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A Publication for VRS Employers
June 2017 | Archives
Your Turn to Ask: What resources are available to assist me with learning how to use myVRS Navigator?

Modernization Update: myVRS Enhancements Coming for Retirees, Higher Education Optional Plan

Starting this month, two enhancements are coming to the myVRS website:
  • Retirees will gain access to the enhanced myVRS site. The rollout will begin with new retirees and gradually expand to existing retirees throughout the summer. 
  • New college and university faculty members can use their myVRS accounts to compare and contrast their retirement plan options.
Refer to the May Employer Update for additional details on new functionality coming to myVRS.

Purchase of Prior Service Update: Lump-Sum Purchases Using COV 457 Funds

VRS members who are active participants in the Commonwealth of Virginia 457 Deferred Compensation Plan have the option of using employee contribution funds from their COV 457 plan to pay for lump-sum purchases of prior service.

To facilitate this process online, myVRS and myVRS Navigator menus were recently updated.

myVRS Navigator: The employer can now enter transfer details and select a box to specify that lump-sum payment funds are coming from the Commonwealth of Virginia 457 Plan. Checking the box triggers additional information (e.g., payment mailing address and other instructions) to appear on the PPS lump-sum confirmation letter for the member.

myVRS: If a member is using myVRS and elects to purchase service with a lump-sum payment, an additional menu item has been created to allow the member to select Transfer of Funds From a COV 457 Plan. Selecting the option and entering transfer details triggers additional information (e.g., payment mailing address and other instructions) to appear on the lump-sum payment confirmation page within myVRS.

The myVRS Navigator Purchase of Prior Service e-course and myVRS Navigator Purchase of Prior Service Process Guide have been updated to include screen shots of the new instructions and menu options in myVRS Navigator and myVRS. To view these updated training materials in the Virginia Learning Center, your VLC Administrator will need to pull them into your organization’s VLC domain again, where they are searchable using keywords VRS-E, myVRS Navigator Training or Purchase of Prior Service.


myVRS Navigator: Year-End Preparation

As the fiscal year draws to a close, employers have a number of important year-end tasks to perform and monitor. Here’s a refresher on key processes and deadlines. VRS appreciates your partnership in ensuring a smooth transition to the new fiscal year.
a. Confirm June Snapshot No Later Than Monday, July 10
Security Administrators or the Snapshot Processor 2 should confirm all snapshots through June 2017 in myVRS Navigator no later than 4 p.m., Monday, July 10. (Note: Employers will need to schedule payments at least three business days before the 10th of the month if submitting by ACH debit.)
Completing this task on time ensures that your employees’ information is correct as VRS prepares for fiscal year-end activities, such as adding interest to member accounts and creating the annual Member Benefit Profiles.
If possible, please confirm snapshots and schedule payments before the end of June, as soon as all monthly activity is known. For further details, refer to the Contribution Confirmation and Payment Scheduling chapter in the VRS Employer Manual pdf icon.
b. Look Ahead to July Snapshot
After confirming your June snapshot, you can submit enrollments and maintenance changes, upload files, process prior service, generate snapshots and complete all other routine processing for July. However, you cannot confirm the July snapshot until year-end processing is complete. VRS will alert you by email and with a message on the myVRS Navigator dashboard when to confirm your July snapshot. For reporting purposes in myVRS Navigator, July 3 is the first business day of the new fiscal year.
c. 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.
Be sure to bookmark the page in your web browser and refer to it for information and resources that will assist with financial reporting related to VRS-administered benefit plans.

Line of Duty Act

Line of Duty Act Administration Transitions to VRS, DHRM July 1

General Assembly changes to the Line of Duty Act (LODA) benefits become effective July 1. Under LODA, state employees, 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.
Administrative Changes Become Effective July 1
  • VRS will make eligibility determinations for individuals who are disabled or killed in the line of duty and issue benefit payments on behalf of LODA Fund-participating employers. 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.
  • The Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM) will administer LODA Health Benefits Plans for all eligible LODA recipients to provide consistent coverage.
Employer Responsibilities: Payments, Training and Claim Form Submission
By statute, LODA benefits must be provided. Your responsibilities under LODA and how you pay for benefits depends on whether you are a LODA Fund-participating employer or non-participating employer.
State agencies participate automatically in the LODA Fund, which is administered by VRS. Localities were given the opportunity to opt out of the LODA Fund and provide their own source for funding the benefit. The localities that opted out are referred to as LODA Fund non-participating employers. Localities that did not opt out, as well as state agencies, are referred to as participating employers.
All employers are required to train LODA-eligible employees and volunteers within 30 days of hire and every two years thereafter. Training materials covering benefits and claims will appear on a new LODA website launching in late June.
During the LODA claims process, employers must complete a section of the claim form and submit the application to VRS, including additional documentation, within seven days of receipt.
New LODA Website Coming Later This Month
The new LODA website will serve as an information center for LODA claimants and their families as well as employers. The site will feature:
  • Information on eligibility, benefits and claims.
  • Links to required LODA forms.
  • A participant guide and video tutorials for claimants.
  • Information and training resources for employers.
  • Contact information for the Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM), the administrator of LODA Health Benefits Plans.
Implementation Costs to Be Shared by Employers
There will be a one-time cost to employers for VRS and DHRM to transition and implement the LODA program. VRS will use employers' most up-to-date headcount of LODA-eligible employees and volunteers to determine the invoice amount for transition implementation costs.
  • For LODA Fund participating employers, VRS will bill the fund for reimbursement. Employers will not receive an invoice.
  • For LODA Fund non-participating employers, VRS will bill the employer directly for reimbursement. Last month, VRS sent a letter to human resource managers requesting an updated headcount of LODA-eligible employees and volunteers. As a reminder, this updated headcount is due no later than June 15. Please go to http://valoda.org/hc if you have not already updated your headcount.
VRS and DHRM look forward to working with you to implement these required LODA changes. Should you have questions, please email loda@varetire.org.

