Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 51.1. Pensions, Benefits, and Retirement
Chapter 1. Virginia Retirement System
9/17/2021

Article 5. Participation of Political Subdivisions in Retirement System.

§ 51.1-130. Resolution of governing body; approval by Board.

A. The governing body of a political subdivision may adopt a resolution requesting that its eligible employees become members of the retirement system. The governing body's resolution shall be submitted to the Board for approval, and acceptance of the employees in the retirement system shall be at the option of the Board. If the Board approves the resolution, eligible employees may become members of the retirement system. The Board shall not approve the resolution unless the political subdivision has first entered into a plan of agreement, as defined in § 51.1-700, to extend benefits under the Social Security Act to its employees approved under the provisions of § 51.1-705.

B. The governing body of any political subdivision approved for participation in the retirement system pursuant to subsection A may adopt a resolution that provides, on or after October 1, 1994, an additional retirement allowance not to exceed three percent of the applicable service or disability retirement allowances payable under § 51.1-155, 51.1-157, 51.1-206, 51.1-306, or 51.1-308.

1952, c. 157, § 51-111.31; 1954, c. 241; 1958, c. 367; 1960, c. 400; 1973, c. 523; 1974, c. 353; 1975, c. 296; 1976, c. 581; 1977, c. 620; 1990, c. 832; 1994, 1st Sp. Sess., c. 5; 2005, c. 902.

§ 51.1-131. Local pension systems; transfer to retirement system.

The members of any annuity fund, benevolent association, or retirement system of any political subdivision, hereafter referred to as a local pension system, may elect to become members of the retirement system by submitting to the Board a petition duly signed by a majority of the members. The Board may approve the participation of such members in the retirement system as though the local pension system was not in operation, and the provisions of this article shall thereupon apply. Existing pensioners or annuitants of the local pension system who are being paid pensions on the effective date of coverage and former employees whose rights are vested may retain their rights under the local pension system and be paid at their existing rates by the retirement system. After the local pension system is discontinued, the rates may be increased by all future percentage increases which are granted to beneficiaries retired under the provisions of this chapter.

If deemed practicable by the Board, any cash and securities credited to the local pension system shall be transferred to the retirement system as of the effective date of coverage. The administrative head of the local pension system shall certify the proportion of the funds of the system that represents the accumulated contributions and the relative shares of the members. If appropriate, the accumulated contributions and shares shall be credited to the individual accounts of the members in the members' contribution account. The operation of the local pension system shall be discontinued as of the effective date of coverage.

If the Board determines that the transfer of funds is not practicable, the Board may enter into an agreement with the employer to coordinate any benefits payable under this chapter with any vested benefits payable under the discontinued local system.

1952, c. 157, § 51-111.34; 1960, c. 604; 1973, c. 523; 1976, c. 654; 1978, c. 841; 1990, c. 832.

§ 51.1-132. Eligible employees.

Officers and employees of the political subdivision who are regularly employed full time on a salaried basis and whose tenure is not restricted as to temporary or provisional appointment may become members of the retirement system. Clerks of the circuit court and deputies shall be included in the coverage group. Officers and employees of an organization other than a public school board that functions solely within the boundaries of a county, city, or town shall be deemed to be officers and employees of the county, city, or town, and not of the organization, unless the cost of the organization's operation is borne by (i) the users of services, (ii) more than one county, city, or town, or (iii) any entity other than a county, city, or town.

A member of a local system who, through election to a position as a constitutional officer, is no longer eligible for membership in the local system, and who, prior to such election, has accumulated within that system more than half the total service credits necessary to become eligible for full normal retirement benefits, may choose, with the concurrence of the local governing body, (i) not to participate in the retirement system established pursuant to this chapter and (ii) to become a member of the local system. In such case, the member shall be deemed, for retirement purposes only, to have ceased employment, and shall be permitted to withdraw his contribution as provided in § 51.1-161.

1952, c. 157, § 51-111.31; 1954, c. 241; 1958, c. 367; 1960, c. 400; 1973, c. 523; 1974, c. 353; 1975, c. 296; 1976, c. 581; 1977, c. 620; 1990, c. 832; 1994, c. 883.

§ 51.1-133. Limitation on membership.

Employees who are members of any retirement, pension, or benefit fund partially or wholly supported by public funds shall not be entitled to become members of the retirement system on that part of their compensation covered by the fund except as provided under this article.

1952, c. 157, § 51-111.31; 1954, c. 241; 1958, c. 367; 1960, c. 400; 1973, c. 523; 1974, c. 353; 1975, c. 296; 1976, c. 581; 1977, c. 620; 1990, c. 832.

§ 51.1-134. Optional membership; creditable service.

