Retirement Monitor - December 2020

<p>In this issue:</p> <p>All in a Day&#39;s Work - SOI Forms Will Be Mailed Feb. 2021, Reporting Reminders, 2021 Annual Retirement System Compensation Limits; Online Retirement Application Use on the Rise; Employee Action Needed - Use Personal Email Address in ORBIT; Online Digital Enrollment Experience; 2021 Employer Training; LEO Legislation Updates;</p>

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Table of Contents

Graphic with the Retirement Logo and "All in a Day's Work" in text

 

Statement of Income Forms to be Mailed to Disability Benefit Recipients February 2021

The Retirement Systems Division (RSD) will mail approximately 9,000 Statement of Income (SOI) forms in February 2021 to disability benefit recipients. North Carolina law requires each disability benefit recipient to report earnings from employment and benefits from certain other sources each year to RSD.

Any benefit recipient failing to respond by April 15, 2021, may have his/her monthly disability benefit suspended. If the monthly benefit is suspended, any State Health Plan health coverage the benefit recipient was receiving will also be suspended. If the benefit is suspended, and we later receive the required information, the monthly benefit may be re-instated retroactively; however, the State Health Plan coverage, if applicable, will not be re-instated retroactively. As a result, a benefit recipient may experience a lapse in health coverage for a month or more.

If the requested information is not received in our office by December 1, 2021, his/her monthly disability benefit and State Health Plan coverage will be permanently terminated.

Please inform any employees you have who are receiving disability benefits to be on the lookout for this Statement of Income form and emphasize the importance of completing and returning that form.

Timely Reporting and Invoice Payments

To maintain correct information, it is important that you take time to correct errors in ORBIT. Please respond to your Employer Reporting Team representative promptly so that any issues can be addressed, and necessary adjustments can be processed as soon as possible. As a reminder, employers now have access to their monthly ORBIT Error Reports on our website: 

  1. Log into ORBIT as an employer
     
  2. Under the REPORTING options, select “Report Viewer”
     
  3. Select the “Employer Reporting” report type
     
  4. Select the “Detail Records in Error by Agency and Report Month – Self Service” report
     
  5. Select the “Report Month” and “Report Year
     
  6. The “Exception Type” and “Source of Entry” are auto populated and cannot be changed
     
  7. Select the Export Type which is either “Adobe PDF” or “Excel”
     

You can now check your monthly ORBIT errors as soon as your report has posted. You may save this report and add your response on how to correct the error message, and then email the report to your ORBIT Employer Reporting Team representative. Your representative will correct these records in error status according to your written instructions. If you are not sure who your Employer Reporting Team representative is, or you have other question, please call us at 877-627-3287, and select option 4 from the main menu.

Reporting Names Correctly

If your employee’s name is not reported correctly, the payroll record will go into error status.  

  • Always report the name as it appears on the employee's Social Security card.
  • Always list name segments in the appropriate field. Each of the following have their own field:
    • First Name
    • Middle Name
    • Last Name
    • Suffix

Annual Limits in 2021 for Retirement System Compensation

Federal and state legal limitations on annual compensation for employees in pension plans apply to several North Carolina retirement plans, including the Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System (TSERS), Local Governmental Employees’ Retirement System (LGERS), Consolidated Judicial Retirement System (CJRS), and Optional Retirement Program (ORP). The limitations may be adjusted from year to year according to Section 401(a)(17) of the Internal Revenue Code. The limitations for calendar (tax) year 2021 are as follows:

  • For any member of TSERS, LGERS or CJRS who was hired before January 1, 1996, or an ORP member hired before July 1, 1996, the annual limit on compensation subject to retirement contributions is $430,000 for calendar (tax) year 2021.
  • For any employee hired on and after January 1, 1996, who is a member or becomes a member of TSERS, LGERS, or CJRS, or an ORP member hired on or after July 1, 1996, the annual limit on compensation subject to retirement contributions is $290,000 for calendar (tax) year 2021.

Since an employee’s membership service is credited based on the months when contributions are received by the retirement system, the employer needs to follow certain steps to ensure that a highly compensated employee receives retirement credit for each month of service after exceeding the annual limit.

Reporting TSERS Members:

  • Should be reported through ORBIT Payroll Reporting under the STG plan code from the beginning of the year to the month the member exceeds the annual limit.
  • In the month after the member exceeds the limit, the employee should be reported as STMAX.
  • If the member exceeds the limit in the middle of a month, the monthly salary should be reported as two separate records, one under STG and one under STMAX. The pay period for that month should also be split between the two plan code records.
  • When reporting under STMAX, the salary should be included but no contributions should be reported. Membership service credit is accrued under both plan codes.

Reporting LGERS Members:

  • Should be reported through ORBIT Payroll Reporting under the LOCG plan code from the beginning of the year to the month the member exceeds the annual limit.
  • In the month after the member exceeds the limit, the employee should be reported as LOCMAX.
  • If the member exceeds the limit in the middle of a month, the monthly salary should be reported as two separate records, one under LOCG and one under LOCMAX. The pay period for that month should also be split between the two plan code records.
  • When reporting under LOCMAX, the salary should be included but no contributions should be reported. Membership service credit is accrued under both plan codes.

