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A Publication for VRS Employers
August 2018 | Archives

Your Turn to Ask Your Turn to Ask: What are some tips to help my employees safeguard their online accounts?

MBPs Available Soon in myVRS

The 2018 Member Benefit Profiles (MBPs) for Plan 1 and Plan 2 members will be available in their myVRS accounts in September.

The MBP is your employees’ annual benefit statement based on information you reported to VRS as of June 30. It provides account balance information, retirement eligibility and eligibility for other benefits, such as group life insurance and the health insurance credit, as applicable.

You will receive a notification when your employees’ MBPs are ready. VRS also will provide promotional material you can use to encourage your employees to view their MBPs online and use this information for their retirement planning.

For Hybrid Retirement Plan members: MBPs are currently not available for hybrid plan members. However, they 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.


Five Ways You Can Help New Employees Learn More About Their VRS Benefits

Late summer and early fall are busy hiring periods for many employers. To assist you with the onboarding process, here are five key counseling points to cover with your newest employees:

1. Show new hires where they can learn more about their retirement plan.

Provide employees with the appropriate VRS member handbook. (Plan 1 handbooks and the Plan 2 handbook for general employees are available online only.) VRS also provides plan overviews and other resources for employees in Plan 1 and Plan 2. The Code of Virginia requires that all new employees receive a summary plan description (handbook) within 90 days of employment. You may provide a print or an electronic copy.  

Hybrid Retirement Plan handbooks are available in print for you to order as well as online. Point hybrid plan employees to www.varetire.org/hybrid for key information and resources. The Plan Features & Highlights brochure PDF Icon provides an overview. Employees can access forms, publications, member education, myVRS and learn more about ICMA-RC Account Access PDF Icon.

2. Direct employees to the myVRS registration page to set up an online account.

VRS provides members with retirement planning tools and financial education through myVRS. Prompt employees to register for a myVRS account to see an overview of their VRS benefits and employment history. They can access their accounts once you enter them in myVRS Navigator. Once in myVRS, members have access to the Retirement Planner and Benefit Estimator as well as myVRS Financial Wellness.

3. Counsel them to name a beneficiary as soon as possible.

Encourage employees to name a beneficiary for their VRS benefits. Hybrid plan members need to complete two beneficiary forms: One for the defined benefit component and one for the defined contribution component. Employees who are eligible to participate in the Commonwealth of Virginia 457 Deferred Compensation Plan and Virginia Cash Match Plan are encouraged to name a beneficiary for their defined contribution plans through ICMA-RC account access. Beneficiaries for the various accounts may be different or the same.

4. Encourage hybrid plan members to take full advantage of their savings opportunities.

Retirement starts with saving. For VRS Hybrid Retirement Plan members, that means making voluntary contributions to their Hybrid 457 Deferred Compensation Plan.

Voluntary contributions allow employees to accumulate retirement savings on a pre-tax basis, maximize those savings through the employer match and lay the groundwork for meeting their income goals during retirement. By contributing the maximum 4-percent voluntary contribution now, they will receive the full 2.5-percent employer match.

If you participate in the Commonwealth of Virginia 457 Deferred Compensation Plan and the Virginia Cash Match Plan, remind new employees about their option to participate in these plans. Provide the appropriate plan features and highlights brochure (available on each plan website) as a quick reference on how employees can sign up. Refer members to the Investment Guide PDF Icon for details about different investment options. 

Key point: State employees in the hybrid plan should maximize their voluntary contributions to the Hybrid 457 Deferred Compensation Plan to receive the full employer match before contributing to the Commonwealth of Virginia 457 Plan.

5. Remind employees VRS is here to help them along the way.  

Point Plan 1 and Plan 2 employees to the Education and Counseling page on the VRS website, where they can register for webinars and workshops on a variety of topics. 

Several educational resources focus on the needs of hybrid plan members, including:

  • Features and Benefits Series: The six-part video series includes an introduction to the plan and a description of how contributions and investments are handled, along with an explanation of the benefits available to hybrid plan members and retirement eligibility.
  • Defined contribution learning opportunities: Hybrid plan members can learn more about the defined contribution component of their plan through webinars and one-on-one sessions.

The myVRS Financial Wellness program uses articles, videos, games, calculators, budgeting tools and customized action plans to help your employees pursue financial goals and make the most of their finances and careers. Through their myVRS accounts, employees can access all of this content, customized for them. For example, they can set personal savings goals, create and save budgets and register for mini-courses to boost their financial knowledge and prepare action plans.

