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Frequently Asked Questions about Benefits

Other FAQ pages: GERS FAQ - Loans FAQ

Benefits Frequently Asked Questions

How do I find out who I have listed as my beneficiary?

At any time members can contact GERS for current beneficiary information.

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How do I change an address, name, or beneficiary?

Complete a Change Form and follow the instructions to mail the completed form to GERS.

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What does it mean to be a vested member?

An individual who has worked with the Government of the Virgin Islands and has paid contributions for ten (10) years to the Government Employees' Retirement System is considered a vested member of the System.

 

More information can be found on the Vested Member page

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Do I have the option of becoming a member of the Retirement System?

No. The law requires that after 30 days of employment you begin paying contributions.     

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Am I required to complete a Membership Record?

Yes. This can be obtained from your Department/Agency Personnel Office.

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Can I designate a minor child as my beneficiary?

Yes. However, a minor child cannot claim the benefits until age 18 or unless a court appointed guardian claims the benefits on behalf of the minor child.

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What does vested mean?

Working and having paid contributions for 10 years.

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How much military time may be added to ones’ service time? Is there a cost?

Tier I   10 years maximum if vested prior to September 25, 2001.

             3 years maximum after September 25, 2001.

 

Tier II   3 years maximum

             Yes. There is a cost under both Tiers.

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When is a member eligible to retire? Regular/Safety

Regular:                   30 years of service regardless of age ;                               

                                  10 years of credited service and at least 60 years of age.  

                                                      

Safety/Hazardous:  20 years of service notwithstanding age; or

                                  10 years of credited service and at least 55 years of age.

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What is the retirement process?

  • Complete a Prior Service Form or Letter of Inquiry at least 3 years prior to proposed retirement eligibility date.
  • Contact a GERS Benefits Analyst to schedule an appointment for Pre-retirement Consultation.
  • Establish a retirement date and prepare a retirement letter addressed to your Department Head 
  • Copy your Human Resources Department, Immediate Supervisor and the GERS. 
  • Contact the GERS to schedule an appointment to complete the Retirement Application.

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What documents are required for processing a retirement application?

  • Driver’s License,Voter’s I.D or Passport

  • Birth Certificate or Naturalization Certificate    

  • Social Security Card

  • Copy of Retirement Letter

* For beneficiary purposes, provide person (s):

  • Name

  • SSN

  • Date of Birth 

  • Mailing Address

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What happens to my excess annual leave and sick leave hours when I retire?

It may be credited toward your years of service provided that GERS receives the required employee and    employer contributions.

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What is the Reform Act of 2005?

Legislation enacted to assist in reducing the System’s unfunded liability over time.

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What is a Tier?

A level of benefits provided to a member based on date of employment.

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Who are Tier I employees?

Members hired prior to October 1, 2005.

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Who are Tier II employees?

Members hired on or after October 1, 2005.

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Can a member combine service from two (2) different classifications of work/service?

Yes. Service may be combined with another branch of Government service;

 ie:  Legislative and Executive Branch service combined.

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Why is a retiree required to pay taxes on his/her annuity?

 It is required by law according to the IRS code which has been adopted by the Virgin Islands.

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What is the difference between an annual increment and a COLA?

An annual increment may be approved by the Board. It is a percentage granted to eligible retirees (age 60 and on the retiree payroll for one year) every July 15th. The COLA is a specific amount or percent- age added to initial annuity or paid as a bonus.  A COLA may be appropriated by the Legislature from time to time.                       

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If I have service time that cannot be verified via my personnel records, how may I get credit for that time worked?

A member may submit a Detailed Earnings Statement from the Social Security Administration.

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Who are class 3 or safety/hazardous employees?

