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A Publication for VRS Employers
May 2018 | Archives
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Your Turn to Ask Your Turn to Ask: I have an employee leaving my agency and joining another state agency, with no break in service. Do I need to report her status change right away in myVRS Navigator?


VRS Will Launch New Employer Website

VRS will soon introduce a redesigned website for employers aimed at helping you efficiently administer VRS benefits.

You’ll find content tailored specifically for employers and an intuitive modern design with many “doors” to help you navigate, including quick topics and call-outs to popular sections, as well as menus and a search function.

With the goal of placing key VRS administrative information front and center, the site will offer several new sections including:

  • Quick Topics: Links to some of the most helpful pages on the site, based on your feedback.
  • Employer Hub: Fast access to resources such as the Employer Manual, Employer Update, publication orders, return-to-work guidelines and VRS’ hybrid and defined contribution administrative sites.
  • News and Insights: Highlights to help you stay up to date on news and action items.

Plus you’ll recognize many familiar sections of the site:

  • myVRS Navigator access via buttons at the top of every page and in the footer.
  • Education & Training opportunities offered via e-learning, webinars, classroom and more.
  • Financial Reporting resources to assist you with GASB compliance and fiscal year-end closeout.
  • VRS Plans & Benefits details to help you when counseling members.
  • Forms to assist you with processing VRS benefits.
  • Publications, organized by category.
  • A subscription link to Employer Update, VRS’ monthly emailed newsletter, plus access to archives.

Once the site is live, you’ll simply click the Employers tab on varetire.org. When you start using the site, please offer your feedback at proffice@varetire.org. We look forward to hearing from you.


Certifying Retirements in myVRS Navigator: Did You Miss the Webinar?

If you missed the live event in March, be sure to view the recorded version of VRS’ latest modernization webinar, Overview of Retirement Process Changes (you will need to register to access the recording).

The presentation covers new employer procedures for certifying all retirement applications in myVRS Navigator, starting in late October. The webinar was the first in a series of modernization updates VRS will provide this year to help prepare you and members for online retirement, coming in 2019.

To provide a higher level of customer service, VRS has undertaken a large-scale modernization project to update its systems and streamline processes. Recent years saw the implementation of online services for members within myVRS, such as purchasing prior service and requesting a refund.

The next major milestone for the modernization project will allow members to apply for retirement online. This new feature will be implemented in two stages:

  • In late October, employers will begin certifying all retirements in myVRS Navigator. The VRS-5 and VRS-6 will be updated to remove the employer certification section.
  • In late spring 2019, members will begin using their secure myVRS accounts to apply for retirement. The online process will provide a more consistent retirement experience, with pre-retirement counseling features built in and guidance at key decision points. Members can apply for both service and disability retirement online.

Stay in the know: Check out the modernization webpage to follow updates to myVRS.


Expecting Summer Retirements? It’s Time to Start Applications

Employees may be contemplating retirement this summer, but the time to begin preparations is now.

Employers may send retirement applications to VRS at least 60 days in advance of the date the employee plans to retire. (As a reminder, VRS cannot process applications received more than four months in advance of retirement.)

Counseling Tips: Seven Points to Cover With Retiring Employees 

  1. The How to Complete Your Retirement Application video is a good resource for employees who are nearing retirement.
  2. Through myVRS Navigator, you can view employee information, estimate retirement benefits and check the status of applications.
  3. The Service Retirement Checklist for Employers PDF Icon will aid in counseling employees about the retirement process.
  4. Refer employees to the retirement planning resources in the Education and Counseling section.
  5. Encourage employees to visit myVRS to review their account balance and complete retirement estimates.
  6. Help ensure employees receive their retirement benefit on time by checking all forms for completeness, signatures and required documentation. The Getting Ready to Retire webpage provides retirement-readiness tips, application information and links to educational opportunities, forms and publications.
  7. When advising employees about the limitations on working after retirement, it may be helpful to refer to the Retirees Returning to Work section on the VRS website.

Employees may contact a VRS member counselor by phone at 1-888-827-3847. Free in-person counseling sessions are offered on a first-come, first-served basis at 1111 East Main Street, Richmond, VA 23219 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.


What You Need to Know Before Retirees Return to Work

Employees who retire under VRS may work for any non-VRS employer and continue to receive their retirement benefits. If a retiree returns to covered employment — usually meaning a full-time, salaried position with an employer that participates in VRS — you will begin to report the employee to VRS, retirement benefits will stop and the retiree will become an active member once again. Some part-time permanent, salaried state positions also are covered.

