Working after Retirement
According to the Retirement Code, you may not be employed by a Pennsylvania public school employer and receive a PSERS retirement benefit at the same time unless you meet certain exceptions.
If the exceptions do not apply to you when you return to work, then your monthly retirement benefit will be stopped and considered a “frozen annuity.”
You may return to Pennsylvania public school employment without the loss of your monthly benefit provided you meet one of the following criteria:
Employment Emergency or Shortage of Personnel
An employment emergency is described as an increase in workload which creates a serious impairment of service to the public. The Pennsylvania public school employer makes the initial determination that an emergency exists.
A public school employer may also hire a PSERS retiree if no other appropriate certified teachers or other personnel are available within the required subject or work area. The school employer is expected to make a “good faith” effort to secure non-retired personnel first before hiring a PSERS retiree.
Employment may continue throughout the school year so long as the emergency or shortage of personnel exists. PSERS reserves the right to review an employer’s determination that a qualifying emergency or shortage exists and that all appropriate efforts were made to hire an employee who is not a PSERS retiree.
A PSERS retiree may work for a Pennsylvania public school entity in an extracurricular position provided the employment:
- Is performed primarily outside regular instructional hours.
- Is not part of the mandated educational curriculum.
You must have a separate written contract with the school employer which must contain both:
- A waiver by you of any potential retirement benefits that could result from the post-retirement employment.
- A release of both the employer and PSERS from any liability for benefits related to the postretirement employment.
Employment in a College
The rules which permit you to return to service for one of the state’s community colleges, Penn State University, or state-owned universities differ in that benefits are not suspended if you become a member of SERS (State Employees’ Retirement System), TIAA-CREF, or another approved retirement plan.
If you decide to work for a college, you should first contact the college or its retirement plan to inquire about the minimum eligibility requirements for joining the plan. Your employment must qualify you to elect and participate in the colleges offered retirement plan within your first year of employment. If this does not happen, your retirement benefits will be stopped and you will become an active contributing member of PSERS.
If you are a multiple service retiree, you will automatically be enrolled in SERS and your PSERS benefit will be stopped.
Additional information regarding returning to public school employment or any of these exceptions may be found in the PSERS publication “PSERS Return to Service Guidelines and Clarifications" (PDF).
Employment as an Independent Contractor or Consultant
- A member may be considered a consultant or independent contractor if he or she:
- Is doing different work than they did while active.
- Is paid under a Form-1099 with a separate written contract.
- Receives no fringe benefits.
- Sets his or her own hours.
- Does not receive a performance evaluation by the district or school.
- Supplies his or her own materials.
- Has an office outside the school grounds.
- Has the ability to perform the same service for other schools or entities.
PSERS recommends that you submit the specific requests in writing and mail them to the PSERS Headquarters so we may review the details of the arrangement and offer a formal determination. These requests must be reviewed on a case by case basis, and PSERS must take all the factors into consideration before rendering a determination.
Employment at a Pennsylvania Charter School
In limited circumstances, you may be able to return to service in a non-emergency capacity for a state-approved charter school without the suspension of your retirement benefits if you qualify and enroll in an alternate retirement plan. The alternate retirement plan must be offered by the charter school.
If you are a PSERS retiree who becomes an active member again, that is, return to service in a Pennsylvania public school but the exceptions to return to service do not apply to you, the value of your annuity will be “frozen” by PSERS.
When the value of your annuity is frozen your monthly retirement benefits stop until the day you retire. You also start making contributions to your PSERS account and earning service credits for the length of this employment period.
These rules also apply if you are a multiple service retiree and begin employment covered by SERS.
More information about Frozen Annuity is found in the PSERS publication “PSERS Return to Service Guidelines and Clarifications" (PDF).