This article shall be known and may be cited as the "Teacher's Retirement Reform Act".
As used in this article, unless the context clearly requires a different meaning:
(1) "Annual addition" means, for purposes of the limitations under Section 415(c) of the Internal Revenue Code, the sum credited to a member's account for any limitation year of: (A) Employer contributions; (B) employee contributions; and (C) forfeitures. Repayment of cashouts or contributions as described in Section 415(k)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, rollover contributions and picked-up employee contributions to a defined benefit plan shall not be treated as annual additions, consistent with the requirements of Treasury Regulation §1.415(c)-1;
(2) "Annuity account" or "annuity" means an account established for each member to record the deposit of member contributions and employer contributions and interest, dividends or other accumulations credited on behalf of the member;
(3) "Compensation" means the full compensation actually received by members for service whether or not a part of the compensation is received from other funds, federal or otherwise, than those provided by the state or its subdivisions: Provided, That annual compensation for determining contributions during any determination period may not exceed the maximum compensation allowed as adjusted for cost of living in accordance with section seven, article ten-d, chapter five of this code and Section 401(a)(17) of the Internal Revenue Code: Provided, however, That solely for purposes of applying the limitations of Section 415 of the Internal Revenue Code to any annual addition, "compensation" has the meaning given it in subsection (d), section thirteen of this article;
(4) "Consolidated board" or "board" means the Consolidated Public Retirement Board created and established pursuant to article ten-d, chapter five of this code;
(5) "Defined contribution system" or "system" means the Teachers' Defined Contribution Retirement System created and established by this article;
(6) "Employer" means the agency of and within the State of West Virginia which has employed or employs a member;
(7) "Employer contribution" means an amount deposited into the member's individual annuity account on a periodic basis coinciding with the employee's regular pay period by an employer from its own funds;
(8) "Employment term" means employment for at least ten months in any plan year with a month being defined as twenty employment days;
(9) "Existing employer" means any employer who employed or employs a member of the system;
(10) "Existing retirement system" means the State Teachers Retirement System established in article seven-a of this chapter;
(11) "Internal Revenue Code" means the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as it has been amended;
(12) "Member" or "employee" means the following persons, if regularly employed for full-time service: (A) Any person employed for instructional service in the public schools of West Virginia; (B) principals; (C) public school librarians; (D) superintendents of schools and assistant county superintendents of schools; (E) any county school attendance director holding a West Virginia teacher's certificate; (F) members of the research, extension, administrative or library staffs of the public schools; (G) the State Superintendent of Schools, heads and assistant heads of the divisions under his or her supervision or any other employee under the state superintendent performing services of an educational nature; (H) employees of the State Board of Education who are performing services of an educational nature; (I) any person employed in a nonteaching capacity by the State Board of Education, any county board of education or the State Department of Education, if that person was formerly employed as a teacher in the public schools; (J) all classroom teachers, principals and educational administrators in schools under the supervision of the Division of Corrections and the Department of Health and Human Resources; (K) any person who is regularly employed for full-time service by any county board of education or the State Board of Education; (L) the administrative staff of the public schools including deans of instruction, deans of men and deans of women, and financial and administrative secretaries; and (M) any person designated as a 21st Century Learner Fellow pursuant to section eleven, article three, chapter eighteen-a of this code who elects to remain a member of the Teachers' Defined Contribution Retirement System established by this article;
(13) "Member contribution" means an amount reduced from the employee's regular pay periods, and deposited into the member's individual annuity account within the Teachers' Defined Contribution Retirement System;
(14) "Permanent, total disability" means a mental or physical incapacity requiring absence from employment service for at least six months: Provided, That the incapacity is shown by an examination by a physician or physicians selected by the board: Provided, however, That for employees hired on or after July 1, 2005, "permanent, total disability" means an inability to engage in substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment that can be expected to result in death, or has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than twelve months and the incapacity is so severe that the member is likely to be permanently unable to perform the duties of the position the member occupied immediately prior to his or her disabling injury or illness;
(15) "Plan year" means the twelve-month period commencing on July 1 of any designated year and ending on the following June 30;
(16) "Public schools" means all publicly supported schools, including normal schools, colleges and universities in this state;
(17) "Regularly employed for full-time service" means employment in a regular position or job throughout the employment term regardless of the number of hours worked or the method of pay;
(18) "Required beginning date" means April 1 of the calendar year following the later of: (A) The calendar year in which the member attains age seventy and one-half years; or (B) the calendar year in which the member retires or otherwise ceases employment with a participating employer after having attained the age of seventy and one-half years;
(19) "Retirement" means a member's withdrawal from the active employment of a participating employer and completion of all conditions precedent to retirement;
(20) "Year of employment service" means employment for at least ten months, with a month being defined as twenty employment days: Provided, That no more than one year of service may be accumulated in any twelve-month period.
