ORBIT

Retirement Monitor - January 29, 2021

Friday, January 29, 2021

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Table of Contents

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2021 Contribution Summary Instructions

Please submit the required Employee and Employer contributions via the monthly Contribution Summary Instructions (CSI) by 5:00 p.m. on the 5th business day of the month along with the Monthly ORBIT payroll report. Please refer to the schedule below. Click here for ORBIT Training and Reporting Information. 

Schedule for Submitting 2021 Contribution Summary Instructions 
(NOTE:  Employers can submit their report along with contributions before the “Submit By” date) 
Reporting Cycle: Submit By:
December 2020 Friday, January 8, 2021
January 2021 Friday, February 5
February Friday, March 5
March Thursday, April 8
April Friday, May 7
May Monday, June 7
June Thursday, July 8
July Friday, August 6
August Wednesday, September 8
September Thursday, October 7
October Friday, November 5
November Tuesday, December 7
December Friday, January 7, 2022

The complete report and any contributions due must be submitted no later than 5:00pm EST on the 5th business day of the month. 

 This schedule information is also located on our website at:  

 

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 June 1, 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, may 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 12/01/2021, 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.

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Earnings Allowance Increase for Re-Employed Retirees

The amount of compensation a re-employed retiree may earn in 2021 has increased. This change is for any retiree who has returned to work with an employer participating in the same retirement system from which the employee retired, but in a position that does not require retirement system membership. The increase to $34,800, which became effective January 1, 2021, is equivalent to the 1.4% increase in the national Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the period from December 2019 to December 2020.
 
As provided under North Carolina law, the retiree’s retirement benefit will be suspended on the first day of the month following the month in which the retiree exceeds the limit for the remainder of the calendar year.
 
For calendar year 2021, the earnable allowance limit is the greater of:

  • 50% of the member’s compensation during the 12 months of service before retirement, excluding any termination payments, as increased by the equivalent CPI increase above the 2021 limit, or
  • $34,800

These earnings restrictions apply for the 12 months immediately following the effective date of retirement and for each calendar year following the year of retirement.
 
Return to Work Laws
Re-Employment FAQs

 

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Graphic with "Providing Support and Information: Reporting a Death to the NC Retirement Systems" and a screenshot of the online form to do so

 

During a time of loss and grieving, there are steps that beneficiaries and family members must take to ensure that the law is followed as it relates to member retirement benefits. A full page is dedicated to this topic on myNCRetirement.com. We have an online form to report a death located here

Some recent questions from employers on death and benefits: 

I have a situation where someone with 21 years of service died while still employed but out on sick leave. What options are available for the beneficiary(ies)? 

The Survivor Alternate Benefit (SAB) (G.S. 135-5 (m) and G.S. 128-27(m) provides for a lifetime monthly benefit under Option 2 to a beneficiary, in lieu of a lump sum Return of Contributions (ROC), provided there is only one beneficiary living at the member’s death who is eligible for the ROC and further provided, the member’s death occurs while he is in active service or within 180 days after salary payments cease, and has not retired. The member must have completed 20 years of creditable service without unused sick leave regardless of age or have been age 60 with 5 years of membership service at the time of his death. The SAB is not payable if more than one beneficiary is named for the ROC and the bene(s) are living at the member’s death, or if an Estate or Trust is listed as the bene for the ROC. 

The member has applied for disability and the application has not been reviewed by the medical board. Please tell me about the benefits available if he passes away before his retirement date. 

Provided the member’s death occurs prior to being approved for disability benefits and not retired, the beneficiary may have the option to select either the Survivor Alternate Benefit or Return of Contributions. The member must have completed 20 years of creditable service without unused sick leave regardless of age or have been age 60 with 5 years of membership service at the time of his death. The SAB is not payable if more than one beneficiary is named for the ROC and the bene(s) are living at the member’s death, or if an Estate or Trust is listed as the bene for the ROC. 

