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Retirement Monitor - A monthly newsletter for public sector human resources and payroll specialists
 December 2016

Happy Holidays from the NC Retirement Systems Division ​​​​

As another year draws to a close, many of you are in the midst of preparations for this holiday season. This is a very special time of year, as it provides many of us with some time to enjoy the company of family and friends. I urge each and every one of you to reflect on these special moments and savor the relationships that we have tried so hard to cultivate over the years. 

On behalf of the nearly 200 employees in the NC Retirement Systems’ Division, we hope this holiday season is an exceptionally good and safe one, and that the New Year brings you much health, happiness and prosperity. 

rm_horizontal_line-blue.png Help Your Employees Update Beneficiaries

Please encourage your employees to visit www.MyNCRetirement.com/beneficiaries for information about how to update their beneficiaries for the NC pension plan, supplemental retirement plans, NC Flex plans, and retiree offerings.


Reminder – TSERS Employer Contribution Rates Increasing January 1, 2017​ 

The Retirement Systems Division originally communicated the employer contribution rates for the 2016-2017 fiscal year to TSERS employers in August. The State Health Plan also recently sent information to TSERS employers regarding the Retiree Health Benefit Fund portion of the employer contribution rates changing in January 2017. The contribution rates will be increasing in January as a result of an increase in the Retiree Health Benefit Fund portion of the contribution rate. Below is a breakdown of the TSERS employer contribution rate for general employees that will be charged for service rendered to the agency after January 1.​

Please keep in mind that the current employer contribution rate of 16.12% for December 2016 must be submitted to the Retirement Systems Division by the fourth business day of January 2017 (no later than January 6, 2017), and the new 16.54% employer contribution rate for January 2017 must be submitted to the Retirement Systems Division by the fourth business day of February 2017 (no later than February 6, 2017). 

Annual Compensation Limits in 2017 for Retirement System Contributions

Federal and state laws impose an annual limit on the amount of compensation that a member can contribute to a qualified retirement plan. These limitations apply to the Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System (TSERS), Local Governmental Employees’ Retirement System (LGERS), Consolidated Judicial Retirement System (CJRS), and Optional Retirement Program (ORP). The limitations may be adjusted from year-to-year according to Section 401(a)(17) of the Internal Revenue Code. The limitations for calendar (tax) year 2017 are as follows: 


  • ​For any member of TSERS, LGERS or CJRS who was hired prior to January 1, 1996, or an ORP member hired prior to July 1, 1996, the annual limit on compensation subject to retirement contributions in calendar (tax) year 2017 is $400,000.
  • For any employee hired on and after January 1, 1996 who is a member or becomes a member of TSERS, LGERS, or CJRS, or an ORP member hired on or after July 1, 1996, the annual limit on compensation subject to retirement contributions in calendar (tax) year 2017 is $270,000.
Since an employee’s membership service is credited based on the months for which contributions are received by the retirement system, the employer needs to follow certain steps to ensure that a highly-compensated employee receives retirement credit for each month of service after exceeding the annual limit.

A general TSERS member should be reported through ORBIT Payroll Reporting under the STG plan code (or LOCG for a general LGERS member) from the beginning of the year to the month the member exceeds the annual limit.
  • In the month after the member exceeds the limit, a general TSERS employee should be reported as STMAX (or LOCMAX for a general LGERS member).
  • If the member exceeds the limit in the middle of a month, the monthly salary should be reported as two separate records, one under STG and one under STMAX for TSERS employees (or LOCG and LOCMAX for LGERS employees). The pay period for that month should also be split between the two plan code records.
  • When reporting under STMAX or LOCMAX, the salary should be included but no contributions should be reported. Membership service credit is accrued under both of these plan codes. 
If you have any questions regarding employer reporting, please contact our ORBIT Payroll Reporting Section by e-mail OER@nctreasurer.com, or by phone at 1-877-627-3287 toll free.

rm_horizontal_line-blue.png Coming Soon: ORBIT Redesign!


On January 7, 2017, the NC Department of State Treasurer will launch its redesigned ORBIT site. ORBIT provides members secure access to their personal retirement account information 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

The new site will have a “responsive” design – meaning it will be easier to access from mobile devices, such as cell phones. The site will also have enhanced security features, to help make members’ personal information more secure. Lastly, the new design will incorporate NC Total Retirement Plans branding to maintain a consistent “look and feel” across RSD websites.

