Last Updated September 2010
If you are an active member in any of the retirement systems listed below and you once belonged to another of these systems, you may be eligible for benefits under the provisions for dual membership.
You qualify for dual membership if you meet all of the following criteria:
Note: If you are employed at the same time in a SERS-eligible position and a PERS-eligible position, different rules apply. Contact DRS for more information.
Dual membership has three advantages:
If you become a dual member, you may be eligible to restore contributions and service credit that you previously withdrew from any other dual member system. To restore, you must repay the withdrawn contributions plus interest within 24 months of becoming a dual member.
You can find out more about restoring contributions and service credit, or purchasing service credit, by reading the DRS publication, Recovery of Withdrawn or Optional Service Credit.
As a dual member, you may combine service credit in all dual member systems to become eligible for retirement. If your combined service makes you eligible to retire under any dual member system, you may elect to retire from all dual member systems to which you belong. If you are younger than the system’s minimum retirement age, you may:
Although you can combine service from all systems to become eligible for retirement, the amount of the benefit you will receive is determined by the rules of each individual system. Retirement eligibility rules from the dual member systems are as follows:
Normal retirement is:
Normal retirement is:
Early retirement is age 53 with at least 20 service credit years.
Normal retirement is age 53 with at least 5 service credit years.
Early retirement is age 50 with at least 20 service credit years.
Normal retirement is age 65 with at least 5 service credit years.
Early retirement is age 55 with at least 30 service credit years, or age 55 with at least 20 service credit years.
Normal retirement is age 65 with:
Early retirement is age 55 with at least 30 service credit years, or age 55 with at least 10 service credit years.
The Statewide City Employees' Retirement System was closed to new members in 1972. Contact DRS for more information.
The Seattle, Tacoma and Spokane city retirement systems are not administered by DRS. If you need information, contact the appropriate system directly. Go to First Class city phone numbers.
If you receive a disability retirement from your active system, you remain eligible to receive a service retirement benefit from each of your inactive dual member systems. Benefits from your inactive system may be reduced. Contact a DRS Retirement Services Analyst for further information.
Under dual membership, you receive a separate defined benefit from each of your systems. All dual member systems have service retirement benefit calculations that are composed of three factors:
The benefit you receive from each system will be based on the service credit you have accumulated in that system.
Each retirement system and plan uses its own criteria to establish your highest average earnings in the benefit calculation. For instance: Plan 1 systems use a two-year highest average while Plan 2 and Plan 3 use a five-year highest average.
Under dual membership, DRS will establish your highest average earnings using two methods. You will be awarded the higher benefits.
Several retirement systems have rules that set a maximum benefit. In some plans a retiree may not receive a benefit in excess of a certain percent of his or her average earnings.
Retirement systems with maximum benefit limitations:
If one of your retirement systems has a maximum benefit limitation, DRS will:
Effective July 22, 2007, the maximum benefit limitation does not apply to a dual member with:
DRS has created the examples below to illustrate some of the common ways that dual membership may affect a member’s retirement benefit. This is not a complete listing of dual membership scenarios. Please contact DRS if your particular situation is not addressed here or if you need more information.
Lee is 52 years old and has four service credit years in LEOFF Plan 2 and 21 years in PERS Plan 1. Under dual membership rules, Lee can combine his service credit from the two systems to qualify for retirement. Under PERS Plan 1, Lee cannot qualify for retirement until age 55 with at least 25 service credit years. Since Lee has at least 20 years of service credit and is at least age 50, he qualifies under LEOFF Plan 2 eligibility rules.
Dual membership allows Lee to retire immediately and collect reduced benefits from both systems.
Vickie is 57 years old. She is a former Washington State Patrol Officer. She now works for a state agency and is a member of PERS Plan 2. She would like to retire as soon as possible without drastically reducing her retirement income. Vickie’s accumulated service credit and average monthly earnings are:
WSPRS Plan 1 14 years $3,000
PERS Plan 2 8 years $3,000
Since Vickie is an inactive State Patrol Officer, she is not eligible for a normal retirement until age 60. If she chooses to retire at age 57, her benefit will be reduced to 73.6 percent of its full value to reflect the early retirement.