VRS provides one-on-one counseling by phone or in person. Find contact information and directions to VRS.

For benefit information and updates, advise employees to subscribe to Member News, VRS’ quarterly newsletter, and to like VRS on Facebook.


For Your Reference: VRS Updates Employer Manual and Checklists

VRS updates its Employer Manual and other resources on a regular basis to reflect legislative and administrative changes. It’s good practice to bookmark these resources for ongoing reference as you help administer VRS benefits.

The Employer Manual provides VRS benefit and policy information, as well as information about myVRS Navigator processes. VRS recently updated the following chapters:

VRS offers several checklists to assist with member counseling: The checklists cover topics ranging from retirement, severance situations and return to work. All were updated recently. You can find the new employer checklists on the VRS website for employers, under the Training tab. Or, use these links for direct access:

The revised checklists are dated “06-2018” in the bottom-left corner. Please review any checklists that you’ve printed and saved, and if they are older, discard and replace them with these newer versions.

UMW-VSU-RU pictures of campuses

New Higher Education Faculty Have 60 Days to Select Their Retirement Plan

New faculty members eligible to elect coverage under the Optional Retirement Plan for Higher Education (ORPHE) must choose their retirement plan within 60 days. Faculty members eligible for ORPHE will elect their retirement plan online through their myVRS accounts. Once you enroll employees in myVRS Navigator, they will receive a letter instructing them to log-in or create an account in myVRS to compare options and then choose a plan. The retirement plan choice is irrevocable.

Employees Can Compare and Select Plans in myVRS

Direct employees who are eligible to participate in ORPHE to register for or log into myVRS to compare their retirement plan options. Once logged in, they will see a choice of plans based on their start date. If they do not select an ORPHE plan within their election window, they will be covered by the applicable VRS defined benefit or hybrid plan. 

On the Compare Plans screen in myVRS, employees can evaluate features of VRS and ORPHE plans based on answers to key questions, including:

  • What are the options if you leave employment but do not retire?
  • How much control will you have over your plan?
  • What’s your comfort level with investment risk?

Employees can use the plan comparison calculator in myVRS to view their projected retirement income under VRS and ORPHE plans. They can adjust certain assumptions, such as salary or rate of return, to see how their projected income might change.

If electing an ORPHE plan, employees have a choice of three investment providers:

  • Defined Contribution Plans (DCP), VRS-selected investments record kept by ICMA-RC
  • Fidelity Investments
  • TIAA

Encourage ORPHE participants to compare provider options, including fees and expenses, before making their choice.

Once a Plan Election Is Made

Once ORPHE-eligible employees have elected their retirement plan, you must acknowledge each employee’s election using myVRS Navigator. Complete acknowledgements as soon as possible to ensure contributions begin in a timely manner in step with payroll deductions.

VRS has developed several resources to guide employers through the ORP election process, including:


GASB Data for 2017 Available on VRS Website

Information is available to assist VRS-participating employers that prepare annual financial statements in accordance with Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) standards. The GASB Statement No. 68 Report 2017 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 employer website. Audit reports for state, teacher and political subdivision retirement plans, sample journal entries, sample note disclosures and the analysis of net pension liability are also available online.

Take time now to review the report and extract the employer-specific information you need to complete your financial statements for fiscal year 2018.

Individual actuarial reports for political subdivision employers with pension plans are expected soon. VRS will mail them expediently and also have PDF copies available upon request. We will alert fiscal officers via email when the hard copy reports are in the mail.

Per GASB 68, employers that prepare annual financial statements must report 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 2018 financial statements.

Prepare for GASB 75 Reporting Requirements for Post-Employment Benefits

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 each of the OPEB plans. 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.

Newly Hired Hybrid Members Can 'Preset' Voluntary Contributions

Newly hired Hybrid Retirement Plan members can now “preset” their preferred voluntary contribution amounts before they start work and are officially reported through myVRS Navigator.

Direct new hires to www.varetire.org/gohybrid to preset their voluntary contribution amounts for the defined contribution component of their plan. This is an especially helpful option for new teachers, who may attend summer orientation before reporting to work for the first time.

Once they’ve completed the online preset process, hybrid plan members’ voluntary contribution elections will become effective the first available pay period of the quarter following their VRS enrollment.

The new Preset My VC option allows members to make their desire to save known from day one. Download the new hybrid plan member welcome flyer PDF Icon to help you promote this option to members.


