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Annual ERS benefits statement has new name, features

ERS has improved the Annual Statement of Benefits that you normally receive during December to help plan for the future and your retirement. With the new format comes a new name: Statement of Retirement Benefits. 

If you are currently employed and have passed your 90-day waiting period to begin retirement contributions to the system, you will receive a Statement of Retirement Benefits. ERS will mail your statement to your address on file with ERS after your birthday. This is approximately the same time you get your summary of Social Security benefits from the Social Security Administration. Use the two statements together to get a complete picture of your retirement benefits.

The first group of statements was sent in late December 2008 to employees with November 2008 birthdays. The statements will be current as of the last day of the month of your birthday. The statements will be mailed within 45 days of the last day of your birthday month.

The new statement provides more retirement-related information than the previous version, but still includes:

  • An estimate of the earliest date you can retire.
  • An estimate of your monthly retirement check from ERS.
  • Whether you qualify for insurance benefits at retirement.
  • Who will receive your benefits after your death. 
  • Your ERS retirement account balance and years of service.

New features include:

  • A graph showing how much your monthly retirement benefit will increase if you work an additional year past your first full retirement eligibility date.
  • An estimate of disability retirement benefits.
  • Your service credits, including sick and annual leave balances.

The new statement is patterned after your information available in the ERS OnLine website.

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Labor Department publishes final rule to implement FMLA amendments

On November 17, 2008, the Department of Labor published its final rule to implement the first-ever amendments to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which was signed into law by President Bush in January 2008. The amendments provide new military family leave entitlements and include updates to the current regulations. The changes were prompted by passage of the military family leave provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2008, rulings in court cases over the past 15 years and in consideration of suggested changes to the FMLA by employer and employee stakeholders. The new FMLA regulations went into effect on January 16, 2009.

Eligibility Requirements: The FMLA regulations clarify new requirements for employers to determine employee eligibility for FMLA leave.

Employers are now required to look at prior service for up to seven years before the leave is taken in order to determine employee eligibility when there has been a break in service within the past year.

If an employee is not eligible for FMLA leave at the commencement of a leave because he or she has not met the 12-month length of service requirement, he or she may meet this requirement while on leave, because now all leave time, including periods of LWOP, counts toward the 12-month length of service requirement. When an employee meets the length of service requirement, up to 12 work weeks of FMLA job protected leave will begin even if the employee is on LWOP. Leave time taken before the FML eligibility date will not be FML and will not count towards the employee’s work weeks of entitlement.

Military Family Leave: The FMLA has been amended to include two military leave entitlements: Qualifying Exigency Leave and Military Caregiver Leave.

Under Qualifying Exigency Leave, eligible employees who are family members of covered service members will be able to take up to 12 work weeks of FMLA job-protected leave to use for any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that a covered service member is on active duty or has been called to active duty status. Such leave can be requested through your Human Resources representative.

Under Military Caregiver Leave, eligible employees who are family members of covered service members will be able to take up to 26 work weeks of leave in a single 12-month period to care for a covered service member with a serious illness or injury incurred in the line of duty while on active duty. Contact your HR representative to request and certify this type of leave.

Employer Notice Obligations: The FMLA has clarified and strengthened the employer notice requirements in order to better inform employees and allow for a better exchange of information between employers and employees.

To achieve compliance with the FMLA, posters have been revised by the Department of Labor and have been distributed to all agency units and departments to be posted on the common use bulletin boards. 

Medical Certifications: The FMLA has clarified time frames for which employees may be required to provide a medical recertification from a health care provider, which, in some circumstances, may extend to every six months in conjunction with an absence. 

The FMLA now requires employers to provide employees with written notice of an incomplete certification and allow seven days for the employee to provide the missing information. A new form has been developed by the agency for compliance with this requirement.

Human Resources representatives have recently attended training regarding the FMLA changes and are prepared to assist employees with any questions they may have.

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