WSPRS Plan 1 benefit:
2% x 14 x $3,000 = $840 (full benefit)
73.6% x $840 = $618.24 (reduced benefit)
PERS Plan 2 benefit: Vickie is not eligible for a normal retirement until age 65. Her early retirement benefit would be reduced to 43.5 percent of its full value.
2% x 8 x $3,000 = $480 (full benefit)
43.5% x $480 = $208.80 (reduced benefit)
Total monthly benefits at age 57
At age 57, Vickie’s total benefits would be $827.04 ($618.24 + $208.80)
If Vickie delays retirement...
If Vickie remains in PERS Plan 2 for three more years, she will be able to claim a normal retirement from WSPRS on the basis of her age.
WSPRS Plan 1 benefit:
2% x 14 x $3,000 = $840 per month
PERS Plan 2 benefit:
At age 60, she will be eligible for a PERS Plan 2 early retirement that is 58.8 percent of full value based on 11 years of service rather than eight years.
2% x 11 x $3,000 = $660 per month (full benefit)
58.8% x $660 = $388.08 (reduced benefit)
Total monthly benefits at age 60
If Vickie continues to work until age 60, her total benefits will be $1,222.08 ($840 + $388.08). That’s a 48 percent increase in Vickie’s benefit, or nearly $400 per month.
Ellen is age 65. She worked for 10 years as a teacher under TRS Plan 1. She spent the last 15 years of her career under PERS Plan 3. Ellen’s service credit and highest average monthly earnings are:
TRS Plan 1.......10 years.......$1,600
PERS Plan 3.......15 years.......$3,000
Because she is eligible for a normal retirement from both systems based on her age and service credit, she does not need to use dual membership to qualify. Ellen chooses to retire as a dual member and use her base salary from PERS Plan 3 to calculate her TRS Plan 1 benefits.
Designating the base salary for TRS benefit
Ellen earned an average monthly salary of $3,000 during her two-year highest average period in PERS. This is Ellen's base salary.
The following calculations demonstrate Ellen’s benefit using individual system earnings and using the base salary.
Calculating the PERS Plan 3 benefit
1% x 15 x $3,000 = $450 per month
Calculating the TRS Plan 1 benefit
TRS Plan 1 benefit using TRS salary
2% x 10 x $1,600 = $320 per month
TRS Plan 1 benefit using PERS Plan 3 base salary
2% x 10 x $3,000 = $600 per month
Based on individual system rules
$770 per month ($450 + $320)
Using the PERS base salary
$1,050 per month ($450 + $600)
Ellen will have a choice in selecting her TRS Plan 1 retirement date and may receive a retroactive payment. For more information, contact a DRS Retirement Services Analyst.
Mary works for four years in PERS Plan 1, then terminates employment and does not withdraw her contributions. Later, at age 33, she returns to employment as a teacher in TRS Plan 1, becoming a dual member. She works for another 23 years as a teacher and terminates employment at age 56 with 27 years of combined service.
Because she is over age 55 and has more than 25 years of combined service, she is immediately eligible to retire from TRS.
Her retirement date from PERS could be retroactive, as she would have been eligible had she not continued employment as a teacher. Since she had 26 years of service when she reached her 55th birthday, her retirement date in PERS could be the first day of the month following her 55th birthday. Mary could also choose to retire at any date thereafter.
If Mary chose the retroactive retirement date for PERS, the highest average earnings used to calculate her benefit could be her TRS base salary from her 25th and 26th years of combined service -- the 24 months immediately before her PERS eligibility date -- but she could not use her TRS base salary after her chosen PERS retirement date to increase that benefit.
Joe is age 60 and is an active PERS Plan 1 member. He has 30 years of TRS Plan 1 service and five years of PERS Plan 1 service. His TRS Plan 1 highest average earnings were $3,500. His PERS Plan 1 highest average earnings were $1,500. If he retires separately from TRS Plan 1 and PERS Plan 1, his benefit would be calculated as:
TRS Plan 1 Benefit
2% x 30 years x $3,500 = $2,100
PERS Plan 1 benefit
2% x 5 years x $1,500 = $150
His retirement benefit total would be $2,250 ($2,100 + $150)
If Joe elected to retire under dual membership rules, he could use his TRS highest average earnings to determine both his TRS and PERS retirement benefit.
