DRS Email 16-018, Retirement Reminders

Notice No.: 16-018
Date: Dec. 12, 2016
Applies to: All Employers
Subject: DRS Email 16-018, Retirement Reminders

Listed below are a few reminders to help you accurately report to DRS.

First, there are many steps to the Plan Choice process and it is easy to miss one. Simply mailing the Member Information Form (MIF) to DRS does not record the member’s choice. You must send the Plan Choice information through the retirement transmittal to record the member’s choice. We have documented the process below.

Plan Choice

As you may know, new public employees to PERS, SERS and TRS have 90 days to make an irrevocable choice between Plan 2 and Plan 3. Timely and accurate reporting is imperative. The following tips will help you meet these goals:

1. Document that you have provided the employee with the Plan Choice Booklet.

  • Here is a sample letter you can use to document the date you provided the Plan Choice information to the employee.
  • Consider requiring each new employee to sign and date a statement stating they have received the plan choice information and they must return the Member Information Form to their employer within 90 days.

2. Ideally, the plan choice information should be provided to the employee on their first day of eligible employment.

  • The MIF should not be signed and dated (Plan Choice Date) before the employee’s first day of retirement-eligible employment.
    • If it is not provided until after the first day of retirement-eligible employment, you must contact Employer Support Services (ESS) so we can change our system to reflect the correct start of the 90-day plan choice window.
    • If it is provided before the “official” start date of employment at a new employee orientation or training, ensure the MIF is signed and dated on or after the start date.

3. Complete Section 5 of the MIF after you receive it from the employee.

  • If you complete this section after the employee has completed their part, DRS knows you have seen the form. If this section is blank, we know the member probably mailed it to us in error.

4. Plan Choice must be reported through your transmittal for all new members.

  • Mail the original signed form to DRS after you have entered the choice information on your transmittal.
  • If the employee does not make a choice within the 90-day choice window, submit the default information through the retirement transmittal.
  • To officially record the plan choice for your employee, submit the plan choice code and date through the retirement transmittal.

Correcting Plan 3 errors can also be tricky. Please review to ensure you are fixing errors appropriately.

Plan 3 reporting errors

For every Plan 3 member you report, there are two separate records:

  • The Defined Benefit record contains the earning period, compensation, hours and employer contributions.
  • The Defined Contribution record contains the member contributions, rate option and investment program.

The system edits these records separately and will sometimes reject the defined benefit record, but accept the defined contribution record. When you use WBET to correct a rejected transaction, WBET will automatically calculate both member and employer contributions. If the member contributions did not reject, you must delete them from the earning record before you submit the report.

Finally, make sure you collect in writing the Retirement Status of every new employee.

Retirement Status Verification

RCW 41.50.139 requires employers to obtain, in writing, the retirement status of all new employees. Employers can document retirement status through their own processes or by using the Retirement Status Verification form. Employers retain this form for 60 years.

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.