Get answers to frequently asked questions
MERIT is a retirement savings program created for Maine's nearly 940,000 workers without access to employer-sponsored retirement savings plans. Here are answers to many of the common things we’ve been asked. If you have questions beyond these, we’re here to help.
- Fees and Costs
- Investments and Contributions
- Payroll Providers
- Registration Process
- Do employers have to facilitate this State program?
Yes. Under Maine law, Maine employers will be required to offer their employees some sort of retirement savings. This can be a traditional pension, a 401(k) plan, a 403(b) plan, a SEP Plan, a SIMPLE IRA plan, a governmental deferred compensation plan — or an account from MERIT.
- Are there any fees for employers to participate?
There are no employer fees. Also, employers are neither required, nor permitted, to match employee contributions to the program.
- Do other states have programs like this?
Yes, similar programs are up and running in other states, including California, Oregon, Connecticut, Maryland, and Illinois. And many other states are about to launch state-facilitated retirement savings programs or are in the process of passing legislation to support them, including Virginia, Delaware, and New Mexico, among others.
- What is considered to be a qualified, employer-sponsored retirement plan?
An employer-sponsored retirement plan includes a plan qualified under Internal Revenue Code sections 401(a) (including a 401(k) plan), qualified annuity plan under section 403(a), tax-sheltered annuity plan under section 403(b), Simplified Employee Pension plan under section 408(k), a SIMPLE IRA plan under section 408(p), or governmental deferred compensation plan under section 457(b). It does not include payroll deduction IRAs.
- Where can I find a copy of the Program Disclosure Booklet?
The MERIT Program rules are posted here.
- Will services be available in other languages?
Yes, the call center will offer assistance in English and Spanish, with access to translation services for other languages.
- When can I register?
We're currently running a pilot and plan for the full Program to open in early 2024. That is when every Maine employer with 5 or more employees will need to facilitate the program if they don’t already offer their own qualified retirement savings plan.
- What if I already offer a qualified retirement account?
Employers that offer a qualified retirement plan are not required to participate in the program, but they need to certify their exemption. Simply start the process by providing your EIN and your Access Code. Then, in the space provided, certify that you offer a plan.
- How does registration work?
First, you’ll be asked to provide certain information about your business and employees. We ask only for the basic information necessary to set you up as an employer and to set up your employees' accounts. Once added to the program, your employees will receive information, including instructions on how to make account changes or opt-out if they wish. After that, you’ll start the payroll contributions for the employees who choose to stay in the program.
- How long does it take to complete registration online?
That depends on how many employees you have and whether you enter their information manually or use the batch upload feature or payroll system integration for multiple employees. Once employees are entered into the system, just update your payroll processing to include employee contributions, which are seamlessly deposited into each employee’s account. We’ve created a helpful video about the entire registration process.