Final Reminder: Correcting Employer ORBIT Reporting Errors-last time before ABS
The Retirement Systems Employer Reporting team indicates that nearly 70% of state and local employers have at least one error that will prohibit one or more of their employees from receiving their Annual Benefits Statement next year.
To help us provide an accurate ABS for your employees next year, please correct all outstanding ORBIT reporting errors no later than February 5, 2016. If errors are not corrected in a timely manner, your employees may not receive their ABS, or may receive an incorrect statement.
We appreciate your important role and continuing support in providing timely and accurate information about your employees to the Retirement Systems Division through ORBIT reporting.
Reporting Re-hired Retirees in ORBIT
Employers are required to report all re-hired retirees who return to work in the same retirement system from which they retired to the Retirement Systems Division each month. These re-hired retirees should be reported in ORBIT with the appropriate pay period, pay type, plan code, salary and all other applicable fields as defined by the ORBIT file format requirements, via the monthly ORBIT payroll report. For detailed information regarding ORBIT requirements, see the “Government Employers” page on our website at www.myncretirement.com.
If the report is not received by the Retirement Systems Division within 90 days of the end of each month in which a retiree is re-employed, the Retirement Systems Division is required to assess a penalty of 10% of the compensation of the unreported re-employed retiree during the months the employer did not report the re-employed retiree, with a minimum penalty of $25.00.
To help employers report all re-hired retirees and avoid a potential penalty, the Retirement Systems Division created a tool via ORBIT Employer Self-Service to help employers track employees who are returning to work. This tool was designed to assist you in verifying which of your employees are retired and have returned to work, so you will know which re-hired retirees to report to the Retirement Systems Division. To use this tool, you should:
- Access the ORBIT Employer Self Service page and under “Reporting,” click on “Check Retired Status.”
- On a monthly basis, upload a list of employee Social Security numbers.
- Make adjustments, if needed, under the “Check Retired Status” heading.
Your employee list will be compared with the Retirement Systems Division retiree list to generate a report of members who are actively receiving a benefit from the same retirement system. This re-hired retiree list should be reported to the Retirement Systems Division via your monthly ORBIT payroll report.
Statement of Income Forms to be Mailed to Disability Recipients in February
The Retirement Systems Division will mail approximately 13,000 Statement of Income (SOI) forms in February 2016, to members receiving disability benefits from RSD. State law requires each disability benefit recipient to complete and submit a Statement of Income form to report earnings from employment and/or benefits from certain other sources each year to RSD. Any employee failing to return the form by April 1, 2016, may have his/her monthly disability benefit suspended. If the monthly benefit is suspended, any health coverage the benefit recipient was receiving through the State Health Plan, if applicable, will also be suspended. If the benefit is suspended, and we later receive the required information, the monthly benefit may be re-instated retroactively; however, the State Health Plan coverage, if applicable, will not be re-instated retroactively. As a result, an employee may experience a lapse in health coverage, which means the employee may not have health coverage for a month or more.
Re-employment Earnable Allowance Limits Increased for 2016
The Retirement Systems’ Boards of Trustees have increased the amount of compensation a re-employed retiree may earn in 2016. This change is for any retiree who has returned to work with an employer participating in the same retirement system from which the employee retired, but in a position that does not require retirement system membership. The increase, which became effective January 1, 2016, is equivalent to the 0.7% increase in the national Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the period from January 1, 2015, to December 31, 2015.
As provided under North Carolina law, the retiree’s retirement benefit will be suspended on the first day of the month following the month in which the retiree exceeds the limit for the remainder of the calendar year.
For calendar year 2016, the earnable allowance limit is the greater of:
- 50% of the member’s compensation during the 12 months of service before retirement, excluding any termination payments, as increased by the equivalent CPI increase above the 2015 limit, or
These earnings restrictions apply for the 12 months immediately following the effective date of retirement and for each calendar year following the year of retirement.