Reporting ORP Members:

  • Should be reported through ORBIT Payroll Reporting under the ORPG plan code from the beginning of the year to the month the member exceeds the annual limit.
  • In the month after the member exceeds the limit, the employee should be reported as ORPMAX.
  • If the member exceeds the limit in the middle of a month, the monthly salary should be reported as two separate records, one under ORPG and one under ORPMAX. The pay period for that month should also be split between the two plan code records.
  • When reporting under ORPMAX, the salary should be included but no contributions should be reported. Membership service credit is accrued under both plan codes.

If you have any questions regarding employer reporting, please contact the ORBIT Payroll & Reporting Section by e-mail at OER@nctreasurer.com or by phone at 1-877-627-3287.

 

 

Graphic with "Online Retirement Application" on it as well as a quote extolling the virtues of using the online retirement tool.

 

Online Retirement Application Use is on the Rise

We are continuing to see an increase in retirements and online submissions. Members are turning toward the Online Retirement Application for its ease of use, step-by-step process assistance and milestone alerts. The Retirement Systems Division developed this online tool to assist members with the retirement process. We are receiving a lot of positive feedback and want to continue to encourage your staff nearing retirement to use the online system.

We have information about the Online Retirement Application for employers and employees.

The Online Retirement Application is accessed through a member’s ORBIT account. The Retirement Systems Division requires the use of a personal email for members to access ORBIT.

 

 

Graphic showing a laptop on the left and the words "Help Your Employees Maintain Access to ORBIT" next to it

 

Employee Action Needed: Personal Email Address for ORBIT Access

As we continue to improve our channels of communication and service, action may be needed by your employees. If your staff is currently using their work email address to access ORBIT, it is important that action is taken to change this to a personal email address. The Retirement Systems Division requires a PERSONAL email address so that members can receive important notifications, including security verifications, password and username changes, account update and other information.

We have created an employee letter that you can use in communicating this important action to your staff. This is located on the Employer Toolkit webpage.

 

 

Graphic with the words "Online Digital Enrollment Experience" on it and a screenshot of the Supplemental Plans landing page on Prudential's site

 

In September, we enhanced the Plans’ enrollment experience. Those employees who have not yet enrolled or would like to enroll in a new plan are able to conveniently access the process online. Employees can drill down to learn more about the NC 401(k) and NC 457 Plans and the NC 403(b) Program and discover what plans they may be eligible for, populate their enrollment based on their choices and employer and download the forms they need.

 

Graphic withthe words "Employer Training 2021" on it with a graphic representation of email, a book and a clipboard with items checked off on it.

 

Employer Training Series

The Retirement Systems Division is offering a series of Employer Training for Human Resource Personnel, employees assisting in retirement related matters, and employees responsible for ORBIT Payroll Reporting. Training sessions are being held online. Attend a single training or complete all sessions to receive a Certificate of Completion from the NC Retirement Systems. Employers should sign up to attend Employer Training by registering through the Events tab on our website. If you are enrolled and need to reschedule or make a change, please email employertraining@nctreasurer.com.

ALL Employer Training is from 9am – 12pm the second Wednesday of the month.

View a PDF of all dates in the Employer Training Series 2021.

Graphic with the words "Law Enforcement Officer Legislation Updates" and a graphic representation of a male and femail LEO

 

Conner’s Law (SL 2019-228)

Conner’s Law increases the Line-of-Duty Death Benefit to the beneficiary of a covered public safety worker from $100,000 to $200,000 when the covered person is “murdered in the line of duty” as determined by the North Carolina Industrial Commission. This provision is effective as of July 1, 2016.

Separate Insurance Benefit Plan Offerings – Amended (SL 2020-48)

On June 26, 2020, Bill 719 was enacted and included an amendment to the Separate Insurance Benefit Plan Offerings for law enforcement officers. The accident and sickness disability insurance benefit (GS 143-166.60(d)(1)) underwritten by Hartford Life Insurance Company will be discontinued as of December 31, 2020 as it can no longer be offered. Any employees or retirees who opted to participate and have questions about a current claim or policy should call Hartford at 888.232.5340.

Sheriff’s Sick Leave Applied to Service Under Sheriffs’ Supplemental Pension Fund (SSPF) instead of Local Governmental Employees’ Retirement System (LGERS) (SL 2020-29, S6)

Effective October 1, 2020, this law makes permanent the provision that if an eligible sheriff has accrued sick leave as a member of LGERS, after the member and the Department of Justice notify the Retirement Systems Division, the member can elect to have all of that sick leave applied to service under the SSPF. The same sick leave cannot be used for both plans.

2020 Legislation

In 2020, the General Assembly made several changes that affect the Retirement Systems. Click here for a brief explanation of some of the changes with a link to the passed legislation.

 

 

Grahic with the words "Happy Holidays and All the best health and happiness in the New Year" with the Retirement logo and fireworkds going off in the background.

 

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