KP&F Members Nearing Full Retirement: Do Not Overlook Your DROP Benefit!

If you, or someone you know is a member of the Kansas Police & Firemen’s (KP&F) retirement system and is nearing full retirement, you should be aware of a new benefit that could be a valuable new retirement benefit.

Background

In 2015, the Kansas State Legislature created a pilot Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP) for members of the Kansas Highway Patrol for years 2016 through 2020. In 2019, the Legislature expanded its eligible members to include the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) while extending the program to 2025. This year, in April 2023, House Bill 2196 was signed, expanding the program to all KP&F employers while maintaining the program’s January 1, 2025 sunset date.

What Is the DROP Benefit?

The KP&F DROP benefit is designed to allow eligible public employees to keep working for a specified period (between 3-5 years) after reaching their KP&F Tier I or Tier II full retirement while their monthly retirement benefits accrue in a tax-deferred DROP account. As the House Bill 2196 recap explains, “during the DROP period, both the member and the employer continue making regular contributions. The member’s monthly retirement benefit accumulates in a DROP account. The DROP account may earn interest depending on annual investment returns. Members receive the DROP balance in a lump sum or a rollover to another qualified account at the end of the DROP period.”

Once the participant enters the DROP period, they continue working while receiving their regular salary and contributing to their KPERS account. It is important to note that once in the DROP period, the participant’s retirement benefits are frozen at the level they would have been when entering the program. When the DROP period ends and the participant retires, they begin receiving their KP&F monthly pension retirement benefit, in addition to receiving their DROP account balance, which had accumulated for the past 3 – 5 years, depending on the period chosen, as a lump sum or rolled over to a qualified account, like a Traditional IRA.

Who Is Eligible to Participate?

All members of the Kansas Police & Firemen’s Retirement System who are eligible for full retirement and have approval from their employer can participate.

A few, but not all, KP&F members include:

  • Kansas Police, Fire & EMT Members
  • Kansas Highway Patrol
  • Kansas Bureau of Investigation
  • Sherriff
  • Certified law enforcement officers at the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks
  • Certified law enforcement officers at state universities

Who Could Be a Good-Fit Participant of the DROP?

Members who have, or will have, attained full KP&F Tier I or Tier II benefits based on age and service before the DROP sunset date of January 1, 2025, and would still like to work for another 3 – 5 years should consider participating in the DROP. This could be an ideal benefit for KP&F members who will have steady pension income in retirement but would like the additional flexibility and potential for a greater return in a properly invested IRA. Since KP&F benefits lack automatic adjustments for inflation, over time, inflation will erode the value of one’s pension benefit. For example, as prices continue to rise yet your monthly pension benefit remains fixed, the real value of your pension benefit will diminish over time. Having additional retirement funds in a properly invested IRA can help act as a hedge against some future inflation. Eligible participants who meet the DROP criteria might find it to be of significant value to the overall success of their retirement.

Talk to a Financial Advisor

Everyone’s retirement plan can be vastly different based on a wide range of factors, including financial situation, age of retirement, health and longevity, government benefits, and personal goals, to name a few. Because of these factors, it is essential to plan for retirement based on each individual’s unique circumstances and financial goals. If you are a KP&F member anywhere in the state of Kansas and have questions about the DROP benefit or any issues related to financial planning and investment, Clayton Wealth Partners offers independent fiduciary advice to assist you on your path to retirement. Please visit us at www.claytonwealthpartners.com or call our offices at (785) 232-3266. We are here for you.

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Eric Purcell, CFP®

As a Wealth Advisor, Eric loves helping people from all walks of life in meeting their objectives and accessing financial benefits they might not have known existed.