In recent weeks, much information has been distributed regarding various WSU retirement programs, including the Washington State University Retirement Plan (WSURP), the Voluntarily Early Retirement Incentive (VERI), Retirement Supplementation and the Voluntary Investment Program (VIP) (formerly referred to as SRA). In an effort to provide clarification and understanding, following is a brief explanation from Human Resource Services of each retirement program.
Washington State University Retirement Plan (WSURP): This plan has commonly been referred to as TIAA-CREF and is the retirement plan designated for administrative professional and faculty employees; however, some civil service staff also participate in this plan. In this plan, employee contributions are matched by the university at specific percentages, 5, 7.5 and 10 percent. The WSURP is not a VIP (see below) or the PERS, LEOFF or FERS retirement plans.
Voluntary Early Retirement Incentive (VERI): This incentive program recently was approved by the WSU Board of Regents. VERI is available to active WSURP participants who are at least 55 years of age and have participated in the plan for at least 10 years. As a retirement incentive, WSU will provide a one-time payment of $18,000 into a tax-exempt medical expense plan. Eligible and interested employees must apply for VERI between March 1 and May 31, with a retirement date of no later than July 1 (last day of employment is June 30). At this time, VERI is not available to participants of the PERS, LEOFF, TRS or FERS retirement plans. This program is tied to the retirement plan of employees, not their classification.
Voluntary Investment Programs (VIP): VIPs, previously referred to as SRAs (supplemental retirement accounts), are optional retirement accounts that allow employees to make additional contributions to a separate retirement account that is not matched by WSU. Employees make tax-deferred contributions to these voluntary programs, lowering their taxable income while also saving additional funds towards retirement. VIP plans are available through TIAA-CREF and Washington State Deferred Compensation. All faculty, administrative professional, civil service and bargaining unit employees may contribute as little as $15 per pay cycle into these plans and up to a maximum of $16,500 a year. Those over age 50 may contribute up to $22,000. To avoid confusion with the retirement supplementation benefit (explained next), WSU will refer to these programs as VIPs.
Retirement Supplementation: Retirement Supplementation is a benefit offered to retiring employees who are members of the WSURP (i.e. TIAA-CREF) who are at least age 62 and have at least 10 years of participation in a higher education retirement plan. Retirement Supplementation provides employees a goal income equivalent to 20% to 50% (depending on years of service, which can range from 10-25) of the average of their highest two-year salary. If the retiree’s TIAA-CREF assumed benefit does not meet the goal income, WSU will supplement the difference. This provides some security to retirees whose WSURP account may have experienced a loss due to volatile economic times. The calculation normally occurs at the time of retirement. As mentioned above, this benefit is not the VIP (i.e. SRA).
Human Resource Services will hold informational seminars on the VERI Program and Retirement Supplementation. Please see “Latest News” on the HRS website, www.hrs.wsu.edu, to enroll in and/or watch for a future offering. Continue to watch the HRS website as well as WSU Announcements and WSU Today for more information and updates regarding employee benefits.