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A Publication for VRS Employers
September 2018 | Archives

Your Turn to Ask Your Turn to Ask: How soon may a new employee register for his or her myVRS account?

VRS Fund Hits Historic High With a 7.5% Return, Exceeding the Assumed Rate of Return

VRS achieved a 7.5 percent return, net of fees, on its investment portfolio for fiscal year 2018, exceeding the 7 percent assumed rate of return. The trust fund ended the year with approximately $78.6 billion, marking a new high point for the fund.

“As an investor, VRS focuses on developing strategies that will sustain the fund for the long-term so that VRS is positioned to pay retiree benefits years into the future,” VRS Board Chairman Mitchell L. Nason said. “This positive return generated by the efforts of our investment team exceeds the assumed rate of return and will help improve the funded status of the plan.”

Read the full press release.


2018 MBPs Provide Retirement Checkup for Members

Map Your Course to Retirement. Review Your myVRS Account or 2018 MBP.

That’s the theme for the 2018 Member Benefit Profiles (MBPs), which are available to Plan 1 and Plan 2 members in their myVRS accounts.

The MBP is a member’s annual benefit statement based on information reported by employers to VRS as of June 30. It provides information on the member’s account balance, retirement eligibility and eligibility for other benefits, such as group life insurance and the health insurance credit. Encourage employees to use the MBP to assist them in planning for retirement.

For Hybrid Retirement Plan Members

Although MBPs are not currently available for Hybrid Retirement Plan members, myVRS now offers additional features for hybrid plan members. Hybrid members may view their defined benefit and defined contribution account balances from the myVRS homepage, and access the goal-based Retirement Planner and Benefit Estimator, available to all members in myVRS.

MBP Promotional Resources Available to Employers

VRS has prepared MBP resources for employers, including a promotional flyer PDF Icon and sample messages for emails and employee newsletters, to help promote MBP availability to your employees. VRS appreciates your efforts to encourage members to login or register for myVRS, where Plan 1 and Plan 2 members will find their 2018 MBPs.

Retirement Income Analysis Available to 457 Plan Participants

If you participate in the Commonwealth of Virginia 457 Deferred Compensation plan, your employees will see an income analysis that shows a total retirement income estimate as of June 30, compared to a retirement income target of 80 percent of pre-retirement compensation. The estimate combines the member’s estimated unreduced VRS benefit, a Social Security estimate and an estimated deferred compensation plan annuity, if applicable.

How Do I Look Up My Employees’ MBPs?

To locate employee Member Benefit Profiles (MBPs), log into myVRS Navigator:

  1. Use Person Search to locate the employee’s record.
  2. From the Person Details panel, click the myVRS button.
  3. In your employer access view, select the Annual Statements link from the My History drop-down menu.
  4. Any MBPs generated for the member will be displayed.

If you need to print multiple MBPs:

  1. Select Annual MBP Detail Listing from the Reports menu in myVRS Navigator.
  2. From the report results screen, check the boxes next to the employees’ names for any MBPs you want to print.

You may print as many as are displayed on the screen. Page through the report to print MBPs from each page.


VRS Strengthens Email Security for All Recipients

VRS has long followed the security best practice of encrypting all the emails it sends. When an email is encrypted in transit, it is harder for others to read. The information is effectively scrambled in transit and decoded on receipt. An increasing number of email providers use encryption. However, about 10 percent of email providers do not accept or send encrypted messages.

To comply with state standards, VRS soon will be using the Zix Corporation secure message center to deliver email to those 10 percent of recipients lacking encryption service through their normal email provider. Those recipients will receive an email with instructions on how to view the secure message. The URL for the secure VRS message portal will be “mymessages.varetire.org.”

Recipients of VRS email messages secured by Zix will go through a one-time registration process to access the secure site. Although VRS recognizes that a few recipients will now have an additional step to retrieve a message from VRS, the protection of confidential communication is important and we want to ensure all email stays private.

The majority of VRS members will not interact with Zix because their email provider automatically encrypts and translates all email for them.