Membership in the retirement system for eligible employees in service on the date of coverage shall be optional. Any employee who elects to join the retirement system within one calendar year after the date of coverage shall be entitled to credit for service rendered prior to the date of coverage as certified by his employer for service rendered to the employer, his predecessor, the Commonwealth, or in any other capacity approved by the employer and the Board.

1952, c. 157, § 51-111.32; 1960, c. 400; 1974, c. 353; 1990, c. 832.

§ 51.1-135. Compulsory membership.

Membership in the retirement system shall be compulsory for all eligible employees who enter service after the effective date of coverage. For purposes of this section, "membership in the retirement system" includes an eligible employee's participation in the hybrid retirement program pursuant to § 51.1-169.

1952, c. 157, § 51-111.33; 1960, c. 400; 1978, c. 841; 1987, c. 575; 1990, c. 832; 2012, cc. 701, 823.

§ 51.1-136. Submitting information and performing duties prescribed by Board.

The chief fiscal officer of the employer and the heads of its departments shall submit information and perform duties prescribed by the Board in order to carry out the provisions of this chapter.

1952, c. 157, § 51-111.35; 1990, c. 832.

§ 51.1-137. Computation of employer contribution rates; reimbursement by Commonwealth.

A. At least once in each two-year period, the actuary of the retirement system shall compute the annual rates of contributions payable by the employer on behalf of employees who are members. The rates shall be determined by an actuarial valuation of the retirement allowances and other benefits which will be payable on behalf of the employees who are members. The contributions shall be payable in lieu of contributions payable on behalf of other members in the system. The expense of making initial and subsequent valuations shall be assessed against and paid by the employer.

B. In the case of contributions payable by the employer on behalf of any local officer, the Commonwealth shall reimburse the employer on the basis on which the Commonwealth pays the salaries of the officer or shares or would share in the excess fees from the office. Payment shall be made from funds appropriated for this purpose.

1952, c. 157, § 51-111.36; 1956, c. 560; 1958, c. 367; 1974, c. 353; 1982, c. 443; 1984, c. 430; 1990, c. 832.

§ 51.1-137.1. Certain local data to be provided.

In addition to the annual actuarial evaluation currently provided to participating localities by the Virginia Retirement System, VRS annually shall provide each participating locality the locality-specific data on which the annual actuarial evaluation is based, and such other information as may be necessary for each locality to determine the specific assumptions that are driving its VRS-related costs, and to understand the retirement costs of different classes of covered employees. The Virginia Retirement System is authorized to assess fees for data collection, reporting, actuarial analysis, and other requested services beyond those required for the annual actuarial valuation provided to each participating employer. Such fees may be collected from funds maintained and invested by the Virginia Retirement System on behalf of each requesting employer.

2007, c. 466.

§ 51.1-138. Benefits.

A. Employees who become members under this article and on whose behalf contributions are paid as provided in this article shall be entitled to benefits under the retirement system.

B. By resolution legally adopted and approved by the Board, the employer may elect to provide benefits equivalent to those provided under the State Police Officers' Retirement System, as set out in Chapter 2 (§ 51.1-200 et seq.) of this title except for § 51.1-209, and except that the employer may elect to establish the retirement allowance pursuant to the allowance provided in clause (i) or (ii) in subsection A of § 51.1-206, in lieu of the benefits that would otherwise be provided hereunder for any employees who are employed in (i) law-enforcement positions comparably hazardous to that of a state police officer, including any sworn law-enforcement officer who has the duty and obligation to enforce the penal and traffic laws of this Commonwealth as directed by his superior officer, if so certified by his appointing authority, (ii) positions as full-time salaried fire fighters, (iii) positions as full-time salaried emergency medical technicians, or (iv) positions as regional jail superintendents and jail officers of regional jail farms, regional jails or jail authorities, as approved by the respective jail board or authority and by the participating political subdivisions of such entities. Sheriffs of political subdivisions and superintendents of regional jails which participate in the retirement system shall receive benefits equivalent to those of state police officers, except for the benefits provided under § 51.1-209, regardless of whether the employer has elected to provide equivalent benefits as set out in this subsection.