The teachers' defined contribution retirement system is hereby created and established to provide for the secure, fair and orderly retirement of the teachers and related personnel of the state. The defined contribution retirement system shall constitute a body corporate and all business of the system shall be transacted in the name of the teachers' defined contribution retirement system.
The retirement system is intended to meet the federal qualification requirements of Section 401(a) and related sections of the Internal Revenue Code as applicable to governmental plans. Notwithstanding any other provision of state law, the board shall administer the retirement system to fulfill this intent for the exclusive benefit of the members and their beneficiaries. Any provision of this article referencing or relating to these federal qualification requirements shall be effective as of the date required by federal law. The board may promulgate rules and amend or repeal conflicting rules in accordance with the authority granted to the board pursuant to section one, article ten-d, chapter five of this code to assure compliance with the requirements of this section.
The consolidated public retirement board created pursuant to article ten-d, chapter five of this code shall administer the teachers' defined contribution retirement system. The board may sue and be sued, contract and be contracted with and conduct all the business of the defined contribution system in the name of the teachers' defined contribution retirement system.
The board has all powers necessary to effectuate the purposes of this article. The board shall contract with a private pension, insurance, annuity, mutual fund or other qualified company or companies to administer the day-to-day operations of the system. In selecting such company or companies the board shall take into account as its highest duty, the proper safeguard and protection of the member and employer contributions and the interest dividends, or other return thereon. The board shall promulgate rules regarding the proper investment of funds notwithstanding the provisions of article six, chapter twelve of this code.
(b) Members of the existing Teachers Retirement System whose employment continues beyond the first day of July, one thousand nine hundred ninety-one, and those whose employment was terminated after the thirtieth day of June, one thousand nine hundred ninety-one, under a reduction in force are not affected by subsection (a) of this section and shall continue to contribute to and participate in the existing Teachers Retirement System without a change in plan provisions or benefits.
(c) Any person who was previously a member of the Teachers Retirement System and who left participating employment before the creation of the Teachers' Defined Contribution Retirement System on the first day of July, one thousand nine hundred ninety-one, and who later returns to participating employment after the effective date of this section shall return to the existing Teachers Retirement System.
(d) Any person who was, prior to the first day of July, one thousand nine hundred ninety-one, a member of the existing Teachers Retirement System who left participating employment before the creation of the Teachers' Defined Contribution Retirement System on the first day of July, one thousand nine hundred ninety-one, and who later returned to participating employment after that date and who was precluded from returning to the existing Teachers Retirement System as a result of prior provisions of this section, may become a member of the Teachers Retirement System upon meeting the requirements provided in article seven-d of this chapter.
(e) Any employee whose employment with an employer was suspended or terminated while he or she served as an officer with a statewide professional teaching association, is eligible for readmission to the existing retirement system in which he or she was a member.
(f) An employee whose employment with an employer or an existing employer is suspended as a result of an approved leave of absence, approved maternity or paternity break in service or any other approved break in service authorized by the Board is eligible for readmission to the existing retirement system in which he or she was a member.
(g) In all cases in which a question exists as to the right of an employee to readmission to membership in the existing Teachers Retirement System, the Consolidated Public Retirement Board shall decide the question.
(h) Any individual who is not a "member" or "employee" as defined by section two of this article and any individual who is a leased employee is not eligible to participate in the Teachers' Defined Contribution Retirement System. For purposes of this section, a "leased" employee means any individual who performs services as an independent contractor or pursuant to an agreement with an employee leasing organization or other similar organization. In all cases in which a question exists as to whether an individual is eligible for membership in this system, the Consolidated Public Retirement Board shall decide the question.