Please note that the Employer ORBIT environment will not be changing. Employers will sign into the new ORBIT, then be directed to the old ORBIT site.

New security features will include:
  • Personal email addresses will now be required to log into ORBIT. Email sharing between members will no longer be allowed.
  • For high-security activities (banking info change, beneficiary info), before members will be allowed to edit the information, they will receive an email from the ORBIT Security Team with a confirmation code they will need to enter before being allowed to make the change.
  • For low-security activities (phone/address change), members will be allowed to edit the information, but will receive an email from the ORBIT Security Team indicating something in their ORBIT account has changed, and the steps to take if they did not initiate the change.

Having a secure access to your information on your preferred device is important to us. We hope you like our new and improved website. We will email you again in January, once the ORBIT redesign is live.


rm_horizontal_line-blue.png NC 403(b) Program Recordkeeping Transition on Track for February 22, 2017

With oversight from the NC Supplemental Retirement Board of Trustees, the Department of State Treasurer is managing the varied details of the upcoming NC 403(b) Program recordkeeping transition from TIAA to Prudential. The Division is coordinating all aspects of the transition, including legal and compliance requirements for plan administration, investment options and fund transfers, and an accompanying communications campaign to keep employers and participants informed. 

Prudential and TIAA are working in close collaboration with each other, and with DST and our Board, to ensure that the transition takes place as smoothly as possible on our planned transition date of February 22, 2017. We will continue to provide information to employers as it relates to your work to effectively administer payroll processing and plan contributions, plan compliance and proper program documentation, data sharing, and other important aspects of your NC 403(b) plan sponsor responsibilities. 

We understand that each school district has unique needs and that some have special arrangements with service providers, as well. It is our goal to communicate any changes to the operational aspects of your responsibilities in a timely, effective manner, and to assist you in any way that you need. Please be on the lookout for articles in this monthly RSD Employer Monitor newsletter and direct email communications from the NC Total Retirement Plans throughout December, January and February. 



The NC ABLE Program Launches January 26, 2017 – Offering People with Disabilities and Their Families the Chance to Save and Invest Without Losing Benefits

The NC ABLE Program, which will allow qualified individuals with disabilities to save up to $14,000 a year in an NC ABLE account without jeopardizing eligibility for federal and/or state-funded means tested benefits, will go live on January 26 at www.nc.savewithable.com

Millions of individuals with disabilities and their families often live below the poverty line as a result of stringent rules limiting savings in order to qualify for support services through federal programs, such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).  Individuals receiving assistance through these and other publicly funded programs are often disqualified from those supports if they have more than $2,000 in “countable” resources, including savings and investments. Now, under the federal Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, by using an NC ABLE account, individuals with disabilities and their families can take a step toward a more secure financial future and help offset the often significant financial challenges that can accompany living with a disability.

The NC ABLE Program, which is open to qualifying individuals nationwide, will provide online enrollment, target risk investment options, electronic fund transfers, and assistance from customer service center personnel. And coming this spring — a debit card feature and a gifting feature that allows friends and family to deposit funds directly into an account holder’s NC ABLE account. 

The NC ABLE Program is one of 13 offered through the National ABLE Alliance, a consortium of member states from across the country who have joined forces to provide high quality state specific ABLE programs at a competitive cost. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for our countdown to the NC ABLE Program Launch! For more information, email nc.able@nctreasurer.com.

rm_horizontal_line-blue.png 2017 Communications Strategies Will Focus on Increasing Enrollments

“Retirement readiness” for all NC public servants continues to be the primary focus of our communications and outreach efforts – working to ensure that all NC public servants can replace 80% of their pre-retirement income for each year throughout their retirement. 

The numbers show it — Nearly 75% of our public servants who are saving on their own in one of the NC Total Retirement Plans supplemental offerings are retirement ready – versus just 50% of those who are not enrolled in either the NC 401(k)/NC 457 Plans or the NC 403(b) Program. In 2017, we’ll place a special focus on reaching out to our public servants who haven’t yet taken that important first step to start saving on their own to help ensure a more secure retirement. As we did during 2016, we will inform all our employers about our campaigns in the “Resources and Outreach Section” of the NC Total Retirement Plans quarterly Employer Newsletter.