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A Publication for VRS Employers
July 2017 | Archives
Your Turn to Ask: What are some tips to help my employees safeguard their myVRS account information?

VRS, DHRM Begin Administration of Line of Duty Act

On July 1, VRS and the Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM) assumed administration of the Line of Duty Act (LODA). Under LODA, state employees, full-time and part-time local government employees and volunteers who hold specified hazardous duty positions, and their eligible spouses and dependents, receive certain benefits should the employee or volunteer die or become disabled in the line of duty.
  • VRS makes eligibility determinations for individuals who are disabled or killed in the line of duty. In addition, VRS issues benefit payments on behalf of employers participating in the LODA Fund. Employers that do not participate in the LODA Fund will issue benefit payments after VRS makes an eligibility determination and notifies the employer that a claim has been approved.
  • DHRM administers LODA Health Benefits Plans to provide consistent coverage for all eligible LODA recipients.
New LODA Website Serves as Information Hub for Claimants, Employers
VRS has developed a new LODA website to provide key information, resources and training to employers and their LODA-eligible employees and volunteers, which includes:
  • Information on eligibility and benefits.
  • How to Apply for LODA Benefits, a tutorial with step-by-step instructions on filing a claim.
  • LODA Participant Guide pdf icon.
  • LODA Overview for Participants, a presentation covering benefits, eligibility and claims. Employers are required by law to train LODA-eligible employees and volunteers within 30 days of being hired and then every two years thereafter. This presentation satisfies the training requirement.
  • A section devoted exclusively to information and resources for employers.
Refer to the DHRM LODA webpage for information about the LODA Health Benefits Plans.
LODA Resource Spotlight: Presentation Addresses Key Questions for Employers
The employers page of the new LODA website provides information about your responsibilities under LODA. The LODA Overview for Employers provides information on how LODA benefits are funded and a detailed review of death and disability claims. The presentation walks you through the claims process and the resources available to you and your LODA-eligible employees and volunteers.   
 
VRS and DHRM look forward to partnering with you to serve the LODA community. Visit valoda.org to view available resources.

LODA Fund Participating Employers: Watch for Fiscal Year 2018 Premium Invoices

If you participate in the Virginia Line of Duty Act (LODA) Fund, you soon will receive your premium invoice for fiscal year 2018 participation.

The invoices reflect the updated personnel coverage list you provided to VRS in May. Additions or deletions made after May are not required for LODA Fund billing purposes. Altered payments or payments for amounts other than the amount you are billed will not be accepted.

VRS sends invoices via U.S. mail to the finance administrators of your organization, and payment is due within 30 days of receipt. If you have questions about your LODA Fund premium invoice for fiscal year 2018, or did not receive it this month, please email loda@varetire.org.
 

Modernization Update: Retirees Gain Access to Enhanced myVRS; New Tools Available for Higher Education Faculty

Retirees Gain Access to Enhanced myVRS
With the latest updates to myVRS, retirees will gradually gain access to an enhanced website. The rollout began with recent retirees, who may continue to use their myVRS member login credentials, provided they registered for the enhanced myVRS before retirement.
 
Access to the new site will progressively expand to existing retirees, who will complete an identity verification process. When the rollout is complete, an integrated myVRS system will serve both members and retirees in a secure environment.
 
New Tools Available for Higher Education Faculty
New college and university faculty can now use their myVRS accounts to compare and contrast their retirement plan options. Members also can use the plan comparison calculator to view retirement income projections under each plan.
 
Depending on their membership date, new higher education faculty may be eligible for VRS Plan 1, Plan 2 or the Hybrid Retirement Plan, or they may elect the VRS Optional Retirement Plan for Higher Education (ORPHE), a defined contribution plan with three provider options.
 
Stay in the know: VRS has created a modernization webpage to detail the changes coming to myVRS in 2017 and beyond. Use this page as a resource to stay current on updates to myVRS and myVRS Navigator. 
  

MBPs Coming in Late Summer

The 2017 Member Benefit Profiles (MBPs) for Plan 1 and Plan 2 members will be available in their myVRS accounts in late summer.

The MBP is the employee’s annual benefit statement based on information you reported to VRS as of June 30. It provides account balance information, retirement eligibility and eligibility for other benefits, such as group life insurance and the health insurance credit. If you have employees who do not have access to a computer, you can look up their MBPs in myVRS Navigator.

You will receive a notification when your employees' MBPs are ready. VRS also will provide promotional materials to help remind your employees to view their MBPs online.
 
