During these uncertain times, there seem to be more questions than answers. While your LAGERS system is designed to weather these types of storms, you may still have questions about how the COVID-19 outbreak will impact LAGERS. Here are the answers to the top frequently asked questions we have received:
COVID-19 Questions Answered
I have some employees who are retiring in a few months, will they be able to retire?
Yes, LAGERS members can continue submitting their retirement applications as normal. At this time, we do not anticipate any delays with processing retirement applications.
We may have to place some employees on leave without pay. How does this work with LAGERS reporting?
You will need to report these employees' status as a leave of absence and will not report any wages. While the employees will not receive service credit for any month they are reported on unpaid leave, the zero wages reported during an unpaid leave of absence will not be included in their Final Average Salary calculation. The employees will still be considered an active member of LAGERS while on an unpaid leave of absence, and their benefit accrual will pick back up when they return to work and are again receiving wage payments.
Some employees are taking paid leave of absence. How does this impact LAGERS reporting?
Employees on paid leave of absence will continue to be reported as normal. The employees will receive service credit towards their LAGERS benefit during a paid leave of absence. Paid leave would be vacation, sick, or donated leave the employee is using if they are working regular hours, receiving regular pay. If they are on leave granted by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and receiving 2/3 pay, employees will continue to receive service credit towards their LAGERS benefit, and you will need to report the actual wages paid to the employees.
What will happen to LAGERS if our economy slips into a recession?
LAGERS’ members’ benefits are secure. LAGERS’ investment allocation has been constructed to endure a full market cycle, the highs and the lows. Only a portion of LAGERS’ investments are in the public stock market. The portfolio is well-diversified across a broad range of investment types that provide protection when the public stock market declines. As a large, institutional investor, LAGERS also has access to investment types not available to individuals that further help insulate the portfolio. While LAGERS’ investments have experienced losses since the beginning of 2020, we are confident that our approach will endure the future, and our members’ benefits will remain secure into the future.
We are considering re-hiring a retired employee. How do I need to report this and will this affect the employee's benefit?
A retiree who is returning to LAGERS service temporarily in response to the COVID – 19 outbreak would not generally be considered to be working in a LAGERS-eligible position. If a retiree is returning to work in a non-LAGERS eligible position, their current benefit would not be impacted and they would also not be eligible to accrue any additional benefit during their temporary service.
*Please note that if a retiree returns to work in a permanent position that would regularly exceed the annual hours for LAGERS eligibility at their employer, normal return to work provisions would apply. Retirees or employers with questions about eligibility should call our office at 1-800-447-4334.
If a first responder dies of COVID-19, would this be considered a duty-death?
There is currently no statute or rule that presumptively establishes COVID-19-related deaths of first responders to be considered duty-related. If a LAGERS-covered employee dies as a result of COVID-19, we will evaluate each death on a case by case basis to determine if it is duty-related based on the documentation submitted.
At LAGERS, we remain committed to ensuring that your retirement system continues to deliver peace of mind to you during these challenging times, and you can remain confident that your retirement future is strong and secure! If you have any other questions about your benefit, please let us know - your LAGERS team is here and ready to assist you!