The Virginia Retirement System, an independent state agency based in Richmond, delivers retirement and other benefits to covered Virginia public sector employees through sound financial stewardship and superior customer service.
About the Virginia Retirement System
The Virginia Retirement System, an independent state agency based in Richmond, delivers retirement and other benefits to covered Virginia public sector employees through sound financial stewardship and superior customer service. VRS ranks as the 14th largest public or private pension fund in the U.S. and the 42nd largest in the world, serving more than 778,000 active and inactive members, retirees and beneficiaries. Members include public school teachers, political subdivision employees (cities, towns, special authorities and commissions), state agency employees, public college and university personnel, state police, Virginia law officers and the judiciary. Approximately 832 employers participate in VRS.
Who We Serve: VRS by the Numbers
among public and private pension systems in the United States, based on assets.
of retirees remain in Virginia. Of the $5.7 billion paid out by VRS in fiscal year 2022, the majority stays in Virginia, where retirees contribute to the local economy.
among public and private pension systems in the world, based on assets.
As of June 30, 2022
* Of the 144 school boards, 133 also provide coverage for non-professional employees and are treated as political subdivisions.
Quarterly asset allocation reports, fund performance, investment policy and more are available from our investment pages.
The Virginia Retirement System evolved from two previous retirement systems. In 1908, the earliest public retirement system in Virginia, the Retired Teachers' Fund, provided benefits for public school teachers only. That system was replaced on July 1, 1942 with the Virginia Retirement System (VRS). Teachers, school administration employees and most state employees were eligible for membership.
In 1944, political subdivisions (cities, towns, etc.) were allowed to bring their officers and employees into the system. At that time, public employees were not covered by the Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Health Insurance provisions of the Federal Social Security Act.
When it became possible for public employees to join Social Security, the Commonwealth decided to enter into the Federal-State Agreement, thereby covering its employees. States could enter such an agreement only if the employees were not covered by an existing retirement system. To meet this requirement, the existing Virginia Retirement System was repealed. On February 6, 1952, the Commonwealth of Virginia became one of the first states to repeal its retirement system and cover its employees under Social Security. The Virginia Supplemental Retirement System was created on March 1, 1952 as a supplement to Social Security.
As a result of the Tax Reform Act of 1986, the integration of retirement and Social Security benefits was drastically restricted. VRS benefits are no longer considered a supplement to Social Security; therefore, the name of the system was changed back to the Virginia Retirement System by the 1990 session of the General Assembly.
House Joint Resolution 392 of the 1993 General Assembly Session requested the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) to complete a comprehensive study of VRS. The study concluded:
- VRS should be established as an agency independent of the executive branch of Virginia government.
- The appointment of trustees should be a shared responsibility of the Governor and the General Assembly.
- The VRS trust funds should be established as independent trusts in the Constitution of Virginia.
- The structure of VRS advisory committees should be established in law.
- The General Assembly should designate a permanent legislative commission or committee to carry out continuing oversight of the retirement system.
This series of changes to the Virginia Constitution and the VRS enabling statutes occurred in 1995 and 1996. The Constitution of Virginia (Article X, Section 11) now requires the General Assembly to maintain “…a retirement system for State employees and employees of participating political subdivisions. The funds of the retirement system shall be deemed separate and independent trust funds, shall be segregated from all other funds of the Commonwealth, and shall be invested and administered solely in the interests of the members and beneficiaries thereof.”
Through sound financial stewardship and superior customer service, VRS delivers retirement benefits and more to Virginia’s public employees. Watch this video to learn more.