Virginia Retirement Service (VRS) COVID-19 Updates and News Bulletin

May 20, 2020

In the latest monthly publication from VRS, the independent state agency provided an overview of its continued and special services related to COVID-19, provisions of the  Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that allow for VRS members experiencing virus-related emergencies to withdraw from certain defined benefits accounts, legislative updates from the 2020 General Assembly session, and other updates.

Though no in-person services are available at VRS offices currently, members and retirees may still access their accounts online or contact VRS via phone. Though recent market volatility has caused great fluctuations, VRS structures its portfolio to minimize the impact of market volatility on its overall investments through a diverse portfolio of assets. A webpage detailing information related to VRS and COVID-19 may be accessed here. 

Under the CARES Act, members of the Commonwealth of Virginia 457 Deferred Compensation Plan, Virginia Cash Match Plan 401(a), and Hybrid 457 Deferred Compensation Plan may make defined contribution withdrawals if meeting the following conditions:

Be diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 or with Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID 2019) by a test approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Have a spouse or dependent be diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 or with Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID 2019) by a test approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Experience adverse financial consequences as a result of being quarantined, furloughed, laid off and/or having work hours reduced, being unable to work due to lack of childcare, closing or reducing hours of a business owned or operated by the individual.

Meet any other factors as determined by the Treasury Secretary.

VRS stresses that withdrawals should generally be considered as a last resort as the long-term economic costs of a withdrawal outweigh the short-term gains. Additional guidance on the process and eligibility may be found here. 

VRS serves more than 723,000 total members, retirees, and beneficiaries and has 459 participating political subdivisions, including 93 counties. The fiduciary net position of the trust fund is $82.3 billion and as based on assets, is the 19th largest among public and private pension systems in the United States. The VRS Board of Directors will next meet on June 11 at 1 p.m. VACo staff plan to attend. An archive of past bulletins and a link to subscribe to future news bulletins can be found here.

VACo Contact: Jeremy R. Bennett

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