Government Shutdown FAQ
In the event of a government shutdown beginning July 1, 2017,
Health, Life and Pension benefits for state employees may be impacted. The following frequently asked questions (FAQ) are intended to provide general information related to these impacts.
Employees seeking more information about layoff/separation
please see the Layoff Separation Resource Center page.
AlaskaCare Retiree Health Benefits Shutdown Info
Revised June 19, 2017
The following information pertains to the AlaskaCare Retiree Health Plan.
If the Legislature does not pass a budget before July 1, 2017, the retiree health eligibility in place on June 30th will be the last record of eligibility reported to the AlaskaCare plan third party administrators (TPAs) before a government shutdown. The Division of Retirement and Benefits will not be able report eligibility to the TPAs during the shutdown. Once employees are recalled to duty after the shutdown has ended, the Division will audit eligibility, reconcile premiums, and process retroactive adjustments as appropriate.
The Division has a contingency in place to ensure our TPAs have sufficient claims funding to continue to process health claims throughout the month of July for those retirees and dependents eligible for coverage on the June 30th report. However, those members whose eligibility for medical coverage begin or change after June 30th could experience a delay in benefits.
Should the shutdown continue beyond July, the TPAs’ ability to continue to pay claims could be impacted. We will continue to evaluate our options should this occur.
AlaskaCare Employee Health Benefits Layoff Info
Revised June 1, 2017
These FAQs pertain only to AlaskaCare Employee Health Plan members. If you are a member of a Union Health Trust, please contact them directly for more information about your plan.
Will I have AlaskaCare employee health benefits during the potential July 1 government shutdown?
State employees covered under AlaskaCare who would otherwise have been eligible for coverage in July, if not for the shutdown, will receive health benefits through July 31, 11:59 p.m.
Will my health insurance be restored when I am recalled? How soon after recall will this happen?
If you were covered under the AlaskaCare plan at the time of the government shutdown, when you return to work from layoff, furlough or involuntary leave without pay, you are covered under the plan starting the day you return to work.
What is COBRA? How/when do I need to apply? How much does it cost?
If you and/or your dependents lose coverage August 1 due to a government shutdown, you and/or your dependents may continue coverage under the plan by electing COBRA coverage and paying the required premium. You may elect coverage under the plan that is the same or less than the level of coverage that you or your dependents had at the time your coverage terminated under the plan. For example, if you are covered under the medical plan and have elected the standard plan, you may elect COBRA continuation coverage under either the standard plan or the economy plan. Additionally, you may elect COBRA continuation coverage:
- under the medical plan only; or
- under the medical plan and under the dental plan and/or the vision plan
You may not elect COBRA continuation coverage under the dental plan or the vision plan without also electing COBRA continuation coverage under the medical plan.
When the notice of coverage termination is sent to our vendor, PayFlex, a notice of COBRA rights and application for continuation of coverage will be mailed to you. The election of continuation of coverage must be made on a form provided by PayFlex and must be made within 60 days of when the initial notice is issued to you. Payment for coverage, as described in the notice, must be made when due. Premium amounts will be listed in the initial notice, and can also be found on our web page.
Important note: If you elect to enroll in the COBRA plan, you must contact your COBRA Administrator to terminate this coverage once you return to work or if you become eligible for coverage under another plan, including a plan purchased through the marketplace. Once COBRA is terminated, it cannot be reinstated.
Will COBRA cover my dependents?
Yes, you may elect COBRA coverage for yourself and your eligible dependents. However, only those persons who are covered under the plan on the day before the event which triggered termination of coverage are eligible to elect COBRA continuation coverage. There is an exception that dependent children born to or placed for adoption with you while you are on continuation coverage may be added to your coverage if the child is otherwise eligible under the plan.
Once my health insurance ends, do I have to sign up for health care under the Affordable Care Act?
You have the right to continue your coverage under COBRA for a period up to 36 months. If you elect COBRA you do not need to sign up for health care under the Affordable Care Act. However, being eligible for COBRA does not limit your eligibility for coverage for a tax credit through the Marketplace. Additionally, you may qualify for a special enrollment opportunity for another group health plan for which you are eligible (such as your spouse's plan), even if the plan generally does not accept late enrollees, if you request enrollment within 30 days.
