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Glossary of Terms

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A

Account Status:
See Status of a member's account..

Active Member:
A member who is actively working and contributing to the retirement system.

Actual Units:
The number of units the employee worked (used with Base Units to create a fraction of time worked to calculate service). For Municipal/Non-Certified only. See also Service Credit.

Appropriation Account Number:
The state employee's appropriation account number. For State only.

Average Salary:
The average of an employee's salary earned during the three or five consecutive years where the member earned the highest wages.

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B

Base Units:
The number of units the employee is allowed to work (used with Actual Units to create a fraction of time worked to calculate service. For Municipal/Non-Certified only. See also Service Credit.

Beneficiary:
A person designated by a member to receive a cash payment of a deceased member's account or monthly benefit payments from ERSRI.

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C

COBRA
COBRA is a federal law that allows employees who are losing their medical coverage to purchase from their employer, at full cost and for up to 18 months, the same benefits that they received as an active employee.

Contingent Beneficiary:
A contingent beneficiary is identified by a member and receives the member's benefits upon the death of the member and all primary beneficiaries.

Contributing Service Credit:
The amount of service earned by a member while worked for a member agency that counts towards the calculation of the member's benefit amount upon retirement. Service credit purchases are not considered contributing service.

Contributions:
Money withheld from a member's paycheck to contribute towards the member's retirement. The amount that is contributed is based upon a percentage of the member's salary, excluding overtime.

Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA):
A cost of living increase of up to 3% may be granted to retired members. The administrators of the plan to which the member belongs make the determination on when this increase is to be given.

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D

Death Benefit
For ERSRI or MERS members, the benefit is $800 per year of service, up to a maximum $16,000. This amount is reduced 25% every year after retirement, but not below the minimum benefit of $4,000.

Even if you’ve chosen an option where your pension ends when you die, your beneficiary is still entitled to a standard death benefit.

Death Benefits Beneficiary
This is the person named as a beneficiary for the standard death benefit of an active or retired member.

Deferred Retirement Benefit
If you have left your contributions within the system, you may begin collecting a retirement benefit at age 60 if you are a state employee or a public school teacher, or at age 58 if you are a municipal employee.

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E

Eligible Wages:
The wages earned by the member while working for a member agency that are used to calculate the member's contributions.

Employee Contributions:
The contributions that are withheld from an employee's paycheck.

Employer Contributions:
The contributions that are paid by employers on behalf of the employee

Employer Reported Wages:
The portion of an employee's wages that are paid by the employer.

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F

Federally Funded Contributions:
The contributions that are paid by the federal government. For Teachers/Certified only.

Federally Funded Wages:
The portion of an employee's wages that are federally Funded. For Teachers/Certified only.

Final Average Salary:
The average of the three or five highest years of earnings, regardless of when they occur.

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G

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H

Health Care Eligibility:
Health care coverage is offered to retired state workers and public school teachers by the State of Rhode Island. To learn more about this topic, see Health Care Info.

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I

In-active Member:
A member who is no longer employed in a public position (by a member agency) but has not taken a refund of contributions. If the member is vested, he or she is eligible for deferred retirement benefits at a certain age, even though they are not 'active' members.

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J

 

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K

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L

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M

Member:
A person who is or has been employed at any time by an ERSRI member agency.

Member Account:
An account with ERSRI that keeps track of the contributions for a member.

Member Account Status:
This is an indication of your membership status with ERSRI. An account Status may be "Active", "Inactive", "Refunded", "Service retired" or "Disability retired".

Member Agency:
A public agency (such as a city, township or school) which has joined the retirement system by a resolution of the city council and/or a legally binding agreement with The State of Rhode Island.

Member Status Code:
The employee's status as of the record's begin and end dates.

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N

Non-Contributing Service Credit:
This is the purchased service credit. Purchased service does not contribute towards a member's vesting.

Number of Paid Days:
The number of days an employee was paid during the period. For Teachers/Certified only.

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O

OAP - Optional Annuity Protection:
If you have over ten years of service and have completed an Optional Annuity Protection form, your beneficiary will have the option of receiving either a return of contributions or a monthly annuity in addition to the death benefit. Spouses will automatically get this option provided the member had over ten years of service and the spouse was the sole beneficiary. Public safety member should only fill out an Optional Annuity Protection form if their beneficiary is not the spouse as the OAP form will negate whatever benefits are available under the police and fire statutes.

