Leaves of Absence
During your employment, you may need to take a leave of absence. Some members take leave without pay, while other types of leave require the employer to pay the member a portion of salary or a stipend.
Leave Without Pay
If you take an employer-approved leave of absence without pay, you must decide whether to continue SDRS contributions during the leave. There are two options:
You may make both the employer and member contributions. The amount will be determined by multiplying your contribution percentage rate by your annual rate of pay just prior to the leave. If you elect to continue contributions, you will accrue credited service during the leave and disability and survivor coverage will continue. Contributions must be sent to SDRS at least monthly.
You may elect to make no contributions during the leave of absence. If you elect to make no contributions during your leave period, you will not accrue credited service during that time. In addition, disability and survivor coverage will not continue if contributions are not made. If you elect to make no contributions and become disabled during your leave, you will not be eligible for disability benefits. If you elect to make no contributions and die during your leave, your family will not be entitled to family/survivor benefits (other than a withdrawal of your accumulated contributions).
If you elected to not make contributions during your leave and return to SDRS-covered employment, you may purchase credited service for the period spent on the employer-approved leave of absence.
Leave With Pay or Stipend
If you take an employer-approved leave of absence during which you receive some type of payment, such as sabbatical leave for higher education employees and education leave for certain state employees, you have the same options regarding continuation of contributions as described above. If you choose to continue SDRS membership and coverage during the leave, contributions must be paid on the amount of your full salary paid immediately prior to the leave - not on the amount paid during the leave period. You and your employer must work out the details of who will pay the contributions.
Leave Following an On-the-Job Injury
If you are granted an employer-approved leave of absence following an on-the-job injury, you may continue to receive credited service in SDRS by making both the employer and member contributions during the leave, thereby maintaining disability and survivor coverage. The level of these contributions will be based on your compensation immediately prior to the leave.
If you collect Worker's Compensation payments, these payments are specifically excluded from compensation for SDRS purposes. Therefore, no contributions are made on those payments.
Military Leave of Absence
South Dakota Codified Law 3-12C-514 states, in part:
A member shall receive credited service for leave of absence due to qualified military service, authorized in advance by the employer, without contribution by the employee or employer if the member returns to the employ of a participating unit within one year from the member's date of discharge from the member's initial period of active military service and if the member remains in the employ of a participating unit for at least one year. The member may not receive credit for any voluntary extension of military service at the instance of the member beyond the initial period of enlistment, induction, or call to active duty. No credited service granted under this section may be considered to represent either member contributions or employer contributions for puposes of contribution withdrawals pursuant to this chapter.
South Dakota Codified Law 3-12C-515 states, in part:
If a member on leave of absence performing initial qualified military service dies, the member shall be considered to have returned from the leave of absence on the day before the member's death and become a contributing member for purposes of survivor benefits if the member has at least one year of credited service prior to the member's death, including the initial period of qualified military service.
If a member on leave of absence performing initial qualified military service becomes disabled, the member shall be considered to have returned from the leave of absence on the day before the member's discharge date and become a contributing member for purposes of eligibility for disability benefits if the member has at least three years of credited service including the period of initial qualified military service.