Keyword for this page: Retirement
To better serve all employees, the Retirement Office has relocated to the Risk Management and Insurance Department.
Becky (Rebecca) Crotteau, Retirement Specialist
(863) 519-3858, Ext. 2224
1915 S. Floral Ave., Building "C"
Bartow, FL 33830
District Courier Route E
Welcome to the streamlined retirement services. We know your time is valuable, so please take a moment to review the list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and informative resources below that are available to you directly from the Florida Retirement System (FRS). As a Florida public employer the Polk County School Board offers two retirement plan options:
Defined Benefit Plan - Members are promised a continuing benefit at retirement if they meet certain age and/or service requirements. The benefit amount is determined by formula, normally based on the members' earnings, length of service, and service value.
Defined Contribution Plan - Contributions are made by the employer, employee, or both, to individual member accounts to generate funds for distribution to the member at retirement (separation). Contribution amounts are determined by Florida Statute and are usually a set percentage of the employee’s salary. Investments are generally directed by the employee, among investment products offered by the plan. The benefit amount at retirement (separation) is the sum that accumulates in the member’s account, based on contributions made and investment earnings/losses. It is the member’s responsibility to ensure that sufficient funds are raised to provide for adequate retirement income.
Job applicants should be aware of the FRS restrictions regarding re-employment. You are considered a "retiree" if you have taken a distribution of any amount, at any age, from either the FRS Investment Plan, or the FRS Pension Plan. The New Employee packet contains the FRS Certification Form which requires your signature in the section applicable to your situation.
If you have any questions about your eligibility for reemployment after retirement, call the toll-free MyFRS Financial Guidance Line at 1-866-446-9377, Monday through Friday 9 am - 8 pm EST.
If you have not done so already, you are encouraged to designate or update your retirement plan beneficiary.
Beneficiaries may be eligible for a refund of employee contributions made since July 1, 2011 in the event of the member's death. Over 5,000 District employees have not designated a retirement plan beneficiary. Call the MyFRS Financial Guidance Line at 1-866-446-9377 for more details.
The FRS provides all Pension Plan and Investment Plan members with free access to Ernst & Young financial planners. Your Ernst & Young financial planner does not sell any investment or insurance products. They are there to serve as your personal retirement and financial advocate; available to answer any retirement and financial questions you may have. For more information see FAQ #8 below.
Any date prior to normal retirement eligibility as mentioned above is considered "early retirement." Retirement benefits will be reduced 5% for every year under age 62 (or age 65 for employees hired on/after July 1, 2011).
a) Have your signature notarized on forms FR-11, FR-11o, and SA-1, (and also your spouse's on the SA-1 Spousal Acknowledgement form if you selected benefit payout Options 3 or 4),
Optional: Complete the Beneficiary Designation Form FST-12 only if you plan to designate more than one primary beneficiary (indicated by percentage).b) Provide a clear photocopy (not an original) of your birth certificate (and your spouse's birth certificate if you select benefit payout Options 3 or 4), Additional options for providing proof of birth are available on the Birth Verification Request form BVR-1 (#33).
c) Make copies of your forms before sending to the Retirement Office for Employer Certification,
d) Send original completed and notarized forms FR-11, FR-11o, SA-1, and copies of birth certificate(s) via District Courier (Route E) or mail: Risk Management & Insurance, ATTN: Retirement Office, Building C, 1915 South Floral Avenue, Bartow, FL 33830.
As an FRS Pension Plan member eligible for regular service retirement (see requirements in Question #1 above), you may be eligible to participate in the Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP) if you wish to continue working after the milestones of age 62, or 30 years of service. Note: FRS Investment Plan members are not eligible to participate in DROP.
The retirement system calculates your benefits as if you were actually going to retire, but holds your monthly retirement benefit for up to 60 months in an interest-earning account while you continue working. The 60 months of monthly benefits accumulate, and when you do stop working and retire, you receive the accumulated DROP amount, in addition to receiving your monthly retirement benefit for your years of service. Read more at the FRS DROP webpage.
