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Overview of the Florida Retirement System (FRS)

The Florida Retirement System (FRS) provides state employees with tailored retirement plans, allowing flexibility based on individual financial and career goals.
Devin Alexander
Analyst & Educator
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The Florida Retirement System (FRS) is a retirement program run by the state, designed specifically for public employees in Florida. Since its establishment in 1970, FRS has grown to become one of the most efficiently managed and robust public retirement programs in the US. As of 2021, it supported over 600,000 active participants and supplied benefits to more than 400,000 retirees.

Main Plans of FRS: Pension Plan and Investment Plan

FRS offers two central plans: the FRS Pension Plan and the FRS Investment Plan.

FRS Pension Plan

The FRS is a defined benefit pension plan for public employees in the state of Florida. Eligible participants include state employees, teachers, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and other public workers. The pension plan provides a guaranteed monthly income during retirement based on a formula that takes into account years of service and average final compensation.

Retirement Age and Eligibility

The normal retirement age for FRS is typically based on a combination of age and years of service, with different eligibility criteria for various employee classes. Vesting in the FRS pension plan occurs after eight years of creditable service, meaning employees become eligible to receive benefits upon meeting this requirement.

Benefit Calculation

The benefit calculation is determined by multiplying the member's years of service by a percentage factor and their average final compensation. The percentage factor is based on the member's class and the years of service credit earned.

Employee Contributions

FRS participants contribute a portion of their salary towards the pension plan, which is set by legislation and may vary depending on the employee class and other factors.

Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLAs)

The FRS pension plan offers cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) to help protect retirees' purchasing power from inflation.

FRS Investment Plan

The FRS Investment Plan is a defined contribution plan, similar to a private sector's 401(k). Here, contributions are made by you and/or your employer into an account in your name, and you select from a range of investment options. The ultimate benefit is determined by the contributions and the investment returns (or losses) over time. The vesting period in this plan is relatively shorter, requiring just one year of service.

Eligibility and Participation

Eligible participants of the FRS, including state employees, teachers, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and other public workers, have the option to participate in the FRS Investment Plan. Enrollment is typically automatic for new employees, while current employees may have an opportunity to opt-in.

Investment Options

The FRS Investment Plan offers a range of investment options to participants. These options typically include various mutual funds, target-date funds, and a self-directed brokerage account. Participants have the flexibility to allocate their contributions among these investment options based on their risk tolerance and retirement goals.


Participants in the FRS Investment Plan contribute a portion of their salary towards their retirement savings. The contribution rates are set by legislation and may vary depending on factors such as employee class and salary level. These contributions, along with any employer matching contributions, are invested according to the participant's selected investment options.

Account Growth

The growth of the FRS Investment Plan account is determined by the performance of the chosen investment options. Participants' account balances fluctuate based on market conditions and the performance of the investments they have selected.

Portability and Withdrawals

One of the advantages of the FRS Investment Plan is its portability. If participants leave employment with an FRS-covered employer, they can choose to leave their funds in the investment plan or roll them over into another eligible retirement account. Participants may also have the option to make withdrawals from their FRS Investment Plan account upon reaching certain age and distribution requirements.

Investment Plan Education and Resources

The FRS provides educational resources, online tools, and access to financial advisors to assist participants in making informed investment decisions. These resources aim to help participants understand their investment options, manage their retirement savings, and plan for a financially secure retirement.

Additional Benefits

Participants in the FRS Investment Plan may be eligible for additional benefits such as survivor benefits and disability benefits, similar to those offered under the FRS pension plan.

It's important to note that the specific details and provisions of the FRS Investment Plan may change over time. Therefore, it's recommended to refer to the official FRS documentation and consult with the FRS administration or a financial advisor for the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding the FRS Investment Plan.

New FRS members have a one-time opportunity to switch between these two plans (FRS Pension Plan and FRS Investment Plan), a decision that should be carefully considered based on personal circumstances, risk tolerance, and retirement goals.

Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP)

FRS also includes the Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP) for members of the Pension Plan. This unique program allows you to officially retire while still working for up to 60 months. During this period, your retirement benefits accumulate with interest and are paid out as a lump sum upon actual retirement.


Typically, DROP programs are available to employees who have reached their normal retirement age or have met specific service requirements. Eligibility criteria can vary depending on the employer and the specific program.

Enrollment Period

Employees who are eligible for the program are given the option to enroll in the DROP for a predetermined period. This period is typically between one to five years, although it can vary.

Continued Employment

Once enrolled in the DROP, employees agree to continue working for the employer during the enrollment period. They essentially enter into an agreement that they will retire at the end of the DROP period.

Deferred Retirement Benefits

During the DROP period, participants effectively "freeze" their retirement benefits. Instead of retiring and immediately receiving their pension, the pension benefits are deposited into a separate account, such as an interest-bearing account or an annuity, where they accumulate with interest until the employee finally retires.

Financial Incentives

As an incentive to participate in the program, employees often receive additional compensation during the DROP period. This can come in the form of a lump sum payment, an increased salary, or other benefits provided by the employer. These incentives are intended to make it financially rewarding for employees to continue working.

Retirement Benefit Calculation

Once the employee finally retires at the end of the DROP period, their pension benefits are calculated based on the rules in place at the time of their enrollment. The accumulated funds in the separate account are then added to their pension benefits, resulting in potentially higher retirement income.

It's important to note that the specifics of a DROP program can vary significantly between employers and jurisdictions. The program may have different rules, eligibility requirements, and financial incentives depending on the organization offering it. If you are considering participating in a DROP, it's advisable to carefully review the details of the specific program offered by your employer and consult with a financial advisor or retirement specialist to understand the implications and potential benefits.

Key Considerations for Florida State Government Employees

There are a few essential points that every Florida state government employee should know about FRS. Firstly, it's critical to choose the right plan that aligns with your career path, risk appetite, and retirement goals. Secondly, keeping informed about your account, including your balance, contributions, and accrued benefits, is vital. Lastly, understanding your plan's rules and regulations is key to maximizing your benefits.

Assessing the Worth of Keeping Money in FRS

The decision to keep your funds in FRS or move them elsewhere depends on several personal factors, including your financial objectives, investment knowledge, risk tolerance, and available alternatives. It's essential to seek independent financial advice before making this decision.

Though FRS is well-regarded and has shown steady performance, some people may choose to move their funds for reasons like wanting more investment control, diversified or aggressive investment options, or portability of benefits if they foresee frequent job changes.


In summary, the Florida Retirement System provides a solid and flexible retirement structure for state employees. However, ensuring it meets your specific needs and goals requires active engagement and prudent management of your chosen plan.

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