About the Division of Retirement and Benefits
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The first Alaska retirement system was the Teachers' Retirement System (TRS). Developed in the Territory of Alaska, the system encouraged teachers to live and teach in the "new" territory. Alaskans recognized the importance of having a competitive education system; the benefits offered under TRS were among the best available at the time. The Territory of Alaska paid the employer costs of this new retirement plan and the plan members paid a membership fee.
The Territory expanded retirement benefits to all of its non-TRS employees by signing a Federal Social Security Agreement. This Agreement enrolled into Social Security all territorial employees who were not members of the TRS. Public Law Section 218 authorized this agreement. This benefit for governmental employees was later offered by the territorial legislature to employees of political subdivisions across the State, excluding members of TRS.
At Statehood, the governing agencies transferred these retirement plans from the Territory of Alaska to the State of Alaska.
The state government developed and offered the Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS) to all political subdivisions whose employees participated in Social Security under Section 218.
Some political subdivisions of the State dissolved their federal Section 218 Agreements and used the PERS as their predominant retirement plan. In 1978, State of Alaska employees voted themselves out of Social Security coverage with the agreement the State would develop an alternative plan.
January 1, 1980, the State of Alaska activated the Supplemental Benefit System (SBS). In order to replicate the displaced Social Security plan, the SBS provided members an assortment of insurance options. SBS regulations stipulated remaining employee contributions be directed into an employee-managed annuity account. In 1983, this system became available to other political subdivisions not participating in Social Security.
1990's and early 2000's
Subsequently, the TRS and PERS underwent several changes adapting to the continuing needs of participating employers and members. Legislators developed different tiers of the plans to meet the needs of controlling costs and still provide meaningful member benefit.
By 2005, it became clear that the costs of continuing the defined benefits PERS and TRS were prohibitive. State legislators began developing legislation to evolve these plans into defined contribution plans. The PERS tier IV and TRS tier III defined contribution hybrid plans were activated July 1, 2006.
The State of Alaska continues to evaluate and adapt the government retirement plans available to both the state and political subdivision employers. Offering a competitive benefit package continues to be the goal, allowing participating employers to recruit and retain the most qualified employees available.
The Division of Retirement & Benefits (DRB) is the point of contact for administrative, legal, legislative, and procedural issues regarding the management of Alaska retirement systems and the explanation of benefits.
The Department of Administration's commissioner delegates the responsibility of overseeing the operation of state-sponsored retirement and health benefit plans to the Director of DRB. As provided in Alaska Statutes, the duties of DRB amount to three primary directives:
- Manage the plans
- Report plan status
- Recommend policy
DRB is organized into six functional sections to effectively carry out its administrative duties and responsibilities:
- Administrative Services
- Clerical Support
- Records Management
- Retiree/Refund Processing
- Employer Payroll
- Information Services
- Application Development
- Core Services
- Program Management
- Internal Audit/FICA Compliance
- Member Services
- Enterprise Training
- Disability & Death
- Retirement Processing
- Benefits Processing
- Customer Service Center
Each section works together as a cohesive team to provide customer service to employers and member participants of the state retirement systems.
DRB's operational management of the retirement and health benefit plans requires a high degree of coordination and outreach to ensure excellent, accurate, and timely service to its member community. DRB continues to support the needs of retirees from service in the former Territory of Alaska while providing customer services to active members. Because state retirement benefits are constitutionally protected, the DRB team has comprehensive knowledge of the systems' administrative procedures to assist member participants with professional service and expertise.
The main Retirement and Benefit offices are located in Juneau.
Mailing and physical address:
- 6th Floor State Office Building
- P.O. Box 110203
- Juneau, AK 99811-0203
The division also has a satellite office located in Anchorage.
Anchorage mailing and physical address:
- 550 West 7th Avenue, Suite 1690
- Anchorage, AK 99501-3555