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Employee Pension Plan

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FAQ Topics

What is the Cobb County Government Employee’s Pension Plan?

The County maintains a single-employer, contributory, defined benefit pension plan. The authority for the Plan, benefits, vesting, and contributions is established by the Board of Commissioners.

When was the Cobb County Government Employee’s Pension Plan created?

The original plan was established January 1, 1971. Over the years, there have been numerous amendments to the Plan approved by the Board of Commissioners.

The Enhanced Plan, which provided a “Rule of 80”, was adopted April 1, 1998.

The Hybrid Defined Benefit/Defined Contribution Plan was adopted October 13, 2009, for all new hires after January 1, 2010, and for non-vested employees who elected this Plan. The deadline for election for non-vested employees is January 29, 2010.

Who oversees the Plan?

The Board of Commissioners appoints a five member Board of Trustees to manage the assets of the Plan. The Board of Trustees also provides an annual report to the BOC and County Manager based on the annual actuarial report and advises them accordingly.

The Board of Trustees uses both equity and fixed investment money managers and monitors their performance. Changes are made as they become appropriate.

What are the requirements to join the Enhanced Plan?

All full-time employees who were employed on April 1, 1998, when the plan was enhanced, were given the opportunity to choose to either:

  • Remain in the prior, non-contributory plan, or
  • Join the enhanced, contributory plan

All full-time employees employed after April 1, 1998 and before January 1, 2010 were automatically enrolled in the enhanced contributory Plan.

Note: Certain full-time employees who are covered under a State pension plan are not eligible to participate in the Cobb County Plan.

Do employees make a contribution to the Enhanced Plan?

Yes. An employee's pre-tax contribution is a percentage of the employee's gross pay.  Employee contributions will increase over a 13 year period from 5% in 2009 to 8.75% in 2023.

Does the County make a contribution to the Enhanced Plan?

Yes. The County's contribution is a percentage of the employee's gross pay.  The county's contribution is currently 22.58% for 2019.

When is an employee vested in the Enhanced Plan?

Employees hired or rehired prior to January 1, 2009 are vested with seven (7) years of full-time service.

Employees hired on or after January 1, 2009 will become vested after ten (10) years of full-time service.

What happens to the employee’s contribution to the Enhanced Plan if they leave the County before vesting?

If an employee leaves the County before they are vested, they will not lose their contribution. Instead, their contribution will be returned to them along with an approved amount of annually compounded interest. The employee may have these funds paid directly to them or choose a direct rollover into an approved Individual Retirement Account.

How is the annual retirement benefit calculated in the Enhanced Plan?

The annual retirement benefit calculation formula uses the Final Average Earnings (defined as the average of the highest five (5) consecutive years, within the ten (10) years prior to the employee’s termination of employment) times a multiplier of 2.5% times the number of years and months of credited service.

Note: Prior service which has been restored to the employee may be calculated at a different percentage rate.

Example: Final Average Earnings = $45,000 X 2.5% = $1,125 X 30 years of service = $33,750 Annual Benefit.

Is overtime pay used in determining Final Average Earnings in the Enhanced Plan?

Yes. Overtime pay, if any, is included in an employee’s Final Average Earnings.  Employee contributions to the Plan are calculated on regular pay and overtime pay.

Does military service count toward the “Rule of 80” in the Enhanced Plan?

Yes. Although military service prior to employment is not considered “credited service” in the Enhanced Plan, and is not used in the retirement benefit calculation formula; it does count as service to the County and is used in calculating the “Rule of 80” date.

What are the requirements to join the Hybrid Defined Benefit/Defined Contribution Plan?

The Hybrid Defined Benefit/Defined Contribution Plan has two components: a Defined Benefit component and a Defined Contribution component.

All full-time employees employed on or after January 1, 2010, are automatically enrolled in the Defined Benefit component of the Plan.

The Defined Contribution component of the Plan is voluntary.

Do employees make a contribution to the Hybrid Defined Benefit/Defined Contribution Plan?

For the Defined Benefit Component: Yes. An employee's pre-tax contribution is a percentage of the employee's base pay. The Defined Benefit component is mandatory and the contribution amount is determined by the County. The employee Contribution Rate will be 3% and should not increase over time, although this can’t be guaranteed.

For the Defined Contribution Component: In addition to the 3% mandatory contribution of their salary to the Defined Benefit Plan, employees may contribute a portion of their salary each year into the Defined Contribution Plan up to the 4%.The employee’s contribution will be incorporated into the current 457 Plan. 

Does the County make a contribution to the Hybrid Defined Benefit/Defined Contribution Plan?

For the Defined Benefit Component: Yes. The County's contribution is a percentage of the employee's base pay. The county currently contributes 22.58% for 2019.

For the Defined Contribution Component: The County will make a 50% matching contribution up to 2%.The County’s contribution will go to a 401a Plan per IRS rules.

When is an employee vested in the Hybrid Plan?

For the mandatory Defined Benefit ComponentEmployees hired on or after January 1, 2009, will become 100% vested after ten (10) years of service.

For the voluntary Defined Contribution Component – County Match PortionVesting will be a graduated schedule at 20% vesting per year of service with 100% vesting after five years of service.

For the voluntary Defined Contribution Component – Employee PortionVesting will be immediate. 

What happens to the employee’s contribution to the Hybrid Plan if they leave the County before vesting?

For the mandatory Defined Benefit Component: If an employee leaves the County before they are vested, they will not lose their contribution. Instead, their contribution will be returned to them along with an approved amount of annually compounded interest. The employee may have these funds paid directly to them, or choose a direct rollover into an approved Individual Retirement Account.

For the voluntary Defined Contribution Component: Employee Contribution – Portability options: Cumulative dollar amounts can either be distributed in a lump sum subject to IRS rules, or converted to monthly income annuity, or transferred to the employee’s new company’s plan, or transferred to the employee’s individual retirement account. All options are subject to IRS rules.

What happens to the employer’s contribution (County Match portion) to the Defined Contribution component if the employee leaves the County before vesting?

Employer Contribution - Vesting will be a graduated schedule at 20% vesting per year of service with 100% vesting after five years of service.

Note: Investments in both the 457 (employee portion) and 401a (County Match portion) are portable subject to IRS guidelines.

How is the annual retirement benefit calculated in the Hybrid Defined Benefit/Defined Contribution Plan?

For the Defined Benefit Component:The annual retirement benefit calculation formula uses the Final Average Earnings (defined as the average of the highest five (5) consecutive years, within the ten (10) years prior to the employee’s termination of employment) times a multiplier of 1% times the number of years and months of credited service.

Example: Final Average Earnings = $45,000 X 1.0% = $450 X 30 years of service = $13,500 Annual Benefit.

For the voluntary Defined Contribution Component: The value is the amount of funds in the Defined Contribution Component at the time of Retirement.

Is overtime pay used in determining Final Average Earnings in the Hybrid Plan?

No. Overtime pay, if any, is not included in an employee’s Final Average Earnings. 

Employee contributions to the Plan are calculated on regular pay only.

Does military service count toward the “Rule of 80” in the Hybrid Plan?

Military service prior to employment with Cobb County does not count toward the “Rule of 80”. Those employed prior to January 1, 2010, who elect to move to the Hybrid plan will continue to receive credit for prior military service.

Active Duty (not Reserve Duty) Military service earned during employment with Cobb County is considered service for determination of benefit.

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