Recent Changes in VRS Benefits
The VRS benefit structure has become increasingly competitive and generous, and also more complex. While a few entirely new benefits have been added, such as the retiree health insurance credit and the optional life insurance program, most of the changes in the benefit structure have resulted from modifications of existing benefits. For example:
- Age and service requirements for receipt of an unreduced pension benefit were lowered in 1987, 1990, and 1999.
- Benefit formulas and multipliers for service and disability retirement were significantly revised in 1990 and 1999.
- The ability of employees to purchase additional service credit was increased several times throughout the 1980's and 1990's and further modified in 2001.
- Eligibility for early retirement, with a reduced benefit, was expanded in 1995.
- The retiree health insurance credit for teachers was made mandatory, with the cost paid by the State, effective July 1, 1998.
- The Virginia Sickness and Disability Program (VSDP) for state employees was established in January 1999.
- Beginning March 1, 2002, VSDP participants were granted a standard amount of long-term care insurance at no cost to the employee.
- The Advance Pension Option, and new retirement option became effective in July 2003.
The 1999 General Assembly passed legislation which significantly increases the competitiveness of VRS' retirement benefits, and which reduces the age requirement for unreduced benefits with 30 years of service. Effective July 1, 1999, State employees and teachers are eligible to retire with unreduced benefits with 30 years of service at age 50, instead of at age 55. Local political subdivisions have the option of providing this enhanced benefit.
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