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Getting Ready to Retire

Thinking of Retiring?

Questions to Consider
  • Are you a member of the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) or the Optional Retirement Plan for Higher Education (ORP)?
  • When are you eligible to retire for an “unreduced” retirement benefit?
  • Are you able and can you afford to retire early with a reduced benefit, or do you need to delay retirement?
  • What are your sources of benefits upon retirement, and what will they cost?
  • Are you at least 65 and, if so, have you registered for Medicare?
Steps in the Retirement Process
  1. VRS retiree: If you are eligible for retirement benefits through the VRS, go to and create an online member account. Use the myVRS Retirement Planner to look at your account summary and determine if you are on track for retirement. You may also look at your first opportunity for an unreduced retirement benefit or create different scenarios. For example, a basic benefit payout option or survivor option, or elect a “PLOP” (Partial Lump-sum Option Payout) if available to you. See Benefit Payout Options on the VRS website. Detailed retirement plan handbooks are available to review online or download at VRS Publications.
  2. ORP retiree: If you are an ORP participant, schedule a meeting with your plan representative (Fidelity or TIAA-CREF) for assistance in determining if you are on track for retirement. The plan representatives are on campus on a monthly basis. Look at the HR Events Calendar for information on dates, location, and how to make an appointment.
  3. Notify Human Resources: From 6 months to 1 year prior to your planned retirement date, please contact with your anticipated retirement date and a preliminary meeting will be scheduled with you.
  4. Apply for Medicare or Social Security: You can apply for Medicare or Social Security online through the Social Security Administration website (Apply for Benefits).
    • Medicare Part A helps pay for inpatient (hospital) care and is free for most individuals. Part A enrollment is automatic with Social Security.
    • Medicare Part B helps pay for outpatient services. You may enroll in Part B as early as three months prior to your retirement date.
    • Consider your need for Medicare Part D which covers outpatient prescription drugs. You may seek guidance from your pharmacist as to which Part D plan best meets your needs, or use Medicare Plan Finder. You may also contact Lisa Walker at Bay Aging (866-758-2386 ext. 44) to receive assistance with Medicare Part D plans available in Virginia.
    • Your W&M health care plan will serve as your primary health care plan while you are employed and over age 65.

There are important matters to consider regarding your various benefits prior to retirement.

Benefits upon retirement
Health Insurance
  • Medicare Retirees: Through the State Health Benefits Program for Retirees, the Advantage 65 plans supplement health care benefits for retirees who are eligible for Medicare. See Retiree Health Coverage for information, options and monthly premiums. Advantage 65 plans are administered by Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
  • Non-Medicare Retirees: The current selection of Virginia health care plans is available to retirees who are not yet eligible for Medicare. See Health Coverage and click on the Non-Medicare Retirees tab for information and rates for these plans.
  • Waiving health coverage: Will you “waive” coverage in the State Health Benefits Program for Retirees and obtain coverage with your spouse’s health care plan or other plan? If so, be sure to identify the requirements and initiate enrollment in a timely manner.  If you waive coverage, you may not elect it again in the future.
Health Insurance Credit
  • You may be eligible to receive credit or payment toward the cost of your health care. To receive this credit, you must be retiring with more than 15 years of creditable service. See Health Insurance Credit for information.
  • If eligible, the benefit is $4 per year of service with no maximum. The health insurance credit is paid for by W&M (also known as retiree health credit (RHC)).
  • The credit may not exceed the cost of your health insurance.
  • If you will be paying your health insurance premium through deduction in your VRS retirement check, you do not need to apply for this credit.  VRS will apply the credit automatically to your retirement payment.
  • For health care premiums through any other provider, complete and submit the Request for Health Insurance Credit (see form VRS-45 at to VRS.
Life Insurance
  • If you are covered under the VRS Group Life Insurance Program when you retire, some basic benefits will continue. Your life insurance benefit equals your compensation at retirement rounded to the next thousand and doubled.
  • The benefit will begin to reduce by 25% on January 1 following one calendar year of retirement.  will continue to reduce by 25% each January 1 until it reaches 25% of its original value.
  • As with active employees, you are responsible for paying imputed income tax for life insurance over $50,000.  The IRS requires that employer-provided life insurance be taxed as if you had received the equivalent value in cash.
  • If you also have Optional Group Life Insurance, you may convert your coverage to an individual policy within 31 days of retirement by completing VRS form 35E (see Forms at, and mailing it to Minnesota Life, P.O. Box 1193, Richmond, VA 23218-1193.
Long-Term Care

If you are covered under the Virginia Sickness and Disability Plan (VSDP) long-term care plan, your coverage will end when you retire.  You may continue your coverage within 60 days of your retirement by completing forms VRS-170 and VRS-171 (see Forms at, and mailing them to Long Term Care Plan, P.O. Box 64011, St. Paul, MN 55164-0011.  You will pay the premiums for this plan.