(i) Effective the first day of July, two thousand five and continuing through the first day of two thousand six, any employee of River Valley Child Development Services, Inc., who is a member of the Teachers' Defined Contribution Retirement System may elect to withdraw from membership and join the private pension plan provided by River Valley Child Development Services, Inc.
(j) River Valley Child Development Services, Inc., and its successors in interest shall provide for their employees a pension plan in lieu of the Teachers' Defined Contribution Retirement System on or before the first day of July, two thousand five, and continuing thereafter during the existence of the River Valley Child Development Services, Inc., and its successors in interest. All new employees hired after the thirtieth day of June, two thousand five, shall participate in the pension plan in lieu of the Teachers' Defined Contribution Retirement System.
(k) The administrative body of River Valley Child Development Services, Inc., shall, on or before the first day of June, two thousand five, give written notice to each employee who is a member of the Teachers' Defined Contribution Retirement System of the option to withdraw from or remain in the system. The notice shall include a copy of this section and a statement explaining the member's options regarding membership. The notice shall include a statement in plain language giving a full explanation and actuarial projection figures, prepared by an independent actuary, in support of the explanation regarding the individual member's current account balance, vested and nonvested, and his or her projected return upon remaining in the Teacher's Defined Contribution Retirement System until retirement, disability or death, in comparison with the projected return upon withdrawing from the Teachers' Defined Contribution Retirement System and joining a private pension plan provided by River Valley Child Development Center, Inc., and remaining therein until retirement, disability or death. The administrative body shall keep in its records a permanent record of each employee's signature confirming receipt of the notice.
(1) Any employee who is a member of the existing retirement system may, upon written election, voluntarily elect membership in the Teachers' Defined Contribution Retirement System, on a prospective basis, on or after the first day of July, one thousand nine hundred ninety-one. All benefits earned by any employee making a voluntary election under the existing retirement system prior to the voluntary election shall be frozen and made available to that employee upon retirement as provided by the existing retirement system. A member of the existing retirement system who has less than five years of contributing service in the existing retirement system may elect to withdraw his or her contribution plus interest thereon as if the member is terminating employment and upon withdrawal shall deposit the funds in the defined contribution system: Provided, That the member's years of contributing service in the existing system shall be applied toward the years of employment service required under section eleven of this article: Provided, however, That this election is allowed on a retroactive basis to the first day of July, one thousand nine hundred ninety-one. For the purposes of this section, "frozen" means that the member's salary, years of service and any other factor to determine benefits shall be calculated as of the date that the member elected membership in the defined contribution system and after that date no increase in salary, years of service or any other factor may be used to increase the retirement benefit above that which it would be if a person retired upon the date that the election is made. After having made the election, the employee may not change such election or again become a member of the existing retirement system.
(2) Notwithstanding any provision of this section to the contrary, after the thirtieth day of June, two thousand five, no person who is a member of the State Teachers Retirement System may elect membership in the Teachers' Defined Contribution Retirement System.
(a) Each employee who is a member of the Defined Contribution System shall contribute four and one-half percent of his or her gross compensation by salary deduction. The salary deductions shall be made by the employer and shall be paid to the Teachers' Defined Contribution Retirement System within fifteen days of the end of the pay period: Provided, That the Board may require any employer to make the payments within such shorter period as it may determine, upon at least sixty days notice to the employer, if the Board determines the employer has the technological capacity to transfer the funds within the shorter period. The employer payments shall be remitted by the Board within five working days to the private pension, insurance, annuity, mutual fund, or other qualified company or companies designated by the Board to administer the day-to-day operations of the system.
(b) All member contributions shall be immediately deposited to an account or accounts established in the name of the member and held in trust for the benefit of the member. An account agreement shall be issued to each member setting forth the terms and conditions under which contributions are received, and the investment and retirement options available to the member. The Board shall propose for legislative approval in accordance with article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code, pursuant to section six of this article, rules defining the minimum requirements for the investment and retirement options to be provided to the members.
