IMPORTANT VRS INFORMATION OCTOBER 1, 2012
Employees covered under the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) should read this entire notice, because some or all of the information may affect them. VRS members include regular, full-time employees who are not police officers or firefighters. Part-time, temporary, and seasonal employees are not covered under VRS.
Member Benefit Profiles Are Available on the VRS Website
VRS has published the June 30, 2012, Member Benefit Profile (MBP) for each VRS Plan 1 member. The annual MBP provides information about employees’ accrued benefits, estimates of retirement benefits, and other important information. Employees should review all information and contact VRS regarding any errors. Currently, the MBP is available only to Plan 1 members. VRS Plan 2 members can call VRS at 888.827.3847 to request similar information. Please note that the MBPs are only available online. VRS will no longer print the MBPs. VRS Plan 1 members who do not have access to a PC to review their MBP should speak to their department’s HR liaison or administrative officer to request access to a PC to view this information. VRS members may access the VRS web site from any computer.
VRS Plan 1 members can go to www.varetire.org/myVRS to log on or register as a new member by clicking on the “New Member” tab. Information on how to log on to or to use myVRS is available at http://www.varetire.org/myVRS-Access/about.asp. Employees should call VRS at 888.827.3847 if they encounter any problems with logging on or using myVRS. VRS staff is available to assist from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Black-out Period for myVRS October 25 to November 5
The myVRS section of the VRS website will have a black-out period from October 25 to November 5 as VRS conducts major system updates. During this black-out period, employees, Pension Administration Division staff, and VRS call center representatives will not be able to view employees’ personal information. Personal information includes contributions, service credits with the City and other VRS employers, purchase of service information, estimates of future monthly pension amounts, etc.
VRS Must Receive Payments by December 31, 2012 from VRS Plan 1 Non-Vested Members Who Are Purchasing Service to Be Vested by January 1, 2013
Are you in VRS Plan 1? If yes, do you have less than five years of VRS service?
If you answered “yes” to both questions above, your retirement plan provisions will change effective January 1, 2013, if you are not vested (have less than five years of VRS service) on this date. This means it may take longer to qualify for retirement, and your benefit may be less than it would be under the current Plan 1 provisions.
A VRS Plan 1 member is any regular, full-time employee (excluding police officers and firefighters) who accrued service either with the City or with another VRS-covered employer prior to July 1, 2010. VRS members accrue one month of service for each month that they are covered under VRS. A member with sixty months, or five years, of VRS service is vested. This means that the employee may receive a monthly retirement benefit when they satisfy the VRS age and service requirements.
In order to become vested on January 1, 2013, Plan 1 non-vested members may purchase eligible service for work with another government employer. Eligible service includes past work for the federal government (including the Peace Corps), local governments (state, city, county, etc.), active military duty, and non-covered service (such as part-time service with the City). To be eligible, the prior government service cannot be used to calculate a retirement benefit payable under the prior employer’s plan.
Any Plan 1 non-vested member who wishes to purchase service in order to be vested by January 1, 2013, must complete Part A of the Application for Purchase of Prior Service Credit, VRS-26, and mail the entire application to his or her prior employer now. The employee must complete a separate form for each prior government employer. The employee should also print the words “Plan 1 Non-vested” across the top of the application to make it easier for VRS to pull out these forms when they are received. The completed forms with original signatures must be mailed to VRS as soon as possible because the process to purchase service takes a while. VRS must receive payment to purchase this service no later than December 31, 2012. For additional information, employees may view the VRS web page, Are you in Plan 1? Do you have less than 5 years of service? by clicking on the Act Now button on the VRS website.
VRS will have a webinar on Thursday, October 4 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. for VRS Plan 1 members who want information on purchasing service. This webinar will give employees information to help them decide if purchasing service is right for them. Employees may click here to register to view and listen to this webinar from their desks or from home. Any employee who wants to view this webinar during work hours will need his or her supervisor’s permission.
Plan 1 and Plan 2 members may still purchase eligible service after January 1, 2013. However, service purchased after January 1, 2013, will not be used to help an employee be vested by January 1, 2013.
Visit the VRS Website Regularly for Member News and Information to Plan for Retirement
VRS members, particularly those members within five years of retirement, should regularly visit the VRS website, www.varetire.org, to calculate their retirement benefits and to view other information helpful in planning for retirement.
Members can access the current and previous editions of Member News to read information on changes to VRS, links to General Assembly legislative action relating to VRS, and a question and answer section.
The VRS website has information on many VRS-administered benefit programs not available to City employees. The City of Alexandria only participates in the VRS retirement plan and the disability retirement plan.