Frequently Asked Questions
Denver Employees Retirement Plan is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The Plan's address is 777 Pearl Street, Denver, CO 80203, situated on the southwest corner of E. 8th Avenue and Pearl Street.
The Plan has its own free parking lot directly across Pearl Street from the Plan’s offices, at the corner of E. 8th Avenue and Pearl St. There are designated Visitor parking spaces on the north side of the parking lot, facing E. 8th Ave.
Vesting means that an employee has met the legal requirements to become eligible for a lifetime pension benefit. For employees hired before July 1, 2011, vesting occurs upon completion of five years of credited service for the City or DHHA, or upon reaching age 65, whichever comes first. For employees hired on or after July 1, 2011, vesting occurs upon completion of five years of credited service for the City regardless of the age of the employee.
Effective January 1, 2015, employees contribute 8.0% of their total gross salary to the trust fund for their retirement. For example, if the employee's salary per pay period is $1,500, the deduction per pay period would be $120.00 ($1,500 x .08 = $120.00). These contributions are made on a pretax basis through payroll deductions.
The City and County of Denver/DHHA contributes 12.5% of each employee’s gross salary to the trust fund. Together, the employer and employee contributions, plus income from investments, fund the retirement benefits for employees and their beneficiaries.
If an active member terminates employment before he/she is vested (ineligible for a retirement benefit), his/her personal contributions, plus interest, will be refunded in a lump sum.* These contributions and interest may also be rolled over to a qualified retirement account. When the terminated employee accepts this refund, he/she forfeits all years of service and any future retirement benefit eligibility. However, if the member returns to employment with the City, he/she may receive credit for the forfeited years of service if the refunded amount, plus interest, is repaid to the trust fund within 24 months of re-employment.
If an active member terminates employment and is vested (eligible for a future retirement benefit), the contributions cannot be refunded. Instead, these contributions will remain with the Plan to help fund the member’s retirement benefit.
*There is a mandatory federal withholding when the contributions are taken in a lump sum.
If a member terminates employment with the City before he/she is vested, and chooses to receive a refund of contributions, a check will be mailed from the Plan within 90 days after the refund application is received.
For active members employed prior to September 1, 2004, the lifetime monthly retirement benefit calculation is 2% of the employee’s average monthly salary (based upon the highest 36 consecutive months' salary that the member earns from the employer) times years and months of credited service.
For members who were hired or re-hired on or after September 1, 2004, but prior to July 1, 2011, the retirement benefit is based on 1.5% of the average monthly salary (based upon the highest 36 consecutive months' salary that the member earns from the employer) times years and months of credited service.
For members originally hired on or after July 1, 2011, the retirement benefit is based on 1.5% of the average monthly salary (based upon the highest 60 consecutive months' salary that the member earns from the employer) times years and months of credited service.
Yes. With certain restrictions, vested members may purchase, prior to retirement and subject to procedures established by the Plan, unlimited governmental service credit and up to five years of nongovernmental service credit, for the purpose of adding years and months of service to the calculation of the member's retirement benefit. The cost to purchase service is based on the member's age, earliest unreduced retirement age, average monthly salary, and certain actuarial factors.
You cannot add extra money to this retirement plan other than by purchasing service as described in Question #9. However, you can contribute more to your future retirement through the voluntary Deferred Compensation plan. Contact TIAA for more information:
For employees hired prior to January 1, 2010, who accrue traditional sick and vacation leave, any unused leave that is cashed out by the employer upon termination is treated as salary for pension calculation purposes. Such amount is added to the employee’s final month salary, thus boosting the Average Monthly Salary component of the pension calculation formula for the employee if the employee’s highest 36 consecutive months of salary were his/her final 36 months.
For employees hired on or after January 1, 2010, who accrue Paid Time Off (PTO), any unused PTO that is cashed out by the employer upon termination is not legally able to be treated by the Plan as salary for benefit calculation purposes. Thus its receipt does not alter the employee’s Average Monthly Salary.
