In Arizona most Officers get their certification (AZPOST) by going through the police academy after their department hires them. For some agencies while you are in the academy your contributions and your employer’s contributions to your pension are deposited into the Arizona State Retirement System (ASRS). This is a pension system for non-sworn employees. Once you graduate from the academy and become a sworn police officer you are automatically transferred to the police pension plan or the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPRS).
So what happens to your credited time in ASRS? Back in the day, in my agency, you were hired directly into PSPRS and therefore your 20 years would be calculated based on your hire date. Now, your contributions stay in ASRS until you initiate the transfer.
*** UPDATE *** My agency now places new hires directly into PSPRS *** UPDATE ***
If you do not transfer your “service credits”, as they are called, your 20 years would be calculated based on your graduation date from the academy. Below, I’ll go through how to transfer your service credits in detail.
First of all, if you are not sure if you need to do this call the ASRS office to verify you have service credits to be transferred. Click here for their contact information.
Create an account with PSPRS here. If you haven’t already done this you are going to want access to this account for the rest of your career. Here, you can view your contributions, check your eligible date for retirement, get an estimate of how much your monthly pension payments will be, access the forms to begin your retirement and get access to various other calculators and forms.
To begin the transfer process you need Form U2 which is located on the PSPRS website under Forms and Resources for Active Members. Scroll down to the section for “Service Purchase/Transfer” and click to download the form for PSPRS members.
Print out Form U2, fill it out and fax it to the number listed at the top of the form.
How To Fill Out Form U2
Former Retirement System or Plan: Arizona State Retirement System or whichever system you are transferring from. (Note: this is only for in state transfers)
Former Employer: This is your employer while in ASRS, most likely it is your current employer.
Former Position Classification: I entered “Police Recruit” here. Use whatever is appropriate.
Prior Service Dates: From: I used my hire date. to: I used my graduation date.
Did you refund (withdraw) your member contributions from prior retirement system or plan?
The answer is most likely “NO”.
Current Retirement System or Plan: Public Safety Personnel Retirement System
Current Employer: You should know the answer here.
Service Date: I used my graduation date from Section II.
Current Position: Again, you should know the answer.
Make sure to initial in the box, date and sign and fax it or email it to the contact information provided on the top of the form. Keep in mind this form is only used by PSPRS to find your information with ASRS so don’t stress over it being filled out to perfection.
Once you have done this you will be mailed a letter from PSPRS indicating how much service credits, or time, you are able to transfer. Keep an eye out for this letter because it is time sensitive and the conversion will expire. Unfortunately your previous credit will not convert day for day. The longer you wait to do the transfer the less time it will convert to. As you will see below, I was able to convert only 65.7 days of the 144 that I was in the academy (ASRS). Another coworker of mine was only able to convert 22 days because he waited even longer than me. Don’t make our mistakes!
Since you have to wait a couple weeks before you receive this letter I suggest you bookmark this page until then.
How To Finalize The Transfer Process – Form U2A
Now that you have received Form U2A it should look something like the one below:
Your form will have different numbers but this is what it is saying.
- The amount of time you were in ASRS is 38.3% of the year or .383 X 365 = 139.8 days. The cost to purchase 139.8 days in PSPRS is $8,468.
- The amount of money that can be transferred from ASRS to PSPRS is $2,330.
- Which means you would have to pay the difference or $6,137 to transfer all 139.8 days.
- If you decide not spend the amount from line 3 then the $2,330 would buy 18% of the year or .18 X 365 = 65.7 days.
Notice that the form has an expiration date listed below line 4 so don’t waste time. After that date you would have to submit form U2 again and your ASRS money from line 2 will buy less time.
So in summary, you have a choice. You can take what they give you which is 65.7 days or you can buy up to 139.8 days, which would cost $6,137. Most officers I help with this are early in their career and don’t have much extra money so they simply take what they can get. To do this you would initial in the fourth box down which says “I ELECT TO ACCEPT” and looks like this:
Fill out the bottom of the form, fax it back to PSPRS (the number is at the top) and you are done. You can skip below to check on your new retirement date.
Since I’m not here to tell you what to do I’ll explain how to transfer all of the time. You can use your own cash, transfer money from your retirement account or use a combination of the two.
If you choose to use your retirement you would choose the first box. You need to get in touch with your retirement plan provider and the second and third form that you receive with Form U2A will explain how to do this.
If you choose to use your own money, choose the second box and include a check.
If you choose to use a combination of the two, choose the third box. Include a check for the amount you want to pay out of your own pocket and use the second and third form to transfer from your retirement account.
If you need any more help with this comment below or write me an email.
How To Check Your Retirement Date And Estimated Pension Payout
Once you have returned the form wait a few weeks before logging into your PSPRS account. The homepage of your account will look like this:
Click the “Estimator” button and enter the date you graduated from the academy plus 20 or 25 years, depending on when you are eligible for retirement. For example, my graduation date is 5/11/2009 so I entered 5/11/2029. The Estimator will look something like this:
As you can see in the box on the right; it tells my Service Date that I entered PSPRS.
Prior Service from ASRS which is .18 X 365 = 65.7 days.
Current Service, which is just over 20 years of PSPRS time.
Total Service, which includes my ASRS time.
Now, to find out the new date that I am eligible to retire I would go back 65.7 days. To do this it is best to estimate on your own what date that would be and enter it in the estimator. If the “Estimated Monthly Benefit” says “** not eligible with entered retirement date”, the “Total Service” will show less than 20 or 25 years. See the example below:
Once you fine tune the right date you can see the earliest date you are eligible to retire. As you can see below it will give a number next to your “Estimated Monthly Benefit” and your “Total Service” will be just over the 20 or 25 years, depending on when you were hired and when you are eligible to retire.
Now you know the earliest date that you are eligible to retire. If you are from any other department or state, I am more than willing to answer questions to help you determine if a similar situation exists for you. Contact me or leave comments below and I will be happy to help.
The earlier you start the better. As you can see the longer you wait the less time you are eligible to transfer, so don’t wait!