Q.  Who is eligible for the hazardous duty supplement?

 A.  Members who meet the outlined criteria are eligible for the hazardous duty supplement.

  • Members who are covered by SPORS and who have 20 years or more of hazardous duty service.
  • VaLORS members who were hired prior to July 1, 2001, elected to retain the supplement with the 1.7% multiplier in lieu of the 2.0% multiplier with no supplement and who have 20 years or more of hazardous duty service. 
  • Political subdivision employees in hazardous duty positions with an employer who has elected to offer the benefit and who has 20 years or more of hazardous duty service.

Sheriffs, deputy sheriffs, firefighters and fire medics are eligible for the hazardous duty supplement.  If the employer provides a comparable benefit, the employer may elect not to provide supplement eligibility under VRS.

Eligible members must be credited with at least 20 years of hazardous duty service credit when employed in a position covered under VaLORS, SPORS, in a hazardous duty covered position with a political subdivision providing enhanced benefits or when the employee was in a hazardous duty position with a VRS participating employer prior to leaving a SPORS, VaLORS or hazardous duty position with a political subdivision offering the enhanced benefits.

Eligible members who are retiring from SPORS, VaLORS, or in a position with a political subdivision covered under enhanced hazardous duty benefits with a membership date prior to July 1, 1974, and who are retiring on an immediate annuity from their SPORS, VaLORS or hazardous duty position with a political subdivision that has elected to provide enhanced benefits, are also eligible for the hazardous duty supplement. 

Q.  Has the County of Accomack elected hazardous duty coverage for eligible employees?

A.  Yes.  The County of Accomack has elected hazardous duty benefits for eligible employees in the Department of Public Safety and the Sheriff's Department.  Eligibility is determined by your position within the department.  The hazardous duty benefits are available to employees who are in such positions as firefighters, fire medics, paramedics, deputy sheriff and sheriff.

Q.   How do I know what hazardous duty benefits the County of Accomack offers its employees?

A.   The County of Accomack offers our eligible employees the hazardous duty supplement and the retirement multiplier of 1.7%. 

Q.  I am coming from an eligible position in another County into an eligible position with Accomack County.  Are my hazardous duty benefits the same?

A.  Not necessarily.  Although employers may offer the same hazardous duty benefits, benefits can vary by employer.  Employees should understand that hazardous duty benefits may change when accepting an eligible position with a different employer.

Q.  What is the retirement multiplier?

A.  The service retirement multiplier is a factor that determines how much of your average final compensation will be used to calculate your retirement benefit.  If your position title is considered a first responder, your retirement multiplier is 1.7%.  The following positions in the County of Accomack are considered to be first responders:  law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians.

Q.  What considers an employee vested?

A.  VRS considers an employee vested when they have at least five (5) years of service credit.  Being vested means you are eligible to qualify for service retirement if you meet the age and service requirements for your plan.  You must also be vested to receive a full refund of your member contribution account balance (member contributions and the accrued interest) should you decide to leave employment and request a refund.

Q.  What is service credit?

A.  Service credit has a monetary value when it is used to calculate your retirement benefit or if you take a refund of your member contributions and interest.  You earn service credit for each month you are reported in a covered position.  Service credit can include credit for prior service you may purchase or additional service granted by your employer.  You can find further information on purchasing prior service here.

Q.  I am enrolled in the Hybrid plan through VRS, would I be eligible for the hazardous duty benefits?

A.  No.  Members who are in eligible positions for the hazardous duty benefits would be enrolled in Plan 1 or Plan 2.  Employees hired after July 1, 2010 are enrolled in Plan 2 with enhanced benefits.

Plan 1 Handbook with Enhanced Benefits

Plan 2 Handbook  with Enhanced Benefits

Q.  Does the County of Accomack have a mandatory retirement age?

A.  Currently, the County of Accomack does not have a mandatory retirement age.  However, there are employers who do have a mandatory retirement age.

Q.  What is the hazardous duty supplement?

A.  The hazardous duty supplement is a dollar amount added to a member's monthly retirement payment.  The supplement begins when you retire and ends when you reach your normal Social Security retirement age. 

