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A Publication for VRS Employers
June 2016 | Archives
Your Turn to Ask: What resources are available to assist me with learning how to use myVRS Navigator?

DHRM Announces Re-Hire Policy Change Related to the Affordable Care Act

For state employers that follow hiring policies developed by the Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM), there is now a longer separation period required under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) when rehiring a former employee (or retiree) into a wage position. The new separation period is 13 weeks for most employees, but 26 weeks for those in higher education.

This separation period does not impact VRS retirement benefits. Therefore, the one-full-calendar-month break in service required by VRS remains unchanged and intact for purposes of retirement benefits.

Under ACA regulations, there are distinctions between “new” versus “ongoing” employees that impact how an employee’s worked/paid time is calculated for the purpose of determining whether the employee is considered to be full-time. Employers must offer health coverage to all employees who work 30 hours per week on average over a 12-month measurement period. If an employee has not served the ACA required separation period, he or she is considered to be an “ongoing” employee. This means that hours worked/paid during the prior measurement period will be counted in determining the employee’s full-time status. A full-time employee who retires and returns to a wage position before serving this separation period likely will be considered full-time under ACA even if the employee is working 20 to 29 hours per week as a wage employee.

The ACA separation periods are required for retirees to avoid meeting the ACA definition of an “ongoing” employee, even if they are re-hired into wage positions.
  • If a retiree is employed by the same state agency from which he or she retired, then the separation period is a minimum of 13 weeks.
  • In higher education (including classified employees and faculty), the separation period is a minimum of 26 weeks.
For additional information on the ACA policy as it relates to health care coverage, email DHRM at policy@dhrm.virginia.gov.

Although this guidance from DHRM applies to state agencies and higher education only, school divisions and political subdivisions need to be aware of ACA rules for their respective employment practices.

For VRS purposes, retirees who return to work for the same employer from which they retired must have a bona fide break in service of at least one full calendar month from their retirement date over a period they normally would have worked. VRS considers all state agencies to be one employer. For more information, refer to Working After Retirement on the VRS website.

Reminder: Purchase of Prior Service Changes Ahead

Purchase of prior service (PPS) provisions will change beginning January 1, 2017. The changes will standardize the costs to purchase service among plan participants and ensure that the purchase cost more closely reflects the actual cost of providing the additional benefit in retirement.

Refer to the May Employer Update for full details of the 2017 PPS changes.

The Prepare Now for Tomorrow toolkit provides additional background information, fliers and sample messaging to help you advise employees of the coming changes to PPS.

myVRS Banner

New myVRS Helps Members Plan for Tomorrow, Today

VRS has released a new version of myVRS. The redesigned site has a fresh look and a secure registration process to protect members’ personal and financial information. Members can easily access myVRS from the VRS homepage by clicking on the myVRS icon in the upper left portion of the page. A short video, available from the new myVRS login page, offers a preview of the enhanced site and its features.

Secure Registration Process
If employees have myVRS accounts in the former system, they will be able to log in to the new system with their user name and password. However, they still will need to complete an identity authentication process to gain access to the new myVRS site. Employees who do not have a myVRS account will need to register.

Randomly generated questions presented during registration come from a third-party identity verification service and are used only for the initial verification process. VRS never shares this information or retains the answers provided by the member. After completing the registration and authentication process, employees will only need their user ID and password to log on.

Employees will have two attempts to register before a lockout occurs. If your employees experience any challenges registering, they may call VRS toll-free at 1-888-VARETIR (827-3847) and select option 3 for myVRS online assistance, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday, or contact myvrsonlineassistance@varetire.org.

More Improvements Ahead
It takes just a few minutes to register. Please invite employees to register at work or at home, so they can begin using the new myVRS site and have access to coming myVRS enhancements. The site offers members a variety of features, including the ability to apply for refunds online.

Starting this fall, VRS will introduce additional customized features aimed at improving services for VRS members. Follow the timeline.

Hybrid Retirement Plan auto-escalation

Do You Have Hybrid Members Not Yet Making Voluntary Contributions?

Beginning January 1, 2017, Hybrid Retirement Plan members’ voluntary contributions to their Hybrid 457 Deferred Compensation Plan accounts will automatically increase by 0.5 percent for those not already contributing the maximum 4 percent. This automatic increase is a hybrid plan feature known as auto-escalation. Members will be able to opt out of the automatic increase in the fall.

If you are an employer with hybrid members who’ve not yet elected to make voluntary contributions, now is a good time to become familiar with the process for submitting members’ auto-escalated voluntary contributions and the appropriate employer match.

Using the EZLink Deferral Change Report
The process for making deferral changes will remain simple and straightforward. ICMA-RC, the third-party record keeper for the VRS Defined Contribution plans, will monitor hybrid members in the auto-escalation group, including those who opt out.

The opt-out period for members begins October 1 and will end December 15 at 4 p.m., coinciding with the fourth-quarter voluntary contribution deferral change deadline.
  • Decentralized state agencies, school divisions and political subdivisions will follow the normal payroll process and may download the Deferral Changes Report via EZLink  on or after December 16 to see the new deferral amounts and process payroll changes ahead of January 2017.
  • Centralized state employers using the Commonwealth’s Integrated Personnel and Payroll System (CIPPS) will follow the normal payroll certification process.
Changes will be effective for the first payroll in January 2017.

