What You Should Know
Maine Public Employees Retirement System
Organization and Structure. The Legislature established Maine’s State Retirement System in 1942 for State Employees. Over time, more public sector workers joined the System, including educators, municipal workers, Governors, judges, and legislators. In 2007, the Legislature changed the name to “Maine Public Employees Retirement System” (MainePERS) to better reflect the diverse membership. MainePERS also determines eligibility for medical disability benefits, administers death benefits, group life insurance benefits and a defined contribution plan for Participating Local District members.
Maine law outlines the powers and duties of the Retirement System, and a Board of Trustees oversees its ongoing operations.
The Governor appoints four Trustees:
(2) With relevant training or experience in finance or investments
(1) Recommended by Maine Education Association -Retired
(1) Recommended by retired state employees, retired participating local district employees or a committee comprised of representatives of these groups.
The remaining three Trustees are:
(1)Elected by Maine Education Association
(1)Elected by Maine State Employees Association
(1)Representing Maine Municipal Association
The State Treasurer or Deputy serves as an ex officio Trustee.
Operations and Responsibilities. MainePERS primary function is to administer a “defined benefit” plan, meaning members can expect a particular monthly income when they retire. MainePERS is responsible to ensure the financial capacity to fund the system by collecting necessary contributions from employee members, employers (State, municipal or school district) and investing those funds for the long-term. In addition, most plans include an annual cost-of-living adjustment to retiree benefits so the rate of inflation will not erode the buying power of benefits. The System relies on skilled investment and actuarial staff, as well as outside consultants, to accomplish this important responsibility.
How is the Defined Benefit Determined? The member’s Plan, and choice of payment “option,” determines how the System calculates the monthly benefit. Generally, most members are entitled to receive retirement benefits at age 60, 62 or 65 using a formula based on (average of 3 years highest annual wages) X (years of service) X (2%) divided by 12 for the amount of the monthly benefit.
What Happens When Investments Fail to Perform?
MainePERS invests in a broad mix of stocks, bonds, and other equities to meet the goals of earning consistent investment returns over time, stable employee and employer contribution rates, and minimizing risk. By definition, retirees in a Defined Benefit plan are entitled to a guaranteed benefit, i.e. the benefit is “defined.” Since periods of low returns are cyclical and inevitable, the Maine Constitution allows the System to amortize losses over a 20-year period, again to avoid spikes in employer and employee contribution rates.
For More Detailed information
You can find member and retiree handbooks on the MainePERS website:
For applicable statutory provisions, see: Title 5 MRSA Part 20, Chapters 421, 423, 425, and 427.