Optional Retirement Plan for Higher Education
- Qualified employees of Virginia’s public colleges and universities have the option to participate in VRS Optional Retirement Plan for Higher Education (ORPHE), rather than VRS Plan 1, VRS Plan 2 or the VRS Hybrid Retirement Plan.
- Qualified employees eligible to participate in the ORPHE are as follows: Presidents of participating public institutions of higher education, chancellors and presidents of the Virginia Community College System, and full-time and part-time permanent, salaried teaching, research and administrative faculty members of participating public institutions (adjunct faculty are not eligible for the ORPHE).
- Under ORPHE, your retirement benefit is based on contributions and the investment gains and losses on those contributions.
- Generally, this type of plan is more portable than the defined benefit plans.
- Contributions to ORPHE are separate from and do not affect the level of contributions you may make to the Commonwealth of Virginia 457 Deferred Compensation Plan or a 403(b) tax-deferred account.
- Federal and state income taxes apply only when you withdraw the money from your account.
- Account balances are immediately vested.
ORPHE Plan 1
You are covered under the provisions of Plan 1 if your membership date is before July 1, 2010. You may be an active or deferred participant. You are a deferred participant if you are not currently working in your position and either retained a balance in your ORPHE or have VRS creditable service resulting from a period of employment prior to July 1, 2010.
- Earliest Eligibility for Group Life Insurance in Retirement: Age 55 with at least five years of creditable service or age 50 with at least 10 years of creditable service
- Eligibility for the Health Insurance Credit: Age 50 and at least 15 years of service at retirement.
- You pay health insurance premiums for individual coverage under qualifying health plans;
- Receive a periodic distribution from ORPHE; and
- Maintain an ORPHE account balance.
- Eligibility for State Retiree Health Insurance: You are eligible to enroll in the State Retiree Health Benefits Program upon retirement, provided you begin an immediate periodic distribution or annuity from ORPHE. You also can enroll your survivors (a spouse or dependent children). Submit the State Health Benefits Enrollment Form for Retirees, Survivors and VSDP/LTD Participants at retirement or within 31 days of your last day of employment. You are not eligible for coverage if you defer receiving a distribution from your ORPHE. For more details, visit www.dhrm.virginia.gov.
ORPHE Plan 2
You are covered under the provisions of Plan 2 if your membership date is between July 1, 2010, and December 31, 2013. If you were previously employed in a position covered under VRS or an ORP authorized or administered by VRS before July 1, 2010, and withdrew your funds, you will be rehired under the current applicable plan if you return to covered employment with no ORP account balance and no creditable service in VRS.
- Earliest Eligibility for Group Life Insurance in Retirement: Age 60 with at least five years of creditable service or when age and service equal 90.
Example: Age 58 with 32 years of creditable service.
- Eligibility for the Health Insurance Credit: Age 60 and at least 15 years of creditable service at retirement. All other requirements are the same as Plan 1.
- Eligibility for State Retiree Health Insurance: Same as ORPHE Plan 1.
ORPHE Plan 2 or Hybrid Retirement Plan
If your membership date is on or after January 1, 2014, and you are eligible for ORPHE, you must elect ORPHE Plan 2 or the Hybrid Retirement Plan.