The current supplement is $1,187 per month ($14,244 annually)

Q.  How long is the hazardous duty supplement paid?

A.  The hazardous duty supplement begins when the member retires and is paid until you reach normal social Security retirement age for SPORS members and political subdivision employees who are eligible for enhance hazardous duty benefits.  Beneficiaries and survivors are not eligible for the supplement.

Q.  How much is the monthly supplement?

A.  As of November 2019, the current monthly supplement is $1,187.  This supplement is reviewed on a bi-annual basis by the VRS actuary.  Upon review, the supplement amount could increase, decrease or remain the same. 

To monitor the monthly supplement amount you can click here or you can visit www.varetire.org and click the "retirees" tab.  From the drop-down menu choose "Receiving Your Benefit."  On the right-hand side under key topics, chose Hazardous Duty Supplement.   You will find the current monthly supplement at the top of the page.

Q.  Does the purchase of prior service count towards the 20 year requirement for the hazardous duty supplement?

A.  Only certain types of purchased prior service count towards the 20 year requirement for the hazardous duty supplement. Those types are as follows:

  • Prior service credit for refunded SPORS, VaLORS or enhanced duty service with a political subdivision or eligible periods of leave while covered under enhanced hazardous duty benefits, SPORS or VaLORS.
  • Ported service if the period of time ported to VRS represents service as a sworn law enforcement officer comparably hazardous to that of a state police officer, firefighter, emergency medical technician (EMT) or deputy sheriff.
  • Non-covered service, eligible periods of leave and refund periods representing service with a VRS participating employer in a hazardous duty position as a sworn law enforcement officer comparably hazardous to that of a state police officer, firefighter, EMT or deputy sheriff provided the employee is later covered under SPORS, VaLORS or enhanced hazardous duty benefits with a political subdivision.

Other types of prior service, such as active duty military service or hazardous duty service with a non-VRS participating employer, do not count towards eligibility for the supplement.

Members can learn more about purchasing eligible prior service credit by referring to the member handbook or by clicking here.

Q.  Is the supplement paid if a member takes disability retirement?

A.  No.  The supplement is not paid to disability retirees.

Q.  Are there any forms that are required to be completed in order to receive the hazardous duty supplement?

A.  The Certification of Hazardous Duty form (VRS-77) must be completed to certify service in a hazardous duty position with a VRS participating political subdivision and for members covered under VaLORS at some point during their career.

Service Retirement Benefit Multipliers 

Q.  What multiplier is used to calculate the service retirement benefit of a political subdivision employee with enhanced hazardous duty benefits?

A.  As a political subdivision, the County of Accomack has elected to provide its employees who are eligible for enhanced hazardous duty coverage with a service retirement multiplier of 1.7%.  

Q.  What is the multiplier for the sheriff of a locality and for deputy sheriffs?

A.  The County of Accomack has elected to provide the 1.7% multiplier.

Q.  How is the benefit calculated?

A.  There is a formula to calculate your unreduced basic benefit.  The calculation is determined as follows:

Average final compensation X Retirement multiplier X Total years of service credit at retirement = Annual benefit amount

Annual benefit amount / 12 month = Monthly benefit amount before taxes and other deductions

Please note there is a reduction factor that is applied to your monthly benefit amount if you retire with a reduced retirement benefit or a benefit payout option other than the basic benefit.

Q.  How do I determine what my average final compensation is?

A.  Your average final compensation is the average of your 60 consecutive months of highest creditable compensation as a covered employee.

Special Circumstances:  Leaving, Returning or Transferring between Hazardous Duty Positions

Q.  What happens to a member's eligibility for the hazardous duty supplement if the member transfers to a non-hazardous duty position?

A.  If a member has met the requirement of being credited with at least 20 years of hazardous duty prior to assuming the non-hazardous position and the member has not reached the age at which payments would end (age 65 for eligible VaLORS-covered employees and normal Social Security retirement age for employees covered by SPORS or political subdivision employees eligible for enhanced hazardous duty coverage), the member will receive a hazardous duty supplement in addition to a retirement benefit when retiring from a VRS or JRS position.

Example"  John was a state trooper for 23 years when he decided to take a new position with the Department of Education.  When he retires from the Department of Education, he will receive the hazardous duty supplement, provided he has not yet reached his normal Social Security retirement age.

