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 your LAGERS benefit. Here are the answers to the top frequently asked questions we have received:
I’m planning on retiring in a few months, will I 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.
Is my retirement benefit safe in LAGERS?
While the COVID-19 crisis is having far-reaching impacts on financial markets and individual retirement accounts, our retirees will experience NO IMPACT to their LAGERS benefit. All benefits will be paid on time and the amount of your benefit does not change with the markets. Defined Benefit plans, like LAGERS, are designed for the long-term. LAGERS fully expects the system to weather this storm and will remain solvent and strong in the long-term.
I'm taking a leave of absence from my employer without pay. How does this impact my LAGERS benefit?
If you take an unpaid leave of absence during the COVID-19 outbreak, your employer will report you to LAGERS as on leave of absence but will not report any wages. While you will not receive service credit for any month you are reported on unpaid leave, the zero wages reported during an unpaid leave of absence will not be included in your Final Average Salary calculation. You'll still be considered an active member of the system while on an unpaid leave of absence, and your benefit accrual will pick back up when you return to work and are again receiving wage payments.
I'm taking a paid leave of absence from my employer. How does this impact my LAGERS’ benefit?
You'll continue to receive service credit towards your LAGERS benefit during a paid leave of absence and should be reported as normal to LAGERS. Paid leave would be vacation, sick, or donated leave you are receiving as if you are working your regular hours, receiving your regular pay. If you are using leave granted by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and receiving 2/3 pay, you will continue to receive service credit towards your LAGERS benefit, and your employer will report the actual wages paid to you.
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 stock market. The portfolio is well-diversified across a broad range of investment types that provide protection when the 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.
I've already applied for retirement, but need to delay my retirement because my employer needs me to continue working. What do I do?
If you have not yet received your first retirement payment, you can delay your effective date of retirement should you need to remain employed for the duration of the crisis. Please call the LAGERS office as soon as possible if you need to delay your retirement date.
If you have already received your first payment, please contact the LAGERS office at 1-800-447-4334.
I'm already retired, but considering returning to work temporarily to fulfill a public workforce need during the COVID-19 outbreak. How will this affect my 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!