State law requires rosters to be filed with the Firefighters’ and Rescue Squad Workers’ Pension Fund (FRSWPF) by the North Carolina Association of Rescue & EMS (NCAREMS) and the North Carolina State Firefighters’ Association (NCSFA) on January 31 of each year. FRSWPF service reported on the rosters is referred to as “roster service.” To receive credit for one year of roster service, eligible squad members and firefighters must meet all FRSWPF requirements including attending 36 hours of training sessions each year and serving the departments or squads for the entire calendar year.
Each department and squad must certify on their respective rosters the names of the squad members and firefighters meeting the requirements. A new squad member or firefighter who performed less than one year of service during 2016 as a result of beginning service on or after February 2016, who meets all FRSWPF requirements, may be reported on the roster and receive a partial year of FRSWPF service credit.
Each department and squad should electronically submit their roster information to their respective associations by mid-January (or as dictated by their association) to be sure their members are included on the rosters the associations will submit to FRSWPF on January 31, 2017.
If your 2016 rosters are not included in the information electronically uploaded to FRSWPF by the Associations on January 31, 2017, members of your squad or department will not receive roster service credit for 2016.
Members Nearing Retirement Age:
FRSWPF staff has been working on “data cleanup” to ensure we have verified all service data for members nearing retirement age by performing service audits for members age 53 and older. If you are approaching retirement age (age 55) and you have been told by your department or squad that you have been “paid in full” (meaning you have paid in contributions for 240 months), please contact our office to verify that you have 240 months of roster service with the FRSWPF. We do not want you to have any surprises when you reach retirement age and apply for monthly benefits.
As part of our “data cleanup” project, we are sending notification letters and retirement applications (Form 6FR) to members we have identified as being eligible for monthly FRSWPF benefits. We sent hundreds of letters to eligible members, but only about half have returned the Form 6FR to our office to apply for FRSWPF benefits. Some members may not realize that, as a result of legislation enacted in 2014, once they are eligible to retire under the FRSWPF, they can apply to receive their monthly FRSWPF benefit and continue to work as a volunteer or paid firefighter and/or rescue squad worker without affecting their FRSWPF benefit. If you are aware of any members of your fire department or rescue squad who may fall into this category, please let them know about this provision.
Removing Members from Turnaround Documents (TADs):
Departments and squads frequently ask us how to remove the names of people from their TADs who are no longer serving their department or squad. Unfortunately, we cannot just remove a name from a TAD without reviewing the member’s
account status. However, you can help us “clean up” this data for future TADs by taking the following actions:
- Please make a copy of your most current TAD and write in the margin if the member has left your unit, died (provide date of death), or is no longer serving and then send the marked-up copy to us via email, fax, or mail. Please send this to us as a separate marked-up TAD. We will review your documents and attempt to contact each person you have marked by sending them a refund form or other applicable correspondence. Once we have verified the status of each member who is no longer serving your unit, we should be able to remove their names from future TADs.
- Please send your marked-up TAD to us separately from the TAD that you send to us with the contributions. Our first priority upon receiving the TAD with the contributions is to post payments submitted on behalf of each member to their individual accounts. Later, using the information on the separate marked-up TAD, we will work on completing account research to “clean up” this data for future TADs.
New Legislation: Line-of-Duty Death Survivor Benefit and Beneficiary Designation Provisions
The North Carolina General Assembly enacted Senate Bill 886 (Session Law 2016-108), which created a new monthly FRSWPF survivorship benefit if the member dies in the line of duty on or after June 1, 2016, and new beneficiary designation provisions effective July 1, 2018, as described below.
Survivor Benefit if line-of-duty death occurs from June 1, 2016 through June 30, 2018:
- The spouse of any firefighter or rescue squad worker who is an active member of FRSWPF at the time the member is killed in the line of duty will receive a monthly survivorship benefit beginning the month following the month the member would have attained age 55, or if the member had already attained age 55, beginning the month following the member’s death.
- If the member is killed in the line of duty and is already receiving a monthly FRSWPF retirement benefit, the spouse will receive a lifetime monthly benefit beginning the month following the member’s death.
- All monthly survivor benefits end at the spouse’s death. No other beneficiaries are eligible for any benefits after the spouse’s death.
- If there is no living spouse at the time of a member’s line-of-duty death, a lump sum payment equal to the member’s remaining contributions will be paid to the member’s estate.
New Beneficiary Designation Provisions Effective July 1, 2018:
Effective July 2018, FRSWPF members will be able to name principal and contingent beneficiaries for their return of contributions due to death, and for the Survivor Benefit if killed in the line of duty. Beneficiary designation forms will be created and posted on our website shortly before July 1, 2018, and emails will be sent at that time to members, departments, and squads advising of the availability of these beneficiary designation forms. A beneficiary designation section will also be added to the FRSWPF enrollment form (Form 350) shortly before July 1, 2018.
If death that is not line of duty occurs on or after July 1, 2018:
- If the member has designated a beneficiary(ies), the beneficiary(ies) will receive a lump sum payment of the member’s remaining contributions.
- If the member has not designated a beneficiary, the spouse will receive a lump sum payment of the member’s remaining contributions.
