KRS - F.Y.I. is your direct connection to current, factual information about your KRS-administered benefits. This is where you can find our response to rumors, press coverage, interesting topics, and other information about the Systems. Be the first to learn of organizational announcements, and stay informed about upcoming events that are important to you.
Pre-Retirement Education Program Registration Now Open:
The Louisville Pre-Retirement Education Program is now at capacity. If you are interested in being added to our PREP waitlist, please click here to view the event, then click "Register" and "Join Waitlist." Upon a cancellation, an email will be generated and sent to the next registrant.
If you have questions, please contact us toll free at 1-800-928-4646.
Senate Bill 151 Status:
On June 20, 2018 Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled Senate Bill 151, the pension reform bill, unenforceable because the legislative process violated certain provisions of the Kentucky Constitution. The ruling has been appealed to the Kentucky Supreme Court, and a hearing has been scheduled for September 20, 2018. The judge’s ruling does not affect other bills related to KRS that were enacted during the 2018 legislative session.
View Pension Reform Summary
We have recently received several questions about actuarial assumptions and the Quasi-Governmental Employers issue. A brief summary of the matter, as well as the process the Board of Trustees follows in making changes to the assumptions, should be helpful background information for our members to know.
In 2017 the Board of Trustees retained Milliman, a nationally known actuarial consulting firm, to conduct an economic assumptions audit of KRS' five pension and five insurance plans. Their main task was to determine if the economic assumptions in place at the time (e.g. inflation, investment return, and payroll growth) were accurately reflecting the actual experience and future expectations of the plans. Accuracy is important because these assumptions are used to determine the annual employer contribution rates used to fund current and future retiree benefits.
This analysis led the Board to conclude that the economic assumptions used for many years had been too optimistic, which in turn resulted in understating the plan's unfunded liabilities and required employer contributions. Further, adding to the problem was the General Assembly's failure to pay even these "optimistic" actuarially determined contributions for 15 years over a 22-year period to the KERS and SPRS plans.
During its May and July 2017 meetings the Board carefully considered the Systems' prior assumptions which contributed to the inadequate funded status of the plans. As a result, the Board voted to adopt more conservative assumptions largely in line with Milliman's recommendations. The Board believes these assumptions are vital to restoring the Systems to sound financial condition.
Please know that the Trustees did not make this decision in haste or without thorough discussion and debate. The Board has a fiduciary duty, per state law, to act solely in the interest of the members and beneficiaries of the Systems. Their actions, while fiscally painful, were absolutely critical in order to protect the current and future retirement benefits legally promised to more than 379,000 Kentuckians.
For additional information on this subject, you may want to read the Summer 2017 Pensions Insight newsletter article written by then-Board Chair John Farris titled, "KRS Board Takes Action on Economic Assumptions" found on the KRS website: https://content.govdelivery.com/attachments/KYRS/2019/05/03/file_attachments/1204797/8-23-17%20Pension%20Insights%20Summer%202017.pdf
The last retirement benefit raise, or Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA), provided to KRS retirees took effect in July 2011 and continued through the 2011-2012 Fiscal Year. Although the COLA paid to retirees of Kentucky Retirement Systems comes from trust fund dollars and not the General Fund, the Kentucky General Assembly (and not the KRS Board of Trustees or the Governor) actually holds the authority to grant COLAs under Kentucky Revised Statute 61.691.
In 2013 the General Assembly created a new law to govern how COLAs will be granted. Language included in Senate Bill 2 during the 2013 Regular Session says COLAs will only be granted in the future if the KRS Board determines that assets of the system are greater than 100% of the actuarial liabilities and legislation authorizes the use of surplus funds for the COLA; or the General Assembly fully prefunds the COLA or directs the payment of funds in the year the COLA is provided.
