Employer News | Quarterly Newsletter | Fall 2020

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Fall | Volume # 166

Employer Toolkit

Making It Easier to Welcome New Employees

The Division has created a great resource for employers when bringing on newly hired PERS or TRS Defined Contribution members. The Employer Toolkit is designed to assist employers and provides the correct documentation to create customizable employee orientation packets based on the plans you participate in and the services you provide.

In the toolkit, we provide a checklist and handouts for new employees participating in the Defined Contribution Retirement plan. These give detailed instruction and information about registering online for access to their Defined Contribution account, adding beneficiaries, services provided by our partner, Empower Retirement, and more!

In addition, depending on which State of Alaska benefits you offer, you can choose to include information about the other plans available:

  • Supplemental Annuity Plan
  • Deferred Compensation Plan
  • Voluntary Supplemental Benefits
  • Political Subdivision Group Health and Life Plan

We also provide follow-up tasks recommended for new employees that can assist them along the way. Check out the Division’s YouTube page for helpful information on the PERS Defined Contribution Retirement Plan, available as seven short video sections that can be watched in its entirety or in smaller sections to suit the needs of the viewer.

For more information, please view the Employer Toolkit webpage.

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Counseling Resources for Employers and Employees

If you are an employer participating in the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS), the Teachers Retirement System (TRS), the Alaska Supplemental Annuity Plan (SBS-AP), or the Alaska Deferred Compensation Plan, you have a wealth of resources readily available by phone, email and online.

Teleconferences Are Available
For the safety of our members and employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, our offices are closed to the public, but our Division counselors are still available to you and your employees for teleconferences.

Counseling meetings can be very helpful in preparing employees for retirement. No matter how close or far they are from the big moment, it is a good idea to learn more about the PERS or TRS benefits.

Meet Your Counselors
Each employer has a specific counselor, assigned by region, who is available to help you and your employees understand the State of Alaska benefits you may offer. Your counselor can coordinate and conduct educational events designed to reach any size audience, from one-on-one consulting with the employer or member to webinars designed to reach the entire workforce. Our counseling team is always looking for innovative ways to connect with employers and members of the benefit plans and are ready to assist you in any way they can.

In addition to the counselors dedicated to employers by region, we have counselors available to assist your employees on an individual basis by phone or via video conferencing platform.

Be sure to stay in touch with your counselor.

Anchorage Regional Counselors

Anchorage Counselors

Juneau Regional Counselors

Juneau Counselors

Along with the expertise of our counseling team, employers can find information specifically for them on our website. This includes eReporting, bona fide separation of employment, sample personnel and payroll files, and more.

To make an appointment with a counselor, please visit our website. Teleconferences can be scheduled for individuals and couples. For couples, if both are members and would like to discuss their retirement together, please book back-to-back video appointments with the same counselor for each employee. This ensures we not only prepare for both members, but allows plenty of time to talk about both retirement plans. The member will receive a confirmation email after scheduling the meeting and a reminder email the day before. If they need to reschedule, the confirmation email will have a link to follow.

Our counselors are here for you and your employees. Don’t hesitate to pick up the phone, send an email, or recommend your employees make an appointment using the online scheduler.

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The Employee Retention Credit—IRS Publication 5419

The Employee Retention Credit (IRS Publication 5419) is designed to encourage employers to keep employees on their payroll and to help employers navigate eligibility of the COVID-19 employer tax credits. You can find the two-page document on the IRS website.

Click here for more information.

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Payroll Submissions—Remember to Include Signed Summary Sheets

For payrolls submitted using ACH, signed payroll summary sheets and ACH memos (if applicable) must be sent at the time of payment submission to doa.drb.employerpayroll@alaska.gov.

If remitting payment by check, please make sure to include the signed summary sheet with your check. This will ensure contributions are posted without delay, since DRB staff will be able to determine immediately which payroll a given check is for.

Still Paying Employer Payroll by Check? Electronic Payment Preferred.

In order to ensure timely and continuous payroll processing, we strongly encourage you to submit payments electronically. Please see the two payment options below:

  1. eReporting ACH with Bank Account Activation (preferred method)
    • Go to eReporting
    • Open the Banking Tab
    • Set-up EFT
    • Bank account will be PENDING until your financial institution finalizes approval
    • Once ACTIVE, you can submit payment with ACH
    • Payment is submitted with payroll, and only the Signed Summary report is needed for processing.

