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Ready to Retire Guide

You've had a successful career and now you're thinking of the next phase: retirement. Retirement decisions are among the most important you will ever make. This Ready to Retire Guide will help answer some common questions.

Selecting your retirement date


Faculty who are retiring at the end of the academic year may elect their final scheduled work day of the academic year or they may elect the final official day of the academic year as their retirement date. For MPSERS members, this date would be considered your last date worked and retirement date would be the first day of the following month. 

Faculty who retire at the end of the fall semester should use the last scheduled work day of fall semester as their retirement date. For MPSERS members, this date would be considered your last date worked and retirement date would be the first day of the following month.

All other employees

Use the last scheduled actual work day as your retirement date.

GRCC's Retirement Form

Complete and submit a GRCC Employee Retirement Form six to twelve months before your retirement date. Completing this form allows Human Resources to work with your supervisor and college leaders regarding your retirement. Please email your employee group's HR Generalist or the Payroll director to have this form emailed to you.

Public school employee retirement

Employees in MPSERS

If you're in the MPSERS plan, you can find answers to your retirement questions on the Michigan Public Schools Employees' Retirement System website. MPSERS plans include Basic, Basic PHF, Basic 4%, Basic 4% PHF, Fixed, Fixed PHF, Graded, Graded PHF, MIP 7%, MIP7% PHF, MIP Plus, MIP Plus PHF and MIP DC Converted.

Employees in Pension Plus

Employees in the Pension Plus plans (including plans Pension Plus HCC and Pension Plus PHF) will find answers to their retirement questions on the Pension Plus website (

Employees in the Pension Plus 2 plan will find answers to their retirement questions Pension Plus 2 website.

To begin the retirement process all employees enrolled in one of the Public School Employee Retirement plans will need apply for retirement online through your MiAccount approximately 90 days before retirement.

Once the application is complete, mail in your insurance enrollment, photo copies of proofs of age, and any other required proofs to the Office of Retirement Services (ORS).

If you or your spouse will be eligible for Medicare at the time of retirement, you will need to enroll in Medicare 90 days prior to applying retirement. (See the Medicare section below)

Employees who will be receiving pension payments through the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS) will begin receiving payments on the 25th day of each month after their GRCC retirement date, assuming that all documents are received and approved by the Office of Retirement Services (ORS) approximately 45 days prior to your retirement effective date.

Public School Employee Retirement: Health benefits

Depending on your plan election and eligibility, health, dental and vision benefits may be available as part of your retiree benefits through MPSERS. Employees should carefully review estimates of benefits from MPSERS to determine whether benefits are part of the offering. The MPSERS website provides detailed information on plans and prices for currently available plans at Your Insurance Benefits.

Please note: Once you retire, your health, dental and vision benefits are handled by MPSERS. GRCC has no access to your retirement benefit information.

Public School Employee Retirement: Working after retirement

If you're considering returning to work for a K-12 school or community college in Michigan, which is a member of MPSERS after retirement, there are earnings limitations. The ORS provides a tool for determining whether work in certain situations is permissible as a retiree. See's Working After Retirement information or contact the Office of Retirement Services for additional information.

Defined Contribution Plan (VOYA)

Employees who are enrolled in a Defined Contribution plan, which includes a savings component, will want to access account information and options with VOYA as part of the retirement planning process. Employees can access their plan information at the State of Michigan 401(k) and 457 Plan website.

Optional Retirement Plan (ORP)

Employees in the ORP plan have a variety of distribution options available when you're ready to retire, as well as when you're preparing to retire. An overview of distribution options can be found at TIAA Preparing for Retirement. Employees in the ORP plan can calculate an estimate of their ORP pension.


If eligible, you must enroll in MEdicare prior to completing your MPSERS application. Use your MPSERS retirement date as the start date of your Medicare coverage.

  • Enroll in Medicare online at or at your local Social Security office.
  • The Social Security office will give you a form to bring to the GRCC Benefits office for completion to avoid a late enrollment penalty.
  • During your retirement: if you are covered by MPSERS insurance, you must enroll in MEdicare Parts A and B as soon as you (or your spouse) are eligible.

Note: Do not enroll in Medicare C or in a separate Medicare Part D plan. This will terminate your health and/or prescription coverage with MPSERS.