Q. If a member was in a VaLORS-covered position prior to July 1, 2001, and elected to retain the 1.7% multiplier with the hazardous duty supplement, what happens if the member leaves the position and returns to a VaLORS-covered position in the future?

A.  If a member leaves a VaLORS-covered position and then returns after July 1, 2001, the election that the member made prior to July 1, 2001, to retain eligibility for the 1.7% multiplier with the hazardous duty supplement will no longer be valid.  The Code of Virginia states that if a member is hired or rehired in a VaLORS-covered position on or after July 1, 2001, the multiplier in the service retirement calculation will be 2.0% and the member is not eligible for the hazardous duty supplement.

Example:  Lorna was serving in a VaLORS-covered position in early 2001 and elected to retain her 1.7% multiplier and eligibility for the hazardous duty supplement.  She left her position in 2003 for a position with her local school division.  She returned to a VaLORS-covered positions in 2005.  Since she was rehired after July 1, 2001, her retirement benefit will be calculated with a 2.0% multiplier and she will not be eligible for the hazardous duty supplement.

Q.  What happens if a member moves from a SPORS-covered position or a position with a political subdivision that is eligible for enhanced hazardous duty coverage to a VaLORS-covered position?

A.  If a member moves to a VaLORS-covered position after July 1, 2001 and retires under VaLORS provisions, the multiplier used in the service retirement calculation will be 2.0% and the member will not be eligible for the hazardous duty supplement

Example:   Frank, a deputy sheriff with 20 years of hazardous duty service as of 2014, has decided to take a VaLORS-covered position.  He will no longer be eligible for the hazardous duty supplement.  His service retirement benefit will be calculated with the higher 2.0% multiplier.

Q.  What happens if a member transfers from a VaLORS-covered position to one that is covered by SPORS?

A.  If a member moves from a VaLORS-covered position to one covered by SPORS and retires under SPORS provisions, the multiplier used in the service retirement calculation will be 1.85% and service rendered in the VaLORS positions will count towards the 20 year eligibility requirement for the hazardous duty supplement. 

Example:  Juan left his VaLORS-covered position for a state trooper position, covered under SPORS.  If he retires from his SPORS-covered position, his service retirement multiplier will be 1.85% and he will be eligible for the hazardous duty supplement.  His service rendered in a VaLORS-covered position will count towards the 20 year requirement for the supplement.

Q.  What happens if a member moves from a VaLORS-covered position to a position with a political subdivision that is eligible for enhanced hazardous duty coverage?

A.  If a member moves from a VaLORS-covered position  to an eligible position within the County of Accomack and retires with us, the multiplier used in the service retirement calculation will be 1.7%.  Service rendered in the VaLORS position will count towards the 20 year requirement for the hazardous duty supplement.   

Example:  Janice was serving in a VaLORS-covered position when she decided to take a deputy sheriff's position in her county.  Her county has elected to provide its employees in hazardous duty positions with a 1.7% multiplier and a hazardous duty supplement.  When she retires, her retirement benefit will be calculated with a multiplier of 1.7% and she will be eligible for the supplement.  The service rendered in her VaLORS position would count towards meeting the 20 year eligibility requirement for the supplement.

Q.  When a member moves from a VaLORS covered position covered with the 2.0% multiplier and no supplement to a position as a state police officer or a hazardous duty position with a political subdivision providing the supplement, how is the former 2.0% service treated?

A.  The multiplier applied will be 1.7%.  This service will now count toward eligibility for the supplement.

Q.  If a member left a position that became covered under VaLORS prior to October 1, 1999 when VaLORS was created, will that service count toward the supplement?

A.  If the member retires from a SPORS or hazardous duty covered position, the service will be counted toward the hazardous duty supplement.

Resources

It is highly recommended that each employee visit www.myVRS.varetire.org and create an online account.  You will be able to monitor your financial information, view informational videos, read articles and take mini-courses to assist you with budgeting, saving, managing credit and so much more.

VRS website:  www.varetire.org

 

Contact your Human Resources Department at (757) 787-5705 or AskHR@co.accomack.va.us.