  2. eReporting Other ACH with no Bank Account Activation
    • No activation is required in eReporting
    • Submit payment with other ACH
    • Signed summary along with an ACH memo is required to be sent in together for processing.

If you are interested in setting up an ACH payment, please reach out to your payroll contact for more information.

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Entering Termination Dates

When an employee terminates his or her employment, remember to submit termination dates for each plan the employee is enrolled in. Each plan is independent of one another and a termination date submitted in one plan does not post a termination date in another plan.

For example, if an employee is in both PERS and SBS, a termination date must be submitted for the member with each payroll.

Employees must have a termination date before they can refund their retirement accounts. There are many instances where a member has attempted to refund their account, only to encounter a delay due to a missing termination date on their file. Timely submission of termination dates will allow employees to refund their accounts promptly and reduce the number of inquiries made to you, the employer, to check the status of a member.

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What to Do If You Submit DCR Member Contributions Incorrectly

There are times when an employer will need to back out ineligible contributions that were submitted to the Division. When this happens, there are a few things to be aware of pertaining to backing out contributions from the Defined Contribution Retirement (DCR) plan.

Reasons for DCR Back Outs

  • Member enrolled in DCR when member is eligible for Defined Benefit (DB) plan
  • Incorrect Social Security number submitted, which created a separate account for the member
  • Ineligible contributions (concurrent service, ineligible wages)

Employer Responsibility
Per statute, if a DCR member’s contributions must be backed out from Empower Retirement for PERS, TRS, SBS, or DCP, the employer is responsible for all Empower Retirement fees and market losses associated with the ineligible contributions. If the member does not have enough funds in his/her account to cover the contributions being backed out, the shortage will be added to the employer’s over/short account as an amount owed by the employer related to the full back out.

Relevant Statutes

  • PERS Sec. 39.35.770. Transmittal of Contributions; Claims Against Funds of an Employer
    (c) Employers are responsible for administrative fees, investment fees, and investment losses charged to accounts established under AS 39.35.730 resulting from contribution adjustments due to employers enrolling members in the plan before the members are eligible for membership. Contributions made by employees shall be returned to the employer by reducing future employee contributions due. Contributions, net of fees and investment losses, made by employers shall be used to reduce future employer contributions due.

  • TRS Sec. 14.25.370. Transmittal of Contributions; Claims Against Funds of an Employer
    (c) An employer is responsible for administrative fees, investment fees, and investment losses charged to accounts established under AS 14.25.340 resulting from contribution adjustments because the employer enrolled a member in the plan before the member was eligible for membership. Contributions made by an employee shall be returned to the employer by reducing future employee contributions due. Contributions, net of fees and investment losses, made by an employer shall be used to reduce future employer contributions due.
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Hiring a New Employee? Take Your Time When Entering Data

It is easy to transpose numbers when entering data, make sure to verify all information before submission.


The Division relies on employers to properly report names and Social Security Numbers (SSN). A member’s account is driven by the SSN and if it’s incorrectly entered, it will create a separate, additional member account. If two accounts are created for an individual member, it will require an SSN merge to correct member contributions.

Although not required for verifying an employee’s identification, we highly recommend that employers maintain a copy of an employee’s Social Security card. An employee name and SSN must match against the Social Security Administrations database. This is especially relevant to employees who have an account with Empower Retirement. Empower will request a copy of members Social Security card if there are discrepancies in the member's Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN). They will check the member's TIN, furnished by the employer, against the name/TIN combination contained in the Internal Revenue Service database. If a discrepancy is discovered, Empower will place a fraud alert on the member's account, and the member will not be able to refund their account until SSN verification is provided.

If you have any questions regarding correcting a name and/or Social Security number, please connect with your payroll contact.


An SSN merge may also be required when a member is hired into the incorrect plan. It is critical for employers to verify that a new employee is enrolled into the correct plan. Typically, all employees hired after June 30, 2006 should be enrolled in the Defined Contribution Plan (DC) Plan. However, if an employee was previously a Defined Benefit (DB) member with the same or different employer and they have not refunded their account, they are eligible to be rehired into the DB plan. Contributions will have to be backed out for members enrolled in the wrong plan.

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