RD496 - Survey of Localities and School Divisions: Division of Retirement Benefits Upon Divorce – October 2022

Executive Summary:

This report provides the General Assembly with the results of the survey conducted by the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) of all localities and school systems regarding non-VRS retirement benefits offered by localities and school systems and the processing of gains and losses calculations pursuant to court orders dividing retirement benefits upon divorce. This reporting requirement is set forth in the second enactment of Chapter 438 of the 2022 Acts of Assembly (the complete Chapter 438 is included as Appendix A) and provides as follows:

"That the Virginia Retirement System shall poll all localities and school systems and report to the Chairmen of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and the House Committee for Courts of Justice by October 1, 2022, as to (i) whether the localities have defined benefit, defined contribution, or other pension or retirement plans independent from benefits made available by the Virginia Retirement System, and (ii) whether such plans presently process orders that require the plan administrator to calculate gains and losses on retirement benefits subject to equitable distribution."

On August 1, 2022, VRS sent a survey directly to all school systems and to all localities through a partnership with the Virginia Municipal League and the Virginia Association of Counties. The survey, included as Appendix B, was originally open for two weeks, but it was extended through August 19, 2022, to increase the participation rate. The survey received responses from 171 unique employers.(*1) Approximately 26% (44) of the respondents were school systems and approximately 74% (127) of the respondents were localities. For reference, VRS covers approximately 835 total employers including state agencies and public institutions of higher education.
(*1) Responses to the VRS survey were received from 44 of 133 school divisions and 127 of 323 localities, including 53 of 95 counties, 14 of 38 cities, and 60 of 190 towns.