Health coverage provided to retirees of the Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System under the retiree group of the State Health Plan will also be suspended if the retiree’s retirement benefit is suspended. If the member’s benefit is suspended and later re-instated, his or her State Health Plan retiree group coverage will not be re-instated retroactively. As a result, the member may experience a lapse in health coverage, which means he or she may not have health coverage for a month or more.
Scam Alert - Phony State Treasurer’s Inspector Threatens Arrest
Someone identifying themselves as a “State Treasurer’s Inspector” is calling people in North Carolina and, under the pretense of acting in an official capacity, is trying to get people to provide personal and financial information. The N.C. Department of State Treasurer has reported this scam to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection attorneys, and the AG’s office has issued a Consumer Alert. Please forward this alert to your employees and remind them of the following:
- Scammers will sometimes try to frighten you by pretending to be a law enforcement officer or a government employee. Legitimate law officers and government officials will NEVER call you and threaten to arrest you.
- You can’t rely on Caller ID to determine whether or not a call is official.
- If someone calls you and demands money or personal information, hang up and contact the real agency or business at a number you know to be valid.
Employer Spotlight: Charlotte Housing Authority
After joining LGERS, the Charlotte Housing Authority made a decision to terminate an old pension plan, affecting about 100 active employees. These employees were going to be given the option of cashing out, thus creating a taxable event, or rolling the funds to their NC 457 Plan account or to an IRA of their choice, either of which would preserve the funds’ tax-deferred status.
Knowing that employees may be tempted to cash out the old pension account and incur taxes and possible early withdrawal penalties, CHA worked with their local Retirement Education Manager to create a comprehensive educational plan. Their campaign included multiple rounds of mandatory group meetings, optional individual consultations and targeted participation in a benefit fair. The three-month effort focused on retirement readiness – understanding the benefits of LGERS and the NC 457 Plan and what those plans could provide in retirement, encouraging additional savings and understanding the consequences of early distributions from retirement savings plans.
By the end of the campaign, all of the impacted employees had elected to enroll in the NC 457 Plan. Eighty percent of the group elected to roll about $2.5 million from the old pension plan into their NC 457 Plan, thus continuing to save on a tax-deferred basis and avoiding additional tax liabilities for the year. And almost all of these employees continued to save for retirement by making ongoing personal contributions to the NC 457 Plan.
Seeking Hosts Statewide for Retirement Planning Conferences
The North Carolina Total Retirement Plans is seeking venues capable of seating approximately 200 employees so that we can bring retirement planning conferences to your area.
We conduct retirement conferences for members of the Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System and the Local Governmental Employees’ Retirement System. These conferences include representatives from the NC 401(k), 457, and 403(b) Plans. The conferences provide an orientation for new members, pre-retirement planning information for members closer to retirement, and educational information for personnel officers and others who handle retirement matters. A representative from the State Health Plan will be on hand to answer questions about health coverage for eligible retirees.
Employers interested in hosting retirement planning conferences can email their availability to:
- TSERS conferences begin at 9:30 a.m., unless otherwise noted.
- LGERS conferences begin at 1:30 p.m., unless otherwise noted.
2013 Annual Benefits Statements Available Until March 31, 2016
The North Carolina Total Retirement Systems is preparing 2015 Annual Benefits Statements for active employees who contributed to their retirement system account as of December 31, 2015. In preparation for the new statements, 2013 statements will be permanently removed from ORBIT on March 31, 2016. Please remind your employees to view, download, or print their 2013 ABS if they have not yet done so, as copies of past statements are not retained by the North Carolina Retirement Systems.
Any assistance you can provide to your employees who do not have access to a computer during the course of their workday, such as a centrally-located computer work station or kiosk, is greatly appreciated.
Thank you for your continued support in the monthly reporting process. We will communicate further when ABS statements are posted, along with the accompanying video, user guide, and FAQ.
For Your Information - Upcoming Mailings to Retirees and Benefit Recipients
- 1099-Rs Last week of January
- W-2s Last week of January