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A Publication for VRS Employers
January 2018 | Archives
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Your Turn to Ask Your Turn to Ask: How do I locate the secure messaging feature in myVRS Navigator?

myVRS Financial Wellness: Help Employees Increase Their Financial Know-How

Managing debt, insurance and taxes, spending less, saving, budgeting and career advancement—these are important steps on the road to retirement. To help navigate the journey, VRS offers a free financial wellness program focusing on money decisions people encounter at every stage in life.

Get a holistic view of personal finance: Powered by Enrich, an award-winning web-based platform, the myVRS Financial Wellness program helps users grow their knowledge and confidence in everyday financial decision-making through a variety of resources, including articles, videos, educational games, calculators and budgeting tools, available to anyone visiting the VRS website.

Gain access to exclusive content: Through their secure myVRS accounts, VRS members can tap into personalized features and tools, including:

  • A library of mini-courses designed to assess and improve their financial literacy.
  • Customized action plans to help them pursue financial goals.
  • An expanded library of videos, webinars, calculators and quick-read articles to increase their financial savvy.
  • Opportunities to earn badges by completing course modules and other financial wellness activities.

Personal finance just got personal! Encourage your employees take full advantage of the offerings by personalizing their myVRS Financial Wellness profile to receive content recommendations based on their interests and that build on their knowledge. They also can save budget plans and other resources for future reference. Content will be continuously added, so they can check back often.

Watch a short video overview of myVRS Financial Wellness.


Tips to Motivate Hybrid Plan Members to Save More

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 hybrid plan members to accumulate savings on a pre-tax basis, increase savings through the employer match and work toward income replacement during retirement.

So, how do you motivate employees to take the positive step of jump-starting their retirement savings today? Instill a sense of urgency. As one James Madison University benefits specialist told VRS last fall, “If you wait to set (voluntary contributions) up, you’re never going to do it. I tell them your 60-year-old self will thank you.”

Five Questions Employees Might Ask

Employees ask a lot of questions about voluntary contributions. Providing effective answers will help them see the value of saving as much as they can, as early as they can.

1. How will voluntary contributions impact my take-home pay?

VRS has a calculator for that! The Hybrid Member Paycheck Calculator will help you visualize the impact of voluntary contributions and other deductions on your paycheck. Taxes are deferred on both contributions and earnings, allowing you to pay less in taxes now.

2. How does the employer match work?

If you boost your voluntary contribution amount to the maximum 4 percent of your paycheck, you’ll receive 2.5 percent in employer matching contributions PDF Icon. Even if you can’t save the full 4 percent right now, your employer matches the first 1 percent of your creditable compensation and each additional 0.5 percent increase you make with a 0.25 percent contribution. If you miss out on the match, you’re leaving money on the table!

3. Why should I start saving now?

When you invest, especially early in your career, any earnings in your account are compounded and reinvested over time. The ripple effect PDF Icon could make your money grow faster than if you simply set it aside without investing, or spent it now.

4. Can I work my way up to 4 percent?

Absolutely! If you cannot save the maximum 4 percent in voluntary contributions now, take advantage of the SmartStep PDF Icon feature in the hybrid plan. Making small annual increases will help you reach the full percentage gradually, with less impact on your paycheck. SmartStep lets you select your annual increase amount and which month your increase will occur (January, April, July, or October). Once you opt into SmartStep, you no longer need to remember to increase your contribution each year; SmartStep does it for you.

5. How do I start making voluntary contributions?

Log into Account Access, click on the Contributions option under your Hybrid 457 Plan, then select Change My Contribution Amount. Select the percentage of each paycheck you’d like to set aside in voluntary contributions. Or, call Investor Services at 1-877-327-5261, and select option 1.

We’re Here to Help

VRS can help you educate your employees about the long-term value of contributing more to retirement through voluntary contributions.

