DRS Notice 24-015, Reporting Accurate Separation Dates and Using a Retirement Checklist

Notice: 24-015
Date: 06/26/2024
To: All Employers
Subject: DRS Notice 24-015, Reporting Accurate Separation Dates and Using a Retirement Checklist

Understanding and reporting accurate separation dates for your retiring employees is crucial.

To separate from service means a member has terminated all employment with their employer (WAC 415-02-115). The separation date is the last day the employee worked or was on leave such as vacation, administrative or any other type of leave.

A member is not eligible to retire until the first of the month following the month of separation. Example: a member takes and is paid for a vacation day on June 1 in order to receive benefits from their employer in June. The member does not work the rest of June. The member is not eligible to retire until July 1 because they were on leave in June.

If the employee has an agreement to return to work at a later date, then they have not separated and therefore, are not eligible to retire. Placing your name on a substitute teacher list is not considered an agreement to return to work, however, no offer of employment can be made until the employee has retired. A member who has not terminated employment has not separated from service and is not eligible to receive a retirement benefit.

If a member begins to receive retirement benefits without a valid separation from service, a benefit overpayment will occur and must be repaid to the department.

Many employers provide employees with an exit checklist of suggested or required items they must complete when retiring. DRS appreciates all the work employers do to help employees transition from work to retirement.

If you have a retirement checklist you provide to your soon-to-be retiring employees, please consider adding a bullet regarding creating a DRS online account (if you haven’t done so already). DRS encourages all soon-to-be retirees to apply for retirement online. Some employers still encourage employees to call DRS and request a physical retirement application. We would appreciate your help in getting the word out about our online retirement application and other online services. For your convenience, we have provided some possible language to include in your checklist:

Retirement Systems

If you have not yet done so, create an online account with the Department of Retirement Systems. You can complete a retirement application online, ideally 30 to 90 days before your retirement date. Sign up for an account and request an official benefit estimate to begin the application process. A more detailed checklist of the DRS process is available at DRS: Retirement Planning Checklist (wa.gov).

If you have any questions regarding this notice, contact Employer Support Services at 360-664-7200, option 2, or 800-547-6657, option 6 and then 2; or email us.

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