Note: The annual interest rate on DROP accounts is 1.3%.
Create your New User ID to view your Online Services Account to access retirement information including service credit, salary history, and current beneficiary information. You can also calculate a DROP Accumulation estimate based on a DROP entry month of your choice. .
When you enroll in DROP, you must state a separation/retirement/exit date. The DROP Calendar allows you to easily determine your DROP exit date, based on your DROP start date (if you have the maximum 60 months of DROP eligibility*). Using this calendar will help you avoid selecting an invalid DROP termination or exit date.
* Some non-instructional employees may be eligible for fewer months in DROP due to a "late start." For more information, see the latest version of the DROP Guide.
Vacation Leave - Employees on a 12-month work schedule have the option to contribute a limited amount of accrued vacation leave toward their DROP annual salary calculation.
BENCOR and Sick Leave - The BENCOR Special Pay Plan is an automatic benefit for DROP participants which helps you save up to 7.65% of Social Security/Medicare taxes while paying you for your unused sick leave when you exit out of DROP/retire. Every year after the anniversary date of entering DROP, a percentage of the pre-DROP payout balance of your pre-DROP sick leave is rolled over into a BENCOR Special Pay Plan account. Approximately 45 days after retirement, you may contact the BENCOR retirement consultants for access to your BENCOR account. You are under no obligation to leave your money with BENCOR. The funds are yours to transfer or request distribution after the BENCOR account is set up.
View the DROP Frequently Asked Questions for additional helpful information.
Eligible instructional employees in Kindergarten -12th Grade positions may enter DROP at any time after reaching their eligibility date.
Eligible employees may defer or postpone the date of DROP entry after completion of 30 years of service based upon the exceptions listed below. These employees must elect to join DROP within 12 months beginning with the month the maximum deferral date is reached. During this 12-month period, the total allowable DROP participation decreases by one month for each month the decision is delayed. If DROP participation does not begin within this 12-month "window" the right to participate in DROP is forfeited. (See Deferral Exceptions below.)
If you have reached one of the milestones for normal retirement eligibility (either age 62 and vested, or 30 years of service credit), you may be able to defer DROP election as described below if you meet one of the following criteria:
s. 1012.01(2), Florida Statutes.16. INSTRUCTIONAL PERSONNEL.--"Instructional personnel" means any K-12 staff member whose function includes the provision of direct instructional services to students. Instructional personnel also includes K-12 personnel whose functions provide direct support in the learning process of students. Included in the classification of instructional personnel are the following K-12 personnel:
(a) Classroom teachers.
(b) Student personnel services.-- Included in this classification are guidance counselors, social workers, career specialists, and school psychologists.
(c) Librarians/media specialists.
(d) Other instructional staff.-- Included in this classification are primary specialists, learning resource specialists, instructional trainers, adjunct educators certified pursuant to s. 1012.57, and similar positions.
(e) Education paraprofessionals.
If you decide to postpone DROP participation because you qualify for a deferral exception, you do not need to notify FRS that you plan to defer your DROP participation. However, to maximize your time in DROP, you must apply promptly before your deferral exception date occurs. FRS will accept your application up to six months in advance of your planned DROP entry date.
a) Have your signature notarized on forms DP-ELE, DP-11, FRS-11o, and SA-1 (also, if you select benefit payout Options 3 or 4, your spouse's signature on the SA-1 Spousal Acknowledgement form),
b) Provide a clear photocopy (not original) of your birth certificate (and if you select benefit Options 3 or 4, your spouse's/joint annuitant's birth certificate),
c) Make copies of your forms DP-ELE, DP-11, FRS-11o, and SA-1 before sending to the Retirement Office for Employer Certification,
d) Send original completed notarized forms DP-ELE, DP-11, FRS-11o, and SA-1 and clear copies of birth certificate(s) via District Courier (Route E) or mail: Risk Management & Insurance, ATTN: Retirement Office, Building C, 1915 South Floral Avenue, Bartow, FL 33830.