TRS Plan 1 benefit
2% x 30 years x $3,500 = $2,100
PERS Plan 1 benefit
2% x 5 years x $3,500 = $350
However, under dual membership rules, the system with the highest benefit establishes the maximum benefit. And since TRS Plan 1 has a maximum benefit limitation of 60 percent of average earnings, Joe’s benefit under dual membership would be limited to $2,100 (60 percent x $3,500).
In this example, Joe would receive a higher benefit by retiring from each system independently and not by using dual membership rules. Contact DRS for more information.
Tom is age 60. He has accumulated service credit in TRS Plan 1 and in PERS Plan 1. Both plans have a maximum benefit of 60 percent of average earnings. Tom’s service and highest average annual earnings are as follows:
TRS Plan 1.......20 years.......$3,400
PERS Plan 1.......11 years.......$3,500
Calculating the maximum dual benefit
DRS calculates Tom’s maximum benefit as if all career service and earnings had been in a single Plan 1 system. TRS Plan 1 average annual earnings are derived from the highest two consecutive fiscal years. PERS Plan 1 average monthly earnings are derived from the highest consecutive 24 months. Tom’s highest average monthly earnings are $3,500. Sixty percent of $3,500 is $2,100, the maximum monthly benefit.
Calculating the TRS benefit
2% x 20 x $3,500 = $1,400 per month.
Calculating the PERS benefit
Tom has 11 years in PERS Plan 1. His highest average monthly earnings were $3,500. His PERS benefit was calculated as: 2% x 11 x $3,500 = $770 per month.
The total of the TRS Plan 1 ($1,400) and PERS Plan 1 ($770) benefits is $2,170. This exceeds the allowable maximum benefit ($2,100) by $70. DRS will reduce Tom’s TRS and PERS benefits to create a combined benefit equal to the maximum benefit of $2,100. The reduction is the proportional amount of service in each system compared to the total service.
Twenty years of TRS service divided by 31 total years is 64.5%. 64.5% x $70 = $45.15, the reduction to the TRS benefit.
The reduced TRS benefit: $1,400 - $45.15 = $1,354.85.
Eleven years of PERS service divided by 31 total years = 35.5%. 35.5% x $70 = $24.85, the reduction to the PERS benefit.
The reduced PERS benefit: $770 - $24.85 = $745.15.
The individually reduced benefits for TRS ($1,354.85) and PERS ($745.15) combine to make a total benefit of $2,100, which is the maximum benefit.
Tom has the option to retire from each system independently. The maximum benefit rule would not apply in this case. If he chooses to retire from each system independently, Tom’s benefits would be calculated as:
TRS Plan 1: 2% x 20 x $3,400 = $1,360
PERS Plan 1: 2% x 11 x $3,500 = $770
Tom’s total benefits received after retiring from each system independently would be $2,130 ($1,360 + $770).
Dave is age 60 and is an active PSERS Plan 2 member. He has 20 years of PSERS Plan 2 service and eight years of PERS Plan 3 service. His PSERS highest average earnings were $3,500. His PERS highest average earnings were $1,500. Dave is eligible for a normal retirement under PSERS, but if he takes his PERS defined benefit at age 60, it will be reduced to 58.8 percent of its full value to reflect the early retirement.
PSERS Plan 2 benefit at age 60
2% x 20 years x $3,500 = $1,400
PERS Plan 3 Defined Benefit at age 60
1% x 8 years x $3,500 = $280
$280 (full benefit)
58.8% x $280.00 = $164.64 (reduced benefit)
If Dave defers his PERS benefit until his normal retirement at age 65, he would receive the full benefit amount.
PERS Plan 3 Defined Benefit at age 65
1% x 8 years x $3,500 = $280
Dave can retire from PSERS at age 60 and collect his benefit. He can then defer receipt of his PERS Plan 3 Defined Benefit until his normal retirement at age 65 when he will receive full benefits, or take an early retirement at age 60 and receive a reduced benefit.
For information about a specific dual member system, refer to the appropriate Member Handbook. Member handbooks and other member publications for either PERS, SERS, TRS, LEOFF, PSERS or WSPRS are available on this website.
For information about a First Class city retirement system call: