Generally, you will be informed of your eligibility to participate in the Optional Retirement Program (ORP) at the time of your initial employment. Eligibility is strictly determined by the job you perform and is not based on years of service or salary level. To be eligible to participate in ORP, an employee must: (1) initially be appointed on a full-time basis for four and one-half months or more; and (2) be appointed to a position otherwise eligible to participate in ORP. Employees who are eligible to participate in a Retirement Program who are not eligible to participate in ORP must participate in the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS).
The following positions are generally ORP-eligible (See the UT System ORP Policy for more detailed definitions):
- Faculty members whose duties include teaching and/or research as a principal activity
- Faculty administrators responsible for teaching and research faculty
- Professional librarians
- Chief and senior administrative officials
- Specialized professional positions (such as physicians, engineers, and attorneys)
- Athletic coaches and directors
- Counselors treated in the same manner as faculty
Initially, you may be employed by the UT System in a position that is defined as only eligible for TRS. As required, you will be enrolled in that Retirement Program. However, if at some later date you change jobs and the new position is eligible for the Optional Retirement Program, you may be allowed to enroll in the ORP. If you change jobs or are "reclassified" following initial employment, it is important that you contact your Benefits Office immediately, since there are certain deadlines which must be met in order to protect your eligibility rights. To read more concerning the differences between ORP and TRS, please read an Overview of TRS and ORP.
You have 90 days from the date you first become eligible for the ORP to make your enrollment decision. If you are reclassified and/or assume a new job and become ORP-eligible for the first time after your initial employment date, the 90-day election period begins on the day your reclassification becomes effective.
How to enroll in the ORP
To enroll in ORP, follow these steps:
- Choose your provider(s) from the currently authorized provider list. You may select more than one provider for your ORP participation.
- Log onto UTRetirement Manager and click on the ORP Enroll/Change page.
- Complete the appropriate provider application(s) to open an account(s) with that company.
- Complete TRS Form 28 (Notice to Elect to Participate in Optional Retirement Program and/or Refund) and mail it to your Benefits Office.
- Before your first ORP deduction, mail all completed provider applications to the designated address on those applications.