As a participant in the DROP, you are considered a retired member by FRS so your Employer's Retirement Office cannot view your DROP Account. By creating a User Profile for your Online Services Account you will see information specific to your individual DROP account, such as your DROP accrual amount projected through your DROP end date, and the monthly benefit you would receive after retirement.
To change your beneficiary designation while in DROP, first view the FRS QuickClip video "Beneficiary Designation," complete a form FST-12 (#15) and then fax the notarized form to the FRS Bureau of Retirement Calculations at (850) 410-2195. You may also change your beneficiary via your Online Services Account.
5. Sick Leave and BENCOR - DROP members have a BENCOR Special Pay Plan account. Contact the BENCOR retirement consultants for access to your BENCOR account approximately 45 days after retirement. You are under no obligation to leave your money with BENCOR. The funds are yours to transfer or request distribution after the BENCOR account is set up.
If you wish to end your DROP participation and stop working/retire earlier than your original end date, notify the PCSB Retirement Office at Retirement-AllStaff@polk-fl.net of your new DROP Exit/retirement date. The FRS DROP Termination Unit will be notified and a DROP Termination packet will be mailed to your address approximately 90 days before your new DROP exit/retirement date.
After you receive your DROP exit packet from FRS, follow the steps provided in FAQ #5 above, " What happens at the end of my DROP participation?"
By creating your Online Services Account you will see information specific to your individual DROP account, such as your DROP begin and end dates, your DROP accrual amount projected through your DROP end date, and the monthly benefit you would receive upon termination of employment. Read the "Preparing to Terminate DROP" information.
If you are a member of the FRS Pension Plan, by creating an Online Services Account you can access your personal retirement account information including service history and service credit information, salary data, and beneficiary information. You can calculate benefit estimates based on various scenarios, and view and print your Member Annual Statements as they become available.
FRS Pension Plan members should visit the FL Division of Retirement website which provides information about the Plan. Visit the Employee Page to view and print Retirement Forms and Guides. View the informative FRS video Quick Clips which allow members to watch short presentations explaining various FRS Pension Plan topics. Contact the FRS Division of Retirement directly.
Investment Plan members may visit the MyFRS website, which is a cooperative website of the Department of Management Services and the Florida State Board of Administration. It is part of the MyFRS Financial Guidance Program and offers online planning models and Retirement 101 to help employees eligible for membership in the FRS to choose between the FRS Pension Plan and the FRS Investment Plan. The website also provides access to resources and forms available under both plans. See FAQ #8 below for additional MyFRS contact information.
Former employees who wish to request verification of their Investment Plan termination date may contact the PCSB Retirement Office at Retirement-AllStaff@polk-fl.net.
The FRS provides all Pension Plan and Investment Plan members with free access to Ernst & Young financial planners. Your Ernst & Young financial planner does not sell any investment or insurance products. They are there to serve as your personal retirement and financial advocate; available to answer any retirement and financial questions you may have.
On the Phone - Call the toll-free MyFRS Financial Guidance Line at 1-866-446-9377, Option 2 (TRS 711), Monday through Friday from 9 am - 8 pm EST. — The MyFRS Financial Guidance Line is staffed by an award-winning financial planning team at Ernst & Young and retirement counselors from the Division of Retirement-ready to take your call and offer you knowledgeable, personalized assistance.
Over the Web - The MyFRS.com Web site offers valuable resources, financial data, educational information, and easy access to state-of-the-art services such as the ADVISOR SERVICE, CHOICE SERVICE and the 2ND CHOICE SERVICE (for considering your 2nd Election).
Schedule an Appointment Online - Speak to an Ernst & Young financial planner when it is convenient for you. Our online MyFRS Financial Guidance Line Appointment System allows you to select the date and time that best work for your schedule.
Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP) members now have access to a free online Financial Engines' Advisor Service for DROP Participants. The Advisor Service creates a picture of your current financial situation and helps you answer the following questions:
The Advisor Service can be accessed via the following links:
• First Time User
• Returning User
Participants needing help getting the Service set up can call the toll-free MyFRS Financial Guidance Line at 1-866-446-9377, Option 2, and speak with a financial planner. All DROP participants always have free access to Ernst & Young financial planners who can answer general financial planning questions. Participants who utilized the Advisor Service prior to joining DROP will need to reenter their financial information in the Advisor Service for DROP Participants.
Yes. All members have a one-time 2nd Election that they can use only once during their FRS career to switch to the other FRS retirement plan, providing they are actively employed by Polk County Schools and earning retirement service credit at the time of the switch (not on a leave of absence). Before making any changes in your FRS retirement plan, see Question #8 above to contact the MyFRS Financial Guidance Line for additional counsel.
To obtain an official estimate of the amount due to purchase years of service credit, first complete an FR-9 Information Request and attach the appropriate form(s) referenced below for the type(s) of service credit requested. After completing the member/employee section of the appropriate FRS forms, make copies before sending to the Retirement Office. After completion of the Employer information, the forms will be faxed to FRS by the Retirement Office. FRS will provide the estimate by mail within 4-6 weeks. Send the original completed forms via District Courier (Route E) or mail to:
Risk Management & Insurance Department, ATTN: Retirement Office
Building C, 1915 South Floral Avenue
Bartow, FL 33830
Requirements for purchasing your in-state or out-of-state service (includes federal and non-wartime military service) are listed on the form FR-30. Upon receipt of the FR-30 from your former pension system, FRS will audit your retirement account and advise you of the cost to claim your in-state or out-of-state service. Also complete the FR-9 Information Request.
To "buy back" refunded service, you must be reemployed in a position covered for retirement for one continuous year. Complete the FR-9 Information Request.
Requirements for purchasing military service can be found on the form MF-1. If you are not eligible to claim your military as active wartime service, or as a leave of absence, you may be eligible to claim the service as out-of-state service. Attach a copy of your discharge papers (DD-214 or equivalent) for each period of military service you wish to claim. Also submit the FR-9 Information Request.
The Florida Retirement System (FRS) provides two types of disability retirement benefits:
Regular and In-line-of-duty:
Disability arising from an illness or injury due to natural causes, or an accident not
related to the member’s covered employment is known as “regular disability.” To
qualify for regular disability, you must meet one of the following service
• Must have completed at least 8 years of creditable service; or
• If your hire date was before July 1, 1980, and you had less than five years of creditable service before July 1, 1980, you must currently have at least five years of creditable service and may not have attained fully insured status under the Federal Social Security Act.
Special disability provisions apply in the case of an illness or injury that arises out of, and during the performance of, duties required by the employer during regular or irregular work hours - or “in-line-of-duty disability.” A member of the FRS Pension Plan or FRS Investment Plan is eligible for in-line-of-duty disability benefits from the first day of employment in a regularly established position.
Two physicians must attest that you are totally and permanently disabled due to an on-the-job injury or illness, and you must provide FRS with a copy of the Notice of Injury, as filed with Workers' Compensation. Approval for Social Security Disability or Workers' Compensation does not automatically qualify you for an FRS disability retirement benefit.
You are responsible for having all forms completed by the physicians (2) and submitted to the Retirement Office. Failure to thoroughly complete all items may delay the processing of your application. The review process takes approximately 60-90 days from the date your complete application is submitted. The two-page FR13a/Statement of Disability by Employer form will be completed by District staff after being notified of your intention to apply. Questions concerning Disability retirement benefits should be directed to the FRS Disability Determination Section at the number provided on the forms.
Make copies and send the original completed and notarized Disability Application forms via District Courier (Route E) or mail to:
Risk Management & Insurance Department
ATTN: Retirement Office, Building C
1915 South Floral Avenue
Bartow, FL 33830
The forms will be verified and faxed to FRS for processing.
First, view the Reemployment after Retirement FRS Quick Clip and read the Working After Retirement brochure for an explanation of the reemployment limitations for FRS Pension Plan and FRS Investment Plan retirees.