C. Each employer providing the benefits of subsection B for its employees prior to July 1, 1990, may elect to provide for the early retirement of employees as set forth in this subsection in lieu of the early retirement and death before retirement provisions of the State Police Officers' Retirement System. Such election must be made to the Board in writing prior to July 1, 1990. Any member in service on or after his fifty-fifth birthday with five or more years of creditable service (i) while earning the benefits permitted by this section, (ii) as a member in the retirement system established by Chapter 2 (§ 51.1-200 et seq.) of this title, or (iii) as a member in the retirement system established by Chapter 2.1 (§ 51.1-211 et seq.) of this title may retire upon written notification to the Board setting forth at what time the retirement is to become effective. The effective date shall be after his last day of service but shall not be more than 90 days prior to the filing of such notice. The member shall receive an allowance that shall be determined in the same manner as for retirement at an employee's normal retirement with creditable service and average final compensation being determined as of the date of his actual retirement. If the member has less than 30 years of service at retirement, the amount of the retirement allowance shall be reduced on an actuarial equivalent basis for the period by which the actual retirement date precedes the earlier of (a) the member's normal retirement date or (b) the first date on or after the member's fifty-fifth birthday on which the member would have completed a total of 30 years of creditable service. Effective December 31, 2003, any employee in service on June 30, 2002, and July 1, 2002, who is credited with five or more years of creditable service rendered under this chapter and earning the benefits permitted by this section, Chapter 2 (§ 51.1-200 et seq.), or Chapter 2.1 (§ 51.1-211 et seq.) of this title shall not be subject to the vesting requirements of this section, and §§ 51.1-205 and 51.1-216.

Members retiring under the provisions of this subsection shall be entitled to receive post-retirement supplements as provided in § 51.1-166. In computing the amount of any supplement, any additional allowances being paid under the provisions of subsection B of § 51.1-206 shall be disregarded. In the case of death before retirement, members whose employers elect to provide benefits in accordance with the provisions of this subsection and who have not attained the age of 50 on the date of death shall be assumed to be 50 years of age for the purposes of reducing the benefits on an actuarial equivalent basis.

D. Beginning July 1, 2008, each county and city participating in the Virginia Retirement System shall provide the benefit coverage described in subsection B to each deputy sheriff, regardless of whether the deputy sheriff's salary is funded or reimbursed in whole or in part by the Compensation Board.

E. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection C, beginning July 1, 2009, the City of Danville shall provide to each deputy sheriff the benefit coverage described in subsection B.

F. Beginning July 1, 2009, each regional jail board and regional jail authority participating in the Virginia Retirement System and each county and city participating in such board or authority shall provide the benefit coverage described in subsection B to each sworn officer of a regional jail, regardless of whether the regional jail officer's salary is funded or reimbursed in whole or in part by the State Compensation Board.

G. Beginning July 1, 2010, any county or city that (i) participates in the Virginia Retirement System pursuant to Chapter 1 (§ 51.1-124.1 et seq.), (ii) has in effect a retirement supplement for deputy sheriffs (in addition to the annual retirement allowance provided under the Virginia Retirement System) that exceeds the allowance set forth in subsection B of § 51.1-206 hereof, and (iii) provides the same level of retirement benefits to all of its deputy sheriffs, may, by resolution legally adopted, elect to provide the benefits coverage under subsection B hereof except for the allowance described in subsection B of § 51.1-206. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the additional costs of such election shall be borne solely by such county or city.

H. If an employee (i) is in a position covered by the additional benefits under this section for at least five years, (ii) is separated from the position because of a disability that entitles him to the disability retirement benefits pursuant to § 51.1-156, and (iii) accepts a position with the same employer that is not covered by the benefits under this section but whose salary and benefits are not less than those of the position from which he is separated, then, at the sole discretion of the employer, the employee may continue to be covered under the benefits permitted by this section in his new position.

I. The retirement system shall not be liable for the payment of any retirement allowances or other benefits on behalf of a member or beneficiary of a member for which reserves have not been previously created from funds contributed by the employer or the members for such benefits.

1952, c. 157, § 51-111.37; 1970, c. 476; 1972, c. 568; 1974, c. 353; 1975, c. 597; 1976, c. 654; 1977, cc. 326, 620; 1989, c. 484; 1990, c. 832; 1991, c. 719; 1999, c. 596; 2002, c. 466; 2004, c. 83; 2006, cc. 65, 388; 2007, c. 819; 2009, cc. 6, 91, 282; 2010, c. 745; 2012, c. 423.

§ 51.1-139. Procedure when employer in default.

An employer's agreement to contribute on behalf of its employees who become members shall be irrevocable. If an employer for any reason becomes financially unable to make the contributions payable on behalf of the members, the employer shall be deemed to be in default and the employees' membership in the Retirement System shall be terminated. As of the date of the default, (i) each member or beneficiary whose coverage under the Retirement System is affected by such default shall become fully vested, (ii) the actuary of the Retirement System shall determine by actuarial valuation the amount of the reserves held on behalf of each then member and each then beneficiary, and (iii) the Retirement System shall credit to each member and each beneficiary the amount of reserve so held. The reserve so credited together with the amount of the accumulated contributions of each member, shall be disbursed in a manner prescribed by the Board consistent with the applicable tax qualification rules of the Internal Revenue Code, whereupon the rights and privileges of the members and beneficiaries shall terminate.

1952, c. 157, § 51-111.38; 1960, c. 604; 1986, c. 474; 1990, c. 832; 2004, c. 207.