General FAQ

Can I access my OP&F account online?

Yes. Members can now access their account information online using the Member Self-Serve Web link at www.op-f.org. Registration is required to view your specific account information.

Can I transfer my part-time service credit and contributions from another Ohio retirement system to OP&F?

No, by Ohio law, contributions for volunteer or part-time service credit will not be accepted by OP&F even if it comes from another Ohio retirement system such as the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, Ohio State Highway Patrol Retirement System, School Employees Retirement System of Ohio, or State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio.

Can I withdraw, borrow or cash-out my contributions on deposit with OP&F?

By law, you can only request your contributions from OP&F if you terminate active service from a police or fire department. The refund will be the exact amount of your total employee contributions; less any tax withholding is applicable. You can avoid tax withholding by asking OP&F to pay all or part of the non-taxed contributions directly to another pension plan or an individual retirement account (IRA). In some cases, additional taxes are imposed as penalties for early withdrawal from qualified retirement plans.

Please contact OP&F customer service to request an Application for Withdrawal/Rollover of Accumulated Member Contributions and to verify your address if you choose to withdraw your contributions. Your withdrawal/rollover will be issued after all the proper paperwork has been processed and OP&F has received all of your contributions through your termination date.

Gross Income Exclusion for Health Insurance Premiums Up to $3,000 annually Pension Protection Act of 2006

Are members of OP&F considered eligible public safety officers as defined by the Pension Protection Act of 2006?

Yes. OP&F members qualify as eligible public safety officers if they have retired on a normal service retirement (i.e. age 48 with 25 years of service), age service commuted (i.e. age 62 with 15 years of service) or disability benefit recipient.

Whom will this gross income exclusion benefit?

The gross income exclusion will benefit eligible service or disability retired public safety officers who have qualified health insurance premiums deducted directly from their pension. This can include premiums paid on behalf of the member, spouses and dependents when the premiums are paid directly from the eligible public safety officer’s service or disability pension.

Does this gross income exclusion apply to survivors?

No. Once an eligible public safety officer is deceased this gross income exclusion stops.

Does this gross income exclusion apply for deductions made in the year the eligible public safety officer dies?

Yes. The gross income exclusion can be taken from the IRS Form 1040 for deductions taken from the eligible public safety officer’s pension as it was received and deducted up to the $3,000 limit.

Is the gross income exclusion amount for medical, prescription or both?

Both. The exclusion covers all qualified health insurance premiums.

Does this gross income exclusion include or exclude co-pays and deductibles?

Co-pays and deductibles are excluded. The gross income exclusion only covers qualified health insurance premiums paid directly from a defined benefit pension plan on behalf of an eligible public safety officer.

Are premiums for long-term health care insurance included within this exclusion?

This gross income exclusion only applies to a distribution if the payment of premiums is made directly to the provider of the accident or health care plan or qualified long-term care insurance contract by deduction directly from a service or disability pension distribution from an eligible retirement plan. Long-term health care is currently not deducted from OP&F health care coverage.

Does the same exclusion apply to other state pensions?

No. The gross income exclusion is limited to $3,000 per year, per eligible public safety officer only.

As a qualified public safety officer, am I eligible for additional $3,000 exclusions for my spouse and for my dependents?

No. The gross income exclusion is limited to $3,000 per year, per eligible public safety officer only.

When can safety officers start filing for this gross income exclusion?

For tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2006, or for your 2007 tax return. As a result, this exclusion cannot be elected until filings due by Apr. 15, 2008.

What do I have to do and what information is needed to apply for the gross income exclusion?

To take advantage of the gross income exclusion, those eligible will need to claim the associated tax benefits on their individual tax return IRS Form 1040.

What form do I need to complete to apply for the gross income exclusion?

The IRS will determine what adjustments to Form 1040 and Form 1040 Instructions are needed to address this gross income exclusion and any reporting needs.

Will OP&F provide me with the total amount deducted for health care premiums via the annual Form 1099-R or my year-end benefit statement, or will a special letter or other documentation be provided to me?