- If there is no living beneficiary or spouse, a lump sum payment equal to the member’s remaining contributions will be paid to the member’s estate.
Survivor Benefit if line-of-duty death occurs on or after July 1, 2018:
- If a member of FRSWPF is killed in the line of duty on or after July 1, 2018 and has one eligible principal beneficiary living at the time of death, that beneficiary will receive a lifetime monthly survivorship benefit beginning the month following the month the member would have attained age 55, or if the member had already attained age 55, beginning the month following the member’s death.
- If a member of the FRSWPF dies in the line of duty on or after July 1, 2018 and has one eligible principal beneficiary living at the time of death and the member is already in receipt of a monthly FRSWPF benefit, that beneficiary will receive a lifetime monthly survivorship benefit beginning the month following the member’s death.
- All monthly survivor benefits end at the death of the monthly survivor beneficiary. No other beneficiaries are eligible for any benefits after the death of the monthly survivor beneficiary.
- If there is more than one living principal beneficiary or contingent beneficiary(ies) at the time of the member’s line-of-duty death, a lump sum payment equal to the member’s remaining contributions will be paid to the eligible beneficiary(ies), or if there are no eligible beneficiaries, a lump sum payment equal to the member’s remaining contributions will be paid to the member’s estate.
All line-of-duty death benefits are payable contingent on approval from the Industrial Commission as required in Chapter 143, Article 12A of the North Carolina General Statutes and are paid retroactively to the applicable benefit effective date as stated above.
Please let your families know about these benefits and advise them to contact the FRSWPF at your death and provide our office with a certified copy of the Death Certificate. It is also important for you to keep your address current with the FRSWPF office.
Health Care Coverage Available with the State Health Plan on a Fully Contributory Basis
The following persons, their eligible spouses, and eligible dependent children may be eligible for coverage under the State Health Plan on a fully contributory basis (responsible for the full cost of the premium), provided the person seeking coverage as a subscriber is not eligible for another comprehensive group health benefit plan and has been without coverage under a comprehensive group health benefit plan for at least six consecutive months:
- Eligible Firefighters
- Eligible Rescue Squad Workers
- Persons receiving a pension from the FRSWPF
Note: Medicare benefits, Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services (CHAMPUS) benefits, and other Uniformed Services benefits are considered comprehensive group health plans. The State Health Plan may require certification of persons seeking coverage.
If you are interested in applying for coverage under the State Health Plan, please call the State Health Plan staff at 919-814-4400 and ask to speak with Rita Sandoval. If she is not available, her staff will be able to assist you.
Turnaround Documents (TADs)
FRSWPF uses the information reported on the rosters to generate TADs, which are documents that list the names of each certified FRSWPF member currently enrolled under a department or squad. FRSWPF sends TADs to departments and squads in mid-February of each year.
Departments and squads complete the TADs to report information for members who have paid their $10.00 per month contribution and/or to report the monies a department or squad will be submitting to FRSWPF on behalf of their members. The department or squad should complete the TAD and return it to our office along with a check for the entire amount reported on the TAD by the deadline date of March 31, 2017.
Departments and squads can report FRSWPF contributions to our office monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually. However, if contributions are received after the required deadline of March 31, 2017, we cannot accept these contributions and cannot grant FRSWPF service credit for 2016 for the members listed on the TAD.
If contributions for 2016 are not received by FRSWPF by March 31, 2017, then credit for 2016 must be purchased, and our office will send a letter to the department or squad advising of the process for purchasing the 2016 FRSWPF credit. The department or squad will be given the option either to have their check returned or to have it posted for current year FRSWPF contributions.
Important Dates to Ensure FRSWPF Credit for 2016
Mid-January, 2017 – Each unit should submit roster to their Association.
January 31, 2017 – Deadline date for Associations to submit rosters to FRSWPF.
Mid-February, 2017 – FRSWPF will use information from rosters to create Turnaround documents (TADs) which will be sent to all units who properly submitted rosters.
March 31, 2017 – Deadline date for payments and completed TADs to be received by FRSWPF from units in order to credit roster service for 2016.
The History of NC Fire and Rescue Benefits
Firefighters’ and Rescue Squad Workers’ Pension Fund benefits that began in January 1, 1960, required 30 years of service, and were paid as follows from January 1, 1960 through June 30, 1977:
|60 and above||$50|
Effective July 1, 1977, FRSWPF benefits continued to require 30 years of service, and were paid as follows from July 1, 1977 through June 30, 1981.
|60 and above||$55|
Effective July 1, 1981, the FRSWPF statutes changed to allow retirement for all future retirees at age 55 with 20 years of service as an eligible firefighter or rescue squad worker. The monthly amount was increased effective July 1, 1981, to $75 per month for all eligible retirees of the FRSWPF, and has been periodically increased as follows:
|Effective date of retirement||Amount||Effective date of retirement||Amount|
|July 1, 1981||$75||July 1, 2002||$156|
|July 1, 1986||$100||July 1, 2003||$158|
|July 1, 1994||$110||July 1, 2004||$161|
|July 1, 1995||$135||July 1, 2005||$163|
|July 1, 1997||$141||July 1, 2006||$165|
|July 1, 1998||$146||July 1, 2007||$167|
|July 1, 2000||$151||July 1, 2008||$170|