Pension Plan

Last Updated 12/08
Applies to Staff
Related Policies:

The University provides a Pension Plan for eligible non-exempt staff. This is a defined benefit plan which guarantees that benefits will be paid to plan participants when they reach retirement age. Prior to July 1, 1997 employees contributed to the plan. Since that time, there has been no employee contribution required and the University maintains sole responsibility for both funding the plan and bearing the investment risk.


Staff members age 21 and older who complete 12 months of service in which they are credited with 1,000 hours of service are automatically enrolled in the Employees’ Pension Plan as of the next Plan Entry Date (January 1 or July 1). Eligibility service is measured from the first 12 months after your date of hire and thereafter for each plan year (July 1 through June 30).


  • Year of Credited Service – a plan year in which an employee works 1,000 (July – June) or more hours
  • Normal Retirement – age 65 with at least five years of vesting service
  • Early Retirement – either age 55 with 15 years of service or age 62 with 10 years of service, whichever occurs first. Early retirement requires a reduction in the amount of retirement income because the benefit will be paid over an extended period of time.
  • Pay – W-2 earnings, which includes any amounts the employee pays for benefits under the ND Flexible Benefits plan and the 403(b) Supplemental Retirement Account (SRA).
  • Vesting – employee’s right, usually earned over time, to receive some retirement benefits regardless of whether the individual remains with the employer. Employees are 100% vested after 5 years (60 months) of service.
  • Final Average Pay – average pay for the five consecutive highest paid years out of the last 10 calendar years of plan participation.


The Employees’ Pension Plan bases the retirement benefit on the employee’s “Final Average Pay.” As that average pay increases, so does the benefit applied to all their years of service. The retirement benefit formula is:

1.45% X Final Average Pay X Years of Credited Service = Annual Retirement Benefit

Your Pension Resources (YPR) Estimator Tool

Active Pension Plan participants have access to YPR, an interactive tool the University of Notre Dame is able to offer through our contract with Aon Hewitt, our Pension Plan administrator. With this web-based tool you can estimate your pension benefit on a future eligible retirement date to see how much you may receive at retirement. This is an important tool to help you with your retirement planning.

Payment Options

An employee can receive retirement benefits from the Employees’ Pension Plan through a number of payment options: Single Life Annuity, Joint and Survivor Annuity, and a Life and Ten Years Certain Annuity.

Life Annuity – pays benefits for employee’s life only

Joint and Survivor Annuity – pays reduced benefits for the lifetime of the employee and upon the employee’s death either 100%, 75%, or 50% of the reduced benefit for the lifetime of their beneficiary based on option selected at retirement.

Life and Ten Years (120 months) Certain Annuity – pays a reduced benefit for the lifetime of the employee, and if the employee dies before receiving 120 monthly payments, continues the reduced benefit to the beneficiary for the remainder of the 120 month guaranteed period.

Disability Retirement (Employees’ Pension Plan)

An employee is eligible for a disability retirement under the Employee’s Pension Plan if they have at least five years of vested service as of the date of their termination of employment with the University due to disability, and are totally and permanently disabled.

Death Benefits for Employees’ Pension Plan

Under the Employee’s Pension Plan, if an employee dies while actively employed, it is possible the employee’s contributions to the plan may be refunded to the employee’s designated beneficiary, or a survivor benefit may be paid. Certain factors such as the employee’s marital status and years of vesting service will determine the payment of the death benefit.

Staff who made contributions to the plan before July 1, 1997 may change their beneficiary designation by contacting the Office of Human Resources. Those who began participation after July 1, 1997 and are married must designate their spouse as their beneficiary.

Plan Documents and Summary Plan Descriptions are available for review at the Office of Human Resources, 200 Grace Hall.


Staff should contact the Office of Human Resources three months before their anticipated retirement to obtain information about their retirement benefit, to discuss retirement benefit options, and to select the preferred payment method option. Final benefits will be determined at the time of retirement.

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