Last Updated: 2010-01-06

Active Employees FAQ

When can I retire?

General Employees are eligible to retire at age 55 with five years of creditable service (reduced benefits) or at any age with 30 years of service (unreduced benefits). The normal retirement age is 65.

Sworn Firefighters and Police Officers are eligible to retire at age 50 with five years of creditable service (reduced benefits), at any age with 25 years of service under the Defined Benefit Plan (unreduced benefits) or at any age with 20 years of service under the Enhanced Defined Benefit Plan (unreduced benefits). The normal retirement age is 60.

How soon before my retirement date can I apply for retirement?

You may file your retirement application no more than 90 days prior to your effective date of retirement.

You should request a tentative benefit calculation from the Retirement Office at least four months before you plan to file your retirement application.

Eligible members may apply for retirement no more than 90 days and no less than 60 days from the first day of the month in which they are retiring.

For example: A member that wants to retire on January 1, 2012 will need to apply for retirement in the month of October 2011.

Any applications that do not meet the policy will be returned to the member informing them to resubmit their retirement application for the next eligible date.

Members must request in writing for an exception under one of the following reasons:

  1. Personal Health
  2. Health of a loved one (becoming a caregiver)
  3. Offered employment outside of the City of Richmond
  4. Disciplinary action

The member will receive notification from the RRS in cases were an exception is granted.

Note: Cases granted exception will receive their first pension check 60 to 90 days from the date of their retirement.

What will be the amount of my monthly pension?

Each person's retirement benefit is calculated on an individual basis. The amount of your monthly pension will depend on the following factors:

  1. Average Final Compensation. This is the average of your three highest annual salaries for 36 consecutive months
  2. Creditable Service. This is comprised of your total years of service as a full-time, permanent city of Richmond employee, but excluding any separate periods of employment with the city less than nine months. Creditable service will also include 50% of your unused sick leave hours at retirement.

    Example: 1,040 hours x .50 divided by 2,080 (annual work hours) = .25 years of service (3 months)

  3. Age. Your age at the time of retirement

What types of retirement are offered?

Service Retirement

General employees are eligible to retire at age 65, with or without five years of service.

Police officers and firefighters are eligible at age 60, with or without five years of service.

Early Retirement

General employees are eligible for unreduced benefits with 30 years of service, regardless of age, and eligible for reduced benefits at age 55 with at least five years of service, but less than 30 years of service.

Sworn police officers and firefighters are eligible for unreduced benefits with 25 years of service, regardless of age, and are eligible for reduced benefits at age 50 with at least five years of service, but less than 25 years of service.

Deferred Retirement

An employee or former employee is eligible for deferred retirement if they terminated city employment with at least five years of creditable service.The early service reduction factor is based solely on age.

General employees or former general employees are eligible for unreduced benefits payable at age 65 or reduced benefits payable at age 55.

Sworn police officers and firefighters are eligible eligible for unreduced benefits payable at age 60 or reduced benefit payable at age 50.

Compensable (Work-related) Disability Retirement

No employee or former employee can apply for disability retirement after reaching normal retirement age.

All employees are eligible for compensable retirement regardless of number of years of creditable service and age.

The disability must be compensable under the Virginia Workers' Compensation Act.

For sworn firefighters, the disability must be caused by respiratory disease, heart disease or hypertension.

For police officers, the disability must be caused by hypertension or heart disease.

Richmond Retirement System medical examiners must certify that you are completely and permanently incapacitated from performing any duties with the city. However, if the medical examiner certifies that you can perform duties in another capacity, then your case will be referred to the Chief Administrative Officer for alternative job placement.

Refusal of an offer of an alternative position with the city will make the member ineligible to receive disability retirement benefits under this provision. If no job placement is made within one year, your case will be reconsidered by the Board.

Ordinary (Non-Work Related) Disability Retirement

An employee cannot apply for ordinary disability retirement after reaching normal retirement age.

All employees are eligible for ordinary disability retirement with five years of creditable service, regardless of age, provided they are in active service.

Richmond Retirement System medical examiners must certify that you are completely and permanently incapacitated from performing any duties with the city before approval of your retirement.

What types of benefit options are offered?

Basic Benefit

Basic Benefit pays a monthly pension for the lifetime of the retiree. The amount remains the same before and after age 65 for general employees. The monthly pension for firefighters and police officers includes a pre-65 supplement.There is no monthly survivor allowance after retiree's death.

Smooth-Out Option

This option pays a higher monthly pension than the basic benefit before age 65 and a lower amount after age 65, taking into account Social Security benefits. There is no monthly survivor allowance after retiree's death. This option is not available for service retirements.

Level Benefit - Sworn Firefighters and Police Officers only

Level Benefit pays a lower monthly pension than the Basic Benefit before age 65, however it is higher than the Basic Benefit after age 65. The benefit amount remains the same before and after age 65. There is no monthly survivor allowance after retiree's death.

