Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
Title 51.1. Pensions, Benefits, and Retirement
8/6/2020

Chapter 3. Judicial Retirement System.

§ 51.1-300. Judicial Retirement System continued; administration; application of provisions of Virginia Retirement System.

The Judicial Retirement System is continued and shall be administered by the Board of Trustees of the Virginia Retirement System. Except as otherwise provided, the provisions of Chapter 1 (§ 51.1-124.1 et seq.) of this title shall apply to and govern the administration of the Judicial Retirement System.

1970, c. 779, § 51-160; 1990, c. 832.

§ 51.1-301. Definitions.

As used in this chapter, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Appointing authority" means the General Assembly or the Governor.

"Creditable service" means prior service plus membership service, as further defined in and modified by § 51.1-303, for which credit is allowable under this chapter.

"Judge" means any justice or judge of a court of record of the Commonwealth, any member of the State Corporation Commission or Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission, any judge of a district court of the Commonwealth other than a substitute judge of such district court, and any executive secretary of the Supreme Court assuming such position between December 1, 1975, and January 31, 1976.

"Normal retirement date" means a member's sixty-fifth birthday.

"Previous systems" means the systems established under the provisions of Chapters 2 (§ 51-3 et seq.) and 2.2 (§ 51-29.8 et seq.) of Title 51, and, in the case of judges of regional juvenile and domestic relations courts, the Virginia Retirement System.

"Primary social security benefit" means, with respect to any member, the primary insurance amount to which the member is entitled, for old age or disability, as the case may be, pursuant to the federal Social Security Act as in effect at his date of retirement, under the provisions of this chapter except as otherwise specifically provided.

"Retirement system" means the Judicial Retirement System.

"Service" means service as a judge.

1970, c. 779, § 51-161; 1972, cc. 568, 708; 1973, cc. 523, 546; 1974, cc. 353, 484; 1975, c. 597; 1976, cc. 374, 678; 1978, c. 841; 1984, c. 430; 1990, c. 832; 1993, c. 895; 2010, cc. 737, 738.

§ 51.1-302. Membership in retirement system.

Membership in the retirement system shall consist of all judges.

1970, c. 779, § 51-162; 1981, c. 396; 1990, c. 832; 2012, cc. 701, 823; 2014, c. 356.

§ 51.1-303. Creditable service.

A. For those members in service on December 31, 1994, service as a judge shall be multiplied by a factor of 3.5, the weighted years of service factor, to calculate years of creditable service. To calculate years of creditable service for those members appointed or elected to an original term commencing on or after January 1, 1995, service as a judge shall be multiplied by the weighted years of service factor of 2.5. To calculate years of creditable service for those members appointed or elected to an original term commencing on or after July 1, 2010, the following formula shall be used: if (i) the member was less than 45 years old at the time he was appointed or elected to such original term, then service as a judge shall be multiplied by the weighted years of service factor of 1.5, (ii) the member was at least 45 years old but less than 55 years old at the time he was appointed or elected to such original term, then service as a judge shall be multiplied by the weighted years of service factor of 2.0, and (iii) the member was at least 55 years old at the time he was appointed or elected to such original term, then service as a judge shall be multiplied by the weighted years of service factor of 2.5. For purposes of this section, "original term" means the first term for which the member was appointed or elected to a position covered by the Judicial Retirement System.

B. Service qualifying for credit under the provisions of the Virginia Retirement System, the State Police Officers' Retirement System, and the Virginia Law Officers' Retirement System shall be included as creditable service for the purposes of this chapter, provided the requirements of those systems for crediting service have been complied with. Service purchased in accordance with the provisions of § 51.1-142.2 shall not be considered in determining the actuarial equivalent for early retirement nor shall it be considered twice in determining any disability allowance payable under this chapter.

C. If a member ceases to be a judge, has not received a refund of the accumulated contributions credited to his member's contribution account, and accepts employment in a position covered by a "retirement plan administered by the Virginia Retirement System" as defined under § 51.1-124.3, he shall be entitled to credit for his previous creditable service under this chapter. The amount of service transferred to the credit of the member in such other retirement plan shall not exceed the amount of credit which would provide a benefit of 78 percent of average final compensation determined on the assumption that the member was eligible for normal retirement as of the date of transfer and that he had elected no optional allowance. Future retirement rights shall be as provided under the applicable retirement plan. However, the annual retirement allowance payable to such person accepting employment in a position covered by any other retirement plan administered by the Virginia Retirement System shall not exceed 78 percent of the person's average final compensation, unless the person has been credited with five or more years of creditable service under such other retirement plan for service performed after ceasing to be a judge. In no case shall the annual retirement allowance payable to such person exceed 100 percent of his average final compensation.

1970, c. 779, § 51-163; 1973, c. 546; 1974, c. 484; 1976, c. 654; 1977, c. 620; 1986, c. 474; 1990, c. 832; 1992, c. 811; 1994, cc. 821, 899; 2000, c. 911; 2004, c. 672; 2010, cc. 737, 738; 2014, c. 776.

