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A Publication for VRS Employers
October 2017 | Archives
Your Turn to Ask: I know that VRS is in the process of a major modernization project. What’s changed?

For Plan 1 and Plan 2 Members, Annual MBPs Provide a Checkup on Retirement Planning

Member Benefit Profiles for 2017 are now available to Plan 1 and Plan 2 members in their myVRS accounts.

The MBP is a member’s annual benefit statement, which is based on information reported by an employer 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. Hybrid Retirement Plan members do not receive an MBP but can look up their account balance and other benefit information in myVRS.

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.

For more information on how to access and print MBPs for employees who may not have computer access, refer to the September Employer Update.

 

Help Promote National Retirement Security Week October 15-21

Whether retirement for your employees is down the road or right around the corner, National Retirement Security Week (NRSW) is a good time to remind them to evaluate their savings plans.

Six in 10 workers say they have saved for retirement, according to data from the Employee Benefit Research Institute. Fewer than half (41 percent) have tried to figure out how much money they will need in retirement. 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:

  • To help you counsel employees, VRS, working with ICMA-RC, has developed an employer toolkit. The toolkit and other NRSW materials are 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.
 

myVRS Financial Wellness Gives Members Tools to Plan for Their Futures

Personal Finance Just Got Personal!

VRS members have a new way to make the most of their finances and manage their money effectively as they plan for retirement. The myVRS Financial Wellness program, powered by Enrich, includes articles, infographics and videos to help members make sense of credit, insurance, taxes and other financial decisions.

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.

Stay Tuned!

In December, VRS members who log into their myVRS accounts will have access to additional and personalized 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.

 

Review These Helpful Tips on Administering Hybrid Voluntary Contributions, Employer Match

Accurate reporting of contributions to the defined contribution component of the Hybrid Retirement 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 member’s paycheck.

If you have employees with less than 12-month contracts, keep the following in mind:

  • Voluntary contribution changes made as of the June 15 quarterly deadline are not effective until the start of the new contract year.
  • Members who are separated in myVRS Navigator during the off-contract months will not have voluntary contributions automatically restarted when the new contract year begins. In those situations, the member must re-elect a voluntary contribution percentage with ICMA-RC.

The most recent voluntary contribution change deadline was September 15 for contributions to be effective with October payrolls. EZLink contacts at decentralized state agencies, school divisions and political subdivisions should have received an email reminder from ICMA-RC to download the Deferral Changes Report. If you didn't receive an email, ensure your contact information is current with ICMA-RC so you do not miss important communications.

VRS and ICMA-RC are here to help ensure your hybrid member and employer contributions are set up correctly and invite you to take full advantage of the following resources.

EZLink Deferral Changes Report

  • Decentralized state agencies, school divisions and political subdivisions must download the Quarterly Deferral Changes Report via EZLink PDF Icon to see the new deferral amounts and process payroll changes.
  • Centralized state employers using the Commonwealth’s Integrated Personnel and Payroll System (CIPPS) should follow the normal payroll certification process.

Training and Support

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 Defined Contribution Plans Employer Support Team at 1-877-327-5261 (select option 3).

Continue to Encourage Voluntary Contributions 

Hybrid plan members may voluntarily contribute up to 4 percent of their creditable compensation each month to the defined contribution component of their retirement plan. They may increase their voluntary contribution elections on a quarterly basis. The next quarterly deadline is December 15 at 4 p.m.

Please encourage employees to take advantage of this opportunity 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).

New SmartStep Helps Make Savings Simpler

VRS and ICMA-RC also are introducing a new SmartStep program to make savings easier for hybrid members. SmartStep helps members save with small, automatic, annual increases to their voluntary contributions. The member chooses the percentage increase in savings he or she would like to make each year, and the month for the increase to occur: January, April, July or October. The member’s voluntary contribution will increase each year until it reaches the maximum of 4 percent.