Any employee who is to receive a cash out of unused accumulated leave may be eligible to have some or all of that amount directed to an account at the Deferred Compensation provider, in order to defer taxes on funds so directed. Such deferral will not impact the calculation by the Plan of the member’s pension benefit. The Deferred Compensation provider can be contacted at:
A Normal unreduced retirement is at age 65.
For members hired before July 1, 2011: The earliest retirement age is 55. Your lifetime benefit will be reduced by 3% for each year under age 65 when you begin to receive your benefit (30% reduction at age 55), unless you have qualified for the Rule-of-75 (years of service + age = 75).
For members hired on or after July 1, 2011: The earliest retirement age is 60. Your lifetime benefit will be reduced by 6% for each year under age 65 when you begin to receive your benefit (30% reduction at age 60), unless you have qualified for the Rule-of-85 (years of service + age = 85).
For further information, please refer to our Benefits section.
For members hired before July 1, 2011, the Rule-of-75 Retirement enables a member to retire as early as age 55, without a benefit reduction, provided the combined years and months of credited service and age at termination equal or exceed the sum of 75.
For members hired on or after July 1, 2011, the Rule-of-85 Retirement enables a member to retire as early as age 60, without a benefit reduction, provided the combined years and months of credited service and age at termination equal or exceed the sum of 85.
For members hired before July 1, 2011, a supplement to the basic Plan benefit may be available to you, designed to “make up” for the normal retirement age under Social Security having been extended beyond age 65 for individuals born in 1938 and later. The Plan will increase monthly retirement benefits to those individuals who qualify, according to a formula specified in the Plan’s governing law. The benefit is based on a percentage of the member's estimated Social Security benefit times credited service with the City during which contributions were made to Social Security (up to a maximum of 35 years), divided by 35. This additional benefit is payable beginning at age 62 or the member's retirement date, whichever is later.
Members originally hired on or after July 1, 2011, are not eligible for the Social Security Make-up benefit.
A lump sum death benefit is available to members who retire directly from active service. This is a single payment, made to the member's beneficiary. The beneficiary may be any person/s, or an estate. Retirees may choose to withdraw this amount in 100 or 50 equal installments, rather than leaving it to a beneficiary.
A cost of living adjustment (COLA) is authorized only by vote of the Retirement Board, and only when sufficient excess funds are available to cover the cost of any such increase in benefits over the lifetime of all retired members. No COLA has been granted by the Retirement Board since 2002. However, the separate monthly Social Security benefit also received by most Plan retirees is indexed to inflation.
At retirement, a member may elect to reduce his/her retirement benefit to provide a lifetime monthly benefit over two lifetimes. Your retirement benefit is reduced based on your and your joint and survivor beneficiary's ages at retirement. You may elect to have your joint and survivor beneficiary receive 100%, 75%, or 50% of what you are receiving, upon your death. The reduction to your benefit is the highest if you elect the 100% option, and is the least if you elect the 50% option. The joint and survivor beneficiary must be your spouse, unless he/she formally waives this right and consents to another beneficiary. Once you receive your first retirement benefit, your beneficiary option cannot be changed. However, your benefit will increase to the maximum benefit if your beneficiary predeceases you.
Active/Inactive members may name a beneficiary as follows:
In addition to a primary beneficiary, members may now also name one person as a contingent beneficiary. Your contingent beneficiary will only receive a benefit from DERP if you were to pass away and your primary beneficiary on file has also passed away.
- If you are married, your spouse must be your primary beneficiary, unless he/she signs a waiver.
- If you are not married, but have children under the age of 21, you must name all of your children under age 21 as your primary beneficiaries.
- If you are not married, and do not have children under age 21, you may name any one individual person to be your primary beneficiary.
- Only one beneficiary can be named.
- You may not list an estate, trust, or charity as either your primary or contingent beneficiary.
