All teachers in Arkansas must contribute 6 percent of their monthly salary to their personal retirement funds. These contributions are automatically deducted from your paycheck. While employed, you will not have access these funds. Should you leave your job before reaching retirement eligibility, you can request a refund of your personal contributions plus any interest earned by your contributions.
The Arkansas Teacher Retirement System (ARTRS) offers four different retirement plans. Option 1 provides the greatest monthly benefit with no survivor benefits. If you should die before you receive retirement benefits equaling your personal contributions plus accrued interest, your beneficiary will receive a lump sum for the remaining funds due to you. ARTRS also offers Options A, B and C which provide beneficiary benefits upon your death. Your beneficiary must be either a spouse of at least one year, a family member supported by you who is at least 40 years old or a dependent child who is physically or mentally incompetent. Option A continues to pay your beneficiary your same monthly benefit even after you die for the duration of the beneficiary's lifetime. Option B continues to pay 50 percent of your monthly benefit to your beneficiary and Option C provides 10 years of benefit payments to you and/or beneficiary for 10 years. If you are still living at the end of the 10 years, you will receive benefits according to the Option 1 plan for the duration of your life.
ARTRS uses a formula to determine your monthly benefits. First, ARTRS averages your three highest years' salaries to the determine your final average salary (FAS). Your FAS is then multiplied by 2.15 percent and multiplied again by your number of service years. That amount is then divided by 12 in order to determine monthly benefits.
ARTRS requires that teachers either complete 28 years of service or reach the age of 60 with at least five years of teaching service in order to receive full retirement benefits. Those who have at least 25 years of teaching service can retire before the age of 60, but will either lose 5 percent benefit reduction for each year remaining until they either reach the age of 60 or until they reach 28 service years.
At least a year before you plan to retire, attend an ARTRS workshop. Six to nine months before your scheduled retirement, complete retirement applications, direct deposit forms and tax election forms. Make sure ARTRS receives all paperwork no later than May 31 in order for retirement benefits to begin on time.