For additional information on MPSERS and Medicare, see How Medicare Affects Your Coverage.

GRCC Employee Benefits

GRCC benefits will continue to the end of the month of your retirement date. Employees cannot allocate vacation days beyond their last day worked in order to extend benefits. Refer to the “Final GRCC Pay” section for leave bank pay out information.

If you and you’re covered family members are enrolled in any of the GRCC health plans (medical, dental, vision or health flexible spending account), you may be able to continue coverage through COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985). If you are ineligible to continue your health FSA, you have 90 calendar days from your retirement date to submit reimbursement for eligible expenses incurred during your coverage period. The COBRA qualifying event notice will be mailed to you within a month of your retirement date with detailed information about this continuation coverage and your costs. GRCC does not make a contribution toward COBRA continuation coverage, so your costs are the full premium plus a 2% administrative fee.

If you want to continue benefits via COBRA, you need to apply no later than 60 calendar days from the date the COBRA notice was mailed. The COBRA period typically runs for 18 months after your retirement date.

Health Savings Account (HSA)

HSA contributions for employees who retire before December 1 in a given year may be subject to a prorated calculation of the HSA contribution limit. HSA contribution limits are determined on a calendar/tax-year basis. IRS rules state that contribution limits must generally be prorated by the number of months you are eligible to contribute to an HSA.

HSA Portability

The money in your HSA remains available for future qualified medical expenses even if you retire. For a list of qualified medical and dental expenses see IRS Publication 502.

Health Savings Account and Medicare Retroactive Coverage

Although some individuals can effectively postpone HSA ineligibility, it is important to note that Medicare Part A coverage is retroactively effective for individuals who delay Medicare (or Social Security) benefits. If an individual does not enroll in Medicare when he/she is first eligible (and is not enrolled in Social Security), his/her later enrollment in Medicare Part A is retroactive for six months. The following explanation can be found on the Medicare website Medicare Sign up Periods. Therefore, if an employee initially declines Social Security retirement benefits and Medicare coverage in order to contribute to the HSA and later elects to enroll in Medicare, the individual will be retroactively enrolled in Medicare Part A for the preceding six months, making his/her HSA ineligible for those six months.

To avoid a tax penalty, you should stop contributing to your HSA at least 6 months before you apply for Medicare. If you delay applying for Medicare and later your enrollment is backdated, any contributions to your HSA made during the period of retroactive coverage are considered excess. IRS Publication 969- Excess contributions.

Life Insurance

You will receive a life insurance termination notice with your life insurance conversion application. You will have 30 days from the coverage termination date to request the life insurance conversion through Madison National Life.

Final GRCC Pay

You will receive your final paycheck on the regularly scheduled pay date according to your final date worked.

Employees with accrued and unused sick or vacation leave time will be paid the balance of their hours on their final paycheck. The amount of your sick bank payout will be determined by the collective bargaining agreements or handbook Employees that meet the qualifications of being at least age 55, with at least 5 years completed and a payout greater than $499.99 will receive the payout through GRCC’s Special Pay Plan with VALIC into a 403(b). The Special Pay Plan is a 403(b) that is designed to handle special forms of compensation in a tax advantaged manner. Benefits of the leave banks being paid out through this plan is both the employee and the employer save on tax payments, and there is no IRS distribution penalty for the employee.

The Payroll Department can assist with questions about your final pay, the Special Pay Plan payout as well as any other questions you may have about your retirement processing.

Golden Raider

Upon retirement, GRCC employees become Golden Raiders and join a group of over 450 strong! This community provides opportunities for connection and communication with fellow GRCC retirees, as well as news and updates about the College, campus perks and discounts and volunteer opportunities to support students. Annual gatherings are organized to welcome new retirees and encourage engagement with fellow Golden Raiders and the College. The Gold Team, composed of 10-15 Golden Raiders, advocates for retirees and works in concert with the College. The Team meets regularly to discuss retiree business, design outreach activities, develop learning opportunities, plan social events and create fundraising activities to support the Golden Raiders Retiree Scholarship. The Team supports the Golden Raiders Retirees Facebook page and publishes a quarterly Newsletter keeping retirees informed of Golden Raider news, business, events and opportunities. For more information, please visit the Golden Raiders webpage.