This change is consistent with a resolution adopted by the KRS Board of Trustees on November 18, 2010, which "…urged the Governor and the General Assembly to make certain that any amount of cost of living adjustment given pursuant to KRS 61.691 is fully funded, in addition to the amounts provided pursuant to KRS 61.565 (actuarially recommended employer contributions)." House Bill 303, the State Executive Branch budget bill that was passed during the 2016 Regular Session of the General Assembly (the bill that created the two-year state budget for Fiscal Years 2016-17 and 2017-18 that is currently in effect) did not include a COLA for retirees.
After careful consideration of the funding status of the Systems, the Board adopted this resolution in 2010 because COLAs for KRS retirees are paid from trust funds on a pay-as-you-go basis, meaning that the expense is recognized as it occurs and is not pre-funded. The costs for each annual COLA are recognized in the employer contribution rate after the COLA is granted. From 2008 through 2012, unfunded COLAs added $1.45 billion in unfunded liability to the Systems.
Click here for a History of Benefit Increases to Retirees from July 1, 1960 to Present.
The Public Pension Oversight
Board (PPOB) was established by the Kentucky General Assembly in 2013 to assist
with their “…review, analysis, and oversight of the administration, benefits,
investments, funding, laws and administrative regulations, and legislation
pertaining to the Kentucky Retirement Systems.” Per KRS
7A.220, Board membership consists of elected officials from both the House
and Senate; the State Budget Director, Auditor of Public Accounts, and Attorney
General or their designees; and citizens with financial expertise appointed by
KRS staff routinely attend the
monthly PPOB meetings to provide information about the Systems. We are
actively engaged with the Oversight Board and continue to work cooperatively
with policymakers to find solutions to pressing issues.
Below is a brief list of what
KRS has presented at prior PPOB meetings:
- Updated the PPOB on our
cash flows and the importance of developing and maintaining positive cash
- Understanding KRS
- Operating under SB 2
- Recommendations for
legislation in the 2019 Regular Session of the Kentucky General Assembly
- KRS Board Trustee
election process and recommended changes
- Investment performance
and compliance updates
- Trends in investment
return assumptions for public plans
- Importance of funding
and investment compounding
- Investment consultant
Request for Proposal (RFP) process
- Actuarial valuations
For more information,
we encourage you to view our KRS Public Pension Oversight Board Materials page located on our website.
During the 2018 Regular Session of the General Assembly, Senate Bill 151 was passed changing retirement eligibility and benefits with various effective dates for active, inactive and future KRS members. The Attorney General, the Kentucky Education Association and the Kentucky State Fraternal Order of Police filed a lawsuit regarding Senate Bill 151 asking the court to declare the new law unconstitutional and unenforceable. On June 20, 2018, Franklin Circuit Judge Shepherd ruled that Senate Bill 151 is unenforceable because the legislative process violated certain provisions of the Kentucky Constitution. On December 13, 2018, the Supreme Court of Kentucky affirmed the decision of the Franklin Circuit Court in the case of Bevin V. Commonwealth of Kentucky (Case No. 2018-SC-00419-TG and Case No. 2018-SC-000421-TG), declaring Senate Bill 151 void and of no effect as unconstitutional.
View 2018 Pension Reform Summary
When the amount of your monthly benefit or deductions
change, KRS mails a check stub to you reflecting the change. Due to Federal tax
withholding and insurance premium changes effective January 1st,
more than 64,000 check stubs will be mailed this month. Payments will be
deposited with your financial institution as usual. You can review your
monthly benefit information by logging into your member self-service account at
All benefits attributable to service earned on or before December 31, 1997, are exempt from Kentucky income tax. However, the portion of the member's benefits earned January 1, 1998 and after is subject to Kentucky income tax, but this income may be excluded up to a certain amount. In recent years, that exclusion amount had been $41,110.
House Bill 366 lowered the exclusion amount to $31,110 for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2018. Retired members may want to consult a qualified tax advisor or the Kentucky Revenue Cabinet to determine how this change may affect their tax returns. KRS is unable to provide tax advice.
Learn more about Taxes and Your Responsibilities via our website.
KRS Executive Director David Eager spoke at the Kentucky Public Retirees 35th Annual Conference in Lexington, KY on June 13, 2018. View his presentation here.
