A defined benefit plan, your IPERS benefits are guaranteed for life, meaning once you retire, you will receive the same monthly benefit for the remainder of your life. This should not be confused with a defined contribution plan, such as a 401(k), 457 or 403(b) plan. Benefits from these plans may fluctuate, based on the amount of money invested and the performance of the stock market.
How IPERS Works
Both you and your employer contribute to IPERS. Your contributions are pooled and invested to pay for future benefits. At retirement, your benefit is calculated based on your age at retirement, average salary and years of service. The longer you work in public service, the larger your benefit.
Register for My Account, your IPERS retirement toolkit.
Whether you're new to public employment, or if you're a retiree, My Account gives you access to your individual retirement benefits information.
- Assign or change your beneficiary.
- View a history of all your contributions to IPERS.
- View a printable copy of your Annual Benefits Statement.
- Schedule an appointment with an IPERS retirement counselor.
- Enter various scenarios to generate a real-time benefit payment, service purchase or refund estimate.
- Update your contact information.
FAQ Accordion Title
Frequently Asked Questions
You must contribute as long as you are working in a job covered by IPERS.
Contributing to IPERS is mandatory for all IPERS members. All members pay contributions through payroll deductions. Contribution rates may change each year on July 1. Regular member rates are set by IPERS following an actuarial valuation but cannot change by more than 1 percentage point up or down each year. Contribution rates for Special Service members are determined by IPERS' actuary.
No. Contributions are set each year as a percentage of your wages. The only way to contribute more is to make an IPERS service purchase at retirement. The amount of your monthly pension is based on a formula, not on the amount of your contributions. The formula includes how many years you have worked in IPERS-covered employment and your highest average salary.
No. IPERS does not have provisions for loans or hardship withdrawals of contributions.
No. The IPERS Investment Board and a staff of certified investment professionals oversee all investment activities. At retirement, you will receive a guaranteed monthly benefit, regardless of how the stock market performs.
No. Iowa law does not permit using IPERS as collateral for a loan.
IPERS assigns a personalized member ID to each member. You should use this number when communicating with IPERS instead of your Social Security number. If you are a new member, you will receive your member ID number in the mail once your employer reports your wages to IPERS. If you don't know your member ID number, call us at 800-622-3849.
Most public employees automatically become members of IPERS when they start work for a public employer. If you are covered by IPERS, your employer will enroll you. Some public employees can choose to join IPERS or another retirement plan. If you have a choice, your employer should give you information about the available alternatives when you start work.
Vested members have earned access to several benefits, including retirement, disability and death benefits.
- Regular members become vested after seven years in IPERS-covered employment or at age 65 regardless of the years worked in IPERS-covered employment.
- Special Service members become vested after four years in IPERS-covered employment or at age 55 regardless of years worked in IPERS-covered employment.
For more information, visit the Vested Members page.
If you have designated one person as your beneficiary, he or she may be eligible for a lifetime monthly benefit or a lump-sum payment. Visit the Beneficiaries page for additional information. If you’ve named more than one person, or an estate or trust, as your beneficiary, the only payout option is a lump-sum payment. Lump-sum payments may be rolled over to avoid tax penalties. Note: It is important to keep your beneficiary designation current. Check your beneficiary designation in My Account.
• Visit the resource library section at the bottom of this page for links to helpful publications, webinars and videos.
• Call an IPERS representative or email us with your questions.
Your IPERS retirement benefit is guaranteed because it is calculated with a formula that includes your age, average salary and years of work in IPERS-covered employment. The longer you work in IPERS-covered employment, the larger your retirement benefit.
Visit the Retirement Benefit Calculation page for more information.
If you are vested, you may retire at any time without an early-retirement reduction if you qualify to retire because of disability. Special Service members may choose between Regular and Special Service disability benefits. More information is available in Understanding Your Disability Benefits. You can also contact IPERS for guidance.
If your new employer provides IPERS benefits, your membership in IPERS continues automatically. If your new employers is not an IPERS-covered employer, you may leave your money at IPERS, roll over your money to another retirement plan or take a refund. If you are a vested member or plan to return to work in a job covered by IPERS, it may be best to leave your money at IPERS.
If you have not started receiving benefits yet, you can view and print a copy of your benefits statement and see your accumulated contributions and interest in My Account.
It's easy to designate or change your beneficiary through My Account. Designations within My Account are permissible for unmarried members and married members who designate their spouse as the primary beneficiary. If you are married and want to designate someone else or multiple persons as your primary beneficiary, complete and submit the Beneficiary Designation form.