- You may only name one contingent beneficiary.
Retired members may name a Joint and Survivor beneficiary as follows:
- If the member is married, he/she may name their spouse as beneficiary. If they choose not to, the spouse must formally waive this right and consent in writing to the designation of another beneficiary.
- If the member is unmarried, anyone may be named as beneficiary.
Once benefit payments commence, designation of a beneficiary cannot be changed.
If vested, the member's retirement benefit is considered marital property in a divorce. The Plan offers a Domestic Relations Order (DRO) that can be used if both the member and the spouse agree. The DRO allows the division of the member's retirement benefit at the time the member retires. There are specific forms and procedures that must be followed. Please refer to our section on the DRO page.
The Plan offers disability retirement for members with permanent disabilities. Whether it is an On-the-Job or Off-the-Job Disability, this benefit is payable for life, provided the member continues to meet the eligibility requirements. This benefit becomes effective the first day of the month after the member terminates employment with the employer because of the disability. The member must apply within 90 days of termination and complete the application requirements within two years. For more information, please see our section on Disability Retirement.
If an active member should die while employed with the City/DHHA, there are death benefits available for the member's beneficiary. In most instances, the Death Benefit is a lifetime monthly benefit for the designated beneficiary. If the member is married, the member's spouse will receive the lifetime benefit unless the spouse has waived this right and formally consented to another designated beneficiary. Benefits are available for both On-the-Job and Off-the-Job deaths. For more information, please refer to our section on Death Benefits.
If a retiring member is considering resuming employment with the City after commencement of DERP retirement payments, in order for DERP payments to not be interrupted:
- The member must be separated from employment and not receive any monies from the City, including any payment for accrued vacation and sick leave, for a minimum of 30 days and
- The member cannot work more than 1,000 hours in any calendar year after the initial date of re-employment.
If a member does not wait at least the minimum amount of time before resuming employment, or works over 1,000 hours in a calendar year, DERP retirement benefits will be suspended and the member shall be considered re-employed with the City in a DERP-benefitted position. The employee will be required to pay the applicable employee contributions to DERP, and in return will receive additional credited service until the member separates again from employment. At that time, the member’s initial retirement benefit will resume. The member will be required to apply for an additional retirement benefit, to be calculated based upon the new service and earnings accrued during the re-employment period. This new benefit will be paid in addition to the previously calculated benefit.
If an employee opts to retire in lieu of layoff, the Plan will calculate the employee’s monthly retirement benefit based on the service and earnings the employee has as of the date of termination. If the employee is later rehired by the City in a benefitted position, the monthly DERP retirement benefit will be suspended while the employee is back working for the City, and the employee will begin accruing credited service toward a new, second retirement. When the employee terminates employment for the second time, the Plan will calculate and pay an additional retirement benefit based on the additional credited service and salary earned following re-employment, as well as resume paying the originally calculated monthly retirement benefit.
The lifetime monthly benefit you will receive from the Plan will provide a part of your retirement income. You will need to acquire and save money from other sources, as well. Social Security (www.socialsecurity.gov) is one of these sources. IRAs, annuities, personal savings, and other investments can also contribute to your retirement.
The City offers a voluntary Deferred Compensation plan to help you save for retirement. You can transfer pre-tax money through payroll deductions to an individual account at TIAA. They can help you select investments that meet your risk tolerance and financial objectives. For more information, you should contact TIAA, or get a brochure and enrollment form from the Controller’s Office.
Website: Social Security
Other sites that can help with budgeting and planning:
Employee Benefits Security Administration
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20210
(EBSA can provide more information on saving and making investments for retirement.)
www.asec.org: The site for the American Savings Education Council.
www.choosetosave.org: Provides calculators and information on savings for all age groups.
www.fpanet.org: The site for the Financial Planning Organization. This provides a directory of Certified Financial Planners, searchable by area.