Generally speaking, employers do not need to monitor auto-escalation, calculate the increase or track deferral changes and opt-outs, as ICMA-RC will perform those tasks. However, school divisions that elected to offer an employer-sponsored hybrid 403(b) will need to administer the auto-escalation requirements and opt-out period for those employees who elected the employer-sponsored plan for voluntary contributions.

Processing the Employer Match
Employers are required to provide a match on the voluntary contribution amounts for their hybrid members. For all auto-escalated hybrid members scheduled for a Hybrid 457 Plan deferral of at least 0.5 percent starting in January 2017 you should also submit the corresponding employer match to the Hybrid 401(a) Cash Match Plan (see contributions table).

Defined Contribution Component Payroll Training Resources
Turn to your VRS resources for more information:
Legislative Summary

Legislative Summary Reviews New Laws Passed in 2016

The reconvened session for the 2016 General Assembly concluded April 20. The legislature passed a number of bills affecting VRS, which are summarized in the 2016 Legislative Summary .

VRS Contribution, OPEB Rates Posted

The table below provides the General Assembly-enacted contribution rates for each pension plan in fiscal years 2017 and 2018. Political subdivision and school division Primary Administrative Authorities should have received a contribution rate letter from VRS in January.
Retirement Program 2017 2018
State Employees 13.49% 13.49%
Teachers 14.66% 16.32%
State Police Officers’ Retirement System 28.54% 28.54%
Virginia Law Officers’ Retirement System 21.05% 21.05%
Judicial Retirement System 41.97% 41.97%
Non-Professional School Board and Political Subdivision Employees Varies by Employer Varies by Employer

Contribution rates for other post-employment benefits (OPEB) in fiscal years 2017 and 2018 are:
OPEB Program 2017 2018
Group Life Insurance Employee 0.79% 0.79%
Employer 0.52% 0.52%
Total 1.31% 1.31%
Health Insurance Credit: State Employees 1.18% 1.18%
Health Insurance Credit: Teachers 1.11% 1.23%
Health Insurance Credit: Non-Professional School Board Members and Political Subdivision Employees Varies by Employer Varies by Employer
Virginia Sickness and Disability Program (VSDP): Covered Payroll 0.66% 0.66%
Virginia Local Disability Program (VLDP) Teachers 0.31% 0.31%
Political Subdivision Employees 0.60% 0.60%

myVRS Navigator

As the fiscal year draws to a close, employers have a number of important year-end tasks to monitor. Here’s a refresher on key processes and deadlines. VRS appreciates your partnership in ensuring a smooth transition to the new fiscal year.

1. Confirm June Snapshots No Later Than Friday, July 8
Security Administrators or the Snapshot Processor 2 should confirm all snapshots through June 2016 in myVRS Navigator no later than 4 p.m., Friday, July 8. Completing this task on time ensures that your employees’ information is correct as VRS prepares for fiscal year-end activities, such as adding interest to member accounts and creating the annual Member Benefit Profiles. If possible, please confirm snapshots before the end of June, as soon as all monthly activity is known.
If you’re unable to meet the July 8 deadline, VRS will confirm your June snapshot using information from the May snapshot along with enrollments and member record updates made since the May snapshot. You then will have to retroactively record all June activity on employee information, such as salary changes, new enrollments or separations. If you are unable to meet the July 8 deadline, please contact VRS at 1-888-VARETIR (1-888-827-3847).
2. Look Ahead to July Snapshot
Once your June snapshot is confirmed, you can submit enrollments and maintenance changes, upload files, process prior service, generate snapshots and complete all other routine processing for July. However, you will not be able to confirm the July snapshot until VRS notifies you by email that year-end processing is complete. You can then regenerate and confirm your July snapshot.
Contribution rates change July 1, so look for a notification message on the July snapshot confirming the new rates. Political subdivisions and school divisions that opted to phase in the member-paid contributions should verify that these rates are accurately reflected on the July snapshot before confirming.
3. Record Salary Changes for New Fiscal Year
As you prepare for the upcoming fiscal year, you may need to update salary changes for most, and perhaps all, employees. If you report salary increases to VRS for July, be sure to also initiate salary changes in your payroll system so that you collect the full member contributions for July.
  • State agencies using the Personnel Management Information System (PMIS): No additional action is required. Changes to myVRS Navigator will be updated automatically.
  • Employers that submit via batch files: Employers certified to submit batch files will use the regular maintenance file to submit salary changes.
  • Employers that exclusively submit changes via myVRS Navigator: Employers using myVRS Navigator online functionality to process maintenance updates may use an on-demand report to record salary changes for submission to VRS as a single file. You can access the report in the report repository.
4. Manage Contract Renewals (School Divisions and Higher Education Institutions)
  • Auto-renewal: myVRS Navigator automatically renews contracts for all returning covered contract employees, regardless of contract length (nine, 10, 11 and 12 months). The process will be triggered 11 business days after you confirm the previous month’s snapshot, and will only advance the contract start date by one year (i.e., from 2016 to 2017). The contract length and number of months paid will remain unchanged.
VRS requests that employers make any changes to a contract employee’s contract start date, contract length and number of months paid within the 10-business-day window. In instances when a contract employee’s contract is changing in the new fiscal year, the employer should initiate a job/contract change in myVRS Navigator. 
myVRS Navigator will display an error message if you attempt to update or correct current year or prior year contract details during the deferred off-contract period for less-than-12-month employees paid over 12 months. The built-in check ensures accurate calculation and posting of deferred contributions to member records.
Batch reporters may submit contract changes through the batch file upload process. VRS will update any contract start dates not updated as part of the batch file upload through the automatic renewal process.
  • Notification of Un-Renewed Contracts: myVRS will display a notification and error message on the current month snapshot if you attempt to confirm prior to the automatic contract renewal process. You have the option of waiting for the automatic contract renewal process to run, or checking an acknowledgement box on the Contract Changes tab (under Employment Changes in the current month snapshot). You may run the Un-Renewed Contracts report available in the Report Repository for a listing of employees impacted. Should you choose to check the acknowledgement box and proceed with confirming the snapshot, you then must renew those individual contracts via a batch file or manual online process. The member’s benefit could be impacted if the contract is not renewed on time.
For more information about contract renewals, refer to the Enrolling and Maintaining Contract Employees course available through the VRS University. Login instructions for VRS University are available below:

