Refunds - Withdrawing My Contributions With ATRS

Below are questions regarding Withdrawing Your Contributions with ATRS.


How do I know if I'm eligible to receive a refund from ATRS?
In order to request a refund, you must no longer be employed by an ATRS covered employer and have credited contributory years of service.
What do you mean by "contributory member?"
ATRS has two types of members:
  • Contributory: The member contributes six percent (6%) of his or her gross earnings.
  • Noncontributory: The member does not make contributions. In both cases, the ATRS covered employer pays the employer contribution rate of fourteen percent (14%) for eligible employees in accordance with ATRS laws and regulations.
  • PLEASE NOTE: The employer's contributions are not nonrefundable and therefore do not apply towards a member's refund.
Are both a Contributory and Noncontributory member eligible to receive retirement benefits?
Yes, if he or she is eligible for retirement (see Retirement FAQs for all retirement eligibility requirements). However, the formula to determine the retirement benefits for contributory and noncontributory members is different. Currently, the contributory multiplier is 2.15% and the multiplier for noncontributory years is 1.39%.
Why would I request a refund instead of receiving a retirement annuity?
Some members terminate employment with an ATRS covered employer prior to being "vested" with the system (A member must have five (5) years of credited service with ATRS to be vested - Reciprocal service in another Arkansas retirement plan can count in the service requirement.) and have no intention of returning to work with an ATRS covered employer. However, those members who are vested, five (5) or more years of credited service, may want to consider leaving their service credit with ATRS and, at the age of sixty (60) he or she would be eligible to receive a monthly annuity.
If I decide to request a refund, what will I receive?
Once you have terminated employment with an ATRS covered employer, and submitted a completed application, your refund will include the contributions you have made through payroll deductions plus interest. However, interest will not be paid on member contributions made in the year.
Instead of a refund, can I request borrow against my Member Contribution Account?
No. ATRS does not allow a member to make a withdrawal from Member Contribution Account for other than total refunds. Unlike a credit union, ATRS is not legally permitted to make such transactions. Your request for a refund will include all contributions in your account.
How does a refund affect my membership rights with ATRS?
A refund cancels ALL member service credit (contributory and noncontributory), ALL membership rights, and ALL beneficiary designations.
If I request a refund, how may I choose to receive my payment?
First and foremost, interest and pre-taxed contributions are taxable by the State of Arkansas and the IRS.

You have the following options for the distribution of the taxable amount of your refund:

  • Rollover of all taxable amounts to an eligible tax deferred retirement account; or

  • Rollover a portion of the taxable amount to an eligible tax deferred retirement account, with the remaining balance of the taxable amount paid to you after applicable federal and state taxes; or

  • Receive a direct payment (check) to you of all contributions with interest after the required federal withholding (20%) and state withholding (5%) are deducted. (An additional early withdrawal penalty of 10% for members under age 59 ½ may be applicable by the IRS.
What if I return to employment with an ATRS covered employer, will my service credit be reinstated?
As stated above, the receipt of a refund cancels ALL member service credit (contributory and noncontributory), ALL membership rights, and ALL beneficiary designations. However, if you become an active member of Teacher Retirement after receiving a refund of your contributions, you may request a cost estimate to repay the refund and reestablish your service credit years. The cost to repay the refund will be computed at actuarial cost value of the service, not the amount of contributions that you withdrew. IT IS VERY COSTLY TO REESTABLISH THIS SERVICE CREDIT!
How long does it take to receive a requested refund?
Typically the requested refund will be processed within the next *thirty (30) working days. The refund will include all contributions and accumulated interest currently updated in your ATRS member contribution account. Any additional contributions not included in the original amount will be refunded as a second refund after the account has been completely audited and closed.

* A rollover to an eligible tax deferred retirement account will be made in only one (1) refund payment. Therefore, ATRS must audit and close all quarters in which the member has been employed with an ATRS covered employer prior to distributing the requested refund to the eligible tax deferred retirement account.

How do I request a refund?
Contact ATRS at 501-682-1517, 1-800-666-2877, or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it to request an Application for Refund of Contributions.

If you have any questions, please contact us at (501) 682-1517, toll free at 1-800-666-2877, or email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it to submit your question.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 01 August 2013 )