Optional Service Credit:
Service credit that a member can purchase.

Organization Code:
The assigned four-digit system code.

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P

PDF (Portable Document Format):
PDF is short for Portable Document Format, a file format developed by Adobe Systems. PDF captures formatting information from a variety of desktop publishing applications, making it possible to send formatted documents and have them appear on the recipient's monitor or printer as they were intended. To view a file in PDF format, you need Adobe® Acrobat® Reader®,a free application distributed by Adobe Systems.

Position Code:
The code used by ERSRI for an employee's current position.

Primary Beneficiary:
A primary beneficiary is identified by a member and receives the member's benefits upon his/her death.

Public Employee:
An employee of a member agency.

Purchased Service Credit:
Service credit purchased to increase retirement income or allow earlier retirement.

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Q

QDRO:
A QDRO (Qualified Domestic Relations Order) is a divorce order that provides instructions to ERSRI as to how to pay benefits awarded by the court to an ex-spouse.

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R

Recipient:
An ERSRI member, the survivor of a member, or a person on disability retirement who is receiving monthly benefits from ERSRI. Also called benefit recipient.

Report Begin Date:
The beginning date of the payroll period being reported or corrected.

Report End Date:
The ending date of the payroll period being reported or corrected.

Reported Wage Code:
The transaction code for the employee record.

Retiree:
One who has retired from active working life and is collecting retirement benefits.

Retiree Account:
An account that a retiree holds with the Employees' Retirement System of Rhode Island. The account keeps track of the contributions that that person as a member paid into the system and the benefit payments made to the person as a retiree.

Retirement Benefit:
A monthly payment made to a retiree of the Employees' Retirement System of Rhode Island.

Retirement Eligibility:
The laws governing your retirement differ according to your status as a state employee, public school teacher, or municipal employee. However, as of June 16, 1991, members of the Employees' Retirement System of Rhode Island must have either 10 years of contributing service and be at least 60 years old OR have 28 years of service credit to retire. As of December 31, 1992, members of the Municipal Retirement System must have either 10 years of contributing service and be at least 58 years old OR have 30 years of service credit to retire. For information on this topic, see the Retirement FAQ's.

Rhode Island General Laws (RIGL):
State laws that, among other things, govern the Employees' Retirement System of Rhode Island. The plan provides retirement, disability and survivor benefits to state employees, public school teachers, and municipal employees who are employed by a participating municipality.

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S

Service Credit:
The number of years earned through contributing service or purchased under the provisions of the plan. Service Credit is a factor in determining the monthly retirement benefit.

Status Date:
The date the employee's status became effective.

Survivor Benefit Contribution:
This is applicable only to teachers who contribute to survivor benefits. The cost of the benefits provided is two percent (2%) of the member's annual salary up to but not exceeding an annual total contribution of one hundred and ninety two dollars ($192); one-half ( 1/2) of the cost shall be contributed by the member by deductions from his or her salary, and the other half ( 1/2) shall be contributed and paid by the respective city, town, or school district by which the member is employed. These contributions shall be in addition to other contributions and is paid into the teachers' survivors benefit in the same manner as other contributions are made.

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T

Teacher:
The statutory definition of teacher, found in R.I.G.L. 16-16.1, allows the following permissible titles: teacher, supervisor, principal, assistant principal, superintendent or assistant superintendent, director, assistant director, coordinator, consultant, dean, assistant educational administrator, nurse teacher, and attendance officer, or any person working within the educational system certified by the Board of Regents; or occupational or physical therapists licensed by the department of health and employed by a school committee.

Teacher Survivor Benefits:
The contributions that are paid by employees who have chosen the Teachers' Survivor Benefits in lieu of contributions to Social Security. For Teachers/Certified only.

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U

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V

Vested:
"Vested" means that you are able collect a retirement benefit when you meet your minimum retirement eligibility criteria. Active contributing members as of July 1, 2012 are vested in the ERSRI pension plan when they have five years of contributing service.

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W

Wage & Contribution Report:
The manner in which employee information is reported to ERSRI. A Wage & Contribution Report includes wages earned, time worked and employee position information.

Wage & Contribution Report Status:
This is an indication of the status of a Wage and Contribution report.

Workers Compensation:
A state government system designed to address work-related injuries.

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X

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Y

Years of Service:
See Service Credit

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Z

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