Types of Plans

Defined Benefit (MERS) – pension program funded by the employer and employee (50/50).  Your future benefit doesn’t fluctuate due to investment gains or losses in the market, but is based on a formula.

Defined Contribution Plan (MERS) – contributions made and assets are invested.  Retirement benefits are based on total amount of money in your account.  As a qualified plan, no taxes on your employer contributions or earnings until you withdraw assets.

457 Defined Contribution (MERS 457 Program) – employer-sponsored deferred compensation program, meaning with the pre-tax option, taxes on the contributions are deferred until they are withdrawn.  You invest the plan assets.  A post-tax ROTH 457 is also available.

Roth IRA (MERS) – tax-advantaged saving, with flexible withdrawals anytime with no penalty for qualified expenses to help reach your financial goals.  Tax-free income at retirement.  These can include:

  • Education expenses for you, your spouse, your child or grandchild
  • Buying or building your first home (up to $10,000)
  • Some medical expenses

Pension Calculation

The Defined Benefit formula is as follows: Benefit plan multiplier multiplied by final average compensation (FAC), multiplied by years and months of service, divided by 12 for your monthly (Straight Life) amount.

Example: 0.025 (multiplier of 2.5%) x $45,000 (FAC) x 25 (years) = $28,125 yearly or $2,343.75 monthly.

Applying for Retirement

  1. Apply for retirement online.  Submit the online retirement application through you myMERS account 45-90 days prior to your retirement date.  You will need to choose your payment option.  Log in to your myMERS account and use the calculator to see estimated monthly defined benefit calculations and how various payment options impact your final pension amount.
  2. We’ll begin processing your information.  It can take up to six weeks to review your file and begin processing your information.
  3. Your preliminary benefit calculation is sent.  MERS will send a personalized Retirement Allowance Schedule for you that will provide a preliminary calculation of your expected benefits with a letter confirming your retirement elections.
  4. Enjoy your retirement! Your retirement date will be first day of the month following your termination date, or the first day of the month following MERS receipt of your completed retirement forms, whichever is later.  Payments are issued electronically on the 18th of each month, unless it falls on a weekend or holiday, in which case the payment will be issued the business day prior.  These pension payments are subject to federal and some state taxes.

Note: Please select your payment option carefully; it may not be changed. 

Payment Options

When you retire, you will be able to choose the form of payment that works for you.  Your available options are:

  1. Straight Life – highest monthly payment paid for your lifetime, with no monthly pension beneficiary.
  2. Life with 100%, 75%, or 50% to survivor – a reduced monthly benefit that provides a chosen percentage to one beneficiary for life if you die.  If your beneficiary predeceases you, your payment reverts to the Straight Line payment for the rest of your life.  Your beneficiary cannot be changed after you retire. 50% is included with the City of Grand Haven plan, with no reduction to the retiree.
  3. Life with 20, 15, 10, or 5 year period certain – provides a monthly benefit to you as long as you live.  If you die before the period certain ends, your beneficiary(ies) receives your payment until the period certain ends.

COGH Pension Information


POLC (Command and Patrol)



EE Contribution Rate as of 7/1/21