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avatar_Mark Provost

Vesting and Cobra Options for the RMT

Started by Mark Provost, Monday December, 11, 2017, 10:50

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Mark Provost

This is from the RMT Attorney Linda Stuessi,

Any member who terminates their employment with the Sheriff's Office and fully retires from the County within 18 months of attaining 10 years of active service with the Sheriff's Office (i.e., 10 years of contributions to the Plan) can use COBRA payments to earn the balance of their 10 years of active service needed for a lifetime benefit from the trust.  So, since the first 10-year point is September 1, 2019, anyone who terminates after the February 2018 monthly payments are completed by the County, would be able to attain eligibility through self-payments.  Those who may be thinking of retiring this month through February may want to consider staying on for a few months.

Each employee who terminates employment with the County for any reason, including retirement, should receive a COBRA notice informing them of this right and in March 2018 those notices will start to have the monthly payment information.  The notice has blanks for Earhart to fill in that tell the amount of the monthly payment and how many months of self-payments are required for eligibility. Even if they are not retiring from the County, they should consider getting the 10 years of Active Service because they would get the monthly lifetime benefit starting at age 57.   If they opt not to do the self-payment, then they will get the individual account benefit.

Self-payment requires that the former employee self-pay the total monthly contribution equal to the employer plus employee contribution.  They have to make these payments monthly without reminders from the Trust.  If they miss a payment, then their COBRA rights are terminated and they won't be able to earn any additional active service through COBRA.  The notice explains all of these requirements.  In addition, the notice tells them that they have a 30 day grace period for each COBRA self-payment.

We cannot require them to make the COBRA payments more quickly than monthly; we have to offer them a monthly payment schedule.  However, if they want to pre-pay in one lump sum or pay more quickly the total contribution payments, then they can get eligibility before 9/1/19.  The Plan allows payment of Covered Expenses any time after 9/1/14, as long as they meet all of the eligibility requirements.  There is no prohibition of payment monthly benefits prior to 9/1/19; that is just the date that the first members will have 10 years of contributions via the regular contributions.

Keep in mind that they have to meet all of the eligibility requirements in order to become eligible, not just 10 years of Active Service.  The eligibility requirements are:
  • 10 years of Active Service
  • Age 50 if the employee retires from the County and receives retirement benefits from SCERA, or age 57 if not eligible for benefits from SCERA
  • Contributions for all periods of Active Service
  • Separated from County employment , except for service as a retiree as extra-help. EH employees are now ineligible for trust benefits after a US Dept of Labor change that takes effect on July 1, 2021. EH must now fully separate from all County service before they can collect benefits. EH members currently collecting benefits from the trust may no longer submit claims until fully retiring but will not lose benefits that accrue while they remain employed with the County
The COBRA rights have been distributed to all members in the benefit booklet.  The COBRA notice is right behind the SPD in the booklet. You will also find the Cobra information attached to this post below.
  • Valley, Marine Unit Alternate, Coroner, K-9, Resident Deputy (King 2), SOU TST