The Washington State Legislature has not yet approved state operating or capital budgets for the 2017–19 Biennium, which begins July 1. If the Legislature does not enact budgets by June 30, state agencies will have to implement full or partial shutdowns.
While we still expect the budgets to be approved by June 30, the state Department of Retirement Systems has been working with the state Office of Financial Management to develop contingency plans. (See a summary of all state agency plans and related information.) In the unlikely event that a shutdown is necessary, DRS will operate in an extremely limited capacity to maintain legally required obligations.
Below is a list of questions and answers regarding the impact to DRS services if a shutdown occurs.
I am a retiree/retiree’s beneficiary. Will I continue to receive my monthly payment?
Yes. You will continue to receive your benefit. If, however, there are any pending adjustments to your benefit, they might not be processed during a shutdown.
Will my health insurance payments and other deductions continue as part of the monthly retirement payment?
Yes. Current deduction arrangements will continue for the July benefit payment. If, however, there are changes to your current deductions, they might not be processed in time for your July benefit payment.
I recently submitted a retirement application. Will it be processed?
For those with a July 1 retirement date, your application will be processed if it is complete and it has been received by DRS no later than close of business on Friday, June 30. Members with a July 1 retirement date are encouraged to submit their applications as soon as possible.
Will I be able to submit a retirement application during a shutdown?
You will be able to submit an application, but your application might not be processed until normal operations resume.
Can I withdraw my contributions if I’m laid off during a shutdown?
Withdrawals from the retirement plans and the Deferred Compensation Program (DCP) are not permitted for temporary layoffs.
How would a temporary layoff affect my retirement benefit?
Benefits are based upon salary and service. If you work less than the hours required by your system and plan to earn full service credit, you may only receive partial service credit for the month. If you earn less salary, and this month is part of your highest salary averaging period, it could have a slightly negative impact on the average used to calculate your benefit (your Average Final Compensation, or AFC). Unlike the furloughs and temporary salary reductions during the 2009-11 2011-13 biennia, there is currently no AFC protection in place for the upcoming biennium.
I’m planning on attending a DRS Retirement Planning Seminar in July. Will the seminar be available?
The July 8 (Edmonds) and July 22 (Pasco) seminars will be cancelled if a budget is not adopted. Those who have registered will be notified by email (or phone if no email is available). Customers might want to visit the DRS website to see if there are seminars later in the year they could attend.
Will I be able to reach DRS by phone or email if I have questions?
DRS will not be available to respond to your requests by phone or email during a shutdown. However, if you contact us by email we will respond to your request as quickly as we can once normal operations resume.
Will I be able to submit a public disclosure request during a shutdown?
You can submit a request for public records, but we will not be able to process new or pending requests while operations are suspended. If a shutdown occurs, we will post additional information on how public disclosure requests will be processed when operations resume.