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A MESSAGE FROM AR BENEFITS

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For questions on Health Insurance
Employee Benefits Division (EBD)
(501) 682-9656
or at 1-877-815-1017.
For questions on life insurance, call Minnesota Life at 1-888-826-2734
or USAble Life at 1-800-370-5854.
Are you an Arkansas State Employee planning to retire? Did you know that The ARBenefits Plan can continue to serve as your health plan throughout retirement?

After your years of dedicated service, worrying about your grandchildren, a fishing trip or a world vacation should be your focus, not your health coverage. So the ARBenefits Retiree Plan is there, waiting for you. However, it is important to understand all of the rules ahead of that time so the transition to the retiree plan will be a smooth one.

As you enter into retirement, you might see some changes as they relate to the ARBenefits Retiree Plan. As an active employee under the ARBenefits Plan, you have the option to choose the plan option that fits you best, whether it’s the Gold, Silver or Bronze Plan. If you are younger than age 65 when you retire, you have those same three plan options to choose from – Gold, Silver or Bronze. 

While the benefits (covered medical and preventative care services) between the three plans do not change, the network does, and so do the rates. Be sure to take a look at all three to determine the best option for you.

Also, and this is very important, you must be a member of the ARBenefits Plan on your last day of employment for eligibility in the Retiree Plan. This is a state law. Also, once covered as a retiree, you lose the opportunity to rejoin the plan if you voluntarily leave for non-group coverage. 


If you are eligible to draw a retirement annuity, and you meet the requirements to enroll, there are some important options to consider when signing up.
  • If you plan to continue your health insurance as a retiree, you must complete an Election Form and submit it to Employee Benefits Division within 30 days of the termination of your active employment.
  • You have the option to enroll in COBRA coverage for 18 months and apply for retirement insurance within 30 days of the end of your COBRA coverage. However, if you choose COBRA for 18 months, you must remain on COBRA for the entire 18 months to be eligible to return to the retirement plan (unless you reach Medicare entitlement age during the 18 months).
  • If you choose not to enroll in retirement health insurance or COBRA at this time because you and/or your dependents are covered under another group health plan, you must inform EBD that you are waiving coverage in writing. This can also be done utilizing the Election Form by checking the “Waive Coverage as a Retiree” box. By submitting this waiver, it allows you to return to the Plan at a later date, but only if you experience a loss of employer group health coverage.
  • If you choose to enroll in an outside Medicare Supplement Plan, you will permanently lose your eligibility to the ARBenefits Retiree Plan.
So what about cost? Well, that will vary based on your situation. First off, did you retire at age 65 and beyond, or are you an early retiree? The reason that becomes an issue is that once you turn 65, the plan becomes secondary to Medicare coverage (Parts A & B). That means there is a difference in cost based on your age. Those retirees who are pre-65 will pay a rate based on the plan option and tier they choose. However, once you turn 65, your rate will automatically adjust to Medicare primary rate.

The other issue to consider is what plan tier to choose.   Are you planning to cover just yourself, or yourself and your spouse, or maybe even children? Whatever you choose, keep in mind that the rates are again based on age and, in this case, the age of your spouse as well. An example is coverage for you as a 65-year-old Medicare Primary Retiree, with your spouse on the plan as a Non-Medicare Retiree, because they are not yet 65. That choice will be more expensive than if both you and your spouse are 65. All of the rates for retirees can be found at our website, www. ARBenefits.org. 

The big thing to remember is that the retiree coverage is the same as the active plan, so you will not lose any benefits once you retire. That peace of mind will allow you to focus on the years you’ve been planning for your whole life. 

If you have questions or would like to consult with a Post-Employee Benefits Specialist about your retirement benefits, please do not hesitate to contact EBD at 1-877-815-1017. Once you hear the recording, “Just Press One” to speak to a Member Services Representative.
     

 

www.ARBenefits.org

 

The United States Department of Labor defines a Qualified Domestic Relations Order as a domestic relations order that creates or recognizes the existence of an alternate payee’s right to receive, or assigns to an alternate payee the right to receive, all or a part of the benefits payable to a participant under a pension plan.

You or your attorney can request an application for a QDRO from the APERS office. The form may be filed for an active, inactive, or retired member.  The application for a QDRO must be filed in the format approved by the APERS Board of Trustees, and the signed original filed in the proper court must be submitted. If this procedure is not followed, APERS will not honor the QDRO.

A model of the language can be found here (QDRO Model Language).

   
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