DRS Email 17-004, Reporting Accurate Separation Dates and Using a Retirement Checklist

Notice No.: 17-004 
Date: Feb. 7, 2017
Applies to: All Employers
Subject: DRS Email 17-004, 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 a DRS-covered employer (WAC 415-02-115). This includes substitute positions for school district employees. A member who has not terminated all employment has not separated from service and is not eligible to receive a retirement benefit.

The employee cannot earn compensation after the separation date. The separation date is the last day the employee worked or was on leave such as vacation, administrative or any other type of leave.

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. Many 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 an application online, ideally 30 to 90 days before your retirement date. Sign up for an account at www.drs.wa.gov and request an official benefit estimate to begin the application process. A more detailed checklist of the DRS process is available at http://www.drs.wa.gov/retirement-planning/nearingretirement.htm.

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.