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Message from Director Paul Matson Re: COVID-19 Service Levels

Photo of ASRS Director Paul Matson 2019 To our members, employers & constituents:

In this time of uncertainty, I wanted to take a moment to let you know that in spite of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the resulting economic and capital market situation, and the recent Executive Orders from Governor Ducey to ensure your safety, the Arizona State Retirement System (ASRS) is still fully operational in all core services, including making all pension, disability, and health insurance payments. Benefit payments are not impacted, and retirees can expect their monthly benefits to continue to be paid on time every month.

The ASRS continues to process all retirement applications, forfeitures, and similar service requests, as well as collecting contributions, and we expect to continue doing so throughout this uniquely stressful period. The only services we are not providing at this time are in-person individual and group meetings. Rather than risk your health, that of our community and employees, we have migrated all meetings to telephonic or web-based platforms. As such, please use our website to find answers to most of your questions, log into your myASRS account to send us a Secure Message, or call to speak with a Benefits Advisor from our Member Advisory Center.

It should be noted that state agencies, including the ASRS, have been subject to periodic call center outages over the past several days due to significantly increased call volumes which had exceeded the state’s capacity for in-bound calls. This situation appears to have been resolved, and we will keep you advised should that change. As such, I do not expect any significant service delivery interruptions other than the migration from physical service delivery to electronic service delivery. Our organization will be continue to be highly functional and service-oriented even as the majority of our staff are now remote-based.

The investment portfolio continues to be professionally and actively managed during these volatile periods, with particular focus on liquidity, opportunity, and rebalancing.

In summary, our goal is to ensure that our efforts and actions enable you to focus on other, more pressing aspects of your life, knowing that your ASRS benefits will continue uninterrupted. Should you need assistance, we are still here for you.

To learn more about ASRS' response to the current situation, visit ASRS Service Updates in Response to COVID-19 . We encourage you to bookmark this page and check back frequently as it is continually updated with the latest developments that impact the ASRS.

Member Education & Appointments Temporarily Remote Only

During this time of enhanced health and safety concern, ASRS member education meetings are currently being offered online only. Similarly, member appointments are currently being offered by phone or online. Read on for more details:

ASRS Member Education is temporarily online only   ASRS Member Appointments are temporarily remote only

Market Impacts on ASRS

With recent significant losses to financial markets attributed largely to uncertainty over the spread of the coronavirus, ASRS members may be concerned about the impact to the ASRS benefit plan.

The ASRS manages a diversified investment portfolio which is comprised of equities, real estate, credit, and bonds. Unlike personal retirement accounts, such as a 401(k), ASRS retirement benefits are set by a formula and not by the ups and downs in the investment market.

Here’s a summary of market impacts to ASRS members:

'Return to Work' Employees and the Alternate Contribution Rate

When an ASRS retiree returns to work for an ASRS employer and meets active membership criteria, then active contributions must begin and the member’s pension is suspended. The member will not receive a pension benefit until they either terminate employment or reduce their hours and re-retires. However, there is an exception to this rule. Under very specific conditions, an ASRS retiree can qualify to remain retired while working for an ASRS employer. It is the responsibility of both the retiree and employer to ensure compliance.

For Staff Who May Be Retiring

Are you or members of your staff within a year of retirement? The ASRS is here to assist in the transition! We offer several options to help personalize your or your staff’s retirement inquiries. Did you know the ASRS offers one-on-one appointments in the Phoenix and Tucson offices, as well as online counseling sessions? 

What is an HIPB?

The ASRS provides a health insurance premium benefit (HIPB), also referred to as a “subsidy” or “reimbursement,” to eligible retired and LTD participants to help cover a portion of the out-of-pocket cost of member insurance premiums. A percentage of all employer contributions are placed in a 401(a) Health Benefit Supplement account to provide funds for the HIPB.

Help Make our Employer Conference Better!

With your help, the Employer Relations Team continues to improve our yearly conferences. If you have any suggestions or ideas you would like discussed during this year’s conferences, please contact your employer liaison via Employer Secure Message (ESM).

ASRS Basics for Employers

Are you new to working with the ASRS? Are you looking to refresh your knowledge of ASRS’ processes and online applications?

65+ Membership Waiver

Can a member opt out of the ASRS? There is a group of members who are eligible to opt out of the Arizona State Retirement System, if they meet certain criteria.

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