Thank You for Your Partnership to Promote Account Security

VRS appreciates the great work employers are doing every day to inform members about the importance of claiming their online accounts.

Find additional tips on the VRS Security Center.


National Retirement Security Week Is October 21-27

Make plans to engage with employees during National Retirement Security Week (NRSW), October 21-27.

Only a third of retirees say they’re “very confident in their ability to live comfortably throughout retirement,” according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s 2018 Retirement Confidence Survey. NRSW provides an opportunity for employees to revisit their personal retirement goals and determine if they are on track in establishing a secure future for themselves.

Here are some resources to help ensure your support of NRSW is a success:


October Brings Open Enrollment for ORPHE Participants

In mid- to late September each year, VRS asks employers to notify participants in the Optional Retirement Plan for Higher Education (ORPHE) of the open-enrollment period. Participants who wish to change investment providers can compare their options and make a selection in myVRS.

Active ORPHE participants have a choice of three providers – DCP (VRS investment options record-kept by ICMA-RC), Fidelity and TIAA. Any changes in providers become effective on the first pay date in January.  

Encourage employees who are considering changing providers to use the ORPHE Provider Options chart to compare each provider’s fees, services and plan features.

ORPHE participants also are invited to attend a webinar to learn more about plan resources and options available during open enrollment.

VRS Employer Seminar Provides ORPHE Updates  

Human resource and benefit representatives of ORPHE-participating colleges and universities are invited to attend the Annual ORP for Higher Education Employer Update webinar on Thursday, September 27, from 9 to 11 a.m. Registration is required.

Attendees will receive an overview of ORPHE resources and structure, as well as plan administration updates, including the 2018 open enrollment-materials.

GASB Statement No. 75 Data Available Soon on VRS Employers Website

Most VRS employers will be required to implement provisions of Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) Statement No. 75 as part of financial reporting for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2018.

Look to VRS’ Financial Reporting pages in the coming weeks for the following resources:

  • GASB 75 reports from the VRS actuary for other post-employment benefits (OPEB). VRS also will produce separate employer-level reports for each of the political subdivisions that participate in the Health Insurance Credit program. (These reports will not be posted on the VRS website but instead mailed to employers.)
  • 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.

School Divisions Electing Employer-Sponsored 403(b) Plan: Resolutions Due November 1

Each year, school boards may elect to allow or not allow eligible hybrid members to direct voluntary contributions to an employer-sponsored 403(b) plan instead of the Hybrid 457 Deferred Compensation Plan.

If your school board is not making an election change this year, no action is needed. However, to change your election, you will need to obtain a resolution from VRS for your school board to adopt no later than November 1.

If you change your election, the formal signed resolution indicating your new election must be mailed to VRS with a postmark no later than November 2 (Attention: ZaeAnne Allen, employer coverage coordinator, P.O. Box 2500, Richmond, VA 23218-2500).

If you offer an employer-sponsored 403(b) for hybrid members’ voluntary contributions, you will need to hold an annual election period for your employees from November 1 to 30, so that they can choose where to direct voluntary contributions. Employees who wish to use the 403(b) option during the following calendar year must make an election to do so during this election period. No action is required for employees who wish to use the Hybrid 457 Deferred Compensation Plan or have previously made an election to use the 403(b) option for voluntary contributions and wish to continue to do so.

If you have questions about the election process, or to request a copy of the resolution, please contact ZaeAnne Allen, employer coverage coordinator, at zallen@varetire.org or 804-775-3514.

If you have other questions about the 403(b) option, please contact your employer representatives: Beth Valdrighi at bvaldrighi@varetire.org804-771-7765, or Julia Minnigh at jminnigh@varetire.org, 804-775-3487.


Need a Refresher on VRS Benefits Administration?

VRS offers two-day, instructor-led benefits training sessions for new and experienced benefit administrators and payroll officers at locations throughout the state. The training covers a variety of topics:

  • Introduction to VRS
  • The VRS Toolkit
  • Membership
  • Purchase of Prior Service
  • Death Benefits
  • Disability Retirement
  • Service Retirement
  • Post-Retirement Benefits

Sessions are scheduled for the following locations:

  • Daleville (September 18-20)
  • Fredericksburg (November 6-8)

You may register for Coordinating VRS Benefits training online.