  • Arrange a date and time for a VRS hybrid plan representative to meet with your employees. Call the VRS Customer Contact Center at 1-888-827-3847 and select options for hybrid support.
  • Contact VRS’ representatives to participate in new-hire orientations, benefit fairs and group seminars to educate members about the defined benefit and defined contribution components of the Hybrid Retirement Plan.
  • Call your ICMA-RC Defined Contribution Plans Retirement Specialists to assist with communicating plan features to your employees and to conduct group seminars or webinars, meet with your employees individually and provide information at benefit fairs.
  • Use the Voluntary Contributions Toolkit to educate hybrid plan members on savings opportunities available and the value of making voluntary contributions.
  • Refer employees to the “Savings Superhero” video to learn more about saving for their future.

Don’t Miss a Message: Update Your Employer Contacts in myVRS Navigator

As part of its myVRS Navigator Security Review, VRS encourages Security Administrators to routinely review your organization’s designated contacts. This helps to ensure designated contacts:

  • Have appropriate access to myVRS Navigator as employees join or leave your organization.
  • Will continue to receive important secure messages and benefit communications.
  • Are not sharing access credentials.
  • Can obtain VRS information based on their defined business role, including payroll processing, enrolling and maintaining new employees, and accessing information.

Your ongoing partnership with VRS helps safeguard employee privacy and protect the security of information.

Also, it’s essential that you identify a Financial Officer communications contact. VRS will send important communications this year regarding compliance with statements of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB).

Should you have questions pertaining to making changes to your contact designations, contact Employer Support.


Political Subdivisions: Actuarial Valuation Reports Available This Month

Later this month, VRS will mail actuarial valuation reports prepared as of June 30, 2017 for Retirement and Health Insurance Credit (if applicable) to all political subdivisions. These reports provide the basis for the new rates for fiscal years 2019 and 2020 (July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2020). A letter will accompany the report, detailing the individual employer rates as well as the rates for the Group Life Insurance and the Virginia Local Disability Program.


VRS Publishes 2017 Comprehensive and Popular Annual Financial Reports

VRS’ 2017 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) PDF Icon is now available for download. (Excerpted sections of the report, including financial and investment highlights, also are available for download in the annual reports section of VRS' publications webpage.)

Read the summary version: The Popular Annual Financial Report (PAFR) PDF Icon presents an easy-to-read summary and overview of key VRS financial, investment and statistical highlights, all of which are reported in more detail in the CAFR for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017.


General Assembly Session Opens January 10

The 2018 Virginia General Assembly session begins Wednesday, January 10, for a scheduled 60-day session. You can track all VRS-related House and Senate bills by visiting our updates on legislation webpage later this month.


Go Mobile With the New VRS DCP App

Connecting your employees with the defined contribution components of their retirement plan is easier than ever with the VRS DCP mobile app.

Employees who have VRS deferred compensation accounts (i.e., those in the Hybrid Retirement Plan, Commonwealth of Virginia 457 Deferred Compensation Plan, Virginia Cash Match Plan or an optional retirement plan) can manage their accounts and boost their investment knowledge on the go from their iPhone, Android smartphone or tablet.

Using the app, employees can:

  • Log in to view their balance and increase voluntary contributions.
  • Use plan calculators to see how much to contribute.
  • Get contact information for local DC plan specialists.
  • Receive text updates from their plan with TextAccess.

Download the app! Search for VRS DCP.*

Promote the app: VRS has developed a toolkit PDF Icon for employers to use as they promote the new VRS DCP mobile app. Add clickable images to your intranet site, send and post the flier or add a mobile app slide to your next presentation.

*Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google LLC.
Apple and the Apple logo are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.
App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.


New Training, Resources Guide You Through Changes to ORP Election Process

New employees who are eligible for the VRS Optional Retirement Plan for Higher Education (ORPHE) or the Optional Retirement Plan for Political Appointees (ORPPA) will elect their retirement plan online through their myVRS accounts.

When ORPHE- or ORPPA-eligible employees elect their plans in myVRS, employers will acknowledge the elections have been reviewed and are correct in myVRS Navigator and the appropriate deductions have been set up in payroll.