Attention Investment Plan Members: If you have received money or taken a distribution of any amount from your FRS Investment Plan account at any age, you are considered "retired" and are subject to re-employment limitations.
All Polk County School District employees with Deferred Retirement Option program (DROP) termination dates or regular (non-DROP) retirement dates on or after July 1, 2010 must remain separated from the District for six (6) full months after their retirement date before they are eligible to reapply for rehire. If you are rehired after the sixth month, you must suspend your monthly retirement benefit during the 7th - 12th months following your retirement date by completing Form FR-23. If you reapply and are rehired after the mandatory 6-month waiting period you will be required to certify that your reemployment does not violate these restrictions. After one full year has elapsed from your retirement effective date, you may be reemployed by any FRS employer and receive both salary and FRS Pension Plan retirement benefits simultaneously, without restriction. Please contact the FRS Bureau of Retirement Calculations at 1-888-738-2252 for more information regarding your employment eligibility after retirement.
Retirees rehired within one year from their retirement date (during 7th through 12th month) should make a copy of the FR-23 Suspension of Retirement Benefits form to keep, and send the original completed form via District Courier Service (Route E) or mail to:
Risk Management & Insurance Department
ATTN: Retirement Office
Building C, 1915 South Floral Avenue
Bartow, FL 33830
The form will be verified and faxed directly to FRS for processing.
FRS retirees whose Deferred Retirement Option program (DROP) termination dates or regular (non-DROP) retirement dates are prior to July 1, 2010 may become reemployed by the District, within certain limitations, and may also be eligible to receive a retirement benefit in the same month as a salary or wage payment. During the 2nd - 12th months after the retirement effective date or DROP termination date, your retirement benefits will be suspended unless your employment qualifies under an exception to reemployment restrictions. Please contact the FRS Bureau of Retirement Calculations at 1-888-738-2252 for more information regarding your employment eligibility after retirement.
After one full year has elapsed after your retirement effective date, you may be re-employed by any FRS employer and receive both salary and FRS Pension Plan retirement benefits simultaneously, without restriction.
If you meet the eligibility requirements to reapply for rehire after retirement, please complete a new Online Employment Application.
Please read the FRS News Release regarding volunteer services after retirement. You may not receive compensation in any form as a volunteer during the mandatory wait-out period, or you may void your retirement, and/or DROP participation. You may not receive compensation as an election worker with the Supervisor of Elections during the mandatory FRS wait-out period.
Contact the FRS Bureau of Retirement Calculations if you have questions about volunteering, termination, or reemployment. Call the Bureau toll free at (888) 738-2252 or (850) 488-6491 or e-mail questions to Calculations@dms.MyFlorida.com.
Pension Plan Members
Investment Plan Members
To ensure that you receive your W-2 form from the Polk County School District, complete the change of address form and return it to the Human Resource Services Division. You should also notify the FL Retirement System of a change of address by phone 1-888-377-7687, by fax 1-850-410-2193, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To help you understand the changes that have taken place, FRS has created a 2014 Retirement Legislation page. If you have any questions, please call the Division of Retirement Research and Education Section at 1-877-377-1737, or email email@example.com.
To help you plan for retirement, each year the US Social Security Administration (SSA) mails personal Social Security Statements, which provide an estimate of the monthly benefit amounts employees and their families may qualify for now and in the future. Choosing the month you start to receive benefits is an important decision. SSA representatives will be glad to discuss it with you and answer any questions you may have.
The Social Security Automated Telephone Service is 1-800-772-1213. Many services are also provided online at www.socialsecurity.gov.
By calling 1-800-772-1213, you can use the SSA automated telephone services to get recorded information and conduct some business 24 hours a day. If you cannot handle your business through SSA automated services, you can speak to a Social Security representative between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Generally, you’ll have a shorter wait time if you call during the week after Tuesday. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, call our toll-free TTY number, 1-800-325-0778, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Polk County Social Security Office Administration Offices
FRS provides Helpful Links for retirees on its Retiree webpage.