What is VRS?

VRS stands for Virginia Retirement System. Participation in a VRS plan is automatic with employment in a covered position. Members include full-time permanent, salaried state employees; public college and university employees and faculty; school division employees; and employees of VRS-participating political subdivisions. Some part-time permanent, salaried state employees also are covered under VRS. VRS consists of several different retirement plans. Participation in a particular plan depends on employee type and VRS membership date. VRS Plans available to JMU faculty and staff include: VRS Plan 1, VRS Plan 2, VRS Hybrid Plan, VaLORS Plan 1 and VaLORS Plan 2.

What is "vesting" and when am I vested in VRS?

Vesting is the minimum amount of service needed to qualify for a future retirement benefit, when you meet the age and service requirements for your plan. An individual is vested in their VRS retirement plan when they have at least 5 years of service.

How does my retirement plan work

See “Retirement for Classified Employees”

See “Retirement for Eligible Faculty”

How is my retirement benefit calculated?

The amount of the unreduced retirement benefit is based on a percentage of your average final compensation multiplied by your total years of creditable service at retirement. The percentage is called a retirement multiplier. If you retire with a reduced benefit, VRS will apply an early retirement reduction factor to the benefit you would receive if you retired with an unreduced benefit. 

  • Average Final Compensation = the average of either your highest 60 months (Plan 2 and Hybrid) or 36 months (Plan 1) of salary
  • Retirement Multiplier = 1.7% for VRS Plan 1 members, 1.65% for VRS Plan 2 members or 1% for VRS Hybrid Plan members

What is covered employment?

Covered employment is a full-time permanent, salaried position with an employer that participates in the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) or under an optional retirement plan (ORP) administered by VRS. Some part-time permanent, salaried state positions and non-adjunct faculty positions requiring at least 20 hours, but less than 40 hours a week, also are covered under VRS.

When am I eligible to retire?

Retirement eligibility is based on the VRS Plan you are in. You may qualify for Unreduced (full) or Reduced (Early) retirement benefits.

Virginia Retirement System (VRS) Plan Summary VRS/VaLORS Plan 1 VRS/VaLORS Plan 2 Hybrid Retirement Plan
Normal Retirement Age VRS: Age 65 VRS: Normal Social Security retirement age Defined Benefit is the same as VRS Plan 2
Defined Contribution when you leave employment, is subject to restrictions
VaLORS (Law Enforcement) Hazardous Duty Members Age: 60 Same Same
Earliest unreduced retirement eligibility VRS: Age 65 with at least five years of service credit or age 50 with at least 30 years of service credit VRS: Normal Social Security retirement age with at least five years of service Defined Benefit is the same as VRS Plan 2
Defined Contribution when you leave employment is subject to restrictions
VaLORS (Law Enforcement) Hazardous Duty Members: Age 60 with at least five years of service credit or age 50 with at least 25 years of service credit Same Same
Earliest reduced retirement eligibility VRS: Age 55 with at least five years of service credit or age 50 with at least 10 years of service credit VRS: Age 60 with at least five years of service credit Defined Benefit is the same as VRS Plan 2

What if I leave employment before I am eligible to retire?

Here are your options:

  1. You can take a refund. If you leave covered employment, you are eligible to request a refund of your member contributions and interest. You will receive a full or partial refund of your member contribution account balance depending on whether or not you are vested when you leave your job. Taking a refund cancels your membership and eligibility for any future benefits. If you return to a VRS-covered position, you will be rehired under the currently applicable retirement plan for that position. For more information, see VRS Retirement Plans. Before requesting a refund, read the IRS 402(f) Special Tax Notice 39kb.
  2. You can leave your member contributions with VRS. You have the option of leaving your member contributions with VRS and becoming a deferred member. You may be eligible for a future retirement benefit if you are vested and meet the age and service requirements for your plan. If you are a deferred member and return to covered employment, you will be rehired under your current plan. Be sure to submit the Name and Address Declaration for Deferred Members (VRS-3A) 28kb to human resources before you leave your position.

For more information, visit www.varetire.org

What benefits to I get when I retire?

Retirement benefits may include:

  • an annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA)
  • group life insurance coverage
  • retiree health insurance
  • health insurance credit (retirees with 15+ years of service at retirement)

How will my retirement benefit be paid to me?

VRS pays a monthly retirement benefit via direct deposit into the account of your choice. The amount of the payment is based on a formula and the benefit payout option you choose. When you apply for retirement, you elect how you want to receive your benefit. There are four payout options: the Basic Benefit, Survivor Option, Partial Lump-Sum Option Payment (PLOP) and Advance Pension Option. The option you elect is irrevocable, meaning you cannot change it once you retire with the exception of the Survivor Option under some circumstances. For more information, see www.varetire.org.

What is the PLOP?

If you work at least one year beyond the date you are eligible for an unreduced retirement benefit, you may elect to receive a one-time Partial Lump-Sum Option Payment (PLOP). You may elect up to three times the amount of your annual Basic Benefit. The amount depends on how long you work beyond your eligibility for an unreduced retirement.

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How do I apply for retirement?

  • Schedule to meet with the Retirement Specialist at least 90 days (or more) prior to the date you wish to retire to allow time to complete all necessary paperwork.
  • To begin receiving your benefit payments in a timely manner, submit your retirement application and all required documents and paperwork to your employer at least 60 days, but not more than four months (120 days), before you want to retire. Example: If you wish to retire on July 1, submit your application by May 1.

How do I update/change my beneficiary?

Complete a new VRS-2 Designation of Beneficiary Form and submit it to your Benefits Specialist or Retirement Specialist

What if I have more questions?

Contact Tiffany French, Retirement Specialist

Phone: 540-568-4741

Email: frenchtm@jmu.edu

Schedule a meeting

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