§ 51.1-304. Contributions by Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth shall contribute an amount equal to the sum of the normal contribution, any accrued liability contribution, and any supplementary contribution. The amount shall be determined and paid as provided in Chapter 1 (§ 51.1-124.1 et seq.). Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this section, member contributions and employer contributions for judges appointed or elected to an original term commencing on or after January 1, 2014, shall be determined under the provisions of the hybrid retirement program described in § 51.1-169.

1972, c. 151, § 51-165.1; 1982, c. 467; 1990, c. 832; 2014, c. 356.

§ 51.1-305. Service retirement generally.

A. Normal retirement. -- Any member in service at his normal retirement date with five or more years of creditable service may retire upon written notification to the Board setting forth the date the retirement is to become effective.

B. Early retirement. -- Any member in service who has either (i) attained his fifty-fifth birthday with five or more years of creditable service or (ii) in the case of a member of any of the previous systems immediately prior to July 1, 1970, complied with the requirements for retirement set forth under the provisions of such previous system as in effect immediately prior to July 1, 1970, may retire upon written notification to the Board setting forth the date the retirement is to become effective.

B1. Mandatory retirement. -- Any member who attains 73 years of age shall be retired 20 days after the convening of the next regular session of the General Assembly following his seventy-third birthday.

C. Deferred retirement for members terminating service. -- Any member who terminates service after five or more years of creditable service may retire under the provisions of subsection A or B of this section, if he has not withdrawn his accumulated contributions prior to the effective date of his retirement or if he has five or more years of creditable service for which his employer has paid the contributions and such contributions cannot be withdrawn. For the purposes of this subsection, any requirements as to the member being in service shall not apply.

D. Effective date of retirement. -- The effective date of retirement shall be after the last day of service of the member, but shall not be more than 90 days prior to the filing of the notice of retirement.

E. Notification of retirement. -- In addition to the notice to the Board required by this section, the same notice shall be given by the member to his appointing authority. If a member is physically or mentally unable to submit written notification of his intention to retire, the member's appointing authority may submit notification to the Board on his behalf.

1970, c. 779, § 51-167; 1977, c. 620; 1982, c. 427; 1986, c. 474; 1988, c. 222; 1990, c. 832; 1992, c. 694; 2005, c. 288; 2011, c. 483; 2015, cc. 762, 773; 2016, c. 667.

§ 51.1-306. Service retirement allowance.

A. Retirement allowance. -- A member shall receive an annual retirement allowance, payable for life as follows:

1. Normal retirement. -- The allowance shall equal 1.70 percent of his average final compensation multiplied by the amount of creditable service. Notwithstanding the foregoing, for a member appointed or elected to an original term commencing on or after January 1, 2013, the allowance shall equal the sum of (a) 1.65 percent of his average final compensation multiplied by the amount of his creditable service performed or purchased on or after January 1, 2013, and (b) 1.70 percent of his average final compensation multiplied by the amount of all other creditable service.

In no case shall the annual retirement allowance exceed 78 percent of the average final compensation of the member.

For retirements between October 1, 1994, and December 31, 1998, any judge who is a member or beneficiary of a retirement system administered by the Board shall receive an additional retirement allowance equal to three percent of the service retirement allowance payable under this section. Average final compensation attributable to service as Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, or member of the General Assembly shall not be included in computing this additional retirement allowance.

2. Early retirement. -- The allowance shall be determined in the same manner as for normal retirement with creditable service and average final compensation being determined as of the date of actual retirement. If the member has not attained his sixtieth birthday or has less than 30 years of service, 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 (i) his normal retirement date or (ii) the first date on or after his sixtieth birthday on which he would have completed a total of 30 years of creditable service.

In no case shall the annual retirement allowance exceed 78 percent of the average final compensation of the member.

B. Normal and early retirement guarantees. -- Any member who was a member of one of the previous systems immediately prior to July 1, 1970, and who would have been eligible for retirement benefits thereunder shall be guaranteed a minimum retirement allowance no less than that for which he would have qualified had he continued to participate therein.

C. Determination of retirement allowance. -- For the purposes of subsection B of this section, the retirement allowance shall be determined on the assumption that the retirement allowance is payable to the member alone and that no optional retirement allowance is elected.

D. Beneficiary serving in position covered by this title. -- If a beneficiary of a service retirement allowance under this chapter or under any of the previous systems is at any time in service as an employee in a position covered for retirement purposes under the provisions of this or any chapter other than Chapter 7 (§ 51.1-700 et seq.) of this title, his retirement allowance shall cease while so employed.

1970, c. 779, § 51-168; 1972, c. 568; 1973, c. 523; 1974, c. 353; 1977, c. 620; 1978, c. 841; 1981, c. 393; 1984, c. 430; 1990, c. 832; 1994, 1st Sp. Sess., c. 5; 1998, c. 674; 2012, cc. 701, 823; 2013, c. 463; 2014, c. 776.

§ 51.1-306.1. Service retirement allowance for judges appointed or elected after January 1, 2014.

Notwithstanding any contrary provision of this chapter, the service retirement allowance for judges appointed or elected to an original term commencing on or after January 1, 2014, shall be determined under the provisions of the hybrid retirement program described in § 51.1-169.

