Planning for your retirement is important. The County of Accomack participates with the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) to bring our employees retirement plans to assist with planning for the future.
Q. What is the Virginia Retirement System (VRS)?
A. The Virginia Retirement System (VRS) is an independent state agency that administers retirement and other benefits for members of VRS, the State Police Officers' Retirement System (SPORS), the Virginia Law Officers' Retirement System (VaLORS) and the Judicial Retirement System (JRS). Membership is automatic with employment in a covered position. Members include full-time permanent, salaried state employees; public college and university employees and faculty; school division employees; and employees of VRS-participating political subdivisions. Some part-time permanent, salaried state employees also are covered under VRS.
Q. How do I know if my employer offers VRS retirement and other VRS benefits?
A. Employers that provide VRS retirement and other VRS benefit programs include state agencies, public colleges and universities and local public school divisions. Counties, cities, towns, public authorities, commissions and other political subdivisions may elect to participate in VRS on behalf of their employees instead of offering their own plan. Contact your human resource office to find out if your employer participates in VRS.
You can also review the list of VRS Participating Employers.
Q. Are there different plans available through VRS?
A. Yes there are different plans. VRS currently has three (3) plans: Plan 1, Plan 2 and Hybrid
Q. Can I chose the retirement plan I want to enroll in?
A. No you cannot chose the retirement plan. Your date of hire, position and previous VRS status, if applicable, will determine the plan you are enrolled in.
Q. How is it determined what plan I will be enrolled in?
A. The following is the basis in which determines the plan you are enrolled in.
- Plan 1: An employee must have been hired or rehired before July 1, 2010, has at least five (5) years of service credit as of January 1, 2013 and has not taken a refund.
- Plan 1 Enhanced Hazardous Duty: An employee must have been hired or rehired before July 1, 2010, has at least five (5) years of service credit as of January 1, 2013 and has not taken a refund. As an employee of Accomack County, only the following positions are included in the enhanced hazardous duty coverage: Is a full-time salaried, sworn sheriff; full-time salaried, sworn deputy sheriff; jail superintendent; or a full-time salaried, sworn local law enforcement officer, firefighter or emergency medical technician.
- Plan 2: An employee must have been hired or rehired on or after July 1, 2010, does not have at least five (5) of service credit as of January 1, 2013 and has not taken a refund.
- Plan 2 Enhance Hazardous Duty: An employee must have been hired or rehired on or after July 1, 2010, or was hired or rehired before July 1, 2010 and does not have at least five (5) years of service credit as of January 1, 2013 and has not taken a refund. As an employee of Accomack County, only the following positions are included in the enhanced hazardous duty coverage: Is a full-time salaried, sworn sheriff; full-time salaried, sworn deputy sheriff; jail superintendent; or a full-time salaried, sworn local law enforcement officer, firefighter or emergency medical technician.
- Hybrid: Members hired on or after January 1, 2014 and have no previous service credit are eligible to participate. Positions as listed above that are enrolled in the enhanced hazardous duty coverage, are not eligible for participation in the Hybrid plan.
Q. As an employee, can I access my VRS online?
A. Absolutely. Once you are enrolled in VRS we encourage all employees to create an online account. This way you are able to track your retirement, have access to resources, access to forms, informational videos and more.
Hybrid members are able to increase their contributions online.
The links to create an online account with VRS are listed below:
Plan 1 and Plan 2 members: https://www.varetire.org
Please be mindful that VRS updates on a quarterly basis. Any changes made to your account will go into effect quarterly.
Q. What is a defined benefit plan?
A. The defined benefit plan provides a lifetime monthly benefit in retirement based on your age, creditable service and average final compensation. The amount of the benefit is calculated using a formula, not the amount of money in your member contribution account. For more information, see VRS Retirement Plans.
Q. What is creditable service and how does it count towards my retirement?
A. Creditable service includes active service for each month members are working in a covered positions as well as credit for prior service they may purchase or additional service they may be granted. Creditable service counts toward vesting in Plan 1, Plan 2 and both components of the Hybrid Retirement Plan. Creditable service is used to determine members' eligibility for retirement and to calculate their retirement benefit in their defined benefit plan. It also counts towards qualifying for the retiree health insurance credit if offered by the employer.
