State Optional Retirement Program

The State Optional Retirement Program (State ORP) is a defined contribution retirement plan for employees of state agencies, public and charter school districts and public higher education institutions. State ORP is also available to individuals first elected to the South Carolina General Assembly at or after the general election in November 2012. Employees of optional employers are not eligible to participate in State ORP. In this retirement plan you are solely responsible for your retirement account, and you choose how to invest and manage your money.


State ORP participation requires you to be employed by and receiving compensation from an employer that participates in State ORP. Initial enrollment, including service provider selection, must take place within 30 days of your initial hire.

PEBA will provide your selected service provider with basic enrollment information; however, you will need to provide direction on how you want your contributions invested and designate a beneficiary for your State ORP account balance. The current providers are:

View contact information   for the service providers now.

Annual open enrollment

The annual open enrollment period for active participants of State ORP is January 1 to March 1 each year. During the annual open enrollment period you may:

  • Choose to change service providers; or
  • Elect to irrevocably switch to SCRS if it has been at least one year, but not more than five years, since your initial enrollment in State ORP.

More information about the open enrollment period is available online.


You contribute a tax-deferred 9% of gross pay. Your employer contributes 5% of your gross pay to your chosen service provider for allocation to your State ORP account.

You may roll over eligible pretax contributions from one of the account types below into your State ORP account if it would otherwise be included in gross income.

  • A qualified plan described in § 401(a), 401(k) or 403(a) of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC);
  • An annuity contract described in § 403(b) of the IRC;
  • An eligible governmental deferred compensation plan described in § 457(b) of the IRC; or
  • The portion of a distribution from an individual retirement account (IRA) or annuity described in § 408(a) or 408(b) of the IRC.

The Plan does not accept rollovers of after-tax contributions. Contact your chosen service provider for more information about its process for incoming rollovers.


  • Your retirement benefit consists of your account balance at retirement, made up of contributions made by you and your employer throughout your years of employment, as well as any earnings on those contributions. It is not based on a set formula, and you assume all investment and longevity risk.
  • You select one of four service providers, contracted by PEBA, to administer your State ORP account. You choose the provider that best suits your needs.
  • You have immediate rights to your entire account balance, including employee and employer contributions, when you leave covered employment or reach age 59½.
  • An active member incidental death benefit is available through PEBA.

Distribution options

  • You have multiple payment options, including lump sum and periodic withdrawals.
  • Although you are eligible to take a distribution if you leave covered employment before age 59½, you may be subject to a penalty tax in addition to regular income tax unless you roll over the funds into an eligible retirement plan. There are some exceptions to the penalty tax. Consult a tax advisor for more information.
  • You can access all the funds in your account, including employee and employer contributions, at age 59½. You can do this even if you are actively working and contributing to the plan. Although the distribution will not be subject to the penalty tax, it will be a taxable distribution unless the funds are rolled over into an eligible retirement plan.
  • You may leave your balance in your account until you choose to take withdrawals or until the IRS requires you to take annual minimum distributions. Keep in mind that while you are actively employed by an employer participating in the plan, you are not obligated to take a required minimum distribution.

Name and address changes with service providers

PEBA does not share name and address changes for State ORP participants with service providers. If you have a change, you must update this information with your chosen service provider. The Changing your information with your service provider flyer   provides instructions.

Retiree insurance eligibility

For State ORP participants, insurance eligibility is determined as if you were a member of SCRS. It’s important to understand that eligibility for retiree group insurance is not the same as eligibility for retirement. Only PEBA can make retiree insurance eligibility determinations. You are encouraged to contact PEBA before making final arrangements for retirement.

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.