Choosing a Retirement Plan


The University participates in the State Retirement and Pension System and membership is required as a regular status, nonexempt employee. Membership begins with your enrollment date and ends on your last day of employment.


When you are first hired, you will be asked to complete the following
enrollment materials:

  • Application for Membership. Provides the State Retirement Agency with basic personal information necessary to establish your pension account.
  • Designation of Beneficiary. Identifies the individual or individuals who will receive a survivor benefit if you die during your employment. You will need to complete a new Form 4 whenever you wish to change or add beneficiaries during your membership. Common reasons for beneficiary changes include a change in marital status or the arrival of a new family member.
  • Proof of Birth. Along with your completed application and beneficiary form, you will be asked to provide the State Retirement Agency with verification of your date of birth. The information is essential since your retirement date and benefits are based upon your age in combination with your service credit. The most commonly used documents for proof of age are a copy of your birth certificate, or valid Maryland driver’s license. Other documents may be used in lieu of the above. Check with your personnel office for details.

Retirement Plan Options

Regular status exempt employees and faculty are eligible for one of two retirement programs.

  1. State Retirement and Pension System (SRPS)
  2. Optional Retirement Programs (ORP). (Fidelity Investments, and TIAA-CREF)

Both programs offer income upon retirement. The main difference between the two plans is that the SRPS is a defined benefit plan that guarantees a benefit amount based on a formula, while the ORP is a defined contribution plan. Enrollment in a retirement program is a condition of employment as stated in the Annotated Code of Maryland. If you do not make a retirement selection by your first day of employment you will be defaulted to either the Employees’ or Teachers’ Reformed Pension System.

Making Your Selection

It is important that you select a retirement program by your first day of employment. You should contact your departmental benefits coordinator or your Office of Employee Benefits, Benefits Services Counselor, who can provide you with enrollment packets from the various vendors.

Some Things To Consider

The following are some questions to ask yourself before choosing your retirement program. If you have any questions, or need more information, contact your Benefits Services Counselor:

  • How long do you plan on working for the University or the State of Maryland? Keep in mind that the State Retirement and Pension System’s benefits are based on your length of service — while the Optional Retirement Program is based on the amount of money contributed to your account.
  • How comfortable are you with investing your money? Are you able to take risks? How long do you have until you retire? To be an effective investment manager, you need to make a commitment to review and manage your account.
  • Do you have any other sources of retirement income (e.g., spouse’s retirement plan)?
  • Do you prefer a guaranteed retirement, disability or death benefit or a benefit based upon your investment decisions?
  • How much money will you actually need to have when you retire?

Last updated: April 4, 2019