National Association of State Retirement Administrators


The Montana Public Employees Retirement Board (PERS) administers pension and other benefits to nearly all public employees in the state except teachers. The system administers eight defined benefit plans, and optional 457 plan, and a core defined contribution plan established as an alternative to the defined benefit plans. More than 85 percent of active members belong to the PERS Plan, which covers general employees of the state and participating political subdivisions. Assets are managed by the state's Board of Investments. The alternative defined contribution plan was approved in 2002 by the Montana Legislature.

The Montana Teachers Retirement System administers pension and other benefits for all teachers and other certificated employees of public schools, colleges, and universities. The System also administers an optional retirement plan for approximately 4,400 employees of the state university system. Assets are managed by the State Board of Investments.


Authorizing Statutes

State Employees

Section 19-3-103 of the Montana Code establishes the defined benefit and defined contribution portions of the Public Employees Retirement System.

19-3-103. Retirement system created -- system to consist of two plans. (1) A defined benefit retirement plan is created and established to become effective July 1, 1945.

  • (2) A defined contribution plan is established as provided in part 21 of this chapter.

  • (3) The public employees' retirement system consists of the defined benefit plan and the defined contribution plan. Each plan within the system is governed by the applicable provisions of chapter 2 and this chapter.

Section 19-3-2102 creates the MPERS defined contribution plan.

19-3-2102. Defined contribution plan established -- assets to be held in trust -- contracted services. (1) The board shall establish within the public employees' retirement system a defined contribution plan in accordance with the provisions of this part. The plan must be established as a pension plan for the exclusive benefit of members and their beneficiaries and as a "qualified governmental plan" pursuant to section 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code and its implementing regulations. Retirement accounts must be established for each member of the defined contribution plan. Assets of the plan must be held in trust. The plan is established in addition to any retirement, pension, deferred compensation, or other benefit plan administered by the state or a political subdivision.

Local Employees

Section 19-3-201 covers political subdivisions who wish to participate in the Public Employees Retirement System.

Any municipal corporation, county, or public agency in the state may become a contracting employer through a contract entered into between the board and the legislative body of the contracting employer. The contract must provide that all employees eligible under this chapter must become members.

Educational Employees

Section 19-20-102 creates the Teachers Retirement System.

19-20-102. Retirement system -- policy. (1) The state teachers' retirement system created under the provisions of Chapter 87, Laws of 1937, is the state teachers' retirement system of the state of Montana, and the provisions of this chapter do not affect or impair the validity of any action taken by its governing board or the rights of any person arising under the provisions of Chapter 87, Laws of 1937, or any subsequent amendment to this chapter. The state teachers' retirement system is known as "The Teachers' Retirement System of the State of Montana" and in that name shall transact all business of the retirement system, hold its assets in trust, and have the powers and privileges of a corporation that may be necessary to administer the provisions of this chapter.

Board Composition


Board Size



Plan Members

Ex Officio

Montana Public Employees Retirement Board






Montana Teachers Retirement System






Section 2-15-1009 establishes the PERS retirement board, consisting of:

  • three public employees who are active members of a public retirement system;

  • one retired public employee who is a member of the public employees' retirement system;

  • two members at large; and

  • one member who has experience in investment management, counseling, or financial planning or who has other similar experience.

Section 2-15-1010 establishes the Teachers Retirement Board, which consists of:

  • three persons appointed from the teaching profession who, when appointed, are active members of the retirement system;

  • two persons appointed as representatives of the public;

  • one member who must be a retired teacher who was a member of the retirement system at the time of retirement.


Per the U.S. Census, in FY 2021, employer contributions to Montana state and local government pension plans were 3.53 percent of all state and local government direct general spending.

Constitutional Protections

No explicit constitutional protection for public pension benefits, but courts provide protection based on impairment of contract principles, protected by Article 2, §31 of the Montana Constitution. Baumgardner v. Public Employees' Retirement Bd. of State, 119 P.3d 77 (Mont. 2005)(statute that changed the method for calculating retirement benefits was unconstitutional impairment); Gulbrandson v. Carey, 901 P.2d 573 (Mont. 1995)(recognizing that terms of pension contract are determined by the statutes in effect at the time of retirement). (MT CONST., Article 2, §31) Source: Robert Klausner, Esq., State Constitutional Protections for Public Sector Retirement Benefits
Flag of Montana (December 17, 1981)

Population (2022) 1,122,867

Montana public pension statistics, per U.S. Census Bureau as of FY 2022 ($ in 000s)



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