Over the years, we have received numerous frequently asked questions. Here is a list of questions grouped into three main categories - Members, Employers, Investments.
- What is the ASRS?
- What is the current contribution rate?
- Am I required to be a member of the Arizona State Retirement System?
- Can I contribute additional amounts to my retirement account?
- Can I borrow from my retirement account for emergency purposes?
- What are my options if I leave my current employment?
- What happens if I leave my contributions on account with the ASRS?
- When am I eligible to retire?
- How do I apply for my retirement benefits?
- How is my pension determined?
- What happens if I become disabled?
- Can I return to work after retirement?
- When is an employee required to start contributing to the ASRS?
- Who do I contact for more enrollment forms, change forms and Member Handbooks?
- Where can I find my ASRS-designated, six-digit department number and three-digit Reporting Unit (R/U) number?
- If an overpayment is made on a Payroll Deduction Agreement (PDA), how does the employer get paid back?
- Where can I get more information on the ASRS Long-Term Disability (LTD) program?
- How is the Health Insurance Premium Benefit Program paid?
- What contributions to the ASRS are considered "pre-tax" and "after-tax"?
- If I have a signed Payroll Deduction Authorization (PDA) form from a member, what should I do next?
- Can I direct my contributions into a specific investment strategy?
- Can the State or any other entity use the assets of the Arizona State Retirement System for purposes other than to provide benefits for its membership?
- Who decides how the Arizona State Retirement System invests its monies?
- What is the Arizona State Retirement System's overall investment strategy?
- How large is the fund?
- Can I have my tax sheltered annuities invested by the Arizona State Retirement System?
- Are there any limits on how the Arizona State Retirement System can invest its assets?
- How does the investment performance of the Arizona State Retirement System rank?
The Arizona State Retirement System is a state agency that administers a public pension program for qualified employees. Membership includes the State of Arizona, school districts and charter schools, cities and towns, all 15 Arizona counties, and numerous special districts, such as water and fire districts. The primary pension program is a 401(a) "defined benefit plan," which means your pension will be determined by a formula, not by the amount of money in your account.
Contribution Rates for all ASRS members in the defined benefit plan effective July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014:
& Health Insurance
TOTAL Employee 11.30% 0.24% 11.54% Employer 11.30% 0.24% 11.54%
Yes. If you meet the membership criteria, membership is mandatory under Arizona State law. You become a member and start making contributions to the ASRS if:
- You work a total of 20 or more hours a week for 20 or more weeks in a fiscal year AND
- You contribute to Social Security under section 218 of the Social Security Act.
No. ASRS rules do not permit voluntary contributions except for credited service purchases under the ASRS Service Purchase Program. Additional contributions would not affect your retirement benefit because your ASRS benefit is based on your years of service and salary; therefore, the amount in your retirement account does not affect your retirement benefit.
Members are encouraged to check with their employer to see if other supplemental savings plans are offered.
No. The Arizona Revised Statutes do not allow the ASRS to lend you money from your account. Funds can be paid out (refunded) only when you leave work with your ASRS employer.
When you leave employment before retirement, you may choose to do one of the following:
- Request a refund of your employee contributions plus accrued interest.
- Roll over your account to another qualified retirement program.
- Leave your account on deposit with the ASRS.
If you leave employment, you may leave your contributions and credited service on account with the ASRS. You become an "inactive," non-contributing member of the ASRS with the following provisions:
- Your account will continue to be tax-deferred.
- Your account will continue to earn interest.
- You may obtain a refund at a later date.
- In the event of your death, your beneficiary will be entitled to a survivor's benefit. The benefit is equal to twice your contributions and accrued interest.
- If you return to work with an ASRS employer, the ASRS will reopen your account with the addition of the new contributions and service.
- You may retire at a later date when retirement eligibility is met or when you choose to do so, if already eligible.
Normal retirement is the earliest you may retire with a full benefit as calculated by the ASRS benefit formula.
FOR MEMBERS HIRED ON OR BEFORE June 30, 2011, a normal retirment date occurs under the earliest of the following situations:
- At age 65.
- At age 62 with 10 or more years of credited service.
- At any combination of years of credited service and age, totaling 80 points.
FOR MEMBERS HIRED ON OR AFTER July 1, 2011, a normal retirment date occurs under the earliest of the following situations:
- At age 65.
- At age 60 with 25 or more years of credited service.
- At age 62 with 10 or more years of credited service.
- At age 55 with 30 or more years of credited service.
Note: There is no point-based retirement date option for members who join the ASRS on or after July 1, 2011.
If you are at least age 50 with 5 or more years of credited service, you may retire before you reach normal retirement. However, a reduction is applied to your benefit depending upon your age and your credited service and when you became a member. Your benefit stays at the reduced amount as long as you are receiving retirement benefits.
Your first step in applying for retirement benefits should be to visit the Planning for Retirement section of the website. Just click on Retire under the "I Want To. . ." section in the middle of the homepage. There, you'll find helpful information to guide you through the process, including information on our retirement meetings.