The Marketplace offers "one-stop shopping" to find and compare private health insurance options. In the Marketplace, you could be eligible for a new kind of tax credit that lowers your monthly premiums and cost-sharing reductions (amounts that lower your out-of-pocket costs for deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments) right away, and you can see what your premium, deductibles, and out-of-pocket costs will be before you make a decision to enroll. Through the Marketplace you'll also learn if you qualify for free or low-cost coverage from Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). You can access the Marketplace at HealthCare.gov.
Lastly, if you elect to enroll in a Marketplace plan, you must contact your COBRA Administrator and terminate your COBRA continuation coverage. Once terminated, your COBRA coverage cannot be reinstated.
What will happen to my flexible spending account? Can I continue to use this during a government shutdown?
Your coverage will end July 31. Only qualified services incurred while covered will be eligible for reimbursement. If you were covered under the AlaskaCare plan at the time of the government shutdown, when you return to work from layoff, furlough or involuntary leave without pay, you are covered under the plan starting the day you return to work.
Pension Plans Layoff Info
Revised June 1, 2017
For information about health insurance with regard to the potential government shutdown, please see the Health Insurance Layoff FAQ.
Will Retirement and Benefits still be open after July 1st?
The Division of Retirement and Benefits has not received a determination on its status after June 30, 2017. We will update this web page as soon as we know if we will be open during the government shutdown. Please check back frequently.
Will the processing of retirement applications be delayed during the Government Shutdown?
The Division of Retirement and Benefits has not received a determination on its status after June 30, 2017. We will update this web page as soon as we know if we will be open during the layoff period. Please check back frequently.
Can I access SBS or Deferred Compensation and still keep layoff rights?
Layoff rights are not within the scope of the Division of Retirement and Benefits duties. Questions regarding layoff rights and the effects of accessing SBS or Deferred Compensation accounts should be directed to either the applicable union or to the Division of Personnel and Labor Relations.
Do I need to complete a separate address change form for Retirement and Benefits?
If the address change will be transmitted to DRB with a final payroll no additional change notification will need to be made. If the final payout to the employee includes only cashed leave, this is not reported to the PERS and an address change form will need to be completed.
My personal/annual leave will be cashed out at time of government shutdown. Can I roll this over into my Deferred Compensation account instead?
No. The Deferred Compensation plan requires that a request for leave cash out transfers to the plan be received by the Division no later than end of the month prior to your last day in pay status. With the government shutdown being in effect as of July 1, your leave cash out will be processed effective in June. Under the plan rules, a request for deferral would have had to be received no later than May 31.
While in government shutdown, can I withdraw funds from my PERS? SBS? Deferred Compensation?
From DRB standpoint, no. Government shutdown does not qualify under tax law and our PERS, SBS, DCP plans as a separation from employment. Therefore you will not be allowed access to these accounts.
Once recalled, will I be placed back in my same retirement tier?
Since you are unable to access your PERS account while on government shutdown, when you are recalled to work you will retain your tier status.
While in furlough during government shutdown, can I withdraw funds from my PERS? SBS? Deferred Compensation?
In a furlough the employee is not terminated from employment. Withdrawal of funds cannot occur unless the employee is terminated. Please check with your human resources office regarding your status during the government shutdown.
How will government shutdown affect my future retirement benefits?
Depending on the length of the government shutdown and other leave without pay days accrued during calendar year 2017, your PERS service may be reduced. The government shutdown places the employee in a leave of absence without pay status (LWOP) for retirement purposes. For a full-time member, LWOP, furlough or layoff that does not exceed 10 accumulated days in any calendar year is not considered an interruption or break in service. However, if the leave of absence is equal to or exceeds 10 accumulated days, whether taken consecutively or through intermittent hours scattered throughout the calendar year, your service credit for that year will be reduced by the equivalent number of days you were on leave of absence without pay. A layoff of 30 days would reduce your service credit earned for this year.
A part-time member has their service calculated on actual hours in pay status; therefore any reduction in hours paid would reduce the service credit earned.
Is there any discussion about another Retirement Incentive Program (RIP) that would allow defined benefit members to retire earlier than normal?
There is currently no retirement incentive program in effect.
Will the employer continue to make contributions to my defined contribution plans (PERS Tier IV DCR) and Alaska Supplemental Benefits Annuity Plan (SBS)?
If you are not working during the shutdown, the answer is no. Contributions are based on compensation paid for services rendered. In a government shutdown employees who are not working will not be receiving compensation. No contributions will be made to either account in those circumstances.