State Retirement Plans - MSERS, ORP, and OBRA

Massachusetts State Employee Retirement System (MSERS)

The Massachusetts State Employees Retirement System (MSERS) is a defined benefit plan in lieu of Social Security. Membership in MSERS is mandatory for all full time employees with benefits or those working at least half-time with benefits. New employees contribute 9% of gross salary, and 11% on salary over $30,000. These employee contributions are Federal tax-deferred. 1.45% is deducted for the Medicare portion of Social Security. State employees who entered state service before April 2, 2012 are eligible for a pension upon retirement at age 55 with 10 years of creditable service.  Those who entered state service after April 2, 2012 are eligible for a pension at age 60 with 10 years of creditable service.  State employees are eligible for a pension at any age with 20 years of creditable service.

More Information

To estimate retirement benefits, go to the State Board of Retirement Calculator.
To determine your classification group, please go to M.G.L. c.32.

For further information regarding pension estimates, please call the Retirement Board at (617) 367-7770; 1-800-392-6014 (In MA Only)

Optional Retirement Program (ORP)

Professional benefitted employees have the option to contribute to an Optional Retirement Program which is administered by the Department of Higher Education. The ORP program is a defined contribution plan.

The Optional Retirement Program (ORP) is an alternative to the State Employees' Retirement System (MSERS) that provides flexible and portable pension benefits for Faculty and Professional Staff at the Commonwealth's public institutions of higher education.

To be eligible for the ORP Program:

  1. Participants must meet the minimum workload requirement:  The workload for eligibility is the standard "Chapter 32" definition: generally, 50% FTE. This is the same as the workload requirement for the State Employees' Retirement System (SERS).
  2. Participants must not be vested in SERS (fewer than ten Years of Creditable Service).

Mandatory OBRA

Certain part-time, seasonal or temporary employees of the University are required to participate in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Deferred Compensation Plan ("OBRA Plan") as an alternative to the Old Age, Survivors and Disability Income portion of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act. The OBRA Plan is permitted by the federal Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990. As an OBRA employee, you must contribute 7.5% of your gross compensation per pay period to the plan. These mandatory contributions must be invested in the income fund. You may also make additional voluntary contributions to the plan. Voluntary contributions may be invested in any of the plan's available investment options.

For information on the OBRA plan please contact your benefits office, call Great West at 877-457-1900 or visit http://www.mass-smart.com.

Tools to Help You Decide

Use the Comparison of Key Features between ORP and MSERS on the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education website.  Visit the GIC ORP Program page for more information.