Refer to your monthly benefit statement, under deductions for health care, prescriptions, dental and vision deductions. Then go to the year-to-date column for the annual tax year totals. If a retired member starts with interim benefits, then their final retirement is calculated in the same tax year; their year- to-date totals will start over. You may need to add these statements together to get your annual total premiums deducted for reporting purposes.

Are on-duty and off-duty disability pensions eligible for this gross income exclusion?

Yes. OP&F members retired as service or disability are eligible.

Are health care premiums taxed or taxed deferred?

OP&F does not have an IRS Section 125 plan for retirees since these plans can currently only be offered to active employees. Health care premiums are deducted on an after-tax/taxed basis.

Am I eligible for the gross income exclusion if my OP&F benefits are non-taxable due to the private letter ruling?

Yes. However, the eligible public safely officer must have other reportable and taxable gross income in order to deduct this exclusion from IRS Form 1040.

What is meant when the IRS refers to “no special reporting requirements” in the Form 1099-R Instructions for 2007?

It is the eligible public safety officer’s responsibility to take this gross income exclusion on IRS Form 1040 for their eligible portion. The IRS determined that a plan sponsor, like OP&F, is not required to report these amounts on the pension Form 1099-R.

Do I qualify for the gross income exclusion if I am on my spouses’ health care plan?

The gross income exclusion is only available if the plan is deducting and then remitting premiums directly to the insurance provider directly from the eligible public safety officer’s pension.

OP&F is providing this information to our membership as a service and does not intend to substitute any IRS interpretations, rules or eligibility requirements. Please contact the IRS or your tax preparer directly to verify your tax filing questions or with any questions or for additional information related to qualification of this gross income exclusion.

How can I determine if my disability benefits will be affected if I accept a job?

If you are concerned that you may be accepting a position that might jeopardize your disability benefits, please send a written inquiry to OP&F at 140 East Town Street, Columbus, OH 43215, that includes your questions and the official job description on the company letterhead you are considering. An OP&F representative will be able to review the job description and provide you with recommendations.

Also, please review the Members' Guide to Disability Benefits, specifically the section that describes how a police officer and firefighter are defined. If the job you are considering is defined as a police officer or firefighter your disability benefits will be terminated.

How can I get a copy of my account summary?

Call OP&F's Customer Service at 888-864-8363 to verify your current mailing address and Social Security number. Once OP&F has confirmed your information, a Customer Service representative will mail you your statement of contributions. This should take 3 to 10 business days after your request is received.

How can I purchase my military service credit or have it granted?

In order to get your military time granted or purchased you will need to contact OP&F Customer Service at 888-864-8363 for assistance with the proper paperwork and steps you need to follow.

Please be prepared to forward OP&F your DD214 that states:

  • you were honorably discharged;
  • your date of entry; and
  • your date of discharge.

Before OP&F can calculate a cost for military service credit the proper forms will also need to be completed by members of OP&F who are considering the purchase of military service. The member must complete the Member Service Credit Purchase Certification, Military form and the Employer (where the member held his/her first full-time public position after their discharge from the military) must complete the Employer Certification of Initial Annual Salary form. It is the responsibility of the member to obtain this information from their employer and forward it to OP&F along with military documents (DD214 or Point Summary) stating the “character of service” as “honorable” or “honorable under general conditions”. Please note that these forms have been updated were revised in June 2013, and any other versions that may have been submitted are obsolete and will need to be resubmitted to OP&F.

How can I request an estimate of my service credit?

Please contact OP&F Customer Service at 888-864-8363 to request an estimate of your service credit. A representative will be able to answer any questions you may have at this time and will begin the process of calculating your service credit.

Due to the non-secure nature of e-mail, OP&F will not transmit e-mail that includes any specific details regarding your account or will accept any e-mail request asking for personal information such as your service credit estimate, especially since you need to verify your personal information before an estimate is calculated. So please call Customer Service directly for the most efficient and prompt response to your request.

How can I tell if I have the technical capabilities to report payroll online?

Contact OP&F Customer Service at 888-864-8363, Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. EST, to speak to a representative who will assist you. The representative will help you determine if you have the technical capabilities and if so, give you instructions on reporting payroll online.