1. First, find your agency’s Knowledge Center .
2. Log into your agency’s Knowledge Center.
3. Enter search text “Enrolling and Maintaining Contract Employees.”
5. Request a Summary Report of Multiple Months
Employers now have access to the GASB Report-Validation of Census Data in myVRS Navigator. The report contains the same information that is included in your monthly snapshot, such as enrollments and employment and salary changes. The employment information includes new fields listing an employee’s date of birth and gender. Data for the last 18-month period is available, and you can request a report for up to 12 months at a time. Your report, which runs overnight, becomes available the morning after you request it.
VRS recommends that you run this report monthly or quarterly to verify your data. myVRS Navigator is a good resource for you to use to produce this report, which will assist you this fall with your annual audit for fiscal year 2016.
6. Member Address Updates Now Limited for Employers
To ensure VRS has the most current member-requested address change on file, beginning in June, after the initial enrollment of the new employee, employers may no longer make address changes manually if the member has updated his or her address with VRS within the past 24 months. Instead, employers will receive this message: An update to the address is not allowed at this time due to a recent address change provided by the member. Employers will be able to submit address changes via batch file updates.



A new Retirement Education Seminar focused on the needs of recent retirees or employees nearing retirement takes place June 29. This seminar, Finish Line – Living in Retirement, covers post-retirement planning and important factors to consider throughout retirement. Industry professionals will cover a broad range of topics, including retirement security, estate planning and health care.

Are you new to your job administering VRS benefits? Let us know so we can direct you to training opportunities, manuals and other resources to help you navigate through VRS.

Order VRS Publications.


  Employer Training & Events

The Coordinating VRS Benefits instructor-led training for new and experienced benefit administrators and payroll officers covers a variety of topics, including service retirement, death benefits and purchase of prior service. The next sessions are scheduled for:
  • June 28-30 at John Tyler Community College, Midlothian Campus.
Live webinars for Hybrid Retirement Plan members are scheduled for May, June and July. The sessions will review the hybrid plan and discuss both the defined benefit and defined contribution components in more detail. The webinars are suited for employees and employers.

Classroom and webinar courses are posted on the VRS website as they are scheduled. Look to Employer Training for new offerings. Other e-learning modules are available through VRS University in the Commonwealth of Virginia Knowledge Center.

Current Training

  Member Education & Events

Classroom and webinar courses are posted on the VRS website as they are scheduled. Register from our Education and Counseling pages for new offerings. Other e-learning modules are available through VRS University in the Commonwealth of Virginia Knowledge Center.

  Your Turn to Ask

Q: What resources are available to assist me with learning how to use myVRS Navigator?
The following myVRS Navigator courses are available in VRS University in the Knowledge Center:
  • Introduction to myVRS Navigator
  • Enroll and Maintain Employees
  • Managing Contacts
  • Purchase of Prior Service
  • Contribution Confirmation and Payment Scheduling
View the myVRS Navigator Training Course Catalog  to see the course descriptions in detail. Related process guides and job aids are attached to each course or can be searched individually. See myVRS Navigator Training Overview  for frequently asked questions.

VRS’ Employer Manual includes three chapters that will help you with the following processes in myVRS Navigator:
  • Enroll and Maintain Employees
  • Contribution Confirmation and Payment Scheduling
  • Purchase of Prior Service Credit
In addition to the e-courses and Employer Manual, myVRS Navigator business rules documents and frequently asked questions are available on the Publications page of the VRS website.

If you are new to your position and help administer VRS benefits to employees, submit VRS’ online introduction form and one of our Employer Representatives will direct you to a variety of training opportunities, manuals and other resources.

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 © 2016 Virginia Retirement System

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