Q. What does it mean to be vested?
A. Being vested is the minimum length of service need to qualify for retirement if you meet other age and service requirements for your plan, or to receive a full refund of your member contribution account balance if you leave employment and request a refund. You must have five (5) years with VRS to be considered vested.
Q. If I have service in a previous public position, can I get credit for this service in my VRS Plan?
A. If you have service from previous public employment or certain periods of leave, you may be eligible to purchase this service as credit in your plan. Eligible types of prior service include:
- Active duty military service
- Full-time salaried federal or public service other than previous VRS service
- Non-covered service with a VRS-participating employer
- Approved leave for the birth or adoption of a child or approved educational leave
- VRS refunded service
- Workers' compensation leave
- No-cost military leave
- Non-ported service
- Sick leave conversion at retirement if you are eligible
For more information and how to apply, see Purchase of Prior Service.
Q. Can I transfer my VRS service to a non-VRS covered position?
A. If you take a position with a non-VRS participating public Virginia employer with which VRS has a portability agreement, you may elect to transfer your retirement assets in your plan to purchase service credit in the other employer's plan. VRS determines the amount that is eligible for transfer. The employer determines the amount of service credit the transferred assets will purchase in the employer's plan.
If you are coming to a covered position from one of these employers, you may be eligible to buy the previous employer's service as credit to transfer to VRS. VRS will determine how much service your purchase will buy. If you have funds in a defined contribution plan administered by VRS, you may be eligible to transfer these funds to another qualified plan.
For more information about portability, contact your human resource office.
Q. What other benefits does VRS offer?
A. The following are additional benefit that the County of Accomack has opted for employees. Click on the titles for further information.
Q. How do I designate or change my beneficiary?
A. You can designate or change your beneficiary for life insurance benefits as well as member contributions and interest while you are an active or deferred member or after you retire. You can name any living person or entity, such as an eligible trust or charity, as your beneficiary. Submit a Designation of Beneficiary (VRS-2) to the Human Resources Department. Be sure to keep a copy for your records. You will not receive a copy or confirmation of receipt. VRS is required by law to pay benefits according to the latest beneficiary designation in your VRS record. If you need to change your beneficiary, submit a new VRS-2 as soon as possible.
For employees who are enrolled in the Hybrid plan, you will need to update both the Designation of Beneficiary (VRS-2) form and DCP Designation of Beneficiary form. Once completed, both forms need to be turned in to the Human Resources Department for processing.
Q. How do I change my name or address?
A. If you are an active member, log into your myVRS account to update your address. If you've changed your name, notify your human resource office.
If you are a deferred member, submit the Name and Address Declaration for Deferred Members (VRS-3A) to VRS.
Q. How can I give someone access to my VRS record and/or give someone permissions to take actions on my behalf?
A. You can allow one or more individuals to speak to a VRS representative about your VRS benefits and account information by submitting an Authorization to Discuss VRS Account Information (VRS-900). This authorization does not allow the individual(s) to take actions on your behalf.
Note: Individuals you designate under the VRS-900 or the VRS-901 will not have access to your myVRS online account.
Q. How can I request a refund?
A. To request a refund, register or log into your myVRS account and submit an online request. Refunds cannot be processed until you've met the following criteria:
- You must have left your VRS-covered position.
- After separating from your job, you must have a one-calendar-month break in service during a period you would normally work. If you are a teacher in a 9-, 10- or 11-month contract, the full calendar month starts when your retirement contributions were last reported to VRS and must take place during a period you normally would work. Summer breaks or intersession periods do not count toward this break in service.
- Your employer must report your separation to VRS.
Once all criteria have been met, VRS will process your refund via electronic funds transfer in three to five days. You can check the status of your refund through your myVRS account at any point in the process.
Q. How can I learn more about my retirement and other benefits?
A. VRS offers multiple resources so you can learn more about your retirement benefits. Click on the resource below to gain access to additional knowledge.
- Log onto myVRS to review your benefits, member contribution account balance and other information regarding you VRS account.
- VRS offers education and counseling for members at all stages of their careers.
- The VRS Financial Wellness program offers free mini-courses and educational resources through your myVRS account. You can also find financial tips and learning tools on the VRS website.
- Member handbooks are available to print or review online. Click on your plan below to obtain the correct publication.
- Another way to stay up-to-date on your benefits is to subscribe to the online Member News.
Contact your Human Resources Department at (757) 787-5705 or AskHR@co.accomack.va.us.