To Our Members, Retirees, and Employers:
Beginning in March, I have been providing periodic stakeholder messages on how the New Hampshire Retirement System (NHRS, retirement system) is handling the ongoing challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The intent of these communications is to provide assurances that the retirement system is committed and able to fulfil its mission statement, “To provide secure retirement benefits and superior service,” while also protecting the well-being and safety of our members and our staff.
As we head into the colder months, here is an update of how NHRS is managing these unique times: approximately 75% of NHRS employees continue to work remotely; the Board of Trustees and Independent Investment Committee have been meeting exclusively via teleconference; and all in-person retirement appointments and other interactions have been conducted exclusively online or by phone.
We are pleased to report that retirement processing and payment of benefits have continued uninterrupted, thanks to the responsiveness of our IT operation and the flexibility of our staff. In addition, our Public Information team has continued with its member and employer education mandate, conducting 16 webinars since the middle of March, with nine more scheduled through the end of the year.
We have also taken the opportunity to redesign our customer service operations by establishing a contact center, which is dedicated to responding to all calls, emails, faxes or in-person interactions, assuring that we meet or exceed the expectations of all of our members, beneficiaries, and retirees. We are very excited about this initiative, and expect it will go live in December.
And finally, we have developed a flexible, responsible plan to safely re-open our office for member appointments with new safety protocols in place that adhere to state and federal public health guidelines. Our expectation, at this time, is to start that process sometime in the first quarter of 2021, depending upon where the State is in terms of new COVID infections. Based on the recent acceleration in the rate of infection and hospitalizations, we have not yet established a date for reopening for face-to-face appointments on a limited basis. While we appreciate that many of you may prefer to meet in person, your health and safety, and that of our staff, are paramount, and any decision we make will be based on that principle.
Please keep checking our COVID-19 page – https://www.nhrs.org/covid-19 – as we will be updating it as circumstances change.
Remember, NHRS is here to serve our more than 85,000 members and retirees, as well as our 465 employers. On behalf of all of us at the retirement system, we hope you are continuing to take care of yourself and your loved ones during these unprecedented times.
George P. Lagos
New Hampshire Retirement System