STATE EMPLOYEES
RETIREMENT COMMISSION
COMPTROLLER'S SEAL STATE OF CONNECTICUT 55 ELM STREET
HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT
06106-1775
TELEPHONE: (860) 702-3480
TELEFAX:(860) 702-3489
MEDICAL EXAMINING BOARD
for DISABILITY RETIREMENT
HEALTH CARE COST
CONTAINMENT COMMITTEE
STATE OF CONNECTICUT
RETIREMENT SERVICES DIVISION
OFFICE OF THE STATE COMPTROLLER

RETIREMENT SERVICES DIVISION MEMORANDUM 2009-04

May 26, 2009

TO THE HEADS OF ALL STATE AGENCIES

ATTENTION: All Human Resources and Payroll Officers
SUBJECT: 2009 RETIREMENT INCENTIVE PROGRAM FOR MEMBERS OF THE STATE EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEM

I. INTRODUCTION

On May 15, 2009 the general assembly ratified an agreement between the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) and the State which provides for changes in employee health care and a Retirement Incentive Program (RIP) as well as legislation extending the health care provisions of the SEBAC agreement to employees not included in any prevailing bargaining unit contract and also providing such employees with a RIP. In general, the RIP offers three incentive years of credit (commonly referred to as "chips") to certain members of the State Employees Retirement System (SERS) who retire during a limited window of opportunity.

In that connection, the purpose of this memorandum is to discuss (1) eligibility requirements for participation in the RIP, (2) administration of the RIP provisions, and (3) the manner in which the RIP will be implemented by the Retirement Services Division (Division).

II. ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

The 2009 RIP provides three incentive years of credit to full-time or part-time SERS Tier I, Tier II or Tier IIA members:

For purposes of the RIP:

The 2009 RIP is not available to the following SERS members:

Please note that there are three exceptions to the requirements set forth in this section:

1) The 2009 RIP is available for SERS members who are employees of the Connecticut Lottery Corporation, a quasi-public agency, who were classified state employees at the Division of Special Revenue and meet all other eligibility requirements;

2) the effective date of retirement for state employees on active military duty who meet the eligibility rules for the RIP shall be deferred for not more than 90 days after their discharge from active military service and the extended service may be credited provided the employee purchases such military service credit on or before their deferred retirement date; and

3) the date of retirement under the RIP may be extended to August 1, 2009 for any Judicial Marshal or Supervising Judicial Marshal who needs the additional service to meet the minimum ten (10) year service requirement.

III. ADMINISTRATION OF PROGRAM PROVISIONS

A SERS member who meets the eligibility requirements set forth in Section II of this memorandum will be entitled to three incentive years of credit which will be applied to their retirement service credit.

The additional service credit for the incentive years shall be considered actual full-time state service for all retirement purposes, except for the calculation of salary used to compute the retirement benefit.

Accrued vacation days at the date of retirement will be credited as increased service time. Any employee participating in the RIP will be eligible for payment of accrued sick and vacation days in accordance with existing rules, modified as follows: One-third of the amount owed such employee shall be paid in July 2012, one-third in July of 2013, and one-third in July of 2014. The State may, at its option, make the payment in one installment on or before July 1, 2012 if the amount of the payment is less than $2,000. A higher education unit may, at its option and from its own funds, on a case-by-case basis, make the payment in one installment at any time.

The Division will contact agencies following implementation of the RIP for the purpose of obtaining a final and accurate accounting of the vacation payments due retirees based on the aforementioned schedule.

Important note: if a member participates in the RIP and subsequently reenters state service for more than one hundred and twenty days in a calendar year, the incentive years will be excluded from the calculation of pension benefits when the member next retires.

IV. PROGRAM IMPLEMENTATION

A. Counseling Workshops

The Counseling Unit has developed a multi-dimensional approach to provide state employees contemplating retirement useful information regarding the Retirement Incentive Program (RIP). Agencies are asked to let their employees know about the following tools available to them to help them plan for retirement.

1. Workshops On the Web (WOW)
These are informative "self-help" retirement counseling workshops (by Tier and Hazardous Duty) on the Office of the State Comptroller website. The goal is to provide the same information in this setting that we provide in our traditional counseling sessions. This is not meant to cover every retirement provision or detail. But rather, this is a general explanation of the most important retirement issues and considerations. Links will be provided to relevant forms and outside vendors or entities as necessary.

The workshops are located at: http://www.osc.state.ct.us/empret/indxwork.htm

2. Online Benefit Estimators

Yes - an employee can estimate his or her benefit on line. The employee will be responsible for entering the relevant data (age, length of service, salary, etc.) and the calculator will produce an estimated benefit by option factor. We are still working on it to make it a little more user friendly but wanted to be able to provide agencies and employees with an option at this point in time. Please let employees know that you "navigate" the estimator by use of the TABS at the bottom of the input screen of the on-line benefit estimator.

The benefit estimator is located at: http://www.osc.state.ct.us/empret/indxwork.htm

3. Group Counseling Sessions

Counseling is conducting 24 group counseling workshops for all affected SERS Tier I, Tier II, Tier IIA and Hazardous Duty members from now until June 19, 2009. There are no individual counseling sessions planned or available.

The Retirement Services Division (through DAS) is providing an on-line scheduler for attendance at these sessions - that is - agencies must sign up employees for our group counseling sessions electronically much like an employee can sign up for other courses and training sessions. Sign up for these sessions can only be made through the agency - an individual will not be able to sign up on his or her own for RIP related sessions. Each agency was asked to assign one HR staff member per agency (or for large or decentralized agencies, one HR staff member per region/facility) to serve as a contact for this purpose. See Attachment A for the list of such contacts.

The individuals on this list have been sent the "link" to the group counseling session and information about the scheduling process. If an employee wants to sign up for a session, they must let the agency's listed contact know of their intent to attend such a session. Spouses and significant others generally cannot be accommodated at these counseling sessions except in isolated cases where the Agency determines that a special need exists for such attendance.

a. Program

At each workshop, the agenda will include a general presentation. After this presentation, members from the Division will be present to answer any individual questions at the conclusion of the general portion of the workshop. The Division has also invited representatives from Retiree Health to answer health insurance questions after the general presentation.
Please note that someone from ING is scheduled to attend each session. ARP members may wish to attend sessions to talk to the representative from ING concerning options and choices relating to their ING account(s) as well as for important information relating to retiree health insurance.

b. Employee Instructions

In order for the workshops to achieve the goal for which they were designed, there must be adherence to the following instructions:

1. Employees must attend the specific workshop reserved for them by their Agency through the on-line scheduler.
 
2. Employees must bring with them a print out of their benefit estimate (see below).
 
3. Employees may bring with them if they so desire - material to take notes with including a clip board or other writing surface.
 
c. Benefit Estimates

As noted earlier, we have a web based on-line benefit estimator on the OSC website located at: http://www.osc.state.ct.us/empret/indxwork.htm.  The agency should input the required data and print off an estimate for the attendee to bring to the counseling session.

d. Cancellations or Changes to Sign Ups

If you signed someone up for a group counseling session and the person can't make it, or the person needs to change the date, you must contact Shari Grzyb (DAS) to make the change or cancellation. Her contact information is shari.gryzyb@ct.gov  (860) 713-5176. When you contact her to cancel or change the date, she will need: (a) the Retirement Plan (Tier I, II, IIA or HD) and (b) date of session.

B. Retirement Application Process

Please note that there are new, revised versions of the retirement forms available on the Office of the State Comptroller website at the following link: http://www.osc.state.ct.us/agencies/forms. The new forms should be used in connection with retirements submitted under the RIP.

Attachment B to this memorandum is a Form CO-898, entitled: "Application for Retirement Benefits", which reflects the location where incentive years should be designated. The three incentive years should be added to the Form CO-898, "Application for Retirement Benefits", Part II Service Record section under Length of Credited Service.

As referenced earlier in this memorandum, additional service credit for the incentive years shall be considered actual full-time state service but will have no affect on the calculation of the average salary used to compute the retirement benefit. Accordingly, Part III of the retirement application should be completed routinely, reflecting actual wages earned; to emphasize, the RIP does not provide for projection of wages on account of the incentive years.

Be advised that pursuant to instructions from the Office of Labor Relations, a member's accrued vacation days may not be used to fulfill the member's minimum ten years of actual state service or the minimum twenty years in the case of hazardous duty retirement.

Agencies, that at anytime did not report information to the Automated Personnel System (APS), must provide a salary history specifically indicating all salary amount changes, reasons for such changes and effective dates of such changes. This history must be attached to the retirement application.

As July 1, 2009 approaches, it is anticipated that the volume of retirement applications will increase. The RIP requires that the member's written application for retirement be submitted to the Division before the effective date of retirement.

If an application is received on or after July 1, 2009, its late submission will result in forfeiture of the incentive years, regardless of the member's length of state service. Therefore, it is imperative that all agency personnel staff share responsibilities as fully as possible and assist their employees.

For easy reference, refer to Attachments C, D and E to this memorandum for a summary of the forms and documents required to process a retirement application.

V. CONCLUSION

Due to the limited time frame to apply for the RIP, there will be no employee check enclosure advising employees of this opportunity. Therefore it is your responsibility to inform your agency's employees of the eligibility requirements of the RIP provided in this memorandum.

As you may recall, due to the high level of participation during the 2003 incentive, some members retiring June 1, 2003 received their first retirement check in the second month of their retirement: this check included payment for both June and July 2003. While the Division's objective for 2009 remains to process bona fide applications so that participants receive pension checks in their first month of retirement, due to the anticipated high number of participants there is a possibility that payment of benefits may again be delayed until the member's second month of retirement. Please advise SERS members of this contingency as part of the retirement application process.

Please do not direct employees with inquiries concerning the RIP to the Division's Counseling Services Unit; instead, please share with employees the information contained in this memorandum and assist them in preparing for attendance at a counseling workshop. Agencies that have general questions may contact the Counseling Services Unit between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at (860) 702-3490.

Very truly yours,

STATE EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT COMMISSION
NANCY WYMAN, SECRETARY EX OFFICIO

BY:

Mark E. Ojakian, Deputy Comptroller and Division Director
Retirement Services Division

MEO/jk
Attachments

HR Contacts as of May 26, 2009
CO-898 Application for Retirement Benefits
Attachment "C"  Summary of Forms and Documents Required to Process Retirement Applications
Attachment "D"  INSTRUCTION SHEET RELATING TO DATE OF BIRTH
Attachment "E" STATE EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT COMMISSION PROOF OF BIRTH AFFIDAVIT

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