Whether you’re counseling pre-retirees, hiring a retiree or assisting an employee with a subsequent retirement, it’s helpful to consider the following guidelines to ensure you comply with all applicable Internal Revenue Service and VRS rules:

  • Before a retiree can return to work in any capacity for a VRS-participating employer, he or she must experience a break in service of at least one full calendar month during a period he or she would normally work.
  • There can be no verbal or written offer of re-employment between you and the employee before retirement. A pre-arrangement will adversely impact the retiree’s VRS benefits.
  • If retirees return to work in a non-VRS-covered position, they can continue to receive VRS service retirement benefits. However, you cannot designate a position as non-VRS-covered simply to accommodate a retiree in the position.
  • If an employee retires on disability and accepts a position with any non-VRS or VRS-participating employer that requires the same or similar duties as the employee performed in his or her previous position, disability retirement benefits will end.
  • If a retiree returns to part-time, non-covered employment:
    • The hours worked must be less than 80 percent or less than a full-time position.
    • A retiree should not be expected to perform all the duties of his or her pre-retirement, full-time position.
    • Employers should evaluate the need for the position periodically if it does not have an end date.
    • Retirees receiving Social Security benefits should contact the Social Security Administration to determine the impact on those benefits.

VRS provides resources to enhance your understanding of return-to-work rules and procedures, including:

Rehiring retirees on an interim basis: In some cases, retirees can work full-time on an interim basis for up to six months without interruption in their retirement benefits. Examples include hiring a retiree while recruiting for a full-time, permanent employee for the position or while an incumbent is on leave. Interim appointments are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. If you are considering hiring a retiree on an interim basis, please speak with your Employer Representative

Rehiring retirees for consulting or independent contractor services: If you hire a retiree as a consultant or independent contractor, it is important to know that the retiree may still be considered a VRS-covered employee depending on the nature of your business relationship with the retiree. In addition to VRS return-to-work implications, the misclassification of an employee as a consultant or contractor can also have tax consequences. VRS and the IRS examine these situations on a case-by-case basis.

VRS advises that you consult with legal counsel to accurately determine whether an employment relationship exists between you and any retiree you hire.

Collecting benefit overpayments: If you hire a retiree in a position that would be considered covered and do not report the retiree to VRS, or if you hire a retired former employee in a non-covered position without a bona fide break in service, you may be required to repay to VRS any retirement benefits the retiree receives while working in the position. As provided in Section 51.1-124.9(B) of the Code of Virginia, VRS is authorized to collect benefit overpayments from the employer, not the retiree, in cases where the employer does not comply with return-to-work provisions.


2018 Legislative Summary: Few Impacts for VRS

The 2018 General Assembly passed only a small number of bills affecting VRS, which are summarized in the 2018 Legislative Summary PDF Icon. The Governor’s most recent proposed budget includes appropriations for 100 percent of the actuarially determined contributions. Although the budget is not final, VRS does not anticipate any changes in the proposed contribution rates.


Political Subdivisions and Schools: Alternate Contribution Rate Resolutions Due July 1

In March, VRS mailed a packet to the primary administrative authority (PAA) of all localities and school divisions providing information on the proposed 2018 Appropriations Act, Item 474(I), which allows political subdivisions to make an election regarding employer contribution rates for the upcoming biennium.

This is the final year employers may make an election between the VRS-certified employer contribution rate and the alternate employer contribution rate authorized by the General Assembly. The election will be effective July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2020.

  • If your locality or school division elects to pay the board-certified rate, no further action is needed, and you are not required to send VRS any documents affirming this decision. You will pay the certified rate, effective July 1, 2018. 
  • Most employers are using the board-certified rate. However, if your locality or school division elects to pay the alternate rate, your governing body must pass a resolution stating its election of the alternate rate, beginning July 1, 2018. In addition, a school board that elects the alternate rate must obtain a concurrence resolution from the local governing body. 

The 2018 Appropriations Act will not be finalized until after the special session of the General Assembly. VRS anticipates no further changes regarding the rate-election process, but will keep you posted of any amendments that would change these options.

If the alternate rate is elected, the governing board must approve the resolutions on or before July 1, 2018, and send the original signed resolutions to VRS (attention: ZaeAnne Allen), postmarked no later than July 5.

For further assistance, please contact ZaeAnne Allen, employer coverage coordinator, at zallen@varetire.org or 804-775-3514.