How do I access my DROP information online?

Visit www.op-f.org/activemembers/MemberSelfServeWeb for instructions on how to access your DROP information online.

How do I change my address on file with OP&F?

Members may now change or update mailing addresses online by using the secure Member Self-Serve Web. By logging into the secure site, members may select Member Demographics and then update their address, home and work telephone numbers as well as their email address. This will help ensure that you receive important news and information from OP&F. This feature can be beneficial for those “snowbird” members who have a different address during the winter months. You can also submit a Change of Address form by clicking here.

How do I change my federal tax withholdings?

Please complete and return to OP&F the W-4P Withholding Certificate for Pension or Annuity Payments form to change the amount of your federal tax withholdings. The form is also located on the IRS Web site.

How do I change my state tax withholdings?

Please complete and return to OP&F the Withholding Certificate for Ohio State Income Tax form to change the amount of withholdings for your state taxes.

How do I designate or change my beneficiary?

Ohio laws that govern OP&F automatically designate the succession of your beneficiary. Your beneficiary is automatically your surviving spouse, children 18 years old or younger, and/or children who are students aged 18 to 22 years old.

If you do not have a spouse, children or dependent parent(s), a lump-sum cash out of your accumulated contributions will be made to your estate.

When you are within one year of retirement eligibility by having 25 years of service and are at least 48 years old, then you may designate someone other than your spouse to be the contingent dependent beneficiary of a survivor annuity. This annuity is payable only if you do not have a surviving spouse upon your death.

To ensure OP&F's records reflect your current marital status, please send a letter or fax to OP&F along with a copy of your marriage certificate or divorce decree to OP&F, 140 East Town Street, Columbus, OH 43215. There is no form to complete but please be sure to put your Social Security number and signature on the letter and include any beneficiary information.

Multiple Beneficiary Annuity
Please be aware that if your effective date of retirement is on or after Oct. 27, 2006, you can select a new Multiple Beneficiary Annuity as your plan of payment. Under this plan, you can designate up to four beneficiaries at the time of retirement, in such portions as specified at retirement.

If there is a court order issued prior to your effective date of retirement that requires you to designate a former spouse as a beneficiary, OP&F must administer your application by providing for a plan of payment in a specified amount continuing after your death to your former spouse in addition to providing for your current spouse, if applicable. This specified amount must be expressed in the court order as a percentage of your retirement allowance in order for OP&F to administer the order. OP&F will process such court orders in the order in which they are received by OP&F.

How do I enroll in DROP?

Prior to enrolling in DROP, you have the option of contacting OP&F to request a written estimate of your pension benefit that would be credited to DROP. OP&F typically generates these estimates within two to four weeks. You are not required to come to OP&F offices in Columbus to discuss your DROP benefits with an OP&F counselor; however, you are welcome to do so.

Steps to enrollment
1. Call OP&F at 888-864-8363 to request a written estimate of your pension benefit that will be credited to DROP.
2. Discuss DROP with a tax or financial planner to see if DROP is right for you.
3. If you are already eligible for a normal service retirement and would like to enroll in DROP, return a completed and notarized Election to Enroll in DROP form to OP&F. You can request a form by calling Customer Service at 888-864-8363 or downloading one from our Web site. Submit your election form to OP&F through the mail or in person at 140 East Town Street, Columbus, OH 43215. OP&F will not accept forms that are incomplete, faxed or photocopied.
4. Within 90 days of OP&F receiving your Election to Enroll in DROP form, you will receive information indicating your DROP effective date and the amount of the pension that will be credited to your DROP account each month.

In most cases, your DROP participation will take effect on the first day of the first full employer-reporting period that immediately follows OP&F's receipt of your completed Election to Enroll in DROP form. Pension payments will be applied to DROP based on your effective date and you are not permitted to specify an effective date on your election form.

How do I get an estimate of my pension from OP&F?

Call OP&F's Customer Service at 888-864-8363 to verify your current mailing address and Social Security number. Once OP&F has confirmed your information, a Customer Service representative will mail you your estimate. It will take approximately 3 to 5 weeks to process after your request is received.