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

  • An updated version of Employer Manual Enroll and Maintain Employees Chapter PDF Icon, including ORP information, has been published to the VRS website.
  • An updated myVRS Navigator Enroll and Maintain Employees e-course, including ORP information, has been published to the Virginia Learning Center (VLC). (Search: acknowledging ORP.)
  • A new Acknowledging ORP-Eligible Employee Elections Process Guide has been published to the VLC and can be accessed individually or as an attachment to the myVRS Navigator Enroll and Maintain Employees e-course.
  • Recordings of the VRS Modernization Updates for ORPHE Employers and VRS Modernization Updates for ORPPA Employers webinars also have been published to the VLC. The webinars guide employers through the changes in the plan election process as well as the corresponding actions they will need to take in myVRS Navigator.

Political Subdivisions and Schools: Notify VRS of VLDP and Local Program Disability Claims or Status Changes

Whether you provide the Virginia Local Disability Program (VLDP) or a comparable disability plan to your Hybrid Retirement Plan members, it’s essential to notify VRS when an employee has a long-term disability claim or change in disability status so that other VRS benefits can continue.

For example, members on long-term disability continue to accrue VRS service credit and remain eligible for Group Life Insurance and the health insurance credit, if the employer participates in these programs.

The process for reporting employees on long-term disability has changed, depending on whether you offer VLDP or provide a comparable disability program.

If you offer the Virginia Local Disability Program: The program’s third-party administrator will submit information to VRS when an employee has a long-term disability claim or change in disability status.

If you provide a comparable disability program: You are responsible for notifying VRS about new long-term disability claims or changes to a member’s disability status. VRS has updated its Reporting Employees on Long-Term Disability With a Comparable Plan job aid PDF Icon to reflect a change in the order of steps you need to take in myVRS Navigator when reporting employees on long-term disability.

Your Employment Processor will need to take the following steps in myVRS Navigator (note: the order of steps has changed from previous years):

  1. If the member is on a less-than-12-month contract, then you must change the contract to 12 months. The start date of the contract should be the same as the long-term disability.
  2. Change the status in the Employment Status field from Active to Leave Without Pay (LWOP).

Once the long-term disability claim ends, change the Employment Status to Active or Separated.


VRS Sets New Purchase of Prior Service Rates

VRS has set new rates for members who purchase prior service at approximate normal cost, effective January 1, 2018. View the new rates for:

Purchases from most categories of service will be at approximate normal cost during a two-year window, beginning upon employment in a VRS-covered position or the date the member returns to active employment after an eligible period of leave. After two years, the cost increases to an actuarial equivalent cost.

The interest rate relating to the cost to purchase refunded service remains unchanged, using the current rate of 7 percent interest compounded annually. The purchase cost is based on the refund amount, plus interest compounded annually from the date of the refund to the date the member buys back the service.




Financial Reporting Reminder: The first business day of 2018 was January 2.

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 being hired 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 access 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.

Enhanced EZ Link Dashboard: You may have noticed some changes to your employer dashboard in EZLink. In addition to the default main dashboard, six function-specific dashboards have been added to help streamline the features a plan administrator accesses regularly, such as contributions, enrollments and investments.

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

Classroom and webinar courses are posted on the VRS website as they are scheduled. Other e-learning modules are available through 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:

To ensure faster processing of forms — and to ensure you are using the most up-to-date versions of VRS forms — use the latest fillable versions of 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 Your Turn to Ask

Q: How do I locate the secure messaging feature in myVRS Navigator?

The Secure Messages tab is located on the left side of your myVRS Navigator dashboard, below the work basket (My Basket) tab. Be sure this navigation panel is not minimized on your screen. When you click on Secure Messages, a list of the messages sent to you will open for viewing.

The secure messaging feature in myVRS Navigator allows employers to receive certain documents or notifications regarding VRS account activities. The secure messages that employers receive are related to their assigned roles in the system. Your security administrator can update your role as needed.


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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