KPERS 1 Benefits
Hired Before July 1, 2009
- How KPERS Works
- You'll Need More Than KPERS
- Retiring: When & How Much?
- Life Insurance, Disability & Death Benefits
- Money Know-How
How KPERS Works
The KPERS Trust Fund is made up of contributions and investment income. You put 6% of every paycheck into the Retirement System. And your employer contributes, too. Then we invest the money to pay you a lifetime monthly benefit in retirement. Once you reach 5 years of service, your benefit is "vested." That means you're guaranteed a monthly lifetime benefit when you retire.
Membership is mandatory by Kansas law. But when retirement gets here, you'll be glad you saved. KPERS is your fiduciary. That means we put members first. The KPERS Trust Fund is your money. It's not going anywhere except to pay your benefits. It can never be withdrawn for any other purpose, not even by the Legislature.
KPERS is "prefunded." That means your benefits are funded ahead of time throughout your career. KPERS is not like Social Security that uses current contributions to pay current benefits. Over time, investments have paid for about 50% of member benefits.
How You Contribute
- You contribute 6% of your pay, automatically deducted by your employer.
- You earn annual interest based on your membership date:
- Before July 1, 1993, your contributions earn 7% interest.
- On or after July 1, 1993, your contributions earn 4% interest.
- Kansas law doesn't let you borrow from your contributions.
- Pretax for federal income taxes and after tax for State of Kansas income taxes.
- Can withdraw your contributions and interest if you leave employment.
- Paid to your beneficiary if you die before retirement.
Guarantee Your Benefit
Service racks up automatically while you're working and is tracked by the quarter. After 5 years of service, you are guaranteed a benefit. This is called "vesting."
You can be confident that your benefit will be there when the time comes for you to retire. That's our job as your fiduciary.
Your Lifetime Benefit
That's right. When you retire, KPERS will pay you a monthly benefit for the rest of your life. You'll have some payment options, in case you want someone to get your benefit after you die. Retirees also have a $4,000 death benefit.
A benefit for life is really something. But this next part is important. KPERS wasn’t designed with an automatic cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). Your monthly benefit stays the same throughout your retirement. Unless the Kansas Legislature passes legislation to give you one. And they’ll need to find the extra money to pay for it. With no automatic COLA, saving on your own becomes more important.
You'll Need More Than KPERS
Really. No, really. KPERS and Social Security won't be enough for a secure retirement. You need to do your part to "fill the gap" by saving on your own. One of the easiest ways to save is through an employer plan, like a 457 or 403(b). Many employers offer KPERS 457. It's an optional deferred compensation plan that's easy to get started.
Check with your employer about options where you work. If they don't have an employer plan, you might want to consider saving in an individual retirement account (IRA). It doesn't really matter where you save, as long as you are saving. After all, the sooner you start the more time your money has to grow. That can pay off big in retirement thanks to the power of compound interest.
Save Now and High-Five Your Future Self
Look at the difference starting to save at 30 can make compared to age 50. And this is just the $50 a month, or $1.65 a day! You can start with even less. But starting is what's important. A dollar invested today, is worth nearly 6 times as much.
Waiting just 10 years to begin saving & investing can make a huge difference in the long run.
What's Best About KPERS 457?
See if your employer offers KPERS 457, you should give it a good look. KPERS oversees KPERS 457 with your best interest in mind. It's part of our fiduciary commitment. And KPERS 457 is in tune with how the two plans work together.
Retiring: When & How Much?
Answers to the big questions! When can you retire and how much will your benefit be? Kansas law defines the rules about both. Generally speaking, the longer you work and the higher your salary, the more you benefit will be.
Age + Years of Service = 85
You can retire with full benefits.
When Can You Retire?
You have 2 choices. Either wait until "full" retirement for the biggest benefits or you can pick "early" retirement and go at age 55 with a smaller benefits.
If your age and years of service = 85, you can retire with full benefits and don't have to worry about the other items like being "Age 60 w/10 years of service".
Correctional Members A & B
Correctional members may be eligible to retire earlier than regular KPERS members. To be eligible, you must work in a Group A or B position for at least three years immediately before retirement.
How Much Will You Get?
KPERS pays you the benefit for the rest of your life, guaranteed. Security is the watchword here. You won't run out of money and your monthly payment is not affected by market downturns.
The best way to get an estimate is the benefit calculator in your online account. It's preloaded with your own membership information. You can also check out your annual statement. We send one to you each spring. If you are vested, it will have an estimate.