Due to increased requests to meet with a retirement counselor, KRS has put in place the following specific requirements in order to schedule an appointment:
- Members must be within two (2) years of retirement eligibility either by age or service or eligible to purchase service credit.
- At the time your appointment is scheduled, you will be required to designate which retirement dates you wish to discuss during your appointment. All requests will be prepared in advance of the scheduled appointment time. Similarly, if you are eligible to make a purchase, valid verification, if required, must be on file prior to scheduling the appointment.
- If you choose to come to KRS to complete your retirement paperwork, our office must receive a valid "Form 6000, Notification of Retirement" and valid supporting documentation before an appointment will be scheduled. For further information on filing a Form 6000 please click here: Ready to Retire
For Calculation Requests:
At this time, requests for retirement estimates will only be taken for members who are within two (2) years of retirement eligibility or for those who wish to make a service purchase. For all others, we invite you to register for Member Self Service where you can calculate your own retirement estimates… and also take advantage of a variety of other features designed to help you manage your retirement account.
Please click here to get started: Member Self Service
We've heard them periodically over the years… it's not unusual for rumors about retirement benefit changes to spread. Please rely on KRS as your fact source for questions you have about your benefits.
While we don't know what the future holds, here are a few points to consider:
1. Rumors are just that: rumors, and not facts. If something affecting the funding or the benefits administered by Kentucky Retirement Systems is confirmed, we will inform you via this website and KRS social media outlets, such as Facebook and Twitter.
2. Retirement benefits administered by KRS are based on state and federal law. This means the Kentucky General Assembly has to introduce legislation and pass it before any changes to benefits can occur. To stay current with legislative happenings, or to read more information about the legislative process, please visit the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission website: http://lrc.ky.gov/
3. Shifting assets from one plan to another is specifically prohibited by federal and state statutes. To put it simply, it cannot legally be done.
4. Retirements have increased, but are not spiking. For the first three (3) months of Fiscal Year 2018, retirements are up 13.8%.
5. KRS staff is staying current on retirement member consulting. We are working overtime and not accepting non-critical consulting for the time being, but retiring members are being served.
6. Our counselors and other KRS employees are not authorized to discuss hypothetical, or "what if," situations. We are only able to explain benefit options as they are currently written in state law.
More members are wanting to speak directly to benefits counselors concerning their retirement options. Call Back Assist can help make your life easier by simply reducing your wait time on hold. A counselor will call you back and you won't lose your spot in line.
HOW ARE CALLS ANSWERED?
On any given day, approximately 18 to 20 highly-trained KRS retirement counselors answer calls from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern time in our call center. With over 379,000 active, inactive, and retired KRS members to serve, it doesn't take long for a backlog and lengthy wait time to develop.
WHAT CAN I DO TO REDUCE MY CALL WAIT TIME?
KRS experiences our heaviest call volume on Mondays. Placing your call on another day of the week, if possible, may result in your call being addressed more quickly. Also, KRS has implemented a "Call Back Assist" feature that allows you to leave your contact information on a recorded message, and a KRS counselor will call you back. Calls are returned in the order in which they are received, so you can continue with your day instead of waiting "on hold" to speak with a live counselor. We encourage members to select this option when offered. Members who have utilized this feature have told us they are very happy with the time-saving results.
Thank you for your continued patience as we work to serve our members as quickly and efficiently as possible.
WHAT IS A PIN AND WHY DO I NEED ONE?
KRS automatically generates a Personal Identification Number (PIN) for our members when they first have contributions posted to their accounts, and beneficiaries receive a PIN when they become a payee in the system.
Members need their PIN in order to discuss account information with us over the phone or to be able to access their account online. This added layer of security helps protect the confidentiality of your account.
HOW DO I OBTAIN A NEW PIN?
There are two ways to obtain a new PIN.
If members or beneficiaries need a new PIN, they can call our office toll free at 1-800-928-4646 to request a new one, which will be sent to them via the U.S. Mail. Receiving a PIN through the mail may cause a delay for the member in accessing the needed information while they wait for the PIN to arrive but this option is great for those not in a hurry.