To start SmartStep, the member will log in to www.varetire.org/hybrid and select Account Access. From the Contributions page, the member will enter an amount for SmartStep. Members also can use the Hybrid Member Paycheck Calculator on the hybrid website to see the impact of contributions and other deductions on their paychecks.

 

ORPHE Open Enrollment Underway

October is Open Enrollment for participants in the Optional Retirement Plan for Higher Education (ORPHE). This annual opportunity allows participants to change providers effective the first payroll in the following calendar year. Participants have a choice of three providers: DCP (record-kept by ICMA-RC), Fidelity and TIAA.

For participants interested in changing providers:

  • Encourage them to use the ORPHE Provider Options chart to compare each provider’s services, fees and plan features. The comparison chart also is available in members’ myVRS accounts.
  • Give them the Provider Change PDF Icon form and enrollment materials for the provider they select.
  • Participants need not complete the enrollment process if they already have an account with the new provider.

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

Important Dates

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.

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

 

Important Reminder: Members on VRS Disability Retirement Not Eligible for K-12 Critical Shortage Positions

Retired teachers and administrators may be eligible to teach or serve as a principal or assistant principal in designated K-12 critical shortage positions for Virginia public schools. Critical shortage positions are full-time and temporary (not covered for VRS benefits) for the current school year. If a retiree qualifies, he or she will continue to receive retirement benefits.

Important Note: Former employees on VRS disability retirement are not eligible to work in a critical shortage position. Disability retirement benefits must cease once a retiree is able to return to work.

Also, to be considered for a critical shortage position, candidates must:

  • Work in a designated critical shortage position.
  • Hold a Virginia Board of Education license for the position.
  • Have a break in service of at least 12 consecutive months between his or her retirement date and the date work begins in a critical shortage position. This break means not working in any full-time, part-time or temporary position with any VRS-participating employer.
  • Not have retired with a reduced VRS benefit under an early retirement incentive program (ERIP).
  • Not have taken a refund of member contributions and interest or deferred retirement.
 

  Announcements

Employer Manual Updated: VRS has made a change to its Employer Manual PDF Icon. The Service Retirement chapter now includes information on post-retirement benefits as well. Stay tuned for updates to other chapters.

Don’t Miss Out! To ensure you get important communications from ICMA-RC, keep your EZ Link account information up to date, especially email addresses. Also, be sure to log in periodically. Your account will be deactivated after 12 months of inactivity.

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

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: membership/refunds, purchase of prior service, service retirement and death benefits. Sessions are scheduled for the following locations:

  • October 11-12, Frederick County Public Safety Building, Winchester
  • November 7-8, John Tyler Community College, Midlothian

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

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: I know that VRS is in the process of a major modernization project. What’s changed?

In a process that started with a vision to automate member and retiree services, VRS began a multi-year effort to replace its computer systems with a web-based system to serve members, retirees and employers. Last year saw the launch of a new myVRS, which offered new capability for online refund requests and increased security to protect members’ personal and financial information.

This year, retiree accounts were integrated into the new myVRS, which offers more self-service capability and improved security. Additionally, new features were added for purchase of prior service and optional retirement plan comparisons for higher education members. With a modernized myVRS, VRS is helping members plan for tomorrow, today, by providing a more secure and reliable source of information and value-added customer service.

Key Enhancements to myVRS to Date

  • Enhanced security to better protect member and retiree account information.
  • New goal-based retirement planner for members.
  • Refreshed benefit estimator.
  • Full integration of Hybrid Retirement Plan members’ defined benefit and defined contribution accounts into the benefit estimator.
  • Refreshed design for member and retiree information screens in myVRS.
  • Member access to purchase of prior service (PPS) tools within myVRS.
  • Ability for college and university faculty members to use their myVRS accounts to compare and contrast their retirement plan options.

In late 2017, newly hired college faculty members and political appointees will use their myVRS accounts to elect their retirement plans.

Stay in the know: VRS has created a modernization webpage to detail the changes coming to myVRS later this year and beyond, including the addition of a financial wellness component to myVRS, online retirement and beneficiary change self-service.

 

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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