TITLE 36
Public Officers and Employees

CHAPTER 36-8
Retirement System – Administration

SECTION 36-8-1


§ 36-8-1 Definition of terms.

The following words and phrases as used in chapters 8 to 10 of this title unless a different meaning is plainly required by the context, shall have the following meanings:

(1) "Accumulated contributions" shall mean the sum of all the amounts deducted from the compensation of a member and credited to his or her individual pension account.

(2) "Active member" shall mean any employee of the state of Rhode Island as defined in this section for whom the retirement system is currently receiving regular contributions pursuant to §§ 36-10-1 and 36-10-1.1.

(3) "Actuarial equivalent" shall mean an allowance or benefit of equal value to any other allowance or benefit when computed upon the basis of the actuarial tables in use by the system.

(4) "Annuity reserve" shall mean the present value of all payments to be made on account of any annuity, benefit, or retirement allowance granted under the provisions of chapter 10 of this title computed upon the basis of such mortality tables as shall be adopted from time to time by the retirement board with regular interest.

(5)(a) "Average compensation" for members eligible to retire as of September 30, 2009 shall mean the average of the highest three (3) consecutive years of compensation, within the total service when the average compensation was the highest. For members eligible to retire on or after October 1, 2009, "Average compensation" shall mean the average of the highest five (5) consecutive years of compensation within the total service when the average compensation was the highest.

(b) For members who become eligible to retire on or after July 1, 2012, if more than one half (1/2) of the member's total years of service consist of years of service during which the member devoted less than thirty (30) business hours per week to the service of the state, but the member's average compensation consists of three (3) or more years during which the member devoted more than thirty (30) business hours per week to the service of the state, such member's average compensation shall mean the average of the highest ten (10) consecutive years of compensation within the total service when the average compensation was the highest; provided however, effective July 1, 2015, if such member's average compensation as defined in subsection (a) Above is equal to or less than thirty-five thousand dollars ($35,000), such amount to be indexed annually in accordance with § 36-10-35(h)(1)(B), such member's average compensation shall mean the greater of: (i) The average of the highest ten (10) consecutive years of compensation within the total service when the average compensation was the highest; or (ii) The member's average compensation as defined in subsection (a) above. To protect a member's accrued benefit on June 30, 2012 under this § 36-8-1(5)(b), in no event shall a member's average compensation be lower than his or her average compensation determined as of June 30, 2012.

(6) "Beneficiary" shall mean any person in receipt of a pension, an annuity, a retirement allowance, or other benefit as provided by chapter 10 of this title.

(7) "Casual employee" shall mean those persons hired for a temporary period, a period of emergency or an occasional period.

(8) "Compensation" as used in chapters 8 – 10 of this title, chapters 16 and 17 of title 16, and chapter 21 of title 45 shall mean salary or wages earned and paid for the performance of duties for covered employment, including regular longevity or incentive plans approved by the board, but shall not include payments made for overtime or any other reason other than performance of duties, including but not limited to the types of payments listed below:

(i) Payments contingent on the employee having terminated or died;

(ii) Payments made at termination for unused sick leave, vacation leave, or compensatory time;

(iii) Payments contingent on the employee terminating employment at a specified time in the future to secure voluntary retirement or to secure release of an unexpired contract of employment;

(iv) Individual salary adjustments which are granted primarily in anticipation of the employee's retirement;

(v) Additional payments for performing temporary or extra duties beyond the normal or regular work day or work year.

(9) "Employee" shall mean any officer or employee of the state of Rhode Island whose business time is devoted exclusively to the services of the state, but shall not include one whose duties are of a casual or seasonal nature. The retirement board shall determine who are employees within the meaning of this chapter. The governor of the state, the lieutenant governor, the secretary of state, the attorney general, the general treasurer, and the members of the general assembly, ex officio, shall not be deemed to be employees within the meaning of that term unless and until they elect to become members of the system as provided in § 36-9-6, but in no case shall it deem as an employee, for the purposes of this chapter, any individual who devotes less than twenty (20) business hours per week to the service of the state, and who receives less than the equivalent of minimum wage compensation on an hourly basis for his or her services, except as provided in § 36-9-24. Any commissioner of a municipal housing authority or any member of a part-time state, municipal or local board, commission, committee or other public authority shall not be deemed to be an employee within the meaning of this chapter.

