The City provides a great benefits package for its employees – and the pension and retirement benefits provided by the General Employees Pension Plan (GEPP) and the Corrections Officers Pension Plan (COPP) are an important part of the overall offerings. It's never too early to learn about the valuable benefits of retirement plan membership.
Types of Retirement Plans
The City offers different types of retirement plans. Most employees hired before October 1, 2017 have the option to participate in a defined benefit plan. Most employees hired after October 1, 2017 will participate in a defined contribution plan.
The City has three pension plans, one for general employees, another for corrections officers and a third for police and fire. All three city pension plans are defined benefit plans.
What is the Difference Between a Defined Contribution Plan and a Defined Benefit Plan?
In a Defined Contribution Plan, the participant contributes a specific amount to the plan. The benefit that the participant receives at retirement is the result of the amount contributed, the rate of return, and the length of time the money is invested.
In a Defined Benefit Plan, the benefit that the participant receives at retirement is determined by a formula that takes into consideration the participant's base salary during the highest three consecutive years during the 10 years prior to retirement, the length of service and the participant's age. Valuations are made by an actuary to determine how much money must be contributed to the plan in order to generate the amount of retirement benefit that will be needed. Throughout his or her career, each participant and the employer make contributions in accordance with the actuary's valuations to ensure that there is sufficient money available to pay the earned benefit for the projected life expectancy of the retiree and, if applicable, his or her surviving spouse.
Who is Covered?
General Employees Pension Plan:
Most employees hired before 10/1/2017 (not including police, fire and corrections) are eligible to participate in the Plan. Temporary, part-time, and Special Purpose employees are not eligible to join.
Corrections Officers Pension Plan:
Most Certified Corrections Officers hired before 10/1/2017 are required to participate in the Plan.
What does it cost me?
The amount contributed by Plan participants is set by city ordinance. The current contribution rate is ten percent (10%) of base salary and service raises where applicable. By ordinance, the employer is required to contribute any additional amounts necessary to fund expected benefits in accordance with the actuary's valuation.
What is the relationship between Social Security and the Pension Plan?
Members of the city's Pension Plan do not participate in the social security system, except that employees hired after 1986 pay into the Medicare portion of social security. Pension Plan members do not contribute to social security and their employment with the city does not count toward eligibility for retirement or disability benefits under the social security system.
Death and disability coverage.
Pension Plan members who become totally and permanently disabled during their employment, may qualify for a disability benefit before they would be eligible for a regular retirement on the basis of service. Additionally, when an employee dies while an active Plan member, his or her spouse, unmarried minor children and/or handicapped children, or estate may receive either survivor benefits or a refund of contributions paid by the member
So when can I retire?
You can vest your benefits at any time after completing five years of pension service. If you leave city employment after you have vested, but before you are eligible to retire, you can apply for a deferred retirement and start receiving your pension at age 65.
To receive immediate benefits when you stop working for the city, you must meet one of the following provisions:
You can retire at any age with 30 years of service
You can retire at age 55 with 20 years of service.
You can retire at age 65 with five years of service.
You might wish to choose a reduced benefit at early retirement:
At age 50 you can retire with 20 years of service with the dollar amount of your benefit reduced by ½% for each month that your age is less than 55.
Or, you can retire at any age with 25 years of service and a lower accrual rate.
What kind of retirement benefit can I expect?
Your monthly retirement benefit is determined by the following basic formula:
For GEPP, Average Monthly Salary multiplied by Years of Pension Service multiplied by a 2.5% Accrual Rate
For COPP, Average Monthly Salary multiplied by Years of Pension Service multiplied by a 3.0% Accrual Rate for first 20 Years and 2.0% for Years 20-30
The maximum retirement benefit provided is 80 percent of final average (three years) salary after 32 years of service.
Taking retirement at any age with 25 years of service will entitle you to a reduced accrual rate of 2 percent, or 50 percent of your final average (three years) salary.
What happens to my benefit if I die after retirement?
