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Pension Forfeiture Overview

The right of a person to receive any retirement benefit from PSERS is subject to forfeiture as provided by the Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act ("Forfeiture Act").  The law mandates that all service and benefits payable to a PSERS member be forfeited if the member is found guilty of, or enters a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to, any crime identified in the Forfeiture Act, when the crime is committed through the member's position as a public employee or official or when the member's public employment places the member in a position to commit the crime(s).

All Pennsylvania criminal offenses that are classified as felonies or punishable by a term of imprisonment exceeding five years are forfeitable offenses.   Several misdemeanor crimes also are forfeitable offenses.  By way of example, the list of forfeitable Pennsylvania crimes includes, but is not limited to: theft by unlawful taking or disposition; theft by deception; theft of services; theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received; forgery; tampering with records; bribery; perjury; misapplication of entrusted property and property of government or financial institutions; tampering with public records or information; criminal attempt, solicitation and conspiracy; murder; voluntary manslaughter; involuntary manslaughter; aggravated assault; retail theft; identity theft; corruption of minors; unlawful contact with minor; distribution of computer virus; bomb threats; and the sexual offenses listed in Chapter 31, Subchapter B of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code.

In addition, any crime set forth in Federal law or the laws of any other state is a forfeitable offense, if the crime is substantially the same as any forfeitable Pennsylvania crime. 

Upon forfeiture, a member is entitled to a return of the member's DB contributions without interest.  A member's DB contributions and interest shall be used to pay any court-ordered restitution, provided the monies have not been withdrawn by the member prior to forfeiture.   If a member is receiving a benefit, the member will owe PSERS any amounts that were paid to the member after forfeiture.  Forfeiture is not stayed or affected by the filing of an appeal or an attack on a plea, verdict, or order.

Pension Forfeiture (DC Plan)

The right of a person to receive any retirement benefit from PSERS is subject to forfeiture as provided by the Forfeiture Act (refer to Pension Forfeiture Overview section).  A member forfeits all accumulated employer contributions and investment earnings, if any, on those contributions in the member's DC account.  A member's contributions to the DC Plan, including all mandatory employee, voluntary contributions, and all amounts rolled-over into the DC plan with all investment earnings, if any, on all such contributions, shall be available for restitution.

If you need additional information about the Pension Forfeiture Act and how it relates to PSERS retirement benefits, or need to report a potential pension forfeiture matter to PSERS, please contact your PSERS’ Employer Service Center representative

This article is intended to give a general overview of the Pension Forfeiture Act.  To the extent there is a conflict between what is stated here and the Pension Forfeiture Act, the terms of the Pension Forfeiture Act, the Retirement Code, and PSERS' administrative interpretations and court decisions will govern the payment of benefits, and not any conflicting statements made in this article. 

REVISED 6/6/2019