You'll have some payment options, in case you want someone to get your benefit after you die. Some people choose to take part of their benefit in a lump sum at retirement. Keep in mind, any of these options will lower your monthly benefit amount.
Retirees have a $4,000 death benefit.
Life Insurance, Disability & Death Benefits
KPERS isn't just for retirement. Your income is automatically protected by life insurance, disability benefits and death benefits. It's here if you need it. And your employer pays the cost. Some employers offer "optional" life insurance, too. It's extra coverage, and you pay the cost for that one.
Basic Life Insurance
You have basic life insurance equal to 150% of your annual salary. Your employer pays for the coverage. If you leave employment, you can take your insurance with you. If you're terminally ill, you might be able to receive your life insurance instead of your beneficiary. We call it the "accelerated benefit."
Be sure to name a beneficiary! It seems weird to think about dying but you want to make sure the right person would get the money. Visit for more info about naming a beneficiary.
Optional Life Insurance
Optional life insurance is extra coverage in case you need it. There's member coverage (that's you), plus spouse and child coverage.
You choose how much you need and can change or cancel anytime. You pay premiums through payroll deduction. Many employers offer optional insurance, including the State of Kansas. Check with your employer if you’re interested. Especially if you just started. New employees can get guaranteed coverage within their first 31 days. We also have an annual open enrollment for everyone.
Disability benefits cover some of your income if something happens to you (like an illness or injury) and you can't work. You have disability coverage equal to 60% of your salary.
While on disability, you can continue life insurance and get credit toward your retirement. Your employer pays for the coverage. This benefit has a 180-day waiting period.
We'll refund your contributions and interest if you die. Sometimes a spouse can choose an ongoing monthly benefit instead.
If you die from an on-the-job accident, your death benefit would equal 50% of your salary in ongoing monthly payments, with a $100 monthly minimum. It would go to your spouse unless you don’t have one. If you’re not married, then your children age 18 or younger (or age 23 if full-time student). If no children, then any dependent parents. There’s also a one-time $50,000 payment. This is in addition to life insurance and refunded contributions. Visit for more info about naming a beneficiary.
Not a whiz with money? Not many are. But KPERS can help you understand budgeting, debt and credit, and of course, saving. Having this stuff under your belt can make a world of difference now and help you get ready for retirement. Even if it's eons away. This is for you... even if all you want is to make it to the next paycheck.
One size does not fit all.
Check out financial guidance by career stage. And boost your financial confidence. You can do this!
Know What You Can Afford
Do you spend less than you make?
Your cash flow compares the money coming in (paycheck, investments) to what's going out (mortgage, bills, debt payments). If you do the math and you're coming up in the red, it's time to check your spending. It's a good idea to check your cash flow as often as you get. But remember, most bills are monthly, So if you're paid bi-weekly, review your cash flow every two week to help plan for all your expenses and due dates.
Do you use a budget?
Want to be financially fit? You need to budget. It’s a big key to paying off debt, growing your nest egg and setting aside money for the fun things in life.
Try the 50/30/20 rule for an easy way to budget responsibly. It divides your month after-tax income into three spending categories: 50% for needs, 30% for wants and 20% for savings/investing/paying off debt.
Save, Save More, Save Often
Are you saving 10-15% for your retirement?
KPERS and Social Security won’t be enough. You need to save on your own, too. Some experts suggest saving 10-15% of your income. You’re already contributing to KPERS, so you are part of the way there. The State of Kansas and some local employers offer KPERS 457, a deferred compensation plan. Check with your employer about savings options where you work.
Do you have 3 months saved in an
Car’s in the shop? Owe the doctor? Need a new dishwasher? Your emergency fund is there to help with those surprises..
3 months enough?
3 months is a standard time, but you need to decide if you need to save more. You can figure out how much you'll need by looking at what you spend.
Debt & Your Financial Goals
Do you set financial goals and work to reach them?
It’s often said that you’re more likely to achieve your goals if you write them out. Take some time to think about the financial things you want to accomplish (buy a car, house or appliance; travel; pay for college; retire; or donate to a cause you believe in). Consider the cost and your timeline to see how much money you need to save. It’s also a good idea to size up your finances at least once a year. Then do a year-to-year comparison to see how far you’ve come.
How much debt and do you have a plan for it?
Knowing how much you owe and working your payoff plan is key. Getting that monkey off your back will help you find the money for other things like saving for retirement or your kids’ education.