November 13, 2017 - Executive Director Update: ATRS Adopts New Actuarial Assumptions
Important Update! The ATRS Board met today, Monday November 13, to consider proposed actuarial changes presented by the ATRS actuaries and executive staff. ATRS has updated actuarial information due to a five year experience study by the ATRS actuaries that will be presented to the ATRS Board in December. The information generated in the experience study is the basis for adoption of new actuarial assumptions. ATRS has been expecting and providing members with the anticipated actuarial changes that were presented and accepted today. ATRS has also worked to provide the ability to absorb the costs of the assumption changes in a comprehensive manner through legislation and rules that have been put in place over the last several years.
The first change was adoption of new mortality tables that have significantly longer life expectancies for ATRS members than the existing mortality table. The second change was ATRS reduced its assumed rate of return from 8% where it has been since 1991 to 7.5% which was the ATRS assumed rate of return from 1986 to 1991. In addition the five year experience study brought about many other minor actuarial assumption changes regarding disability rates, retirement rates, refund rates, and basic assumptions on inflation and member behavior.
More detail on the assumption changes and benefit changes are provided in this very important executive director update. Importantly most changes regarding member benefits are over a year and a half away and begin in the 2020 fiscal year.
ATRS executive staff is ready to maintain transparency and provide full information to members. Most members will not see any change for well over a year and most of the changes will not have a material change to current benefits. In addition, the changes implemented have hold harmless provisions and benchmarks to prevent a reduction in benefits being paid or a major change in benefit calculations, especially in the short term. In the coming weeks you can email questions to the executive director with answers to questions being posted in upcoming executive director updates. Additionally the executive director reminds school districts, ATRS employers, and ATRS member groups that the executive director will schedule times to attend "school hall meetings" across the state to answer benefit questions and provide insight to the quality benefits ATRS provides. The executive direct will stay and answer questions until all are answered. Your school should call and schedule a school hall meeting with the executive director.
The ATRS website allows members to have direct access to specific member account information. Now approximately 12,500 members have direct account access to individualized account information. You can find instructions to sign up on the ATRS Welcome page.
You can also sign up to obtain these executive director updates through your private email address. Updates are made throughout the year such as at retirement season and other times when information needs to be shared. Now, over 17,000 people have signed up to receive this executive director update by direct email delivery. On the ATRS Login page you can find the link to sign up for email delivery of these updates. It is always a great pleasure for ATRS staff to learn of more ways to provide information to ATRS members, employers, beneficiaries, government officials, and the public. The ATRS Board is committed to providing a system that is member friendly and transparent.
You can also get helpful ATRS information on the ATRS Facebook page under the name of Arkansas Teacher Retirement System. Over 3,800 Facebook users get updates via the ATRS Facebook page. Go to the Facebook page and "like" ATRS to get daily updates. I try to go to the Facebook page every day to post information and answer member questions about ATRS. In addition, if you use Twitter, you can join over 860 others by following events at ATRS and issues of interest on the ATRS Twitter page. Remember that ATRS is here to serve you! If you have questions, email me or call.
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