When a married retiree dies, his or her spouse, and unmarried minor children and/or handicapped children would be entitled to receive survivor benefits. If the retiree is single, a refund of the remaining contributions paid by the retiree, would be paid to their estate.
How is the Pension Plan administered?
The Plan is governed by a Board of Trustees who have fiduciary responsibility under Florida law for stewardship of the Plan's assets. They operate as a public body subject to the Sunshine Law and Florida Statutes governing operation of public pension plans.
The Trustees include the Chief Operating Office, the Director of Finance, and the Chief of Human Resources whose membership is specified in the Pension Ordinance. The additional trustees include two representatives of the Retirees Associations (GEPP and COPP), Chair of the Pension Advisory Committee, Chair of the Corrections Officers Advisory Committee and two outside members appointed by City Council.
The Board of Pension Trustees meets monthly and is charged with responsibility for proper administration of the Plans according to the ordinances.
Retirement System Pension Office
The Retirement System Pension Office, which reports to the City Treasurer within the Finance Department, administers the day-to-day operations of the Plans.
Pension Advisory Committee
The Pension Advisory Committee (PAC) is an elected body representing Pension Plan members. Elections are held biennially - every two years. If you are a GEPP member, you will receive election materials and a ballot when the next PAC election is held.
Corrections Officers Pension Advisory Committee
The Corrections Officers Pension Advisory Committee is an elected body representing the certified corrections officers enrolled in the Corrections Officers Pension Plan. Elections are held biennially - every two years. If you are a member, you will receive elections materials and a ballot when the next COPAC election is held.
What other things should I know about?
Eligible participants can purchase credit for previous service with the city, old county or other covered employers.
The cost of purchasing prior service is 10% at the employee's current salary at the time of purchase. Purchases of one or more years of service may be paid for through payroll deduction. For GEPP, eligible time past 10 years can be purchased at full actuarial equivalent expense.
An additional provision to the Plans now allows for the on-going ability to purchase certain outside agency time at 10%, to a maximum of five years, if you were employed by the City at any time between October 21, 1987 and February 18, 1992, and the time you would like to purchase occurred prior to February 18, 1992. All other outside agency time may be purchased at the full actuarial equivalent cost. Outside Agencies include: Duval County prior to consolidation; any agency of the judicial branch of government in Duval County under the Florida Retirement System; the State Attorney in Duval County; the Public Defender in Duval County; the Jacksonville Transportation Authority; the Duval County School Board; the former Duval County Hospital Authority; the employees or officers of any Duval County constitutional officer who served under the Florida Retirement System; the Agriculture Department employees who participated in the Florida Retirement System; the Jacksonville Port Authority; the Jacksonville Aviation Authority; and the Medical Examiners Office.
Vested employees may also purchase up to two years of military service. The cost of purchasing military time is 20% of earnable compensation.
Retirees also receive a supplement of $5.00 per month per full year of service - up to $150 a month. Retirees are also entitled to a cost of living adjustment (COLA) 4 1/2 years after their group retirement date. The COLA adjustment is currently fixed at 3% annually.
Retirees are eligible to continue coverage of themselves and eligible dependents in the city's health insurance programs.
A retiree from the city may work for any outside employer after retirement without affecting his or her city pension benefit. However, if a retiree from the city becomes employed in any full time capacity by any government agency that participates in the General Employees Pension Plan or the Corrections Officers Pension Plan, the pension benefit will be discontinued and you will again become an active member of the Plan and pension contributions will be resumed. This includes the general government, JEA or other local government agency, but this does not apply to elected positions or most bailiff positions. You may return to work with a member employer in a part time capacity (less than 25 hours per week) and retain your full pension benefit.
If you have any questions or require additional information, please contact the city's Retirement System Pension Office, at 255-7280, City Hall – St. James, 117 West Duval Street, Suite 330, Jacksonville, FL 32202.
This document represents a brief summary of the City of Jacksonville Retirement System, its organization and operation. If there are any differences between this summary and the statutes, ordinances, or rules and regulations governing the Plans, the legal documents will always govern.