LODA Fund Participating Employers: Your Coverage Lists Are Due May 31

If you participate in the Line of Duty Act (LODA) Fund, you should have received a packet requesting an update of your LODA coverage list. Packets were emailed to human resource managers at the end of April and included a list of fiscal year 2018 eligible employees and volunteers, along with instructions for updating the list.

Return updated coverage lists to VRS on or before May 31. If you have questions about the packet or did not receive one, please email lodabilling@varetire.org.

Not sure if your agency is a LODA Fund participating employer? See a list of LODA Fund participating employers PDF Icon.


Updated Payroll Guide: Your Go-To Source for Administering the Hybrid Retirement Plan

Take note! VRS has updated its Payroll Guide for Political Subdivisions, School Divisions and Decentralized State Employers PDF Icon. So, be sure to discard any previously saved or printed versions. The payroll guide is a comprehensive resource for administering the Hybrid Retirement Plan, as well as the Commonwealth of Virginia 457 Deferred Compensation Plan and Virginia Cash Match Plan.

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. The first several pages provide a quick overview of the hybrid plan. The updated payroll guide also includes information about SmartStep, a new feature designed to help hybrid plan members save more for retirement with automatic, annual increases to their voluntary contributions.


The 'Great Escape': RealizeRetirement Adventure Tour Visits Virginia

ICMA-RC’s RealizeRetirement Adventure Tour begins with a challenge—can you find the clues and the keys to your future? Themed with the popular escape-room experience, the tour truck offers a fun way for employees to envision the possibilities for life in retirement. The tour will stop at several locations throughout Virginia starting in June.

In addition to the escape-room adventure, your employees will experience a variety of entertaining ways to think about retirement: a hidden objects game, an animated snapshot of their potential future self, a prize wheel and more. Check to see if your workplace is located near a tour stop. Encourage members to turn out for the activities, which aim to inspire some forward-thinking about retirement and how to save for it now.

Next stop … your place! If you are interested in bringing the RealizeRetirement Adventure Tour to your worksite, contact ICMA-RC to discuss scheduling an event.

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Announcements  Announcements

Chapter on hazardous duty benefits added to VRS Employer Manual: You will find a new chapter on Hazardous Duty Benefits PDF Icon in the VRS Employer Manual. It covers the Virginia Law Officers’ Retirement System (VaLORS), the State Police Officers’ Retirement System (SPORS), enhanced hazardous duty coverage for eligible political subdivision employees, the Hazardous Duty Alternate Option, purchasing prior service and hiring a former hazardous duty employee.

LODA Training Now Available in Commonwealth of Virginia Learning Center: Employers are required by law to train employees who are eligible for Line of Duty Act (LODA) benefits. The first training must happen within 30 days of the hire date and then every two years thereafter. The LODA Overview for Participants satisfies this training requirement. You can direct individual employees to www.valoda.org to view the recorded presentation. For employers that have access to the Commonwealth of Virginia Learning Center, participants also may locate the LODA training there. Employees must log-in to access the training.

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.

New to administering VRS benefits? Regardless of your title, if you help administer any of the VRS benefits provided to employees and are new to your position, we want to hear from you. Take a few minutes to introduce yourself to VRS. Our team can give you the tools and expertise you need as you get up to speed on all things VRS.

Order VRS Publications.


 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
Retirement Payout Options Understand the four retirement payout options (basic benefit, survivor option, partial lump-sum option payment and the advance pension option). May 16, 10:30-11:30 a.m.
Hazardous Duty Benefits for VaLORS-covered Employees Learn more about the benefits provided to employees covered under the Virginia Law Officers’ Retirement System (VaLORS). June 27, 10-11 a.m.
Enhanced Hazardous Duty Benefits for Political Subdivisions Get tips for counseling employees eligible for hazardous duty benefits. June 27, 2-3 p.m.
View All


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

VRS has updated the Authorization for Direct Deposit of Monthly Benefit (VRS-57)PDF Icon. In addition to the VRS website, the updated form also is available in myVRS Navigator.

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 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.


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

Q: I have an employee leaving my agency and joining another state agency, with no break in service. Do I need to report her status change right away in myVRS Navigator?

Please use the actual termination date when separating an employee, even when withholding and remitting a full month’s contributions to VRS. We ask that you not use the last day of the month, unless that is the last day the employee works for your organization. myVRS Navigator does not allow for overlapping dates in employment records. If the employee has accepted a position with another VRS-participating employer, using an accurate termination date allows the new employer to input the correct hire date for the employee in myVRS Navigator.   


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 © 2018 Virginia Retirement System

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