The member applies for January 1 retirement date and is required to split retirement with ex-spouse. What happens if the member passes away during the process? 

If the member’s retirement date was January 1st and the Form 6E (Choosing Your Retirement Payment Option) was in our office signed and dated before the member’s date of death, benefits would be paid based on the member’s retirement selection. If the member dies and the retirement forms were not on file, the member's beneficiary on file currently may elect to receive a monthly benefit or a return of the contributions in a lump sum payment. The Domestic Relations Order will include specific instructions as to what benefits are payable to the non-member ex-spouse and would be reviewed on an  individual basis. This review would be completed as a pre-approval process if sent to the Retirement Systems Division upon its completion or if provided at the time of retirement or the member’s passing. However, the Domestic Relations Order is required to follow the Model Order provided on our website and may not be administrable if it has not been pre-approved by the Retirement Systems Division. 

 

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Peak Retirement Season is Coming 

We are entering the time of year when the N.C. Retirement Systems Division receives an increased number of retirement applications. We make every effort to process retirement applications as quickly as possible. 

Encourage your employees to use the NC Retirement Systems online retirement feature in ORBIT. No more filling in multiple forms by hand or waiting for the Retirement Systems Division to receive retirement paperwork by mail. The online application offers a step-by-step guide to move members through the process, integrated videos, examples and links available on screen at critical decision-making points and built-in pension rules that prevent delays in the processing of retirement applications. Click here for employer information on how to help your employees transition to retirement smoothly using our online retirement tool. 

Graphic with a Member Services' employee and the words "Within 120 days of your selected retirement date, you can start the Online Retirement Application" and a screenshot of the Online Retirement screen in ORBITAs the retirement season gets underway, there is an increase in the number of calls to the Retirement Systems Division. Wait times grow significantly during this busy season with wait times of 10+ minutes before a counselor is able to assist. We know how precious time is and we have created tools to help you, as well as your employees, find the information you need in a timely manner. 

Automated phone system – access your ORBIT information 7 days a week, 24 hours a day at 1-877-627-3287. We encourage eligible members to use the Call Back Assist feature during high call volume times. 

And click here for resources about our online retirement tool for your employees nearing retirement. 

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Graphic with the words "The NC Supplemental plans make a difference!" and people holding hands

 

 

 

 

 

 

NC Supplemental Retirement Plans (NC 401(k) Plan, NC 457 Plan and NC 403(b) Program) Eligibility for Part Time Employees 

The SECURE Act, which was enacted in December 2019, expanded 401(k) plan eligibility for part-time workers. Part-time employees who work at least 500 hours per year for three consecutive years, starting on January 1, 2021, are eligible to participate in the NC 401(k) Plans. While the earliest that a part-time employee could begin participating in the NC 401(k) Plan is January 1, 2024, participating employers in the NC 401(k) Plan must begin tracking the hours of their part-time employees – and retaining records of those hours for at least three years – beginning January 1, 2021. We will provide additional information on the implementation of this new eligibility requirement, but for now, employers should begin tracking part-time hours if they are not doing so already. 

Good News! Plan recordkeeping fees were reduced effective Jan. 1, 2021 

Our strong and collaborative relationship with Prudential Retirement® has resulted in an annual recordkeeping fee reduction for participants in the NC 401(k) Plan, the NC 457 Plan, and the NC 403(b) Program — from $31 to $28, per plan account.  That represents a total savings of nearly $1 million per year for Plan participants! 

When it comes to planning for the future, it’s important to keep in mind that these plans are designed to help you help your employees achieve a secure retirement with key features that include: 

  • Thorough investment oversight 

  • Paying less for diverse, strong-performing investments* 

  • Ease of investment selection using GoalMaker® 

  • Personalized support 

  • Tools and resources, such as the Retirement Income Calculator (RIC) 

As always, the plans’ website NCPlans.prudential.com has plan-related information, tools and resources. 

