2017 Cost of Living Adjustment
For the North Carolina Retirement Systems, a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) is a periodic adjustment to monthly benefit payments based on such factors as changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), the availability of funds, investment gains, and actuarial experience. In North Carolina, COLAs are granted to retirees only when certain conditions are met, or the NC General Assembly approves a COLA.
for some Frequently Asked Questions about the 2017 COLA.
Attention State Health Plan Members: Dependent Eligibility Verification Audit
The State Health Plan recently announced strategic priorities and benefit changes designed to provide Plan members with stability and predictability in their health plan benefits. These changes also begin the task of lowering the state’s $43 billion in unfunded liabilities for retiree health benefits. Allowing ineligible dependents to participate in the Plan increases the overall cost of our Plan to members and taxpayers. Every dollar going to those who are ineligible is a dollar out of members’ pockets. As an important step towards reducing costs and eliminating waste, the Plan is conducting an audit to verify eligibility of dependents covered by the Plan.
This audit will focus on all subscribers with dependents under the age of 75 as of April 19, 2017. Members will receive a letter by the end of May, with a request to provide documentation of their dependents which will need to be provided by July 31, 2017. Failure to respond and produce the required documentation will result in termination of dependents’ coverage under the Plan effective August 1, 2017. Visit the State Health Plan website for more information.
Redesigned ORBIT Issues
Since the redesign of ORBIT, some members have had trouble logging in, whether they are users who already have accounts, or they are logging into ORBIT for the first time. Once in ORBIT, users are also having trouble with security emails, device registration and forgetting their username or password.
The Retirement Systems has created How To videos
, along with Frequently Asked Questions
, to help our members log into and navigate ORBIT. These videos and FAQs should help answer some of the most common questions and issues our members are encountering in the redesigned environment.
Former Retirement Systems Division Phone Number Possibly Being Used By Scammers
The Retirement Systems Division has been informed that a previous phone number associated with the Division is being used by a company that provides possible misleading information about the opportunity to qualify for a gift card or rebate voucher. Upon dialing the old number, callers are prompted to provide personal information, including credit card information and date of birth, in exchange for the opportunity to qualify for the offer.
This issue has been reported to the N.C. Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Division which is investigating the matter.
The Retirement Systems Division encourages you to be mindful of potential scams and refrain from providing personal information over the phone requested by unauthorized personnel. The updated number for the Retirement Systems Division is 877-NC-SECURE (877-627-3287).
The Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System (TSERS) and the Local Governmental Employees’ Retirement System (LGERS) are defined benefit plans. Defined benefit plans use a formula to calculate monthly retirement benefits once eligibility requirements have been met. Your contributions, your employer’s contributions, and the investment earnings on total contributions pay the cost of providing your retirement benefits. After retirement, cost-of-living adjustments may be granted, but are not guaranteed. The NC Total Retirement Plans has produced an explanation of how and when TSERS and LGERS COLAs are granted. Click here to view the document.
Rehired Retirees Health Coverage May be Affected by Recent Legislation
The North Carolina General Assembly recently approved legislation to create a new category of eligibility under the State Health Plan to enable employing units to avoid tax penalties imposed under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). This new category extends eligibility to non-permanent full-time employees who traditionally have not been eligible for coverage with the State Health Plan. The benefit available to these employees is a high deductible health plan (HDHP). In addition, legislation was also passed that requires employing units to cover re-hired State retirees as active employees and specifies that during the time of their full-time employment, re-hired State retirees are not eligible for retiree health benefit coverage.
Employing units are responsible for determining the eligibility of their employees and for notifying the State Health Plan when a retiree is eligible for coverage with the employing unit. While eligible retirees are not required to enroll in the HDHP, the retiree is no longer eligible for the State Health Plan retiree group coverage under the Retirement System. Upon notice from the employing unit of the retiree’s eligibility as a full-time employee the State Health Plan will terminate the retiree from the State Health Plan retiree group coverage under the Retirement System and will issue a letter to the member confirming the termination.
Any re-hired retiree who enrolled in the HDHP will be offered COBRA, if the individual is no longer eligible for the HDHP. In addition, loss of eligibility is a qualifying life event under the State Health Plan enrollment rules and retirees will have 30 days to re-enroll in their State Health Plan coverage under the Retirement Systems. If they fail to re-enroll within the 30 days, they will be unable to come back on the Plan until the next enrollment period.
Return to Work
Some retirees of the Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System and Local Governmental Employees’ Retirement System will officially retire and later be reemployed. If the retiree returns to work for an employer in the Retirement System from which they retired, certain earnings limitations may apply.
The Retirement Systems prepared the following guidance publications for LGERS and TSERS about the return-to-work laws.
The earnable allowance is the amount the retiree is allowed to earn per year during reemployment, under most circumstances. Please click on the "Educate Yourself" tab in ORBIT
to learn more about reemployment after retirement. Retirees of the Consolidated Judicial Retirement System, Legislative Retirement System, and Registers of Deeds’ Supplemental Pension Fund should contact the Retirement Systems Division to discuss reemployment provisions for their systems.
What to Expect After Retirement