Click here to learn more about creating a myLASERS account.

To apply for retirement, a member must meet the eligibility requirements specified in their particular plan. You cannot use unused annual and sick leave to reach eligibility for retirement. Also, certain service purchases may not be used to meet retirement eligibility.

For example, a rank-and-file member hired on or after after July 1, 2015, must have at least five years of service and be 62 years of age to be eligible for an unreduced retirement benefit.

LASERS administers more than 20 different retirement plans.

Find your specific plan type by:

  • Logging into myLASERS and accessing your account information;
  • Reviewing your printed Annual Statement or the electronic version in myLASERS;
  • Calling LASERS for assistance.

Read the Retirement Eligibility and Final Average Compensation chapter in the Member’s Guide to Retirement for additional information.

You must contact your agency’s Human Resources Office to begin the actual retirement process.

We strongly recommend that you obtain an estimate from LASERS 18 months prior to your anticipated retirement date. The estimate may be requested by mail or you may schedule an appointment with a Customer Service Representative to obtain the estimate.

View our Ready to Retire page for additional helpful information.

When you are ready to begin the retirement process, review the Ready to Retire section to find the steps you should take in the months, weeks, and days leading up to retirement. Ideally, you should begin the process 12-18 months away from retirement.

A Pre-Retirement Education Program (PREP) Seminar is highly recommended to assist in your retirement journey.

Unused annual and sick leave benefits you at retirement.

If you retire in state service, or out of state service with at least 20 years of service credit, your unused leave can either be converted to service credit to increase your monthly benefit or be paid to you in a lump sum. The lump sum payment is at an actuarial rate, not your hourly rate.

For details, see the Unused Annual and Sick Leave chapter in the Member’s Guide to Retirement or watch the video Annual and Sick Leave: How it Affects Your Retirement.

If you retire early and meet the eligibility requirements according to your specific plan, you may take an actuarially reduced benefit.

The actuarial reduction is based on the number of months you are away from Regular retirement eligibility.

This reduction can be affected depending on whether you are in state service or out-of-state service at the time of your retirement.

You may view and print your annual statements from the previous five years in myLASERS or you may call our office to request a duplicate be mailed to you.

You have a “vested right” to a benefit when you reach retirement eligibility. You must have the required age and years of service. Once you have the required years you may, however, “defer” your benefits until you reach the required age.

No. Retirement contributions are specified by statute.


No, unless you choose the Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) or Initial Benefit Option (IBO) when you apply for retirement. More details on these options may be found in the Member’s Guide to Retirement.

LASERS seminars are a valuable resource for understanding your retirement options and planning effectively. We currently offer the following seminars:

  • The Pre-Retirement Program (PREP) seminar is for LASERS members thinking about or approaching retirement. In this seminar, you will learn about eligibility requirements, types of retirement, and more.
  • The Calculating Your Benefit seminar explains how your LASERS benefit is calculated, reviews the benefit estimate calculator in myLASERS, offers a brief tutorial on how to create an estimate, and clarifies how to read and understand your estimate.
  • The DROP vs. IBO seminar defines the fundamental differences between the two retirement options, discusses how each is funded, and advises members on how and when to apply for these types of retirement.
  • The Early-Career seminar introduces members to LASERS and the defined benefit retirement plan. This seminar is for LASERS members hired on or after January 1, 2011, but not within five years of retirement eligibility.

Find a seminar that best fits your current career stage and register for either the virtual or in-person sessions by checking out the Seminars page here on our website.

Retirement benefits, including DROP or IBO funds received or accumulated during marriage, are generally considered community property in Louisiana to be shared with your spouse.

Any contributions to a retirement plan made during the marriage will also be viewed as community property by a Louisiana court, and may be subject to sharing with a spouse.

An ex-spouse might be entitled to a portion of your retirement benefit according to that spouse’s community property interest.

For more details, please see the Divorce & Community Property section of our website here.

While on military leave, you may elect to pay contributions to LASERS. If this option is not exercised, according to the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act (USERRA), you can elect to purchase the leave after you have been re-employed for 90 days after the leave has expired.

For specific details, consult the Purchases of  Service Credit chapter in the Member’s Guide to Retirement.

Basic Pension Information

LASERS pensions are funded through a combination of employer and employee contributions and investment earnings during the working life of an employee. Funding is based on liabilities that are being accrued, as determined by an actuarial valuation.

An actuarial valuation is an annual mathematical process to determine a pension plan’s condition, required contributions, and liabilities. LASERS operates on a July 1 through June 30 fiscal year. Annual valuation reports are considered by the LASERS Board of Trustees in September of each year. That valuation must also be approved by the legislatively created Public Retirement Systems’ Actuarial Committee (PRSAC).

The LASERS Board of Trustees governs the retirement system and is responsible for overseeing the collection of contributions and the payment of benefits. It provides oversight of the investment of assets. The Board consists of 13 members: six are elected by active members of the system, three are elected by retired members of the system, and four are ex officio members.

Find more information about the LASERS Board here.

No. LASERS is a “prefunded” system which means that benefits are financed with the accumulation of assets during the employee’s working years.  Employer contributions provide for any debt related to earned retirement benefits.

Over time, investment earnings typically finance a majority of the cost of a pension benefit.

When investment performance is less than expected (assumed), employer contribution requirements increase.

When investment performance is greater than expected (assumed), employer contribution requirements decrease.

When investment return assumptions are set too low, liabilities and costs are overstated.

When investment return assumptions are set too high, liabilities will be understated.

LASERS operates with a discount rate of 7.25 percent effective July 1, 2021. In order to record an investment experience gain, the actuarial rate of return must exceed the discount rate.

The actuarial rate of return, which “smoothes” gains and losses over a five fiscal year period in order to mitigate the volatility of market returns, is used to determine funding requirements and other plan measurements.