Retiring or Separating Employees Can Keep Their Funds With VRS

When separating from service, VRS members and participants do not have to withdraw their retirement savings from their VRS defined contribution plans. In fact, there are several reasons why employees might decide to keep their money with VRS. Benefits of the plans include: 

As an employer, there are resources to offer your departing members and participants who may be considering options for their retirement savings. Resources include:

  • “Leaving Employment? What You Need to Know” webinar – This presentation provides a brief overview of benefits of staying with the VRS plans. The webinar can be viewed under Milestones, then Leaving Employment on the VRS hybrid and defined contribution plan websites for members and the corresponding employer websites.
  • Leaving Employment Guides – Updated versions of this guide are available under Publications on the VRS plan websites and both employer websites.
  • Retirement Withdrawal Calculator – This calculator can help members and participants manage withdrawals from their VRS plans in retirement.

If members and participants require additional support, please direct them to contact their designated DC Plans Specialists.


Minnesota Life Is Now Securian

Minnesota Life, the third-party administrator of the VRS Group Life Insurance Program, has adopted the name of its parent company, Securian Financial. There will be no change to group life insurance and optional group life insurance benefits or coverage, which will continue to be underwritten by Minnesota Life. VRS will soon begin changing Minnesota Life references to Securian Financial on the website and in publications.

VRS Receives Award for Plan Design and Administration

VRS has received a 2018 Leadership Recognition Award from the National Association of Government Defined Contribution Administrators, Inc. (NAGDCA) for outstanding achievements in plan design and administration for the Optional Retirement Plan (ORP) Online Election project.

Launched in December 2017, this enhancement to the myVRS secure online retirement planning system allows new college and university faculty and political appointees to compare plan features in order to choose between the ORP or the VRS hybrid or applicable defined benefit plan. The enhancement eliminates paper processing and creates a secure and robust online experience that provides employees with resources needed to make an informed decision about their retirement plan options.

As of earlier this year, 72 percent of faculty and 61 percent of political appointee new hires were making their retirement plan election online.

Read the full press release.


Announcements  Announcements

VRS member handbooks and employer checklists updated: VRS has updated all member handbooks to reflect legislative changes that took effect July 1. Member handbooks are available on the VRS website. You can find the new employer checklists on the VRS website for employers, under the Training tab.

Order VRS Publications.

Hybrid Retirement Plan payroll guide updated: VRS has revised its Payroll Guide for Political Subdivisions, School Divisions and Decentralized State Employers PDF Icon. Directed to human resource and payroll staff, the guide takes you through the process of enrolling new hires in the hybrid plan, auto-escalation steps and making salary adjustments and submitting contributions, among other topics.

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 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 a number of webinars that explore a single topic in depth:

Title Description Date/Time
Death in Service Improve your knowledge of how to counsel employees on how death benefits are paid. September 20, 2-3 p.m.
Disability Retirement Benefits administrators: Increase your disability retirement counseling skills. October 31, 10-11:30 a.m.
Refunds and Distributions Get up to speed on employee eligibility requirements for taking a refund or a distribution from their VRS accounts. November 28, 2-3 p.m.


Member Education  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 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 are available in various regions across Virginia.


Form Updates  Form Updates

An updated version of the IRS 402(f) Special Tax Notice PDF Icon is available.

Are you using the right form? 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.

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.


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

How soon may a new employee register for his or her myVRS account?

As soon as you enroll a new employee in myVRS Navigator, he or she can register for a myVRS account.

VRS encourages employers to enroll new employees in myVRS Navigator on or before their scheduled start dates. When you enroll a new employee, you provide the employee’s demographic data, annual salary, contract start date, contract period and the number of months the employee will be paid, if on a contract. myVRS Navigator uses these figures to calculate the employee’s creditable compensation and to determine when to post creditable compensation and service credit based on the date employment starts.

Once in myVRS, employees have access to the Retirement Planner and Benefit Estimator as well as myVRS Financial Wellness.


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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