Same Day via Email:
Members and beneficiaries who have a valid email address on file with KRS can also request a new PIN to be sent to them via encrypted email, so they will receive the PIN the same day. A member or beneficiary may request a PIN via encrypted email in Step 2 of the registration process for the self-service portal, in the Contact Information module within the self-service portal, or by contacting KRS toll free at 1-800-928-4646. To request a new PIN through the self-service portal, click here to get started: https://kyret.ky.gov/Pages/Login.aspx
We understand that our members would like to come to Frankfort to meet with a retirement benefits counselor face to face. Unfortunately our appointment availability is extremely limited. Simply put, KRS does not have the staff to meet with every member requesting appointments at this time. Our benefits counselors not only meet with members, they also process monthly retirements, requests for benefit estimates and service purchase costs.
Don't forget, you can access your account information online. Members can obtain a benefit estimate and access their most recent Annual Statement using our Member Self-Service (MSS) website. Read more about how to register and use our self-service site. Please keep in mind that you will need to provide your KRS Personal Identification Number (PIN) when calling our office to discuss your account and to register for MSS. Your PIN can be found on an Annual Statement issued prior to 2012. If you can't find your PIN, please call our office to request a new one.
If you are retiring before the end of the year, we strongly urge you to submit your completed Form 6000, Notification of Retirement, and other required documents, by mail or fax as soon as possible. Read more about the documents you need to submit to file for retirement.
We are working hard to identify options for accommodating the volume of counseling requests and hope to offer some alternatives to one-on-one counseling in the near future. Please check our website for updates.
KRS administers the state, county and state police retirement systems strictly in accordance with applicable state and federal law and regulations, and is not able to take a position on the legal or practical implications of the "inviolable contract." However, we can direct you to the references in the Kentucky Revised Statutes to the "inviolable contract," which include: KRS 61.692 for KERS, 78.852 for CERS and 16.652 for SPRS. There is no other separate written contract defining the term.
To date, legislative changes to benefits have always been prospective and based on a member's participation date. The PFM Report presented to the Public Pension Oversight Board on August 28, 2017 does not address the "inviolable contract."
In 2007, the Governor's Blue-Ribbon Commission on Public Retirement Systems issued a report. Page 32 of the commission's report addressed the inviolable contract. With regard to medical benefits the report stated that "... Kentucky statutes provide that medical benefits are included as part of the "inviolable contract" of the Commonwealth with regard to KRS participants, with the exception that benefits "provided to a member whose participation begins on or after July 1, 2003, shall not be considered as benefits protected by the inviolable contract." See KRS 61.702(8)(e).
No. None of the KRS plan investments (KERS, CERS, and SPRS) are "commingled," or mixed together, to support the other systems or to pay benefits. This is prohibited by federal law. However, assets can be, and often are, aggregated for purposes of buying or selling holdings to achieve economies of scale, reduce transaction costs, and thereby save the Systems money.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Each fund (pension and insurance) consists of five plans (KERS Non-Hazardous, KERS Hazardous, CERS Non-Hazardous, CERS Hazardous, and SPRS), each having its own investment strategy based upon their individual liquidity needs. The different plan assets are maintained through separate financial accounts and are reported individually in audited financial statements (as noted in our Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports). Furthermore, the assets of each plan are always known (on a daily basis) due to the precise plan accounting and unitization process used by BNY Mellon, the Systems' custodian.
Like many of our pension peers, such as the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System (TCRS) and the Indiana Public Retirement System (INPRS), KRS maintains "unitized funds." A unitized fund, similar to a mutual fund you might own for your personal investment portfolio, is a structure that allows the plans to benefit from economies of scale and gain diversification while retaining individual asset values for each plan.
Submit Your Questions:
To submit a question to us, please complete the contact information below. If we post your question to KRS - F.Y.I. we will not use your name, email address or other personally-identifiable information.