For Hybrid Retirement Plan employees: MBPs are currently not available for Hybrid Retirement Plan employees. They may view their defined benefit and defined contribution account balances from the myVRS homepage. Hybrid plan members also now have access to the new goal-based Retirement Planner and the Benefit Estimator. These features allow members to enter different retirement date scenarios and see estimates of their defined benefit and defined contribution account balance.
  

myVRS Navigator: Fiscal Year-End Reporting Reminders

IRS Annual Compensation Limits Increased for 2017
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently announced increased Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 401(a)(17) annual compensation limits for 2017:
  • Employees with membership dates before April 9, 1996: $400,000
  • Employees with membership dates on or after April 9, 1996: $270,000
Income over the amounts provided cannot be considered part of an employee’s creditable compensation in VRS retirement plans. Creditable compensation is an employee’s annual salary not including overtime pay, payment of a temporary nature or payments for extra duties such as pay for teachers who provide coaching or act as an adviser for special activities.

If an employee’s annual salary exceeds the 401(a)(17) compensation limit, myVRS Navigator automatically calculates creditable compensation and contributions using the limit. Employers should report the employee’s actual salary. Do not withhold the member contribution on the excess salary from the employee. Instead, pay it to the employee as wages. Ancillary benefits are based on the full, uncapped annual salary. Although the limit for 2017 was announced and effective for January 1, VRS applies the limit on a plan-year basis.
 
New Online Hub for Fiscal Year-End Reminders
VRS has added a new section to its online Financial Reporting Center that provides detailed information on fiscal year-end tasks employers perform in myVRS Navigator during the summer months. The new Fiscal Year-End Reminders page organizes the reminders based on the month in which employers must take certain actions.
 

Optional Life Insurance Premium Rates Decrease September 1

The VRS Board of Trustees approved a reduction in the optional group life premium rates effective September 1, 2017:
  • Ages 40-44: Reduced from $0.09 to $0.08 per month per $1,000 of coverage
  • Ages 60-64: Reduced from $0.65 to $0.59 per month per $1,000 of coverage
  • Ages 65-69: Reduced from $1.15 to $1.06 per month per $1,000 of coverage
Overall, premium rates will decrease by 4 percent for employee and spouse insurance. Rate reductions will vary based on the age of the insured person and will range from 0 percent to 11 percent. No age group will experience a rate increase. The new rates and each age-bracket reduction are highlighted in the table below:
 
Optional Group Life Insurance Plan Premium Rates for Employee and Spouse
Monthly Premiums per $1,000 of Insurance
Age of Insured Member or Spouse Current Rate Rate Effective September 1, 2017 Percentage Reduction
Under 30 $.05 $.05 0%
30-34 .05 .05 0%
35-39 .06 .06 0%
40-44 .09 .08 11%
45-49 .14 .14 0%
50-54 .20 .20 0%
55-59 .33 .33 0%
60-64 .65 .59 9%
65-69 1.15 1.06 8%
70-74 2.06 2.06 0%
75 & Over 2.06 2.06 0%

Optional Group Life Insurance Plan
Monthly Premium Rates for Dependent Child Insurance
Option Member Coverage Child Benefit Monthly Rate
1 1 x salary $10,000 $0.80
2 2 x salary 10,000 0.80
3 3 x salary 20,000 1.60
4 4 x salary 30,000 2.40

Optional life insurance provides a cost-effective way for members to ensure financial security for loved ones. For members who have had optional life for at least 60 months and are eligible to retire, they may continue a portion of their optional coverage upon separation while taking advantage of these same group rates.
 
If you have questions, contact Joe Chang, Minnesota Life Securian, at 1-800-441-2258, ext. 101, or by email at Joseph.Chang@securian.com.
 
Remember to inform participating employees that they will see a decrease in the premium deductions from their paychecks after September 1.   
 

Reminder: August 1 Retiree Benefit Payments Will Reflect COLA and Hazardous Duty Supplement Increases

A 1.26 percent cost-of­-living adjustment (COLA) for eligible retirees (Plan 1, Plan 2 and the Hybrid Retirement Plan) becomes effective for benefit payments deposited on August 1.
 
Find more information on how the COLA is calculated in Your Retirement Roadmap: Handbook for Retirees Under Plan 1 and Plan 2 pdf icon and the Getting Ready to Retire Guide for Hybrid Members pdf icon.
 
Also effective for August 1 benefit payments, the annual hazardous duty supplement increases from $13,548 per year to $13,584 per year for eligible retirees.

The hazardous duty supplement is a dollar amount added to an eligible member’s monthly benefit, beginning at retirement and continuing until normal retirement age under Social Security. The supplement ends at age 65 for certain VaLORS retirees who elected to retain the 1.7 percent multiplier and eligibility for the supplement. The hazardous duty supplement is evaluated by the VRS actuary every two years as required by the Code of Virginia.

