Information about the Voluntary Retirement Incentive Program
As you may know, the City is facing significant issues related to housing and homelessness in Portland. While the foundation of Portland’s economy remains strong, the Mayor has asked general fund bureaus to submit reduction and/or realignment packages to the City’s Budget Office ensuring the availability of appropriate funds necessary for this priority. Because of this request, bureaus will be working with budget shortfalls over the next fiscal year. Earlier today, City Council approved a Voluntary Retirement Incentive Program. This program gives bureaus the option to approve a city-paid contribution of $15,000 into a Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) for retirement eligible employees who agree to voluntarily separate from city service through retirement.
To be eligible for consideration under this program:
- You must be a regular employee with at least 5 years of service with the City of Portland,
- You must be retirement eligible under PERS, OPSRP or FPDR, and
- You must terminate employment on or before June 30, 2016 (some exceptions apply to sworn officers, please see program details).
Potentially interested employees must submit their intent to retire and completed application form to their bureau’s HR Business Partner no later than March 31, 2016 (bureaus may identify an earlier application submission date and would communicate to employees directly if there is a business need). If you are a represented employee, you can submit your application and the Bureau of Human Resources will be working to confirm your union has authorized participation. You should contact your union on any updates regarding participation.
An HRA is an employer-established benefit plan. The City's contribution to the plan can be excluded from your gross income. Reimbursements to you through the plan are generally tax free if used to pay for qualified medical expenses, including amounts paid for health insurance premiums, or amounts such as deductibles or co-pays you must pay under another health plan. Any amount that remains at the end of the plan year can generally be carried over to the next year for up to five years. These amounts may never be used for anything but reimbursements for qualified medical expenses. Reimbursements can be made for you and/or your spouse or eligible child. The Benefits Office is available to answer questions about the HRA and its administration. You may contact the Benefits Office at 823-6031 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Answers to typical questions:
Can I participate in the program if I am already Medicare-eligible (age 65 or older)?
Yes, the program is available to PERS, OPSRP and FPDR retirement-eligible employees, regardless of age.
Will the incentive program end when I become Medicare eligible?
No, you will continue to be eligible to use funds in the program for reimbursement of qualified medical expenses, including premiums for Medicare Part B and supplemental or advantage plan premiums.
The application states that I can receive reimbursements up until "all sums have been dispersed or your plan has otherwise terminated." What does this mean?
This language means the plan will terminate when you have used all of your HRA contributions or at the end of 5 years, on June 30, 2021. The plan will also terminate upon your death (surviving spouses and qualifying dependents continue to have access). As with any other benefit plan offered by the City, the City does reserve the right to amend, change, terminate or cancel the Plan at any time, subject to the City's obligations under the public employees collective bargaining act. No amendment, change or termination would reduce or eliminate benefits retroactively and the City is establishing this Plan with the intent that it will be maintained through June 30, 2021 (run-out period July 1, 2021 - September 30, 2021).
If I retire June 30, 2016, are any medical expenses incurred prior to June 30, 2016 eligible for reimbursement through the VRIP?
No, your participation in the plan will begin the day following your last day of work with the City.
Can I change my mind?
Once your application is submitted and participation has been approved by your bureau, it cannot be rescinded. If your application is not approved, you may rescind your intent to retire.
Where can I find a list of eligible expenses that may be reimbursed under the Plan?
You can find them on the BenefitHelp Solutions website at http://www.benefithelpsolutions.com/pdfs/fsa_expenses.pdf . While this list is comprehensive, it is the list of eligible expenses for a typical Flexible Spending Account. A Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) also allows reimbursement of your health care insurance premiums, provided they were not already paid with other pre-tax dollars.
Please contact the Benefits & Wellness Office at 503-823-6031 if you have further questions about the HRA. Should you need information about the application process, please contact your Bureau Human Resources Business Partner.