2014, c. 356.

§ 51.1-307. Notice of disability retirement.

In addition to the notice of retirement for disability which is required to be made to the Board, notice shall be given by the member to his appointing authority.

1970, c. 779, § 51-169; 1973, c. 523; 1982, c. 427; 1986, c. 474; 1990, c. 832.

§ 51.1-308. Disability retirement allowance.

A. Allowance payable on retirement. -- Upon retirement for disability, a member who has five or more years of creditable service shall receive an annual retirement allowance payable during his lifetime and continued disability equal to 1.70 percent of average final compensation when multiplied by the smaller of (i) twice the amount of creditable service or (ii) the amount of creditable service he would have completed at age 60 if he had remained in service to that age. However, for a member appointed or elected to an original term commencing on or after January 1, 2013, the applicable percentage shall be 1.65 percent, and for a member participating in the hybrid retirement program described in § 51.1-169, the applicable percentage shall be one percent. If a member has already attained age 60, the amount of creditable service at his date of retirement shall be used.

In no case shall the annual retirement allowance exceed 78 percent of the average final compensation of the member.

B. Workers' compensation guarantee. -- If a member retires for disability from a cause which is compensable under the Virginia Workers' Compensation Act (§ 65.2-100 et seq.), the amount of the annual retirement allowance shall, subject to the provisions of subsection D, equal 66 and two-thirds percent of the member's average final compensation if the member does not qualify for primary social security benefits under the provisions of the Social Security Act in effect on the date of his retirement. If the member qualifies for primary social security benefits under the provisions of the Social Security Act in effect on the date of his retirement, the allowance payable from the retirement system shall equal 50 percent of his average final compensation. A member shall be entitled to the larger of the retirement allowance as determined under the provisions of subsection A of this section or under the provisions of this subsection.

C. General disability retirement guarantee. -- The disability retirement allowance payable to a member who immediately prior to July 1, 1970, was a member of one of the previous systems shall be at least an amount equal to the disability retirement allowance to which he would have been entitled under the provisions of the previous system.

D. Determination of retirement allowance. -- For the purposes of this section, the retirement allowance shall be determined on the assumption that the retirement allowance is payable to the member alone and that no optional retirement allowance is elected.

E. Reduction of allowance. -- Any allowance payable to a member who retires for disability from a cause compensable under the Virginia Workers' Compensation Act shall be reduced by the amount of any payments under the provisions of the Act in effect on the date of retirement of the member and the excess of the allowance shall be paid to such member. When the time for compensation payments under the Act has elapsed, the member shall receive the full amount of the allowance payable during his lifetime and continued disability. If the member's payments under the Virginia Workers' Compensation Act are adjusted or terminated for refusal to work or to comply with the requirements of § 65.2-603, his allowance shall be computed as if he were receiving the compensation to which he would otherwise be entitled.

F. Special retirement allowance guarantee. -- Any member retired from a cause which is not compensable under the Virginia Workers' Compensation Act shall be guaranteed an annual retirement allowance during his lifetime and continued disability which equals 50 percent of the member's average final compensation if the member does not qualify for primary social security benefits under the provisions of the Social Security Act in effect on the date of his retirement. If the member qualifies for primary social security benefits under the provisions of the Social Security Act in effect on the date of retirement, the allowance payable from the retirement system shall equal 33 and one-third percent of his average final compensation.

1970, c. 779, § 51-170; 1972, c. 568; 1973, c. 523; 1974, c. 353; 1976, cc. 541, 654; 1986, c. 474; 1990, c. 832; 1993, c. 895; 1994, 1st Sp. Sess., c. 5; 1999, c. 111; 2000, c. 911; 2012, cc. 701, 823; 2014, c. 776; 2015, c. 660.

Article 9. Benefits.

§ 51.1-309. Appearance as counsel in certain forums prohibited.

A. No former justice or judge of a court of record of the Commonwealth and no former full-time judge of a court not of record of the Commonwealth, who is retired and receiving retirement benefits under the provisions of the Judicial Retirement System, shall appear as counsel in any case in any court of the Commonwealth.

B. No former member of the State Corporation Commission or Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission, who is retired and receiving retirement benefits under the provisions of the Judicial Retirement System, shall appear as counsel in any case before the Commission of which he was formerly a member.

C. The provisions of subsection A shall not be applicable if (i) the retired justice or judge has been retired for at least two years and is not authorized for or assigned to temporary recall by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, or the Committees for Courts of Justice of the Senate and House of Delegates; (ii) the retired justice or judge is appearing as counsel, pro bono, for an indigent person in a civil matter; (iii) such civil matter is assigned or referred to the retired justice or judge by a nonprofit legal aid program organized under the auspices of the Virginia State Bar; and (iv) the retired justice or judge is not an employee, officer, or board member of such nonprofit legal aid program. Nothing herein shall relieve the retired justice or judge from having obtained any license or meeting any requirement in connection with the appearance as counsel as required by law, rule, or regulation.

1970, c. 778, § 51-179; 1975, c. 188; 1980, c. 138; 1990, c. 832; 2011, c. 705; 2018, c. 709.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of these sections may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.

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