Joint and Survivor Option

This option pays a reduced monthly pension for the lifetime of the retiree. A specific percentage (25%, 50%, 75% or 100%) of the monthly pension will be paid to the designated survivor after retiree's death.

Pop-Up Joint and Survivor Option

This option pays a reduced monthly pension for the lifetime of the retiree. A specific percentage (25%, 50%, 75% or 100%) of the retirement benefit will be paid to the designated survivor after retiree's death. The benefit reverts to the basic benefit amount if the survivor precedes retiree in death.

Can anyone receive my retirement benefit in the event of my death as a retiree?

Yes, if you elect either the Joint and Survivor Option or the Pop-Up Joint and Survivor Option at retirement, in accordance with Section 78-282 of the City Code. The designated survivor does not have to be a spouse or relative.

However, once your retirement is effective, the designated survivor cannot be changed. A surviving spouse of a disability retiree may be eligible for a monthly survivor benefit under other provisions of the City Code.

Does my spouse or beneficiary receive my retirement benefit in the event of my death as an active employee?

If you are eligible for early service retirement at the time of your death as an active employee, your surviving spouse will receive a monthly survivor allowance for life. This benefit is not paid to any other survivor. In addition, if you die while in service within three years of being eligible for early service retirement based upon years of service, your surviving spouse may purchase service credit up to a maximum of three years to attain your retirement eligibility and receive a monthly allowance in accordance with Section 78-314 of the City Code. Also, if you are a member of the system employed before June 13, 1988, your beneficiary will receive a one-time, lump-sum payment of $1,000.00.

Does my spouse or minor child(ren) receive my retirement benefit in the event of my job-related death as an active employee?

If a member dies in service at any time before retirement from a cause compensable under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act, the surviving spouse shall receive a 100% survivor’s allowance monthly for life (except for remarriage) commencing on the first day of the month following the member’s death. The survivor’s allowance will be computed as if the member remained in service and retired upon reaching age 65. However, the three-year average final compensation will be the same as the member’s at the time of his or her death. Any compensation awarded under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act will be deducted from the survivor’s allowance.

If a member leaves no spouse or the spouse dies or remarries before the youngest child of the deceased member has reached age 18, then the child(ren) will be paid the survivor’s allowance until the child’s or child(ren) death or until the child(ren) reaches age 18, whichever occurs first. Any compensation awarded under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act will be deducted from the survivor’s allowance.

If I divorce, will my former spouse be eligible to receive a percentage of my retirement benefit?

Pursuant to Section 78-6 of the City Code, the Richmond Retirement System will only honor domestic relations orders assigning retirement benefits to a former spouse that were accepted and approved by the System prior to June 10, 2002.

Are my retirement benefits subject to garnishment?

Retirement benefits are not subject to execution, levy, attachment, garnishment or any other collection process and cannot be enforced by court order. However, benefits are subject to IRS levies and child support payments.

What deductions will be taken from my monthly pension?

  • Federal and state income taxes
  • Health and dental insurance premiums, if eligible and you elect to maintain your coverage through the city's plans
  • Alimony and child support payments, if court ordered

Will I be covered under the city's health insurance program after I retire?

If you have been enrolled in the cty's health insurance program continuously for five years before retirement and have at least 10 years of creditable service, you are eligible to maintain coverage at the retiree rate until you become Medicare eligible. Dental insurance also continues after retirement at the retiree rate. If you elect to maintain coverage through the city, premiums will be deducted from your retirement benefit.

Will I receive cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) with my pension?

COLA may be granted at the discretion of City Council during the annual budget process for the city of Richmond. The practice has been that a COLA are granted July 1 for persons retired prior to July 1 of the previous year.

Is direct deposit available for my pension?

Retirees are required to elect direct deposit to receive their monthly pension. However, your first monthly pension will be in the form of a check and will be mailed. Pensions are issued on the last working day of each month.

If I receive my pension via direct deposit, can I change my bank account?

Yes. Members currently enrolled in direct deposit, that wish to change banks or bank accounts will need to complete a new Direct Deposit Authorization Form. Forms received by the Richmond Retirement System office prior to the 15th of the month will be processed for the following month's benefit payment.

For example, if you were to complete and submit a direct deposit form to the Richmond Retirement System on or before June 15, the change will become effective with the July pension payment. You will receive a check in the mail for the June benefit payment. A pre-note deposit of zero dollars will be made to your account for June so that we can verify your account information.

Completed Direct Deposit Authorization forms received after the 15th of the month will be processed during the following month for payment.