LASERS average actuarial return over the past 30 years is approximately 7.46 percent.

GASB is the Governmental Accounting Standards Board responsible for establishing and maintaining standards for accounting and financial reporting by state and local governments in the United States. GASB maintains two sets of standards: one for public pension plans and one for public employers that sponsor pension plans. Find more information on this page of the LASERS website.

For additional information on pension systems, review Public Pension Funding 101 and Public Pension Funding 201 by Keith Brainard, research director for the National Association of State Retirement Administrators (NASRA). Information from Brainard’s articles was used to answer many of these questions.

Benefits for LASERS Members

Average Compensation  ×  Accrual Rate  ×  Years of Service Credit

Average Compensation is based on a member’s highest 36 or 60 months of earnings. Accrual rate is determined by the retirement plan of the member. Details on these terms can be found in the Member’s Guide to Retirement.

The total “normal cost” for funding benefits has increased over the past several years. The State will pay 3.11 percent of payroll to fund the cost of benefits earned by current employees.

Rank-and-file employees pay 7.5 or 8 percent of their salary, depending on their hire date, to fund their future benefits.

If state employees were in Social Security, the State and employees would each pay 6.2 percent of salary.

Changes in the employer contribution rate are impacted by many factors. In addition to the “normal cost” to fund benefits, the employer must make amortization payments on the debt it owes to the retirement system, referred to as the “unfunded accrued liability” or “UAL” of the system.

Also, the UAL payment is calculated as a percentage of payroll. Because state payroll has decreased in recent years, the percentage of payroll necessary to pay the debt has increased.

The reason the employer contribution rate rises as payroll shrinks can be analogized to a family paying a mortgage with less income, as illustrated in this diagram.

As of June 30, 2023, the average rank-and-file LASERS retiree is paid a benefit of $28,512 a year.

Social Security Impact

For their State service, LASERS members do not pay the Social Security tax and are not eligible to draw benefits. The LASERS retirement system is mandatory for most state employees.

State employees who retire with a LASERS pension and who earned a Social Security benefit from private employment will likely see a substantial reduction in their Social Security benefits due to the Windfall Elimination Provision federal offset. Also, a LASERS retiree whose spouse earned a Social Security benefit may completely lose that spousal benefit due to the federal Government Pension Offset.

Click here for additional information on the Social Security Offsets.

Types of Retirement Plans

A defined benefit (DB) plan guarantees a lifetime monthly benefit to retirees. The benefit is calculated based on a formula that considers the employee’s years of service, the compensation received by the employee, and an accrual rate. Assets in a DB plan are managed by professionals using a long-term investment horizon. Funding for the plans is provided through employee contributions, employer contributions, and investment earnings, with investment earnings funding the vast majority of benefit payments.

A defined contribution retirement plan, usually in the form of a 401(k), can only pay out those funds that have been paid into the plan, as impacted by the gains or losses of the stock market. The plan defines the contribution to be added to the member’s account.  A retiree with only a DC plan who makes poor or overly conservative investment decisions or those who outlive retirement benefits may be forced to rely on public assistance.

Cash Balance Plans (CBP) may vary significantly depending on how they are designed. A CBP may be designed as a defined benefit plan that defines the benefit in terms that are more characteristic of a defined contribution plan, but retains some benefit guarantees.  Typically a CBP defines the promised benefit in terms of a stated account balance. In a typical CBP, a participant’s account is credited each year with a “pay credit” and an “interest credit.”

A hybrid retirement plan combines elements of traditional pensions and individual account plans, shifting some risk from the employer to the plan participants.

Unfunded Accrued Liability

The IUAL is the debt owed to LASERS by the State of Louisiana from the inception of the system in 1946 through June 30, 1988. LASERS was created with an unfunded liability because benefits were granted but were not fully funded. The IUAL began accruing interest on June 30, 1988, at the rate of 7.5 percent annually; in 1990, the interest rate changed to 8.25 percent. In 1987, a constitutional amendment led to a 40-year amortization schedule for the IUAL, requiring the debt be satisfied by 2029.

The UAL is the initial debt plus any additional unfunded liability accrued since June 30, 1988. The UAL is the total amount by which the retirement system’s liabilities (benefit obligations) exceed the assets of the system. Payments to the UAL are amortized over a specified period of time, much like a mortgage.

As of June 30, 2023, the UAL of LASERS was approximately $6.7 billion.

The existing payment schedule is projected to result in a $3.3 billion reduction to the LASERS $7 billion debt in 10 years and a $6.4 billion reduction in 22 years. The UAL balance will continue to decline as long as the state continues to make the debt payments.

Review the current UAL Payment Chart on this page.

Legislative reforms adopted since 2005 are expected to reduce costs for LASERS by $3 billion. LASERS has supported many legislative and constitutional changes to reduce the UAL.

Act 75 of 2005, relating to Rank and File members hired after July 1, 2006, increased employee contribution rates, limited retirement eligibility to 10 years of service at age 60, increased the Final Average Compensation (FAC) from three to five years, and reduced the salary spiking cap from 25 to 15 percent.

Act 992 of 2010, consolidated plans for new hires, consolidated Hazardous Duty plans and adjusted benefits for consistency, modified survivor benefits, and applied components from Act 75 to other groups. A third new Rank and File plan was adopted in 2014 which increases the retirement age for certain new hires to age 62.

Acts 497 of 2009 and 399 of 2014 prioritize more investment experience gains to reducing the UAL.

Act 94 of 2016 required direct funding of administrative expenses, rather than allowing these expenses to impact the UAL.

Several legislative acts since 2018 have appropriated surplus funds to be applied to the balance of the IUAL.

Check out more legislative steps taken to reduce employer costs and improve the funding of the System here.