Using Member Direct
Who can register for MemberDirect?
- City of Austin employees contributing to the City of Austin Employees Retirement System (COAERS).
- Persons receiving a benefit from COAERS, including retirees, beneficiaries, survivors.
Who cannot register?
- Temporary and part-time employees cannot register because they do not participate in COAERS.
- Members who have terminated their participation due to a refund of their contributions cannot register for a MemberDirect account.
How do I create my MemberDirect account?
To create a MemberDirect account, visit www.coaers.org, click “Member Login/Registration,” and follow the steps to register.
Here's what you'll need to register for access to your MemberDirect account:
- 15 minutes of uninterrupted time to registerYour driver's license
- A cell phone that can receive text messages
- Email address to receive MemberDirect communications and confirmations
- Have your username and password decided ahead of time and ready to go
As a security measure to protect your retirement information, a code is sent to your cell phone each time you log into MemberDirect. Enter this code into the MemberDirect screen to log in. If you received this text and you did not log in to MemberDirect, notify us by phone immediately at (512) 458-2551
Each time you log in or perform a transaction in MemberDirect, a message will be sent to the email you have on file confirming the login or transaction.If you receive this message and you did not log in or perform a transaction, notify us by phone immediately at (512) 458-2551.
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Explore Your Benefits with MemberDirect
If you have participated in certain other public retirement systems in Texas, you may be able to combine your service credit from those retirement systems to help you meet retirement eligibility under the Proportionate Retirement Program. Proportionate service does not increase the amount of your monthly retirement benefit. COAERS recognizes service credit in the following systems:
- Austin Police Retirement System
- El Paso Firemen and Policemen’s Pension Fund
- The El Paso City Employees’ Pension Fund
- Employees Retirement System of Texas (ERS)
- Judicial Retirement System of Texas I and IITeacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS)
- Texas County and District Retirement System (TCDRS)
- Texas Municipal Retirement System (TMRS)
- Other Texas retirement systems covering municipal employees who have elected to participate in the Proportionate Retirement Program
As a member, you contribute 8% of your base pay to COAERS, excluding overtime, and not subject to any limit. These contributions are made pre-tax (or before taxes), meaning they are deducted from your gross base salary before any federal income tax assessment. Post-tax contributions (after taxes) are already taxed funds which may appear in your records from a purchase of service credit that you made with personal funds, like a check.
COAERS credits interest to your account annually on December 31 for the balance you had on January 1 of that calendar year. The COAERS Board of Trustees determines the interest rate each year.
You can visit the City of Austin’s website at the link below for information about retiree insurance options or contact the Benefits Division at (512) 974-3284. www.austintexas.gov/department/retired-employee-benefits-program
At retirement, you may convert a portion of your unused sick leave hours to service credit. A sick leave purchase does not make you eligible to retire any sooner, but it will increase your monthly benefit payment. Unused sick leave hours eligible for cash payment may not be converted to service credit.
You can visit the Active Member FAQ on the COAERS website (link below) to learn about service purchase options or contact Member Services at (512) 458-2551.
On your account summary home page in MemberDirect, the “My Service” box details your service credit using decimals. If you hover above the in that box, a chart appears showing the decimal-to-month conversion. For example, 5.6667 years equals 5 years and eight months of service credit. If you have questions about your service credit, please contact Member Services.
The Backward Deferred Retirement Program (Back DROP) is available only to members who have worked at least one month past their normal retirement eligibility date. Under this program, you may have your retirement benefit calculated based on an earlier normal retirement date and receive a one-time, taxable, lump sum payment. The lump-sum payment is based on the period between the earlier normal retirement date and your actual retirement date. This is called the “DROP period.” The lump-sum payment is 90% of the life annuity monthly benefit multiplied by the number of months in the DROP period.
If you do not qualify for a Back DROP, you can still elect to take a Partial Lump Sum, which is also a one-time, taxable, lump sum payment. This option reduces the amount of your monthly retirement benefit.
A Joint and Survivor option allows you to continue some or all of your monthly retirement benefit to a beneficiary upon your death.
You may have a tax-free portion of your retirement benefit if you have post-tax funds in your account. The tax-free amount is the total post-tax balance in your COAERS account divided over a certain period depending on your age and other factors. You do not pay federal income tax on the tax-free portion of your benefit. Your annual Form 1099-R reflects this calculation.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) places certain limits on benefits from a defined benefit retirement plan like COAERS. When you run a benefit estimate, our computer system evaluates your benefit to see this IRS limit applies.
If you see “IRS 415(b) Result/Limit: Fail” on your benefit estimate. This means that it is likely that an IRS 415 limit applies to your monthly retirement benefit. When you retire, it may be necessary to pay a portion of your benefit from a different retirement fund that COAERS manages. In this case, you may receive two retirement benefits – one for the portion of your benefit below the IRS 415(b) limit and one for the portion above the IRS 415(b) limit.
For more information about the 415(b) limits, contact a Member Services Specialist at COAERS at (512) 458-2551.