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A Publication for VRS Employers
September 2017 | Archives
Your Turn to Ask: When veterans seek to convert time served in the military for VRS service credit, what are the differences between active duty military service and active duty military leave?

VRS Realizes a 12.1 Percent Return for Fiscal Year 2017

The Virginia Retirement System (VRS) achieved a 12.1 percent return, net of fees, on its investment portfolio for fiscal year 2017, exceeding both the 11.8 percent policy benchmark set by the VRS Board of Trustees and the 7 percent assumed rate of return. The trust fund ended the year with approximately $74 billion in assets, a historic high for the fund.

“In fiscal year 2017, most markets delivered robust returns,” said Chief Investment Officer Ronald D. Schmitz. “However, we know market environments vary from year to year, and we will see returns above and below the 7 percent assumed rate of return. As a long-term investor, VRS focuses more closely on returns over 10-, 20- and 25-year periods and has exceeded the policy benchmarks for those periods, ending June 30, 2017.” Read the full press release.

You also can review VRS’ performance and asset allocation reports.


2017 MBPs Provide a Retirement Checkup for Plan 1 and Plan 2 Members

Be the MVP in your retirement. Review your 2017 MBP.
That’s the theme for the 2017 Member Benefit Profiles (MBPs), which now 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
MBPs are currently not available for Hybrid Retirement Plan members. However, myVRS now offers additional services for hybrid members. In addition to viewing their defined benefit and defined contribution account balances from the myVRS homepage, hybrid members now have access to the new goal-based Retirement Planner and the Benefit Estimator in myVRS, which allows all members to enter different retirement date scenarios and see estimates of their defined benefit and defined contribution accounts.
 
MBP Promotional Resources Available to Employers
VRS has prepared MBP resources for employers, including a promotional flier and sample messages for emails and employee newsletters, to help promote MBP availability to your employees. VRS appreciates your efforts to encourage members to log in or register for myVRS, where they will find their 2017 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. From the Demographics panel, click the myVRS button.
  2. In your employer access view, select the Annual Statements link from the My History drop-down menu.
  3. 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.
 

GASB Compliance Data Available on the VRS Website

Information is available to assist VRS-participating employers that prepare annual financial statements in complying with Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) standards. The GASB Statement No. 68 Report 2016 for Virginia Retirement System PDF Icon, which includes detailed information on all the local plans, is now available in the Financial Reporting section of the VRS website, along with opinions from the Auditor of Public Accounts and disclosure guidance. Individual reports were mailed to Primary Administrative Authorities in each locality in late August.

Take time now to review the report and extract the employer-specific information you need to complete your financial statements for fiscal year 2017.

Per GASB 68, employers that prepare annual financial statements must begin reporting net pension liability and their proportionate share of a pension expense as participants in VRS. The pension liabilities and expenses must appear as line items in employers’ fiscal year 2017 financial statements.
 

New Financial Wellness Program Coming for Members

VRS members soon will have a new way to fine-tune their money-management skills and make sense of credit, insurance, taxes and other financial decisions that arise in day-to-day life.
 
Beginning later this month on the VRS website, members can access the myVRS Financial Wellness program, powered by Enrich. The offerings include articles, infographics and videos to help members make the most of their finances and manage their money effectively as they plan for retirement.
 
Later this year, VRS members who log into their myVRS accounts will have access to premium content. Calculators, educational games, budgeting tools and a library of mini-courses will help members evaluate their current financial knowledge and improve the money skills most important to them.
 
VRS is providing these resources to help members grow their knowledge and confidence in making day-to-day financial decisions, which will, in turn, aid them in preparing for retirement. Retirees also will have access to this information along with other financial wellness tips and tools to sustain them well into their retirement.
 

National Retirement Security Week Set for October 15-21

Make plans to engage with employees during National Retirement Security Week (NRSW), October 15-21. This week 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:
  • To help you counsel employees, VRS, working with ICMA-RC, will provide an employer toolkit in early October. The toolkit and other NRSW materials will be available at www.varetire.org/yourwholestory.  
  • Refer to VRS’ Education and Counseling webpage for a complete schedule of live and recorded presentations on retirement planning and VRS benefits. Join VRS during NRSW for instructor-led presentations, webinars and other activities. Sessions will include: Women and Money, Looking Ahead: Building Retirement Security, “Adulting” 101, Money Bingo and Understanding Your Life Insurance Benefits. Individual counseling sessions also are available.
  • Contact VRS Member Education and Outreach to discuss scheduling a benefit presentation for your employees.
  • For additional materials, visit www.nagdca.org/nrsw.
 

October Brings Open Enrollment for ORPHE Participants

October is Open Enrollment for participants in the Optional Retirement Plan for Higher Education (ORPHE), the annual opportunity for participants to choose another provider. Active ORPHE participants have a choice of three providers – DCP (VRS-selected investments record-kept by ICMA-RC), Fidelity and TIAA.

For participants interested in changing providers:
Need a refresher on helping employees change providers? Refer to the Open Enrollment Procedures for Employers PDF Icon step-by-step instructions.

Important Deadlines
October 31: Employers must receive employees’ provider change, enrollment and beneficiary forms by close of business on the last business day in October. Send the original provider change forms to VRS. (Note: This is a process change that began last year.)