NC Plans Employer Webpage: https://ncplans.retirepru.com/employer.html 

NC Plans Digital Enrollment Experience for new and current employees: https://ncplans.retirepru.com/enrollment.html 

* Source: BenchmarkDC Executive Summary for North Carolina Supplemental Retirement Plans (for the five years ending Dec. 31, 2018), CEM Benchmarking, Inc., located at myNCRetirement.com > Governance > Boards of Trustees and  Committees > Boards and Committees Meeting Archives > Supplemental Retirement Board of Trustees Meeting - 09/19/2019. 

 

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"Understanding Medical Plan Options When You Become Medicare-Eligible" Webinars Begin This Month! 

Beginning January 26, 2021, the State Health Plan will offer online webinars with important information on “Understanding Medical Plan Options When You Become Medicare-Eligible.” 

These popular, free webinars are designed for active employees who will soon be 65, are already 65 or older, and retirees getting ready to turn 65. Webinars are scheduled through August 2021. Each webinar lasts approximately 2 hours and will explain important information regarding Medicare, retirement health benefit options and offer the opportunity to ask questions. Visit the Plan's website to register for one of the online events. 

1095 Tax Form Breakdown for Employees 

1095 is a tax document. It includes information needed to report on a tax return and is for records purposes only and not needed for submission.  This form is not needed to submit the tax return. It is supporting documentation to keep with personal tax records. 

  • In general, if the person has a 1095 and has a question, they should call the contact number listed on the 1095.  This will either be their HR department or the Benefitfocus call center if an active employee, depending on what the employer decided to list.  For retirees, the contact number on the 1095 will be the State Health Plan.  

  • If they do not have a 1095 and are looking for a copy then they should call their HBR, unless they are a retiree. 

State Health Plan

Retiree health questions should be directed to the State Health Plan, including eligibility and coverage questions.

Eligibility and Enrollment Support Center: 855-859-0966

Email: ppo.inquiries@nctreasurer.com

Websites:

SHPNC.org

SHPNC Retiree Benefits

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February Events

Employer Training

9:00 – 11:30 

 

February 10 

LGERS General Information Series Part 1  This event will be simulcast Live online, Click here to register for the simulcast: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3203270307940907277 

To view and register for upcoming Employer Training, click here

Member Retirement Planning Webinars

9:30 – 11:30 

 

February 1 

 

February 15 

TSERS Retirement Planning Webinar This event will be simulcast Live online, Click here to register for the simulcast: https://register.gotowebinar.com/rt/4655301857473325325 

1:30 – 3:30 

 

February 1 

 

February 15 

LGERS Retirement Planning Webinar  This event will be simulcast Live online, Click here to register for the simulcast: https://register.gotowebinar.com/rt/139179892175009040 

11:30 – 1:00 

 

February 3 

 

February 10 

 

February 17 

 

February 24  

Total Retirement Planning Conference

This event will be simulcast Live online, Click here to register for the simulcast: 

To view and register for upcoming member retirement events, click here

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Screenshot of Press Release Header: State Pension Plan Hits Record $114.9 Billion Despite Pandemic's Market Disruption

 

Despite economic upheaval, massive job losses, business shutdowns and uncertainty in the investment market throughout 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state pension plan achieved a record $114.9 billion valuation entering 2021. 

The $114.9 billion estimated market value on Dec. 31 – even after paying out more than $6.5 billion in gross benefits -- showed a $9.3 billion gain over the Dec. 31, 2019, value of $105.6 billion. The earnings were $20.7 billion above the 2018 year-end figure of $94.2 billion. The 2020 figures could change slightly, depending on official results from the monthly auditing process that should be concluded by the end of this month. 

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“We are in the check delivery business, sending out more than $551 million every month to more than 336,000 retirees who can count on us to keep the money coming,” Treasurer Folwell said. 

Read the full press release here