--Get an estimate of retirement benefits from the Plan.
--Provide written notice of your retirement date to your supervisor and the Plan between 30 and 90 days prior to the effective retirement date. The Plan will then send a Certification of Retirement form to your employer.
--After the Certification of Retirement form has been returned to the Plan, you will receive a notice to schedule an appointment with the Plan to complete the necessary documents.
It is recommended that members contact Social Security directly for specific information. They may be reached by telephone at 1-800-772-1213 or via Website: Social Security
The Plan offers health, dental, and vision insurance options for retired members and the member’s family. The Plan contributes a portion of the monthly health, dental, and vision insurance premiums, based on the member’s years of credited service and age. For members who are not Medicare-eligible, the monthly benefit is $12.50 per year of credited service, and for members who are Medicare-eligible, the monthly benefit is $6.25 per year of credited service.
For retirees who are not Medicare-eligible, the health insurance options are identical to those available to current City employees. For retirees who are Medicare-eligible, the Plan offers a choice of several health insurance plans that provide enhanced benefits in conjunction with Medicare.
Changes to insurance may be made only during the Open Enrollment period, which is the month of October. Any changes made during this time will be effective the following January 1. During Open Enrollment, you can add or change health insurance plans, add or change dental or vision insurance, or add dependents. However, you may cancel your insurance at any time throughout the year.
Yes, the monthly retirement benefit you receive from the Plan is subject to federal and state tax. Colorado law excludes from state taxation pension income up to $24,000 per year for those over age 65 and $20,000 per year for those under age 65. The Plan is able to withhold federal and state taxes from your benefit. You may call the Plan to request a withholding form, or click here to print one. Consult your tax advisor about the amount you want to have withheld.
Please note that the Plan representatives cannot provide tax counseling. Specific questions about your taxes should be directed to the IRS, the Colorado Department of Revenue, or to your personal tax advisor.
You may change your withholding at any time by downloading and submitting one of the Plan's tax withholding forms. Your form must be received by the 15th of the month prior to the month in which you want the change to become effective.
Yes, the Plan provides a 1099-R annually to every retiree. These forms are made available by January 31 each year.
You can change your address by downloading and submitting a Change of Address form, or you may write a letter to the Plan including your new address and your signature. A signature is required for any change to your address.
Your life insurance with the City/DHHA will terminate when you retire. Your employer can give you forms to convert this group policy to an individual policy. You will pay the premium directly to Standard Insurance.
All new retirees receive their monthly benefit via direct deposit. You can set up or change your direct deposit by downloading and submitting a Direct Deposit form.
Your benefit is payable on the first of the month for that month. Direct deposit statements and retirement checks are distributed on the last business day of the month for the following month. Direct deposit amounts are generally in your account on the last day of the month. Electronic notice of direct deposits are also made available on the last business day of the month.
If you do not receive your check in the mail, you should contact the Plan. A stop-payment can be placed on the check you did not receive, and a new check will be issued. The Plan can only reissue checks that have not been received after six business days.
The Plan holds Retirement Information Meetings on a regular basis, to allow active members near retirement a chance to receive information about their retirement options. These meetings are held monthly at the Webb Building, and periodically at various other agencies around the City. A current schedule can be found in our About Us section. Members may also schedule an individual appointment with a Membership Services Representative.
MSS stands for Member Self-Service. Once you sign up and log in, you can set up an individual account which allows you to access your file and view/change various information such as: current address on file, enroll in meetings and seminars offered by the Plan, request an appointment with Membership Services, or calculate the cost to purchase service. If you are vested, you can calculate estimated retirement benefits. For a step by step guide on how to log in and create your user account, click here.
Access the Member Self-Service Portal by clicking MSS Login.
The Plan has an Advisory Committee composed of four members, both active and retired, who represent the membership at monthly Board Meetings. The Advisory Committee Election is held every spring, to elect one of the Advisory Committee Members.