For example, if you were to complete and submit a direct deposit form to the Richmond Retirement System after June 15, the change will become effective with the August pension payment. You will receive a check in the mail for the July benefit payment. A pre-note deposit of zero dollars will be made to your account for July so that we can verify your account information.

What if I should close my bank account prematurely and do not submit a completed Direct Deposit Authorization Form to the Richmond Retirement System before the 15th of the month?

We will immediately notify you of a rejected payment by your former bank account and request a new Direct Deposit Authorization Form. Once we receive the updated Direct Deposit Authorization Form, we will process it for payment accordingly.

How long does it take to receive a replacement check if it is lost or stolen?

Replacing a monthly pension payment replacement with a check will normally take from 10 to 20 days to process, depending on the period of the month of notification of it being lost or stolen. You can avoid this delay by ensuring you sign up for the Direct Deposit Program. Only then can you assure yourself that your pension will remain safe and deposited on the end of the month payment schedule.

Will I still receive a retirement benefit if I leave the city before retirement age?

Yes, if you are vested in the Richmond Retirement System. Members become vested after completion of five years of creditable service with the city of Richmond. Once vested, benefits are not forfeited, even if termination of employment (voluntary or involuntary) occurs before eligibility for retirement.

You may apply for a deferred retirement allowance at age 55 (for former general employees) or age 50 (for former police officers or firefighters). You may also wait until your normal retirement age (65 for former general members; 60 for former firefighters and police officers) to apply for your unreduced deferred service retirement benefit.

What happens if I decide to return to work after retiring?

There are no restrictions regarding working part time or full time in a seasonal, temporary or contractual position, which does not entitle you to become an active member again of the Richmond Retirement System.

General Employees

If you are rehired in a full-time, permanent position with the city of Richmond, your monthly benefit will cease.

If you are rehired as a general employee in a full-time, permanent position with the city of Richmond, you will become a member in the 401(a) Defined Contribution Plan. The city will make contributions into your individual account based upon your total years of creditable service. The time served in the Defined Contribution Plan will not count towards creditable service in the Defined Benefit Plan. When you terminate city employment again your Defined Benefit Plan retirement benefit will be reinstated at the same level as it was before you re-entered city employment, and you will have access to the funds in your Defined Contribution Plan account.

Sworn Police Officers/Firefighters

If you are rehired as a sworn police officer/firefighter in full-time, permanent position with the City of Richmond, you must elect a retirement plan within 90 days of your re-employment date. If you elect the Defined Benefit or Enhanced Defined Benefit plans (members older than age 40 are not eligible to elect the Enhanced Defined Benefit Plan as it offers no additional benefit), your period of creditable service will be reestablished. When you retire again, your benefit will be recomputed based on the payment option elected during your previous retirement, your total years of creditable service and average final compensation before and after the previous retirement. You will not receive creditable service for the period during which you were retired.

If you elect the 401(a) Defined Contribution Plan, the City will make contributions into your individual account based upon your total years of creditable service. The time served in the Defined Contribution Plan will not count towards creditable service in the Defined Benefit Plan. When you terminate City employment again, your Defined Benefit Plan retirement benefit will be reinstated at the same level as it was before you re-entered city employment, and you will have access to the funds in your Defined Contribution Plan account.

If you accept a position with any public or private entity other than the city of Richmond, your monthly benefit will not be affected.

Will I still have life insurance through the city after I retire?

Group life insurance coverage will continue after your retirement at no cost to you. However, after you retire, the life insurance will reduce by 25% of the original value on Jan. 1 of the first full year after retirement and each January thereafter until it reaches 25% of its original value at retirement.

This reduction does not begin until age 65 for members with a disability retirement.

Please note that accidental death and dismemberment coverage ends at retirement. If you die as a result of any effect other than natural causes, your beneficiary will not receive payment through the city's life insurance plan.

Will I receive Social Security benefits in addition to my Richmond Retirement System benefit?

Yes. These are two separate benefits. Most retirees are eligible to receive full Social Security benefits at age 65 and reduced benefits as early as age 62. Please see the chart below to determine when you will be eligible to receive full Social Security benefits:

Age To Receive Full Social Security Benefits
Year of BirthFull Retirement Age
1937 or earlier65
193865 and 2 months
193965 and 4 months
194065 and 6 months
194165 and 8 months
194265 and 10 months
1943 - 195466
195566 and 2 months
195666 and 4 months
195766 and 6 months
195866 and 8 months
195966 and 10 months
1960 or later67
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Contact Information:

Richmond Retirement System
City of Richmond
730 E. Broad Street, Suite 900
Richmond, VA
23219 USA
Retirement
Phone: (804)646-5958
Fax: (804)646-5299

Toll-Free (Outside Central Virginia): (888)288-2781
Office Hours: By Appointment Only
Monday - Friday
8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Walk-in Visits:
Monday - Friday
10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
and 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

More Contact Information

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