(10) "Full actuarial costs" or "full actuarial value" shall mean the lump sum payable by a member claiming service credit for certain employment for which that payment is required which is determined according to the age of the member and the employee's annual rate of compensation at the time he or she applies for service credit and which is expressed as a rate percent of the employee's annual rate of compensation to be multiplied by the number of years for which he or she claims service credit as prescribed in a schedule adopted by the retirement board from time to time on the basis of computation by the actuary. Except as provided in §§ 16-16-7.1, 36-5-3, 36-9-31, 36-10-10.4, 45-21-53, 36-10-8, 45-21-29, 8-3-16(b), 8-8-10.1(b), 42-28-22.1(c) and 28- 30-18.1(b):

(i) all service credit purchases requested after June 16, 2009 and prior to July 1, 2012, shall be at full actuarial value; and

(ii) all service credit purchases requested after June 30, 2012 shall be at full actuarial value which shall be determined using the system's assumed investment rate of return minus one percent (1%).

The rules applicable to a service credit purchase shall be the rules of the retirement system in effect at the time the purchase application is submitted to the retirement system.

(11) "Funded Ratio" shall mean the ratio of the actuarial value of assets to the actuarial accrued liability consistent with the funding policy of the retirement board as defined in § 36-8-4.

(12) "Inactive member" shall mean a member who has withdrawn from service as an employee but who has not received a refund of contributions.

(13) "Members" shall mean any person included in the membership of the retirement system as provided in §§ 36-9-1 – 36-9-7.

(14) "Prior service" shall mean service as a member rendered before July 1, 1936, certified on his or her prior service certificate and allowable as provided in § 36-9-28.

(15) "Regular interest" shall mean interest at the assumed investment rate of return, compounded annually, as may be prescribed from time to time by the retirement board.

(16) "Retirement allowance" shall mean annual payments for life made after retirement under and in accordance with chapters 8 to 10 of this title. All allowances shall be paid in equal monthly installments beginning as of the effective date thereof; provided, that a smaller pro rata amount may be paid for part of a month where separation from service occurs during the month in which the application was filed, and when the allowance ceases before the last day of the month.

(17) "Retirement board" or "board" shall mean the board provided in § 36-8-3 to administer the retirement system.

(18) "Retirement system" shall mean the employees' retirement system of the state of Rhode Island as defined in § 36-8-2.

(19) "Service" shall mean service as an employee of the state of Rhode Island as described in subdivision (9) of this section.

(20) "Social Security retirement age" shall mean a member's full retirement age as determined in accordance with the federal Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance Act, not to exceed age sixty-seven (67).

(21) "Total service" shall mean prior service as defined above, plus service rendered as a member on or after July 1, 1936.

History of Section.
(P.L. 1936, ch. 2334, § 1; G.L. 1938, ch. 18, § 1; P.L. 1947, ch. 1971, § 1; P.L. 1951, ch. 2830, § 1; P.L. 1953, ch. 3201, § 1; G.L. 1956, § 36-8-1; P.L. 1962, ch. 143, § 1; P.L. 1967, ch. 132, § 1; P.L. 1972, ch. 151, § 2; P.L. 1981, ch. 122, § 1; P.L. 1981, ch. 162, § 1; P.L. 1992, ch. 306, art. 1, § 1; P.L. 1994, ch. 142, § 3; P.L. 1998, ch. 411, § 1; P.L. 2009, ch. 68, art. 7, § 1; P.L. 2011, ch. 363, § 27; P.L. 2011, ch. 408, § 2; P.L. 2011, ch. 409, § 2; P.L. 2015, ch. 141, art. 12, § 3; P.L. 2015, ch. 141, art. 21, § 1.)