How do I get my benefit check electronically Direct Deposited into my bank account?

Complete the Direct Deposit Application and attach a voided check or a copy of your account's deposit slip to the application. Return the completed application and necessary documentation to OP&F at 140 East Town Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215.

If OP&F receives your completed form and deposit slip by the 15th of the month, then your benefit will be electronically Direct Deposited the very next month.

After OP&F has completed and filed your application, your monthly benefit is automatically deposited to your designated bank account on the first business day of every month by electronic authorization.

How do I have my benefit check electronically Direct Deposited into my new account if I change bank accounts or banks?

To have your benefit checks rerouted to a different bank account via Direct Deposit, complete the Direct Deposit Application and attach a voided check or a copy of your account's deposit slip to the application. Return the completed application and necessary documentation to OP&F at 140 East Town Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215.

If OP&F receives your completed form and deposit slip by the 15th of the month, then your benefit will be electronically Direct Deposited into your new account the very next month. We suggest that you keep your former account open until you have verified that your benefit check is being deposited into your new account.

How do I request documentation verifying my monthly retirement income, or an award letter?

To obtain a letter from OP&F verifying your income, please call OP&F's Customer Service at 888-864-8363 to verify your current mailing address and Social Security number. Once OP&F has confirmed your information, a Customer Service representative will mail you the requested letter.

Due to the non-secure nature of e-mail, OP&F will not transmit e-mail that includes any specific details regarding your account or will accept any e-mail request asking for personal information such as verification of income. Therefore, please do not e-mail OP&F for a letter verifying your income, instead call Customer Service.

How do I transfer my OP&F service credit and contributions to another Ohio retirement system?

Once you are no longer contributing to OP&F, you may have the option to rollover your contributions to another Ohio retirement system, such as the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, Ohio State Highway Patrol Retirement System, School Employees Retirement System of Ohio, or State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio, if you have established membership at that system. Contact OP&F’s Customer Service at 888-864-8363 to verify your mailing address and to receive a refund application to rollover your contributions to another Ohio retirement system.

How do I transfer my service credit and contributions from another Ohio retirement system to OP&F?

Write a letter to the Ohio retirement system in which you are transferring from requesting that your contributions and service credit be transferred to OP&F. Make certain to include your Social Security number and signature on the letter to the retirement system.

Subject to restrictions, you may purchase full–time service credit earned under an Ohio retirement system, such as the Cincinnati Retirement System, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, School Employees Retirement System, State Highway Patrol Retirement System, or State Teachers Retirement System.

If you joined OP&F on or after Sept. 16, 1998, and transferred or purchased service credit, you can pay the difference between the employee and employer contribution rates of OP&F and the other retirement system, plus interest, to receive full credit. Otherwise, service credit will be prorated based on the difference in the retirement systems’ contribution rates.

Please contact OP&F’s Customer Service at 888-864-8363 for information on the cost of transferring or purchasing service credit.

If an OP&F member has at least 15 years of service with OP&F on or before July 1 2013, their average annual salary will be calculated using the highest three years of salary. For members who have less than 15 years of service on July 1, 2013, the average annual salary is calculated using the highest five years of salary. A member's average annual salary is defined under Ohio law as being the average earnings or compensation of their final average salary, regardless of when in their career the highest years occurred. It is subject to certain statutory and administrative limitations and not all salary, earnings or compensation may be used in the calculation.

How long does it take for my DROP contributions to be posted online?

The process of posting DROP calculations online will take approximately 2 to 4 months from the time the monthly payroll is due to OP&F. Delays or errors in reporting can slow down this process. For example, if the May monthly report was due to OP&F on June 30, it would be reviewed and posted to your account by the end of July. If there were delays or errors in your employer’s reporting, they have 30 days from the initial notice to correct the reporting deficiency, then OP&F will process the corrections, approve the report, and update the payroll to the member ledgers. DROP interest is posted based on the total amount of money at the end of a month, and the interest will be retroactive back to the date when the money was received for each month.