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Retirement FAQ

What are the retirement eligibility guidelines?

WV State Teachers Retirement System (TRS) and PEIA retiree medical insurance eligibility guidelines are:

  • Full benefits at age 60 with 5 years of service
  • Full benefits at age 55 with 30 years of service
  • Full benefits at any age with 35 years of service
  • Reduced benefits before age 55 with at least 30 but less than 35 years of service
  • Disability benefits with 10 years of service

The TIAA and Empower Retirement plans also establish eligibility to continue PEIA retiree medical insurance:

  • Any age with 30 years of Service
  • Age 60 with at least 5 years of Service
  • Any age with 10 years of service if disabled

How can I estimate my retirement income?

To obtain a specific estimate as to an employee’s future retirement income with the 401(a) plan, both TIAA and Empower Retirement provide online tools to estimate retirement income. In addition, TIAA will also project an employee’s retirement income in a face-to-face meeting that can be scheduled by calling 800.732.8353 or 877.209.3136.

The WV State Teachers Retirement System (TRS) provides income estimates upon receipt of a completed estimate request form. The TRS estimate request forms can be requested by calling TRS at 1.800.654.4406. TRS will then mail the employee a form which is to be completed and returned to TRS.


Is an employee’s retirement plan contribution tax deferred?

Employee contributions to the 401(a) plan are tax deferred for federal and state tax purposes. The employee does not pay federal or state income tax on the contributions by the employee or WVU to the plan. Employer matching contributions are not considered taxable income. An employee does pay both Social Security and Medicare taxes on the employee’s contributions to the plan. An employee’s contributions to the 401(a) plan, therefore, do not reduce an employee’s future Social Security benefits.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is one of two states in the US that does tax contributions to a qualified retirement plan, such as the 401(a) plan, as income.


Are employee/employer contributions immediately 100% vested?

All employee contributions to the 401(a) plan are immediately 100% vested. Vesting simply means employees’ contributions are theirs to keep should they decide to stop working for WVU and obtain employment elsewhere. All employer matching contributions are also 100% immediately vested.


Is there a maximum contribution to the 401(a) plan?

The maximum amount an employee may contribute (always the mandatory fixed contribution of 6%) is set by IRC 401(a)(17) Annual Compensation Limit. The maximum employer contributions to the 401(a) plan are set by the IRS. The annual salary limit is adjusted periodically ($270,000 for 2017) by the IRS and does have exceptions. The limit is monitored internally and any employee with concerns should contact the benefit office if their salary exceeds the limit.


Can I use sick leave for retiree PEIA medical premiums?

Employees hired and continually covered by PEIA prior to July 1, 1988 can use accrued sick leave at the point in which they transition from active employment to retirement to pay 100% of the PEIA medical premiums. Employees hired on or after July 1, 1988 but before July 1, 2001 are eligible to use sick leave to pay for 50% of the PEIA retiree medical premium.

  • 2 days of sick leave = 1 month individual coverage
  • 3 days of sick leave = 1 month of family coverage
Employees hired on or after July 1, 2001 are not eligible to use sick leave to pay PEIA retiree medical premiums.

The PEIA Retiree Medical Premiums
The retiree medical premium rates are based on:
  • employee’s years of service
  • if employee or employee’s dependents are eligible for Medicare
  • if employee chooses to cover dependents
  • tobacco use status of employee and any covered dependents

The rates are included in the PEIA Shoppers Guide each year and just like active employee rates are subject to change upon approval of the PEIA Finance Board and West Virginia Retiree Health Benefits Trust.

The least expensive rates are for those retirees and their covered dependents who are eligible for Medicare and have at least 25 years of service with PEIA. Conversely, the most expensive are for those retirees with the fewest years of service and the employees and their dependents that are not eligible for Medicare.

Years of Service for PEIA Retiree Medical insurance

The years of service for PEIA retiree medical insurance generally include the years that an employee has worked in a benefit-eligible status for the state of West Virginia. All WVU benefits-eligible service is included in this total. Certain military service referred to as “Vietnam Era Military Service” including active duty service that was entered into prior to July 1, 1973 counts. A DD-214 would need to be provided and military service cannot exceed 25% of one’s actively working years of service.


Can I use faculty service for PEIA retiree premiums?

Less than 12 month faculty years of service for employees hired prior to July 1, 2009, PEIA retiree medical premiums are waived. 3.33 years of service = 1 year individual coverage 5.00 years of service = 1 year family coverage Less than 12 month faculty service typically refers to 9 month faculty, but would include any contract of less than 12 months, such as 10 month, 11 month contracts, etc. Note less than 12 month faculty hired after July 1, 2009 are not eligible for the retiree medical premium credits.


What are the PEIA retiree medical premium rates?

The retiree medical premium rates are based on an employees’ years of service, if the employee or dependents are eligible for Medicare, if the employee chooses to cover dependents, and tobacco use status of the employee and any covered dependents. The rates are included in the PEIA Shopper's Guide and just like active employee rates, are subject to change upon approval of the PEIA Finance Board and West Virginia Retiree Health Benefits Trust.

