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If you’ve spent your entire career teaching in Mississippi, you want to be able to retire comfortably and not have to work. Mississippi teachers are part of the Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi. PERS pays out $1.6 billion a year to around 84,000 retirees, which include Mississippi public school teachers. Besides paying a guaranteed retirement income for your lifetime, the PERS plan also offers disability benefits and survivor benefits to your spouse or qualified dependents when you die.
Teachers contribute 9 percent of their salaries, which is matched by a 12 percent contribution from the state to the retirement fund each year. To begin drawing retirement benefits, the teacher generally needs to be 60 years old and vested in the system. However, employees with 25 years of service (if hired before July 1, 2011) or 30 years of service (if hired after July 1, 2011) can also take full retirement.
Multiply your years of service (up to 25) by .02 and the number of years beyond 25 by .025. Total these two numbers and multiply the sum by the average of your four highest-earning years in the public school system. For example, if the average of your four highest-earning years is $50,000 and you have 30 years of service, your annual retirement income would be $31,250 a year. To get this answer: 25 x .02 = .5 and 5 x .025 = .125, .5 + .125 = .625 x $40,000 = $31,250.
If you have at least four years of service, you can apply for non-duty related disability benefits. PERS offers two plans. One is an age-limited plan, which you must be under 60 years old to qualify for and the second is a tiered plan that you can apply for at any age. Work accidents that cause a disability are covered from your first day of employment. The PERS Medical Board reviews all claims to make a decision on whether it is a disabling accident or not. How much you will be paid depends on the option for payment you choose.
If you die prior to your retirement but had at least four years of service, your wife and dependent children could be eligible for a monthly benefit. However, you need to have been married for at least a year before your death and your children must be under 19 years old and unmarried or under 23 and a full-time student. If the cause of your death is job-related, there is no requirement for years of service that must be met for your dependents to be eligible for a survivor benefit.
James Rada, Jr. was a newspaper reporter for eight years and earned 23 awards from the Maryland Delaware D.C. Press Association, Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists, Maryland State Teachers’ Association and CNHI. He also worked for 12 years as a marketing communications writer, earning a Print Copywriter of the Year Award from the Utah Ad Federation. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications.