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A Publication for VRS Employers
December 2018 | Archives

Your Turn to Ask Your Turn to Ask: Where can I find resources to assist me in complying with Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) guidelines for other post-employment benefits?

Remind Employees to Claim Their Online Accounts

One of the best ways for employees to guard against identity theft involving their VRS benefits is to register for their myVRS accounts and, if applicable, their defined contribution accounts through Account Access. Here's how.

 

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December Deadline Approaching for Hybrid Voluntary Contribution Changes Approaching

Hybrid Retirement Plan members may voluntarily contribute up to 4 percent of their creditable compensation each month to the defined contribution component of their retirement plan and receive an employer match. They may increase their voluntary contribution elections on a quarterly basis. The next quarterly deadline is December 17 at 4 p.m.

Encourage employees to maximize retirement savings. It’s quick and easy! They’ll just need to log into their hybrid plan account, click View Account for the Hybrid 457 Deferred Compensation Plan, then select Contributions and click on Change My Contribution Amount. Or, they can call ICMA-RC Investor Services at 1-877-327-5261 (select option 1). Encourage your hybrid plan employees to check out the online calculator to see how voluntary contributions and other deductions impact their paychecks.

Looking for ideas to promote voluntary contributions? Download the voluntary contributions toolkit to engage, communicate with and educate your hybrid plan employees.

Take time to review your Snapshot: Accurate reporting of contributions to the defined contribution component of the hybrid plan is essential each pay period. As a best practice, take time to review your Snapshot each month to ensure you are withholding the correct amount from each employee’s paycheck.

The Creating EZLink Contribution Submissions Online webinar covers the full process, from creating an initial file through submission. If you need additional assistance, contact the ICMA-RC Defined Contribution Plans Employer Support Team at 1-877-327-5261 (select option 3).

 

IRS Increases Contribution Limits for 2019

The Internal Revenue Service announced that the dollar amounts participants may contribute to tax-deferred savings plans, such as the Commonwealth of Virginia 457 Deferred Compensation Plan, will increase for tax year 2019.

 
Commonwealth of Virginia 457 Deferred
Compensation Plan Contribution Limits
2019
Annual deferral limit for participants younger than 50 $19,000
Pre-retirement Standard Catch-Up
(not to exceed participant’s catch-up credit)
$19,000
($38,000 total)
Age 50+ Catch-Up Limit $6,000
($25,000 total)
 

How to change contributions: To increase Commonwealth of Virginia 457 Plan contributions effective the first pay period of 2019, participants should log into their online account or call 1-VRS-DCPLAN1 (1-877-327-5261) by 4 p.m. December 31.

Participants cannot use the Age 50+ Catch-Up and the Standard Catch-Up in the same calendar year. For more information on the Age 50+ Catch-Up, Standard Catch-Up, military leave make-up, one-time deferrals or investment options, refer participants to the Contributions section of the Commonwealth of Virginia 457 Deferred Compensation Plan website.

The annual limit includes any voluntary contributions that Hybrid Retirement Plan members make to the Hybrid 457 Deferred Compensation Plan and another supplemental 457 plan. Any Roth after-tax or pre-tax contributions made to the Commonwealth of Virginia 457 Deferred Compensation Plan also count toward the limit.  

IRS increases annual compensation limits for creditable compensation: The Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 401(a)(17) PDF Icon annual compensation limits for 2019 are:

  • Employees with membership dates before April 9, 1996: $415,000
  • Employees with membership dates on or after April 9, 1996: $280,000

Income over the amounts provided cannot be considered part of an employee’s creditable compensation in VRS retirement plans. 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. Other VRS benefits, such as life insurance, are based on the full, uncapped annual salary.

 
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Consult New Guide on Hiring and Reporting School Resource Officers and School Security Officers

If you’ve recently hired or plan to hire a school resource officer or school security officer, take time to review VRS’ new Hiring and Reporting School Resource Officers or School Security Officers guide PDF Icon to ensure you are reporting the employee correctly and following return-to-work rules. The guide describes the differences between the two positions and key considerations for hiring and reporting.

Employers must comply with all current Internal Revenue Service laws and VRS rules when hiring school security officers and school resource officers. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that 127 out of 133 Virginia school districts already employ school resource officers, with 57 percent of schools having at least one.  

A special House of Delegates committee will make recommendations on improving school safety during the 2019 General Assembly Session. Some of the recommendations may affect VRS benefits for school resource and school security officer positions.

If legislation impacts hiring and reporting for these positions, VRS will update the guide following the session. In the interim, please reference the guide to ensure you are in compliance with current law and VRS policy, especially if you are hiring for these positions.

 

Political Subdivisions: Contact VRS if Looking to Offer Hazardous Duty Coverage

If you are considering adding enhanced hazardous duty benefits for your employees beginning July 1, 2019, contact VRS now to begin the process. Because this benefit requires an actuarial study, it takes approximately four to six months to complete the process before the coverage can become effective.

For more information, contact ZaeAnne Allen, employer coverage coordinator, at zallen@varetire.org or 804-775-3514.

 
form-icon

Are You Using Most Current Versions of VRS Forms?

Before you complete and send a form to VRS, take a quick moment to look at the revision date in the lower left-hand corner. If you downloaded the form some time ago and photocopy it when you need it, chances are the form is not current. VRS frequently updates its forms. To ensure faster processing of retirement and other forms, be sure to use the latest fillable VRS forms on the website.

VRS accepts faxes of all forms: Fax them 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’s helpful to use a cover sheet, particularly if you are sending the fax to a specific VRS staff member.

ICMA-RC forms sport a new look: Member forms required by ICMA-RC for the Hybrid Retirement Plan, Commonwealth of Virginia 457 Deferred Compensation Plan and optional retirement plans now feature the DCP (defined contribution plan) logo to distinguish them from VRS forms. Remember to send all DCP member and employer forms to ICMA-RC only.

The latest versions of ICMA-RC forms can be accessed online:

Your security matters: VRS does not accept forms via email, which is not considered a secure form of communication.

 

Pro Tips: Reviewing and Reconciling Snapshots in myVRS Navigator

At the end of each month, employers must complete the contribution confirmation process by generating and confirming their snapshots. Snapshots provide a monthly picture of your current population of employees and include a summary of all the data from employee records.

Before confirming your snapshot, you should review and reconcile the amounts in myVRS Navigator to the information in the payroll system. Summary information is included for defined benefit contributions, the Basic Group Life Insurance Program, the Virginia Sickness and Disability Program (VSDP), the Virginia Local Disability Program (VLDP) and the Health Insurance Credit.

Here are some tips to help you navigate the process:

  • Download your snapshot file before the first of the month. Remember, contribution payments are due to VRS by the 10th of the month. It’s important to allow enough time for reconciliation and confirmation ahead of scheduling your payment. If the 10th falls on a weekend or a holiday, the payment is due the next business day.
  • When reconciling the snapshot against your payroll, it may be helpful to sort the information according to plan and benefit. Doing so can help you more easily identify required payroll adjustments and address any issues that arise during your review.
  • Remember the defined contribution component amounts are also included on the snapshot. These amounts are for informational purposes but should also be reconciled to your payroll. Ensure the correct amounts are withheld from employee’s paychecks and remitted to their accounts at ICMA-RC. Contributions should be remitted to ICMA-RC with each payroll period so employee’s contributions are invested timely.
  • Generate a new snapshot the day after confirming your previous month’s snapshot. Snapshots can be generated throughout the month and are not recorded in the employee records until confirmed. This can help you stay ahead of the curve as you monitor changes in your workforce that will impact your contributions to VRS.
  • Refer to the Contribution and Payment Scheduling chapter PDF Icon of the Employer Manual.
  • Take the Contribution Confirmation and Payment Scheduling e-course in the Commonwealth of Virginia Learning Center (COVLC).
 
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LODA Reminder: Training Required for Eligible Employees

The Line of Duty Act (LODA) provides benefits to state employees, local government employees and volunteers who hold specified hazardous duty positions. By statute, LODA benefits must be provided.

Employers also are required by law to train LODA-eligible employees. The first training must happen within 30 days of the employee’s hire date and then every two years thereafter. The LODA Overview for Participants presentation satisfies this training requirement. You can direct employees to this website to watch the recorded presentation or you can play it for a group of employees.

Encourage employees to explore the LODA website, which includes:

 

Requests to Purchase Refunded Service in myVRS May Require Additional Review

Please be aware that certain members initiating a purchase of refunded service through myVRS may not see a cost calculation online. Instead, the member will receive the following message: “Your eligible refunded service requires review prior to calculation of the purchase cost. Please contact VRS for assistance.” Employers will also see this message when doing these types of cost calculations in myVRS Navigator.

The message will appear for individuals who have multiple periods of refunded service in their records or who are purchasing refunded service incrementally through a series of purchase agreements. These transactions require additional review by VRS. In those situations, the member should follow the online prompt to contact VRS to request a cost estimate, which will be mailed to the member. To initiate the purchase, the member will need to return the completed and signed cost estimate to VRS within 30 days of the letter date.

 

Announcements  Announcements

VRS phases out automated voice response line: As more self-service features become available in myVRS, VRS is retiring the Virginia Informational Phone System (VIPS) line, as of January 31, 2019. Members who have called VRS’ automated voice response line (option 2) in the past to check their current contribution amount can now access this information using their myVRS account. myVRS offers secure access from the member’s smart phone, tablet or personal computer.

New GASB 75 resources available for covered payroll and contributions: VRS recently updated its financial reporting page for other post-employment benefits (OPEB) with new resources to assist with your compliance efforts under GASB Statement 75. For each OPEB plan, with the exception of the Line of Duty Act (LODA) Fund, the financial reporting page now includes a Covered Payroll and Contributions section.

Under each OPEB benefit tab, your finance team will find spreadsheets listing all employers’ covered payroll amounts for fiscal years 2008-2017 as well as data for fiscal year 2018. GASB 75 requires local government entities that offer OPEB plans of any type to present more extensive note disclosures and Required Supplementary Information (RSI) about those plans as part of their annual financial reporting.

Get an early start on planning when you sign up to participate in America Saves Week: Motivate employees to save by participating in America Saves Week, February 25 to March 2, 2019. When you sign up, you receive:

 

  • The America Saves Week participation badge to share on your website and in materials.
  • Recognition as a listed participant organization on americasavesweek.org.
  • Helpful emails and toolkits from America Saves Week staff to help you plan successful activities.

Order VRS Publications.

Keep your EZ Link account up to date: To ensure you get important communications from ICMA-RC, keep your EZLink account information up to date, especially email addresses. Be sure to log in periodically. Your account will be deactivated after 12 months of inactivity.

Are you new to administering VRS benefits? Let us know you're new so our employer representative team can introduce themselves to you and assist you with locating resources, manuals and training opportunities.

 

 Employer Training & Events

All your training needs, covered in one place: In addition to instructor-led training, VRS offers a comprehensive educational program to help employers understand VRS benefits, perform necessary business responsibilities and counsel employees:

VRS has scheduled the following webinar:

Title Description Date/Time
Purchase of Prior Service Learn more about the purchase of service process and key actions required in myVRS Navigator. December 19, 10-11 a.m.


 

Member Education  Member Education & Events

For Plan 1 and Plan 2 members: Classroom and webinar courses are posted on the VRS website as they are scheduled. Plan 1 and Plan 2 members may register through our Education and Counseling pages for new offerings. VRS now offers one-on-one member counseling appointments at regional locations. Members can book appointments online (space is limited; first come, first served).

For Hybrid Retirement Plan members: Several hybrid plan educational resources are available. Hybrid plan members can register for a group seminar or a one-on-one consultation to learn more about the hybrid plan defined benefit and defined contribution components as well as other VRS benefits. Hybrid plan seminars and individual appointments are available. Also, VRS now offers one-on-one member counseling appointments at regional locations. Hybrid members can book appointments online (space is limited; first come, first served).

 

Financial ReportingFinancial 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.

 

Your Turn to Ask Your Turn to Ask

Where can I find resources to assist me in complying with Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) guidelines for other post-employment benefits?

Most VRS employers are subject to the provisions of Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB), including Statement No. 75 as part of financial reporting for other post-employment benefit (OPEB) plans. To assist you with financial reporting, look to the VRS Guidelines and Resources: OPEB webpage for the following resources:

  • Audit Reports with the Auditor of Public Accounts Opinion for each of the OPEB plans, except VLDP.
  • Sample Journal Entries needed to establish the opening balance as of June 30, 2016, and to record the OPEB expense and other data for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2017.
  • Sample Note Disclosures for each of the OPEB plans, including the plan descriptions and other related information.
  • Spreadsheets with an analysis of the changes in the net OPEB liability for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2017, for each employer within each of the OPEB plans.
  • Spreadsheets listing all employers’ covered payroll amounts for fiscal years 2008-2017 as well as data for fiscal year 2018.
 

Have a question?

Contact the Employer Support Team or 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 © 2018 Virginia Retirement System
 

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