The least expensive rates are for those retirees and their covered dependents who are eligible for Medicare and have at least 25 years of service with PEIA. Conversely, the most expensive are for those retirees with the fewest years of service and they and their dependents are not eligible for Medicare.


What are the years of service for PEIA retiree medical insurance?

The years of service for PEIA retiree medical insurance generally include the years that an employee has worked in a benefits-eligible status for the state of West Virginia. All WVU benefits-eligible service is included in this total. Certain military service referred to as “Vietnam Era Military Service” including active duty service that was entered into prior to July 1, 1973 applies also. A DD-214 would need to be provided and military service cannot exceed 25% of one’s actively working years of service.


Can I retire due to a disability?

If an employee becomes disabled and is approved for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), is not covered by the West Virginia State Teachers Retirement System (i.e., retirement is with TIAA-CREF or Great West) and has at least 10 years of service, the employee is eligible to retire as disabled. The State Teachers Retirement system individually determines each disability application for a prospective disabled retiree. An employee, if determined not to be disabled by Social Security, can appeal directly to PEIA for disabled retiree status. Once an employee is determined to be disabled for retiree medical insurance, the employee is automatically treated as if the employee has attained 25 years of service.


What happens if an employee dies while he/she is still an active employee or retiree?

If an employee dies while still an active employee or a retiree, PEIA will treat any dependent, who was covered by the active employee or retiree on medical coverage, as a surviving dependent. Surviving dependents are treated as they are a retiree with 25 years of service and are eligible for lower premiums as determined by years of service.


Is there a retiree ID card?

A retiree ID is available for retirees to continue library privileges, PRT and Mountain Line free use, and athletic discounts for two season tickets.

To obtain a card, please call the Mountaineer Card Office at 304.293.2273.  The Mountaineer Card Office has is located in the following areas:
Basement of Brooke Tower (Towers Complex)
Mountainlair


How do I withdraw retirement funds after resignation?

If you have left the employment of West Virginia University you can contact your retirement vendor, either TIAA or Empower Retirement, to request a rollover or withdraw from your account.

TIAA: 1.800.842.2776

Empower Retirement: 1.877.816.0548

Requests can be made online with TIAA, and WVU can approve electronically. Empower Retirement does require paper forms that must be signed off on by the Benefits unit.

West Virginia University is required to confirm termination of your employment before the vendor can process your request to rollover or withdraw your funds. West Virginia University CANNOT provide termination confirmation until your employment has formally ended, and you are no longer an employee of WVU.

Steps in the process:

  1. 1. Separate employment from West Virginia University
  2. 2. Request the rollover/withdrawal forms from your retirement vendor
  3. 3. Request termination verification from Human Resources 304.293.5700×4, if necessary

West Virginia University routinely provides termination verification to TIAA electronically. Empower Retirement termination verification must be completed on paper.


When I turn 70 and still working, do I need to do the minimum distribution that federal tax rules require?

Depending on your employment status and the types of retirement plans you hold, you may be able to defer withdrawing funds from your account beyond age 70½.

If you work past age 70½, you can delay withdrawing funds from your current employer’s retirement plan until April 1 following the calendar year of your retirement. You also can delay required withdrawals from tax-advantaged plans of previous employers (such as 403(b), 401(k), 401(a) and IRA balances) if all your retirement savings are consolidated into a single retirement account. For example, if your current employer’s plan accepts transfers from other plans, you can roll over funds from other qualified plans into your current employer’s plan and defer your required minimum distributions until April 1 following the calendar year you retire.

“This information is for educational purposes only and not intended to provide tax or legal advice. You should seek guidance from licensed professionals before making important financial decisions.”


I am an active WVU employee and just turned age 65. Do I need to enroll in Medicare?

Medicare Part A and PEIA:

Medicare Part A is an free entitlement available to most people at the attainment of age 65 or earlier for disability and some specific medical conditions. If you are not receiving Social Security benefits when you turn 65 you will need to sign up for Medicare Part A if you would like to have Medicare coverage. Bear in mind, if you are an actively working employee of WVU and have PEIA coverage due to your active employment, PEIA will remain your primary coverage for yourself and any dependents you have covered by PEIA. If you are already beyond age 65 and not signed up for Medicare just contact the Social Security Administration to enroll. For more information contact the Social Security Administration at 1.800.772.1213 or online at www.ssa.gov or www.medicare.gov.

Medicare Part B and PEIA:

A common question asked by employees is what you are supposed to do when you turn 65 and become eligible for Medicare while working at WVU. The answer is if you are receiving health coverage through WVU as either an actively working employee, or dependent of an actively working employee you are not required to enroll in Medicare Part B. You are required to have Medicare Part B as a retiree, or dependent of a retiree, when enrolled in the PEIA retiree health insurance. An easy way to remember this is if you have a PEIA health insurance deduction on your WVU paycheck, you are not required to have Medicare Part B. If you have questions regarding your particular circumstances, please call Employee Benefits at 304.293.5700×4 or the Social Security Administration at 800.772.1213, or online at www.ssa.gov or www.medicare.gov.