January 2018: Any changes in providers become effective on the first pay date in January.  

VRS Employer Seminar Provides ORPHE Updates

Human resource and benefits representatives of ORPHE-participating colleges and universities are invited to attend the Annual ORP for Higher Education Employer Update webinar on Thursday, September 21, from 10 a.m. to noon. Registration is required.

Attendees will receive an overview of ORPHE resources and structure, as well as plan administration updates, including the 2017 open enrollment materials and process. Additionally, materials related to the previous year from plan providers will be distributed.  

 

Modernization Update: Retirees Gain Access to New myVRS

With the full integration of retirees' access and information into the new myVRS in late August, VRS reached another modernization milestone — one secure online system now serves members, retirees and employers.
 
Members who registered for the new myVRS while working can keep the same account when they retire. If members preparing for retirement log into their accounts, a banner at the top of the page will confirm that VRS has received their retirement application.
 
New retirees will continue to see their VRS member information until they receive their first benefit payment. Once VRS issues the first benefit payment, the myVRS account will switch from the active member view to the retiree view.
 
Retirees who did not register for myVRS as a member will be asked to verify their identity when logging in for the first time as a retiree. They can verify their identity by providing either their net benefit payment amount, or, the unique 90-day myVRS access code VRS provides to new retirees.
 
Retirees who cannot access their myVRS account using one of these two methods will be prompted to answer a set of security questions to confirm their identity. The information they provide is never shared outside of this verification process.
 
The first time all retirees log into or register for the new myVRS, they will be asked to update their address, username and password. After the retiree completes initial registration, they will need only their username and password for future access.
 
Retirees will find educational information and quick access to their retirement benefit amount, health insurance credit and tax-withholding information. They can print a copy of their income verification and easily monitor their VRS benefits.
 

Reminder: VRS, DHRM Now Administer Line of Duty Act

The Virginia Line of Duty Act (LODA) provides death and health benefits to eligible employees and their eligible family members. As of July 1, VRS makes all eligibility determinations for LODA benefits and also issues benefit payments on behalf of LODA Fund participating employers. The Virginia Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM) now administers the LODA Health Benefits Plans.

Resource Spotlight: Step-by-Step Instructions on Filing a Claim
To receive LODA benefits, claimants must submit a Claim for Line of Duty Act (LODA) Benefits form to VRS. The form also requires employers or volunteer departments to provide employment information for the claimant. Claims for LODA benefits must be filed within five years of an eligible employee’s or volunteer’s qualifying death or disability.

Each claim is subject to an initial review by VRS to confirm eligibility, followed by a medical board review. In some cases, the Virginia State Police will investigate LODA claims.

VRS offers How to Apply for LODA Benefits (an online course available on the LODA website), which includes step-by-step instructions on filing a claim and the claims process. The course features a detailed review of all portions of the LODA claim form and what type of information and documentation is required for completion. The Claims section of the website provides an overview of the claims process.
 
Watch for Implementation Fee Invoices

The legislation that changed administration of LODA included a funding mechanism to enable the transition. The law requires each LODA Fund participating and non-participating employer to pay its pro rata share of implementation costs incurred by VRS and DHRM.
  • Employers that do not participate in the LODA Fund will receive an invoice this month based on the headcount of LODA-eligible employees and volunteers that VRS has on file. 
  • LODA Fund participating employers will not receive an invoice. Instead, VRS will bill the LODA Fund for each participating employer’s implementation fee.
 

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. Each session covers four topics, with each topic taking half the day:
 
Day 1 Day 2
  • Membership/refunds
  • Purchase of prior service
  • Service retirement
  • Death benefits

Sessions are scheduled for the following locations:
  • Daleville (September 19-20)
  • Danville (October 4-5)
  • Winchester (October 11-12)
  You may register for Benefits Administration training online.


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

Each year, school boards have the opportunity 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.org804-775-3487.
 

  Announcements

ICMA-RC Relocates Virginia Service Center PDF Icon: Last month, ICMA-RC moved its central Virginia office to Riverfront Plaza, 951 E. Byrd Street, Suite 350, Richmond, VA 23219. Walk-ins and scheduled appointments with a defined contributions plans retirement specialist are available between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Phone: 1-877-327-5261 (select option 2). 

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., 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

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 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.

For members who have recently retired or those close to retirement, VRS offers its Living in Retirement workshops at various locations throughout the state.

  

  Form Updates

VRS has updated the following forms on its website: 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: When veterans seek to convert time served in the military for VRS service credit, what are the differences between active duty military service and active duty military leave?

Active duty military service means full-time service of at least 180 consecutive days in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard or their reserve components. A VRS-covered employee may purchase up to four years (48 months) of prior active duty U.S. military service credit.
 
Active duty military leave for service in the U.S. armed forces is available for purchase at no cost if the employee was granted approved leave of absence to serve from a VRS-participating employer, and returned to a VRS-covered position within one year of discharge or release from active duty, and the discharge was honorable or general.
 
In both cases, the employer must certify that the employee’s discharge was honorable or general using the Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (DD214) for each period of active duty service. For more information, refer to the Purchase of Prior Service Credit chapter in the Employer Manual PDF Icon.
 

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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