(c) The legislative rules proposed by the Board, to the extent not inconsistent with the applicable provisions of the Internal Revenue Code of the United States, shall provide for varied retirement options including, but not limited to:
(1) Lump sum or periodic payment distributions;
(2) Joint and survivor annuities;
(3) Other annuity forms in the discretion of the Board;
(4) Variable annuities which gradually increase monthly retirement payments: Provided, That said increased payments are funded solely by the existing current value of the member's account at the time the member's retirement payments commence and not, to any extent, in a manner which would require additional employer or employee contributions to any member's account after retirement or after the cessation of employment; and
(5) The instances in which, if any, distributions or loans can be made to members from their annuity account balances prior to having attained the age of fifty-five.
Each participating employer shall annually make a contribution equal to seven and one-half percent of each member's gross compensation. The pro rata share of this amount shall be paid upon each date that a member contribution is made and shall be remitted as provided for in section nine of this article for credit to the member's annuity account. Each participating employer has a fiduciary duty to its employees to ensure that the employer contributions are timely made. In the case of an officer or employee of the state, any unpaid contribution shall be a state debt, contracted as a result of a casual deficit in state revenues, to be accorded preferred status over other expenditures.
In the event that any payment is not timely made, the participating employer shall immediately give to the employee and the state auditor notice in writing of the nonpayment, in such form and accompanied by such documentation as may be required by the auditor. Notice to the auditor shall operate in the manner of a requisition, and the auditor shall transmit a warrant to the treasurer. At such time as funds are available in the appropriate account, the treasurer shall pay the employer contribution, together with appropriate daily interest.
(b)(1) Upon termination of employment, regardless of whether the member has taken a distribution of all or a portion of his or her vested account, the remaining balance, if any, in the member's employer account that is not vested shall be remitted and paid into a suspension account to be administered by the Board. The Board shall propose rules for legislative approval in accordance with article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code regarding the distribution of any balance in the special account created by this section: Provided, That any funds in the account shall be used solely for the purpose of reducing employer contributions in future years.
(2) Any account balances remitted to the suspension account herein shall be maintained by the Board in the suspension account in the name of the terminated employee for a period of five years following the member's termination of employment. For each terminated employee at the culmination of the five-year period, the Board shall certify in writing to each contributing employer the amount of the account balance plus earnings thereon attributable to each separate contributing employer's previously terminated employee's account which has been irrevocably forfeited due to the elapse of a five-year period since termination pursuant to section sixteen of this article.
(c) Upon certification to the several contributing employers of the aggregate account balances plus earnings thereon which have been irrevocably forfeited pursuant to this section, the several contributing employers shall be permitted in the next succeeding fiscal year or years to reduce their total aggregate contribution requirements pursuant to section seventeen of this article, for the then current fiscal year by an amount equal to the aggregate amounts irrevocably forfeited and certified as such to each contributing employer: Provided, That should the participating employer no longer be contributing to the Defined Contribution System, any funds in the account shall be paid directly to the employer.
(d) Upon the use of the amounts irrevocably forfeited to any contributing employer as a reduction in the then current fiscal year contribution obligation and upon notification provided by the several contributing employers to the Board of their intention to use irrevocably forfeited amounts, the Board shall direct the distribution of the irrevocably forfeited amounts from the suspension account to be deposited on behalf of the contributing employer to the member annuity accounts of its then current employees pursuant to section seventeen of this article: Provided, That notwithstanding any provision of this article to the contrary, when a member is or has been elected to serve as a member of the Legislature, and the proper discharge of his or her duties of public office requires that member to be absent from his or her teaching, nonteaching or administrative duties, the time served in discharge of his or her duties of the legislative office are credited as time served for purposes of computing service credit, regardless when this time was served: Provided, however, That the Board may not require any additional contributions from that member in order for the Board to credit him or her with the contributing service credit earned while discharging official legislative duties: Provided further, That nothing herein may be construed to relieve the employer from making the employer contribution at the member's regular salary rate or rate of pay from that employer on the contributing service credit earned while the member is discharging his or her official legislative duties. These employer payments shall commence as of the first day of July, two thousand three: And provided further, That any member to which the provisions of this subsection apply may elect to pay to the Board an amount equal to what his or her contribution would have been for those periods of time he or she was serving in the Legislature.
