Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System (TSERS)

This program is sponsored by the State of North Carolina and governed by the Department of the State Treasurer.

TSERS is as a defined benefit plan (pension plan) and the benefit you receive at retirement is based on a formula. This formula considers your years and months of creditable service, your age, and your “average final compensation,” which is the average of your salary during your 48 highest paid consecutive months. Neither the investment experience of the plan assets nor the amount contributed by you and the University, on your behalf, directly determines the amount of the guaranteed benefit you will receive at retirement.

Employer and employee contribution percentages are established by the General Assembly. Employee contributions to TSERS are made on a pre-tax basis. As a result, the University will deduct the contribution from your pay before calculating federal or state income tax withholding. The employee contribution for TSERS is 6%

Eligible SHRA/EHRA new hires have 60 days from their hire date to decide on a mandatory retirement of either TSERS or the Optional Retirement Program (ORP).  If no decision is made, the new hire is defaulted to the TSERS plan, this action is irrevocable.

Mandatory Retirement Plan Decision Guide Mandatory Retirement Plan Comparison Tool


Eligible employees have 60 days from commencing employment to elect to enroll in the Optional Retirement Program. Failure to make an election within the 60-day time period will result in automatic membership in the Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System (TSERS), the defined benefit plan. This consequence is irrevocable.

  • NOTE: NC State will take a “general retirement” amount of 6% of base salary during the 60-day enrollment period.  Once a retirement plan is selected, the general retirement amount is refunded and then sent to the selected vendor.

1. Complete an Enrollment Form

To  enroll in TSERS, employees must complete an enrollment form and  submit it to the University Human Resources Benefits Office at hrsbenefits@ncsu.edu, via fax at 3-2528, or by campus mail at Campus Box 7215. Forms must be received no later than the 60 day enrollment deadline. 

2. Setup your ORBIT Access

The State Retirement System encourages all newly hired employees to log onto their ORBIT system to make their beneficiary elections. Access the State Retirement Systems’ ORBIT retirement online system at: www.myncretirement.com.  Click on ORBIT and then select “Register” if this is your first time logging in to this System and follow the instructions. Please note that beneficiaries can be changed at any time.


You become vested once you have completed a minimum of five years of retirement service credit with the Retirement System. This means that you are eligible to apply for lifetime monthly retirement benefits based on the retirement formula, and the age and service requirements of the Retirement System in which you participate, provided you do not withdraw your contributions.To view your TSERS account, access the State Retirement Systems’ ORBIT retirement online system at: www.myncretirement.com.  Click on ORBIT and then select “Register” if this is your first time logging in to this System and follow the instructions.

Retirement Eligibility?

You may retire with an unreduced service retirement benefit after:

  • you reach age 65 and complete five years of creditable service,
  • you reach age 60 and complete 25 years of creditable service, or
  • you complete 30 years of creditable service, at any age.

You may retire early with a reduced retirement benefit after:

  • you reach age 50 and complete 20 years of creditable service, or
  • you reach age 60 and complete five years of creditable service.

How Are Benefits Calculated?

As a defined benefit plan, the benefit received at retirement is determined by a formula. The formula used in calculating the maximum annual retirement benefit is the average of the employee’s salary during the four highest paid years in a row times a retirement factor set by the NC General Assembly times the total number of years and months of creditable service. Reduced retirement benefits are calculated using an additional reduction factor determined by the participant’s age and years of service. For employees participating in TSERS, additional service credit is granted based on the accumulated sick leave balance as of the retirement effective date. One month of service credit is granted for every 20 days of accrued sick leave or any portion thereof (provided the portion exceeds one hour).

How Are My Beneficiaries Protected?

Death Benefit

If a TSERS participant dies while in active service (or within 180 days of service separation if the contributions have not been withdrawn) after one year of contributing membership service, the beneficiaries will receive a single lump sum payment. The benefit amount is based on the highest 12 consecutive months of salary within the 24-month period preceding death. The benefit amount is no less than $25,000 and no more than $50,000.

Refund of Contributions

Beneficiaries will receive a refund of the employee’s contributions (with interest, if applicable).

Survivor’s Alternate Benefit

If specific age and/or years of service requirements have been met by an employee, a survivor’s alternate benefit may be paid as a life-time monthly annuity in lieu of a refund of contributions. For a beneficiary to be eligible for this option, only one principal beneficiary can be named by the employee for the Refund of Contributions.

Post Retirement Survivor Benefits

Depending on the participant’s choice of retirement payment option, a monthly survivor benefit may be payable to the named beneficiary upon the retiree’s death.

Retiree Health Benefits

When you retire and begin receiving monthly benefits from the ORP, you may also be eligible to enroll in the State Health Plan with the cost determined by when your employment started with the State. In all cases, the full cost of dependent coverage, if elected, must be paid by the retiree.

First Hired on/After January 1, 2021

  • First Hired On/After January 1, 2021 – If you were hired on or after January 1, 2021, you will not be eligible to receive retiree or dependent medical benefits.

First Hired Prior to October 1, 2006

  • If you were first hired prior to October 1, 2006, and retire with five or more years ORP participation, the State will pay either all or most of the cost.

First Hired On/After October 1, 2006

  • If you were first hired on or after October 1, 2006, in order to receive individual coverage at no cost, you must retire with 20 or more years of retirement service credit;
  • If you have 10 but less than 20 years of retirement service credit, you will have to pay 50 percent of the cost for your coverage,
  • With five but less than 10 years, you will have to pay the full cost for your coverage.

Based on current law, if you withdrew, transfer or rollover your entire ORP account, your first hire date is forfeited and will reset based on your re-employment date with the state. Upon termination/separation/retirement if you withdraw, transfer or rollover your entire ORP account you will forfeit your right to the State’s retiree group health plan coverage.

For more on Retiree Health Insurance, please visit the State Health Plan website.

Contribution Based Benefit Cap (CBBC)

On January 1, 2015, the Fiscal Integrity/Pension-Spiking Prevention Act became law. The law aims to control the practice of “pension spiking,” which occurs when a the compensation of a member of the Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System (TSERS) or Law Enforcement Officers Retirement System (LEORS) substantially increases which creates a benefit that is significantly greater than the contributions paid by the member and that the employer would fund.

Employees who are members of TSERS or LEORS and who have been identified by the State Retirement System to have an Average Final Compensation (AFC) of $100,000 or greater, as adjusted annually for inflation may be subject to a CBBC liability at the time of retirement. This information includes employees who transfer to NC State from another state agency or university and who participate in TSERS or LEORS.

NC State has opted not to contribute to the liability created by the CBBC for employees hired or transferred to NC State and joined TSERS or LEORS on or after July 1 2020. Employees covered by these plans and retiring with TSERS or LEORS and who are identified by the State Retirement System with a CBBC liability may choose one of the following options:

  1. Employee may pay the difference between their contributions and their expected benefit in order to receive a full pension benefit; or
  2. Employee may elect to receive a reduced pension benefit.

Additional Retirement Resources

TSERS Retirement Handbook Retirement at NC State On Campus Financial Planners


Contact your Benefits Consultant if you need additional information.

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