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Member News Archives | Spring 2013 A Publication for VRS Members

What your member account tells you

When you’re planning for retirement, it helps to know your starting point. Because your myVRS account gives you secure access to the current information in your member account, visit it to become familiar with your benefits and see where you are on the road to retirement.

When you sign into your account, your first page is your online account summary. Mouse over the graphic: Help buttons for more information.

myVRS account summary screen

The menu on the left side of the page connects to information about:

  • Any prior service you are purchasing or have purchased
  • Your employment history and compensation throughout your VRS-covered employment
  • Your basic group life insurance coverage, if you are covered under the VRS Group Life Insurance Plan

Your VRS membership date and years of service

The amount in your member contribution account, including the taxable amount and amount available for a refund

Look down the page and youíll see two boxes showing both your projected unreduced and reduced monthly benefit with:

  • Age and amount of service at reduced and unreduced retirement
  • Retirement dates for reduced and unreduced retirement
  • Average final compensation and estimated monthly benefit
  • Your VRS defined contribution account summary, if you are a participant

If you are a Plan 1 member, the Benefit Estimator and Retirement Planner, with tabs located at the top of the page, provide additional details to help you plan for the future. Use the Benefit Estimator to see what your retirement benefit might be with different retirement dates and benefit payout options. You can save or print each estimate to compare the results. Estimates are saved for 30 days. The Benefit Estimator will be available to Plan 2 members starting this fall.

The Retirement Planner gives you an idea of how your finances will look at retirement. Select the Quick Plan or the Detailed Plan. The Quick Plan path allows you to see a snapshot of your finances, without entering any additional information. It uses your current VRS information and makes basic assumptions to project your income and expenses.

With the Detailed Plan you customize your information to receive a more comprehensive picture of your retirement, using your estimated Social Security amount, account information and other potential income.

Five steps to a successful retirement

It’s not complicated. A little planning, a little saving, a little knowledge, and there you are, on the right path to retirement.

Plan and save early

  • Create your myVRS account.
  • Participate in employer-sponsored savings plans, such as the Commonwealth of Virginia 457 Plan, a 403(b) plan for educational institutions or other employer-sponsored plan.
  • Purchase any prior service credit as soon as you become eligible. You must purchase the most recent period of prior service first.  
  • Review your contributions to your 457 Plan or 403(b) plan periodically and increase them when you receive promotions and raises.
money in jars

Know your benefits

Use myVRS to plan

  • Review your Member Benefit Profile (MBP) when it is posted in your myVRS account every summer.
  • Use tools such as the Benefit Estimator and Retirement Planner to fill in the details in your retirement planning.  

Save and plan more

Protect yourself and your loved ones

Retiring soon? Here’s your to-do list

It’s down to the wire and you need to apply for retirement. Do you have everything you need? Are you completing the forms correctly? Do you know your deadlines?

Note to self: review each item and check when completed.

Timing is important for contract employees requesting refunds

Leaving your job? If you leave covered employment and do not retire, you can take a refund of your member contributions and interest or leave your member contribution account balance with VRS and become a deferred member. A refund is a lump-sum payment of your member contribution account balance.

money clock

If you are a teacher on a nine-, 10- or 11-month contract and plan to request a refund, the timing of your summer breaks and intersession periods may affect when you receive your refund. Refunds are payable no earlier than one full calendar month from when your retirement contributions were last reported to VRS. The one full calendar month must take place during a period you normally would work. Summer breaks or intersession periods do not count toward this break in service. If you are a teacher and leave your position at the end of the school year, for example, your one-full-calendar month period begins September 1 and your refund would be paid no earlier than October 1.

For more information on refunds and your options if you leave your job, see Leaving Employment.

What happens to your VRS benefits when you are on military leave?

soldier coming home

Many of your VRS benefits continue while you are on active duty military service:

  • Although you do not earn service credit while on military leave, it can be granted at no cost once you return to a VRS-covered position. You can apply for service credit at any time if you are not dishonorably discharged, return to covered employment within one year of discharge and do not take a refund.

  • Your Basic Group Life Insurance coverage continues for up to 24 months or for as long as you are on military leave, provided you or your employer pay the premiums. If you have optional group life insurance, your coverage continues if you pay the premiums and remain covered under the basic group life program.

  • Your VRS death-in-service benefit continues. If you die during your service, your Member Contribution Account will be refunded to your named beneficiary. If you are vested at the time of your death and your named beneficiary is your spouse, minor child or parent, he or she may choose a refund or a monthly benefit.

  • You will not be able to contribute to the 457 Plan during military leave unless you continue to receive compensation from your employer. If you return to employment with an employer offering the plan, you may contribute the amount of deferrals you were unable to make during your period of military leave. If applicable, you will receive the employer cash match on these make-up contributions.

  • If you are eligible, you can apply for disability retirement at any time while on military leave.

  • If you are covered under the Virginia Sickness and Disability Program (VSDP), your coverage stops while you are on leave, but resumes when you return to covered employment.

  • If you are covered under the State Health Benefits program, Extended Coverage continues for 24 months while you are on leave for active duty military service. Your employer continues to pay the employer portion of the total premium and you pay the employee cost.

See your employer for more information about military service and your benefits.

What is reduced retirement?

If you take reduced retirement, you are retiring before you have reached the age and years of service you need for eligibility for a full or unreduced retirement benefit. If you take reduced retirement, VRS applies an early retirement reduction factor to the benefit you would receive if you retired with an unreduced benefit.

Reduced Retirement
Plan 1 Plan 2

Retire as early as age 55 with at least five years of service credit or age 50 with at least 10 years of service credit.

Retire as early as age 60 with at least five years of service credit.

If you are a member of the State Police Officers’ Retirement System (SPORS) Plan 1 or Plan 2, the Virginia Law Officers’ Retirement System (VaLORS) Plan 1 or Plan 2, or if you are covered under Enhanced Benefits for Eligible Political Subdivision Hazardous Duty Employees Plan 1 or Plan 2, you may retire with a reduced benefit as early as age 50 with at least five years of service credit.

For an explanation and examples of reduced and unreduced retirement, see your plan handbook.

VRS announces new board member

The General Assembly Joint Rules Committee appointed Troilen Gainey Seward, Ed. S. to the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) Board of Trustees. Seward’s appointment term ends February 28, 2017. Read entire news release.

Featured FAQ

Q: I’m a current VRS member; how will the new hybrid retirement plan affect me?

A: Benefits for current VRS members will remain the same after the Hybrid Retirement Plan becomes effective on January 1, 2014. However, eligible Plan 1 and Plan 2 members may elect to opt into the VRS Hybrid Retirement Plan during a one-time election period from January 1, 2014 through April 30, 2014. This election would become effective July 1, 2014.

A hybrid retirement plan combines the features of a defined benefit plan, which pays a monthly retirement benefit based on age, total service credit and average final compensation, and a defined contribution plan, which provides a retirement benefit based on contributions to the plan and the investment performance of those contributions.

When it’s closer to the decision period, VRS will provide an online tool to help you in making this decision. In addition, VRS will offer member meetings and webinars with more information about the hybrid plan features.