Unused Disability Leave or Sick Leave Conversion

If you will be a VRS retiree and eligible for a payment of unused disability leave or sick leave at retirement, you may elect to have this payment converted to service credit toward your retirement benefit.

Tax Sheltered Annuity (TSA) or Deferred Compensation Plans
  • Any contract payouts may be rolled into your 403(b) by completing a TSA Deduction Authorization form.
  • If you participate in the 457 deferred compensation plan, you may contact MissionSquare (877-327-5261) regarding distributions. The 457 plan does not have a 401(a) rollover requirement.
Other Benefit Plans

If you participate in any of the following voluntary benefit plans, please contact the indicated office directly.

  • Legal Resources, Ms. Joan Dyer at 804-897-1700
  • AFLAC, Mr. Bradford Klavan at 757-652-0912
  • Long-Term Care, Genworth Financial at 866-859-6060
Taking the steps to retirement
  • Notify Human Resources: 4 to 6 months prior to your retirement date, please contact to schedule a meeting to review and complete the necessary documents.  These documents should be finalized and submitted to VRS 3 months prior to your retirement date.
    • Your retirement date will be the 1st of the month.
    • Unless other arrangements are made, your last day of work will be the 24th of the preceding month.
  • VRS retiree: At the meeting, you will be provided a copy of the following documents for your review and signature.
    • Application for Service Retirement (form VRS-5)
      • If you are married or separated, your spouse must complete the spouse certification section and sign after you sign.
      • Please bring a voided personal check.
    • State Health Benefits Enrollment Form for Retirees, Survivors and VSDP/LTD Participants
      • This form must be submitted within 31 days of retirement, whether choosing health care coverage or waiving it.
      • If you are eligible for, and selecting, an Advantage 65 health care plan, please bring your Medicare card with you.
    • Designation of Beneficiary (form VRS-2)
      • This form should be completed to ensure that your beneficiary designation(s) are up-to-date.
      • If you elect the Survivor Option, you must submit this form to designate a beneficiary of your life insurance benefits.
      • You may name your Survivor or another individual as your beneficiary.
    • Health Insurance Credit (form VRS-45)
      • If you are eligible for the Credit and VRS will not be deducting retiree health insurance premiums for your monthly retirement payment, request this form.
  • ORP retiree: If you will be an ORP retiree, after meeting with your plan representative, you will be provided a copy of the following documents for your review and signature.
    • Termination Certification Form – ORP (form VRS-65D)
      • This form must be completed within 12 months of requesting a distribution from your plan.
      • For 9-month faculty paid over 24 pay periods, you may choose to retire effective June 1st or September 1st.
      • The advantages of a September 1 retirement are:
        • You get to stay under the state's health care plan for three additional months at a premium lower than retiree health care;
        • You do not receive a payout, so you will not be taxed at a higher rate; and
        • You do not have to apply for Medicare Part B as soon.
    • Health Insurance Credit (form VRS-75)
      • If eligible for this benefit by having 15 years of service credit; and
      • You must document that you have started a periodic distribution or purchased an annuity from the plan provider.
    • State Health Benefits Enrollment Form for Retirees, Survivors and VSDP/LTD Participants
      • If you are on a health care plan administered by Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield, you may establish a direct draft from your bank account. If your payment is late, your coverage will be cancelled.
  • Clearance Form: To receive your final paycheck and payment of any leave due to you, have your department initiate and follow the instructions of the Clearance Form.
    • You will receive your final paycheck on or about the first of the month, and payment of any unused annual, compensatory, and/or overtime leave will be paid by check. The Payroll Office will mail the check to your home address on the next regular payday.
What happens after you retire?
  • VRS retiree: If you are receiving your benefit from VRS, you will receive your retirement payment on the first business day of the month following your retirement date, and the first of each month following.
  • Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLAs)
    • Allows your VRS retirement benefit to keep pace with inflation.
    • Is based on the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers (CPI-U).
    • If you retire with an unreduced benefit, or with a reduced benefit with at least 20 years of service credit, the COLA will go into effect on July 1 after one full calendar year from your retirement date.
    • Are capped at 5% for VRS Plan 1 members and at 3% for Plan 2 members.
    • You should receive an annual statement of benefits from the VRS following the issuance of a COLA increase.
  • Returning to Work