 

  Announcements

Member Handbooks Updated With July 1 Addendums: VRS has updated all member handbooks to reflect July 1 legislative and administrative changes. Printed handbooks are updated with addendums, and handbooks available only online have been updated within the text.
 
The Code of Virginia requires that all new employees receive a summary plan description within 90 days of employment. Providing a print or an electronic copy is acceptable. Electronic PDF versions of the handbooks are available for download from the VRS website. Please recycle all old versions of member handbooks. 
 
As a reminder, all Plan 1 handbooks and Plan 2 handbooks for state, teacher and local government employees are no longer available in print, as those plans are closed to new members. VRS does print Plan 2 handbooks for VaLORS, SPORS and hazardous duty employees in political subdivisions and handbooks for Hybrid Retirement Plan members. 

Virginia Local Disability Program Benefits: The online manual for Virginia Local Disability Program (VLDP) Benefits pdf icon has moved and is incorporated into the Employer Manual. Eligible political subdivision and school division employees in the Hybrid Retirement Plan who become disabled and cannot work have protection through VLDP. The program includes short-term and long-term disability benefits and a long-term care program. Be sure to bookmark this section and refer to it for guidance as you administer the program. 

New Paycheck Calculator Helps Hybrid Members Plan: This new tool helps Hybrid Retirement Plan members see the impact of voluntary contributions and other deductions on their paycheck. The visually interactive calculator allows members to experiment with various percentages of voluntary contributions and choose a percentage that works for them. The next quarterly deadline for changing voluntary contribution elections is 4 p.m., September 15.
 
Are you new to administering VRS benefits? Let us know so our employer representative team can introduce themselves to you and assist you with locating resources, manuals and training opportunities.
 
Order VRS Publications.
 

  Employer Training & Events

Later this summer, VRS will deliver in-person training to employers at locations throughout the state. Each two-day session will cover the following topics:
  • Membership, contributions and refunds
  • Purchase of prior service
  • Service retirement
  • Death benefits
You may register for all four topic areas or just those of interest. Stay tuned to Employer Training for new offerings.  
    
Classroom and webinar courses are posted on the VRS website as they are scheduled. Other e-learning modules are available through VRS University in the Virginia Learning Center.

Current Training


  Member Education & Events

Classroom and webinar courses are posted on the VRS website as they are scheduled. Plan 1 and Plan 2 members may register from our Education and Counseling pages for new offerings.
 
Several educational resources are available to Hybrid Retirement Plan members. They can register for a group seminar to learn more about the hybrid plan defined benefit and defined contribution components as well as other VRS benefits.


Beginning this month, VRS is offering a new round of Living in Retirement workshops at locations throughout Virginia, covering a variety of topics from insurance to estate planning to Social Security. The workshops are free and are offered in half-day or full-day formats, depending on location. 
 

  Form Updates

To ensure faster processing of retirement and other forms — and to ensure you are using the most up-to-date versions of VRS forms — use the latest fillable VRS forms on the website.

VRS now also accepts copies and faxes of all forms. All forms may be faxed to 804-786-9718. If you are on a deadline when faxing a document, please call or email to alert VRS of its pending arrival. Also, it is good practice to use a cover sheet, particularly if you are sending the fax to a specific VRS staff member.

Important note: VRS does not accept forms via email, which is not considered a secure form of communication.

 

Financial Reporting

Be sure to bookmark the employers’ Financial Reporting section, where you can find resources and links to assist with financial reporting related to VRS-administered benefit plans. In addition, you will now find a new section with fiscal year-end reporting reminders.  

  Your Turn to Ask

Q: What are some tips to help my employees safeguard their myVRS account information?

From time to time, it’s helpful to remind employees of best practices to protect their myVRS account information:
  • Email is not secure: Don’t send email with confidential information to VRS, even when logged into your online account.
  • Don’t forget to log out: When you’ve finished using your myVRS account, log out. Do not simply close the browser window.
  • Use a unique password: Don’t use the same password for myVRS that you use with other accounts.
  • Think passphrase, not password: Avoid using stand-alone words. Instead, use phrases featuring a combination of upper- and lowercase characters, symbols and numbers.
  • Change your password often.
  • Do not share your myVRS account password or login information with anyone. 


Have a question?

Email the Employer Support Team or contact your Employer Representative.

Important Email Notice: Do not send personal or confidential information, such as a Social Security number, by email. VRS will send only non-confidential replies.

Copyright © 2017 Virginia Retirement System

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