(b) Nothing in this section shall be construed as permitting rollovers or transfers into this system or any other system administered by the retirement board other than as specified in this section and no rollover or transfer shall be accepted into the system in an amount greater than the amount required for the repayment of cashed-out or withdrawn contributions.
(c) Nothing in this section shall be construed as permitting the repayment of cashed-out or withdrawn contributions except as otherwise permitted in this article or the rules applicable to the defined contribution system.
(b) An alternate payee named in a qualified domestic relations order may elect to receive a distribution awarded from this plan. If the alternate payee elects, the board or its designee shall promptly compute the amount due without regard to whether the employee is receiving benefits at the time of election. After the amount due has been computed, the board shall promptly initiate payments to the alternate payee.
(c) For purposes of this section, the term "qualified domestic relations order" means a "qualified domestic relations order" as defined in Section 414(p) of the Internal Revenue Code with respect to government plans.
The board shall authorize the private pension, insurance, annuity, mutual fund or other qualified company or companies with whom it contracts to make available to members such supplemental annuity options, disability and other insurance or benefits as the board deems appropriate: Provided, That such supplemental annuities, insurance and benefits shall be funded solely from employee contributions.
The board shall prepare or cause to be prepared, on an annual basis, an account statement for each members' annuity account. The statement shall include, but not be limited to, a statement of the current market value of the members' account. The board shall prescribe the form and content of the account statement not inconsistent with the provisions of this section.
(b) All years of employment service shall be counted for vesting purposes under section eleven of this article.
Beginning on the first day of July, one thousand nine hundred ninety-one and thereafter, each county board of education shall deposit in the member's annuity account created pursuant to section nine of this article an amount equal to seven and one-half percent of all compensation paid to members of the defined contribution system in excess of that authorized for minimum salaries in sections two and eight-a, article four, chapter eighteen-a of this code to the extent that the excess exceeds the amount distributed for salary equity to the county.
(a) General rule. - If any change or employer error in the records of any existing employer or the retirement system results in a member, retirant or beneficiary receiving from the system more or less than he or she would have been entitled to receive had the records been correct, the board shall correct the error. If correction of the error occurs after retirement, the board shall adjust the payment of the benefit in an amount computed by the board to which the retirant was correctly entitled.
(b) Underpayments. - Any error resulting in an underpayment to the retirement system of required contributions may be corrected by the member or retirant remitting the required employee contribution and the existing employer remitting the required employer contribution. Interest accumulates in accordance with the board's Rule, Refund, Reinstatement, Retroactive Service, Loan and Employer Error Interest Factors, 162 CSR 7, and any accumulating interest owed on the employee and employer contributions resulting from an employer error is the responsibility of the participating public employer. The existing employer may remit total payment and the employee may reimburse the existing employer through payroll deduction over a period equivalent to the time period during which the employer error occurred. If the correction of an error involving an underpayment of required contributions to the retirement system will result in increased payments to a retirant, including increases to payments already made, any adjustments may be made only after the board receives full payment of all required employee and employer contributions, including interest.
(c) Overpayments. - (1) When mistaken or excess employer contributions, including any overpayments, have been made to the retirement system by an existing employer, due to error or other reason, the board shall credit the existing employer with an amount computed by the board, to be offset against the existing employer's future liability for employer contributions to the system.
(2) When mistaken or excess employee contributions, including any overpayments, have been made to the retirement system, due to error or other reason, the board has sole authority for determining the means of return, offset or credit to or for the benefit of the employee of the amounts, and may use any means authorized or permitted under the provisions of Section 401(a), et seq., of the Internal Revenue Code and guidance issued thereunder applicable to governmental plans. Alternatively, in its full and complete discretion, the board may require the existing employer to pay the employee the amounts as wages, with the board crediting the existing employer with an amount to offset against its future contributions to the plan: Provided, That the wages paid to the employee are not considered compensation for any purposes under this article.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2015 Regular Session
The WV Code Online is an unofficial copy of the annotated WV Code, provided as a convenience. It has NOT been edited for publication, and is not in any way official or authoritative.