If you'd like to see an estimate of what your pension benefit would be, you are encouraged to log in to My ASRS Homepage. Use the log-in button at the bottom of the homepage, and once you create your personal log-in ID, you'll see the most up-to-date Benefit Estimate. You'll also be able to use different data to compare benefit estimates. These are estimates only, not income commitments, but it will give you a good idea of your future benefit.
Your pension is based on a formula. Your monthly pension at retirement is calculated by multiplying your total years of service with ASRS-covered employment by your average monthly compensation and by a multiplier factor. For additional details, please see the Retirement Handbook located under the Publications section of this site.
The ASRS administers a long-term disability (LTD) program for active members funded by separate employee and employer contributions to the LTD trust fund. The LTD program is designed to partially replace your income lost during periods of total disability resulting from injury or illness.
Yes, but if you return to work with an ASRS employer, the ASRS will suspend your retirement benefit if your new employment meets the ASRS membership rules. For more information on Return to Work rules, refer to the Working After Retirement guide, located under the Retiree section of the website.
Generally, all employees of an ASRS employer who are hired to work at least 20 weeks in a fiscal year and at least 20 hours a week are required to make contributions to the ASRS defined benefit plan. For more information on Membership Criteria, please refer to the Chapter 4. Membership, in the Employer Manual, located under the Employer section of this website.
Please email our Employer Relations Department. EmployerRelations@azasrs.gov
Where can I find my ASRS-designated, six-digit department number and three-digit Reporting Unit (R/U) number?
Both numbers are assigned by the ASRS. If you are a new employer, the number will be given to you by a representative of the External Affairs Division. For existing employers, the number is available on your contribution statement or from the ASRS Contribution Accounting Section.
If an overpayment is made on a Payroll Deduction Agreement (PDA), how does the employer get paid back?
If an overpayment on a PDA is made, the ASRS allows a credit to the employer on a future contribution report. The ASRS will not issue a refund.
The ASRS has an on-site LTD representative who can be contacted at 602-240-2133 in metro Phoenix, at 520-239-3100 ext. 2133 in metro Tucson or outside metro Phoenix and Tucson at 800-621-3778 ext. 2133. You can also view the brochure and more information in the LTD section of this website.
If and when a retired ASRS member is eligible for a Health Insurance Premium Benefit, the benefit is paid to the employer or health insurance carrier on the member's behalf. The actual premium benefit is not given directly to the employee under any circumstances.
Regular retirement contributions on or after July 1, 1986, amounts contributed under a Payroll Deduction Agreement program, and amounts rolled over from another tax-qualified retirement plan are considered "pre-tax," meaning they are deducted from a member's pay before income tax withholding. It also is referred to as "tax-deferred." Contributions to the LTD program, contributions paid by members before July 1, 1986, or amounts paid by members to buy credited service other than through a PDA are considered "after-tax," referring to amounts paid from taxable income.
A PDA is not valid unless authorized by the ASRS. You must verify that you have an approved ASRS request. Once the terms of a PDA are determined, the retirement system forwards the agreement to the member. When accepted by the member, he or she will have to sign and send the forms back to the ASRS for authorization before providing a copy to the employer. Once this step is completed, the ASRS will give the employer written authorization to begin the deductions. It is imperative that you do not start without written approval from the ASRS.
No. A member's contribution cannot be invested in a member-specific investment strategy. Rather, all of a member's contributions are deposited into the Arizona State Retirement Fund, which is invested according to a formal policy in various investments such as stocks and bonds.
Can the State or any other entity use the assets of the Arizona State Retirement System for purposes other than to provide benefits for its membership?
No. Monies may not be used or diverted from the fund for purposes other than for the benefit of the membership.
Oversight and investment policy are provided by a nine-member Board of Trustees. In addition, statutes enacted by the Arizona State Legislature require that the Arizona State Retirement System make investments in accordance with the "Prudent Expert" rule. State statutes also stipulate certain constraints on how the monies of the ASRS are invested.
The Arizona State Retirement System's policy investment strategy targets are as follows:
Asset Allocation Policy
(Broad Asset Classes)
- US Equity: 33%
- Non-US Equity: 23%
- Private Equity: 7%
Total Equity: 63%
- US Fixed Income: 18%
- Emerging Market Debt: 4%
- Private Debt: 3%
Total Fixed Income: 25%
- Commodities: 4%
- Real Estate: 8%
Total Inflation Linked Assets: 12%
The market value of the Fund fluctuates continuously with the performance of the various stock and bond markets. As of June 30, 2013, the market value of the fund was approximately $30 billion.
No. Only the contributions of ASRS members can be invested in the ASRS Fund.
Yes. There are statutory restrictions (A.R.S. § 38-719) which place limitations on investments.
For the latest information on investments, including returns, visit the Investments section of this site.