Salary Changes for Hybrid Plan Members: Update Contribution Amounts Reported to ICMA-RC

As you update your employees’ salary amounts in myVRS Navigator, ensure that the amounts withheld from payroll and the amounts reported to ICMA-RC for the defined contribution component of the Hybrid Retirement Plan also reflect these changes. Ensuring contributions are reported correctly helps you avoid reconciliation issues.

Contributions for the defined contribution component are remitted to ICMA-RC through EZLink, based on your payroll schedule. If you need assistance with EZLink or have questions regarding the payroll file interface, please contact the ICMA-RC Defined Contribution Employer Support Team at 1-877-327-5261 (option 3), or via email at DefinedContributionsEmployerSupport@icmarc.org.

For additional details, refer to the Fiscal Year-End Reminders page in VRS’ online Financial Reporting Center.


VRS Required to Notify Legislature of Late Employer Contributions

Under state law (see the 2019-20 biennium budget, Item 486 E), VRS must notify the chairmen of the House Appropriations and Senate Finance committees within 15 days after an employer is 60 days late making a contribution payment to VRS.

Retirement contributions and other employee benefits must be paid on time. Payments to VRS must be scheduled so contributions are received by the 10th of the following month. If the 10th falls on a weekend or holiday, confirmations are due the next business day.

To ensure the confirmations and payments are received in a timely manner, VRS encourages all employers to confirm their snapshots and schedule payments by the end of each month.

For additional information, please refer to the Contribution Confirmation and Payment Scheduling chapter PDF Icon in the VRS Employer Manual.

For step-by-step instructions on how to schedule your VRS payments, view the Contribution Confirmation and Payment Scheduling course (login required) in the Commonwealth of Virginia Learning Center (COVLC).


Announcements  Announcements

Have you bookmarked the new employer website? By now, you’ve probably had a chance to explore the new VRS website for employers. Be sure to bookmark the new URL in your browser for speedy access. All content is tailored to your needs, with key administrative information quickly accessible from the home page.

VRS member handbooks updated: VRS has updated all member handbooks to reflect legislative changes that took effect July 1. Printed handbooks are updated with addenda, and handbooks available only online have been updated. Employers can provide a print or an electronic copy. Handbooks are also available to members from the VRS website.

Order VRS Publications.

ICMA-RC has a new bank account number: ICMA-RC is streamlining its banking services for VRS-participating employers. Employers submitting payments via ACH credit or wire should update the new account information to ensure payments are posted without any delay. Starting August 1, ICMA-RC will use the new bank account to process ACH debit payments. You will need to contact your financial institution to provide the new ACH debit company ID for ICMA-RC to ensure your ACH debit payment requests are not rejected. If you have questions, call the ICMA-RC Employer Support Team at 1-877-327-5261 (select option 3) or email DefinedContributionsEmployerSupport@icmarc.org.

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.

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.


 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
Health Insurance Credit Learn how to navigate the application process and how the credit is paid. August 29, 10-11 a.m.
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.
View More


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

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

What are some tips to help my employees safeguard their online accounts?

One of the most important ways VRS members can help protect themselves from identity theft involving their VRS benefits is to set up their online myVRS account soon after they’re hired. Additionally, Hybrid Retirement Plan members and employees who have the opportunity to participate in VRS defined contributions plans should establish their online accounts through Account Access. ICMA-RC is the record-keeper for the defined contribution plans.

By registering for their online accounts, completing the identity-verification steps and then establishing password-protected accounts, members are helping prevent someone else from laying claim to the accounts fraudulently.

Even if the employee doesn’t plan to use myVRS or Account Access immediately, taking ownership of the accounts is a smart defensive move.

Here are five other cybersecurity tips you can pass along to your employees via email, newsletters or intranet:

  1. Email is not secure: Don’t send confidential information, such as your Social Security number, when emailing VRS or ICMA-RC. We will never ask you to provide your Social Security number by email.
  2. Think passphrase, not password: Avoid using stand-alone words. Instead, use phrases featuring a combination of upper- and lowercase characters, symbols and numbers. Start with a song lyric or a line from a favorite movie, and build from there. Substitute a few letters for characters, numbers or symbols.
  3. Use a unique passphrase: Don’t use the same one for myVRS or Account Access that you use with other work or personal accounts.
  4. Safeguard your credentials: Change your passphrases often. Do not share your account login information with anyone.
  5. Keep your myVRS and Account Access contact information current to ensure communications regarding your accounts are sent to the correct location.

VRS appreciates your partnership in encouraging good online security habits.


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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