. Each rule applies to only certain types of service credit.
- This rule applies to you if you earned military and leave of absence service credit.
- You may buy or earn one year of service for every six years of teaching. The amount depends on the type of leave.
- You must already have six years of teaching credit in TRF. This can include in-state, out-of-state, federal, or leave of absence service.
- By law (IC 5-10.4-4-7), you can earn service credit for leaves of absence for study, professional improvement, and temporary disability. You cannot earn more than one-seventh of the total years of service you claim for retirement.
- You can add one year of service for every five years of Indiana service.
- Indiana service can be under TRF or PERF.
Minimum of One Year
- This rule applies to you if you:
- taught out-of-state or at a private school,
- were a substitute teacher, or
- earned federal teaching credit.
- You can purchase service credit after one year of Indiana service in a covered position.
- The service credit will be added to your TRF account.
- You can purchase out-of-state, federal, and private school service.
- The service credit will be added to your TRF account after you complete 10 years of TRF service.
- The service credit may not be used toward vesting.
You may pay INPRS for service in the form of a rollover from another tax-deferred retirement plan, as defined in the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA). This “trustee-to-trustee transfer” (moving retirement assets from one managing institution or custodian directly to another) should not be for more than the cost to purchase the service. Any excess amount is deposited in a Rollover Savings Account (RSA).
Note: If you end service before you qualify to retire, INPRS will refund the price you paid for the extra service (IC 34-13-1-6). This amount will include interest. You will receive this refund if you withdraw your Annuity Savings Account (ASA). INPRS decides the amount based on the actuarial cost. If you take a refund or any funds for purchased service, you may return to a TRF-covered position. If you re-employ and want to purchase service, you will have to start over with the service purchase process.
Service in a Dual Position
You could work in a position that requires you to perform services that are covered by TRF and also not covered. By law (35 IAC 14-4-2), your employer pays your annual contribution to TRF from the part of your salary you earned for covered service.
Any service credit granted to a member must comply with the laws in effect at the time of retirement. We encourage you to request a service credit analysis about two years before you retire. This will allow the time needed to verify your service and make corrections, if needed.
After you retire, if you believe an error was made in computing your creditable service, you may request a re-examination of your benefit at any time. By law, (IC 4-21.5) you have up to six years after your first monthly pension payment to appeal a decision made during re-examination of your benefit.
Appealing Staff Determinations
You may request an administrative review (IC 4-21.5). This request would be made if our staff at INPRS has answered your questions regarding your account but you disagree with the action or determination.