Tier I

  • Police officer

  • Lineman or operator; (eligible employee of the VI WAPA)

  • Eligible employee working with chlorine, sewage or carcinogens

  • Firefighter, including fire fighters working for the V.I. Port Authority

  • Marshal working for the Superior Court

  • Corrections officer

  • Radiology technician

  • X-ray technician

  • Emergency medical technician

  • Peace officer as defined in Title 5, Sec. 3561, VI

 

Tier II

  • Police officer

  • Firefighter, including a fireman or police officer employed by V.I. Port Authority

  • Marshal of the Supreme or Superior Court

  • Correction officer or combination thereof

*** All other categories are not included

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What is an Optional Benefit?

An actuarial equivalent reduction of a members retirement annuity payable to a surviving beneficiary, if the member at the time of retirement elects a 50 % or 100% Joint Survivor Annuity.

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Can an Optional Benefit be cancelled?

A member can revoke or change the election of optional benefits at any time before the effective date of retirement or after the effective date and prior to the making of the first payment on account of any retirement allowance.

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What is Duty-Connected death?

Duty-Connected death is death in service as a direct result of the performance of duty, provided the death was not the consequence of willful misconduct of the member.

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What benefits are my spouse and children entitled to receive as a result of a Duty-Connected death?

Tier I: 

Annuity of 40% of salary in effect on date of death for the surviving spouse, plus 10% of salary for each child up to age 18 to a maximum family benefit of 60% of salary.  If no surviving spouse, 10% of salary is payable on behalf of each child under age 18 to a maximum family of 50%. If no surviving spouse or children, each dependent parent is entitled to 25% of salary.

 

 

Tier II: 

Annuity of 28% of salary in effect on date of death for the surviving spouse, 7% of salary for each child up to age 18 (or 23 if a college student) to a maximum family benefit of 42% of salary.  If no surviving spouse, 7% of salary is payable on behalf of each child under age 18 to a maximum family of 35%. If no surviving spouse or children, each dependent parent is entitled to 17.5% of salary.

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If I should become disabled, is there a benefit that I may apply for?

Yes. The GERS offers Duty Disability and Non-Duty Disability benefits for qualified members.

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What does vested interest mean?

Vested Interest is the member’s last salary plus the total amount of contributions paid to the system.

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What benefits are my beneficiaries entitled to after my death?

Beneficiaries are entitled to the difference between the member’s vested interest and the total amount of annuity payments received from the system.

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Can I work for the V. I. Government after retirement and still collect my retirement checks?

A retiree may work for the government for 75 working days per year without affecting his/her annuity.  He or she may also work full-time for the private sector without affecting his/her retirement annuity.  

 

Note:   Members retiring under Tier II, may not return to work with the V. I. Government for any period of time without affecting his/her annuity.

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Is direct deposit mandatory?

Direct Deposit is a requirement for the GERS.   However, an individual may sign a hardship waiver to not elect direct deposit for particular reasons such as Geographical Barrier (outside of USA), Physical/Mental Disability Barrier, or an Annuity of less than $100.00.

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Is there an age limitation on becoming a member of the System?

Yes.  Any individual entering government service for the first time that has attained age fifty-five (55) may elect or not elect, in writing, to become a member of the GERS.

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Are members who receive disability benefits eligible to receive an incremental increase?

Yes.   Disabled members receive an 1.0% incremental increase after completing a full year on the Retirees’ Payroll regardless of their age.  Upon attaining age 60, this benefit is adjusted to reflect a 1.5% increase.

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Must Federal Income tax be withheld from my retirement benefit?

 No.  You may choose not to have federal income tax withheld from your annuity  payment by indicating  such on the W4-p form and submitting the signed form to our office.   Please note that if you choose not to have taxes withheld, you may be required to make other arrangements with the Internal Revenue Bureau to make payments.  Please contact a tax advisor or the Internal Revenue Bureau for further information.

 

Note:  If you do not complete Form W4-P, taxes must be withheld from your annuity as if you are married with 3 dependents.

 

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When will I receive my annuity checks?

Annuity checks are paid on the 15th and the last day of each month.

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