Governor Appoints Nason as VRS Board Chairman and McWilliams as New VRS Board Member

Governor Terry McAuliffe has announced two appointments to the VRS Board of Trustees. Lt. Mitchell L. Nason, a current board member, becomes the new chairman, and O’Kelly E. McWilliams III joins as a member.
Mitchell Nason

Nason is a firefighter and paramedic with the Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue. He was first appointed to the VRS Board in 2008 and reappointed in 2013. Nason received his bachelor of science in economics from Virginia Commonwealth University.

O'Kelly McWilliams

McWilliams serves as managing partner of the Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland offices of Gordon & Rees LLP. He is a graduate of Longwood University and earned his law degree at George Mason University.


New Look for VRS Defined Contribution Plans

VRS Defined Contribution PlansThe VRS Defined Contribution Plans have a revamped logo and branding to help you easily identify defined contribution plan resources. You’ll soon spot the new DCP-Virginia Retirement System logo on our deferred compensation websites and other materials.

Hybrid Retirement Plan Update: Your Efforts Help Lift Voluntary Contributions

Retirement starts with saving. For VRS Hybrid Retirement Plan members, that means making voluntary contributions to their Hybrid 457 Deferred Compensation Plan.
Thanks to employers’ efforts to encourage hybrid plan members to save more for retirement, the number of members making voluntary contributions more than doubled in the last year. At the beginning of 2016, 10.6 percent of these members were contributing to the Hybrid 457 Plan. By September 2016, participation in this same group had grown to 20.6 percent.
Following auto-escalation of hybrid members’ voluntary contributions in January, those numbers have increased even more, as just 3.1 percent of members opted out of auto-escalation. As of April 1, 79 percent of hybrid members have a voluntary contribution percentage with ICMA-RC. Nearly 19 percent have actively made a voluntary election above the 0.5 percent auto-escalation percentage.

Employer Resources
VRS offers a number of resources for more information about voluntary contributions and other features of the Hybrid Retirement Plan:
You may also call the ICMA-RC Defined Contribution Plans Employer Support Team at 1-877-327-5261 (select option 3) for assistance.

Next Deadline to Increase Voluntary Contributions Is June 15
Hybrid members can increase their voluntary contribution elections on a quarterly basis. The next quarterly deadline is June 15 at 4 p.m. Please encourage employees to take advantage of this opportunity. It’s quick and easy! They’ll just need to set up or log into their hybrid plan account, choose the Hybrid 457 Deferred Compensation Plan, and click My Account, then Contributions. Or, they can call ICMA-RC Investor Services at 1-877-327-5261 and select option 1.

Emphasizing the Importance of Voluntary Contributions
Voluntary contributions allow members to accumulate additional savings on a pre-tax basis. By contributing 4 percent now, they will receive the full 2.5-percent employer match. In addition, taxes on the contributions and earnings are deferred until withdrawn, providing even more financial benefit. The chart below illustrates the added value of contributing more money over time.

Estimated, Earnings over 30 Years, Mandatory Contributions Only = $58,542 vs. Mandatory and 4% Voluntary Contributions = $248,803.


Note: The above representation is based on a monthly income of $3,000, assumes bi-monthly employee contributions and a 6-percent average annual return after 30 years. The final account balance does not account for plan fees or expenses, which would reflect lower net returns. Investment return and principal value fluctuate, so when shares are redeemed they may be worth more or less than the original cost.

2017 Legislative Summary: Which Laws Impact VRS?

The reconvened session for the 2017 General Assembly concluded April 5. The legislature passed some bills affecting VRS, which are summarized in the 2017 Legislative Summary pdf icon.


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: A 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., June 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

Classroom and webinar courses are posted on the VRS website as they are scheduled. Stay tuned to Employer Training for new offerings. 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. 


  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 resources are available to assist me with learning how to use myVRS Navigator?

The following myVRS Navigator courses are available in VRS University in the Virginia Learning Center:
  • Introduction to myVRS Navigator
  • Enroll and Maintain Employees
  • Managing Contacts
  • Purchase of Prior Service
  • Contribution Confirmation and Payment Scheduling
View the myVRS Navigator Training Course Catalog pdf icon to see the course descriptions in detail. Related process guides and job aids are attached to each course or can be searched individually. See myVRS Navigator Training Overview pdf icon for frequently asked questions.

VRS’ Employer Manual includes three chapters that will help you with the following processes in myVRS Navigator:
  • Enroll and Maintain Employees
  • Contribution Confirmation and Payment Scheduling
  • Purchase of Prior Service Credit
In addition to the e-courses and Employer Manual, myVRS Navigator business rules documents and frequently asked questions are available on the Publications page of the VRS website.

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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