General Assembly Retirement System

The General Assembly Retirement System (GARS) is a defined benefit retirement plan for members of the South Carolina General Assembly who were first elected to the General Assembly prior to November 2012. GARS was closed to new members as of November 2012. The retirement plan assumes life expectancy and investment risk.

If you were first elected to the South Carolina General Assembly in or after the November 2012 general election, you are eligible to participate in either the South Carolina Retirement System (SCRS) or the State Optional Retirement Program (State ORP).

Eligibility

Being an active member of GARS means you were first elected to the General Assembly prior to November 2012, are serving in the General Assembly, earning service credit toward retirement, and making regular contributions to a GARS account.

Contributions

You contribute a tax-deferred 11 percent of your gross pay, which includes your salary, in-district expense and, if applicable, additional line item compensation. Your GARS account earns 4 percent interest compounded annually until you retire, or your account becomes inactive.

Benefits

  • Monthly retirement benefit is based on a formula, not on your account balance at retirement.
  • Benefit adjustments.
  • Service purchase options.
  • Disability protection.
  • In-service death benefit.
  • Payment options at retirement.

Retirement eligibility

As a member of GARS, you need to meet the plan’s eligibility requirements to retire and receive a benefit. Generally, if you meet one of the following requirements, you are considered eligible to retire:

  • You have reached 30 years of service and are no longer in the service of the state.
  • You are at least 60 years old and are no longer in the service of the state. If you have fewer than eight years of credited service in GARS, you must go directly into retirement from service in the General Assembly.
  • If you are an active GARS member who has reached age 70 or has 30 years of service credit, you may begin receiving a monthly annuity from GARS while continuing to serve in office.
  • You may also retire under GARS if you are at least age 62, are not currently serving in the General Assembly, and are otherwise eligible to receive a retirement annuity from GARS except for your current employment with an employer participating in a correlated retirement system.

Planning for your future

PEBA’s retirement awareness series, Be Aware and Prepare, provides you with information that can help you make smart decisions about your financial future. Regardless of how we define retirement awareness, PEBA believes it’s important to plan for a secure financial future and think about what life will be like after you quit working. We encourage you to use these resources and act now to help secure your financial future.