(Note: Prior updates are listed below the top item)

For Immediate Release: May 21, 2020

For Immediate Release: May 11, 2020

A Message from the Executive Director

An update on how NHRS is addressing challenges presented by COVID-19

To NHRS members, beneficiaries, and employers:

When I first wrote to you last month regarding how the New Hampshire Retirement System (NHRS, retirement system) was responding to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, there was great uncertainty over what the coming weeks would bring from a public health standpoint, and the Board of Trustees and I felt it was important to provide assurances that the retirement system would be here for its members and retirees. Now, as the state begins to re-open and we slowly begin to move into a new phase, I wanted to provide an update on where NHRS stands.

Operations: Over the past several weeks, NHRS has successfully issued our monthly benefit payroll remotely and provided customer service with almost all of our dedicated staff working from home. The health and safety of our employees and membership is our first priority, and that is why we will continue to be closed to visitors for another several weeks. During this time, we will continue to address stakeholder inquiries and meet with members filing for retirement via telephone or videoconference. Once in-person service is restored, we will continue to offer remote meetings for stakeholders concerned about visiting our office.

Rest assured that during this transition, we remain committed to providing the high level of customer service and professionalism you have come to expect from us. Updates on the status of our operations will be posted on our website, www.nhrs.org.

Investments: Capital markets, while still volatile, have rebounded strongly from their low-water marks in March. This is not the first time NHRS has dealt with stresses in the markets, and it certainly will not be the last. It is important to remember that the retirement system pursues an investment strategy designed to achieve its long-term funding requirements. The portfolio is designed to take advantage of rising investment markets while also withstanding periodic market downturns. The goal is to meet or exceed the retirement system’s assumed rate of return over the long term, while at the same time managing the risk, return, and liquidity of the portfolio. The economic stresses resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak do not impact the ability of the NHRS to meet its benefit obligations to our retirees and beneficiaries.

Future considerations: The medical and scientific consensus is that as we slowly take steps to reduce social distancing protocols, the potential exists for COVID-19 to re-emerge.  For that reason, we wish to proceed cautiously and should the infection rate begin to climb, we have established that we are well-positioned to react accordingly.  

In conclusion, all of us at NHRS realize this remains an uncertain time for our members, retirees, and beneficiaries. We also understand that the monthly defined pension benefit is critically important to the financial well-being of our retirees and beneficiaries, the great majority of whom still live in New Hampshire. Regardless of what lies ahead, our mission, “To provide secure retirement benefits and superior service,” remains the same, as does our ability to fulfill our commitment to you.

Best Regards – and stay safe.

George P. Lagos
Executive Director
New Hampshire Retirement System

For Immediate Release: April 24, 2020

For Immediate Release: April 17, 2020

For Immediate Release: April 6, 2020

For Immediate Release: March 27, 2020

A Message from the Executive Director

How NHRS is addressing challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic

To NHRS members, beneficiaries, and employers:

The unfolding coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has caused unprecedented disruptions on a worldwide scale. I am writing to update stakeholders on how NHRS is addressing the challenges it faces.

Most importantly, retirees and beneficiaries should know that pension benefits will continue to be paid, on-time and as usual. Benefit payments are funded by employer and employee contributions, and invested assets. The portfolio is diversified and structured to meet or exceed our assumed rate of return over the long-term, i.e. 20 to 30 years or more. While further market volatility is anticipated, it will not have an impact on your pension benefit. I also note that because nearly four out of five pension recipients live in New Hampshire, these payments will help support the local economy through the downturn we can expect as a result of COVID-19.

Additionally, members planning to retire in the coming months will not see any COVID-19 related impact on their estimated pension benefits because NHRS is a defined benefit (DB) plan; pension benefits are based on a statutory formula that factors in service time and average final salary, and is not affected by day-to-day market gains or losses. It is times like these that the economic security provided by a DB plan is self-evident.

In regard to the short-term impacts on our regular business activities, early emergency planning positioned the retirement system to remain operational as state and federal governments ordered social distancing measures and large-scale closures in recent weeks. The NHRS office in Concord is closed to visitors and we have enabled teleworking for nearly all of our staff members. Our staff is pulling together, adapting to changed circumstances, and maintaining productivity. Scheduled member appointments with NHRS Benefits Specialists and other member, retiree, and employer interactions are being conducted by telephone.  We expect to be implementing teleconferencing capabilities for some of these interactions in the next few days. We also will be offering additional online educational presentations for our members and employers beginning next month.

To all of our stakeholders – especially those public health workers, first responders, teachers, and many, many other public employees on the front lines of keeping their communities and state healthy, safe, and secure – know that despite the current challenges we all are facing, the retirement system’s mission, “To provide secure retirement benefits and superior service,” remains the same, as does our ability to fulfill our commitment to you.

Stay safe,

George P. Lagos
Executive Director
New Hampshire Retirement System

 
For Immediate Release: March 17, 2020

Contact: [email protected]

COVID-19 Update: Normal business operations continue; office closed to visitors

The health and safety of our members, benefit recipients, and staff is of the utmost importance to the New Hampshire Retirement System (NHRS). In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the retirement system has closed its office to visitors until further notice. Normal business operations are continuing and benefits will continue to be paid on schedule.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. NHRS is closely monitoring COVID-19 news and we are in regular communication with state health officials.  

Members, beneficiaries, or employers who need to contact the retirement system should call (603) 410-3500 or email [email protected].

If you have forms to submit to NHRS, they can be mailed or emailed. Time-sensitive documents may be dropped off during normal business hours (weekdays 8 a.m.- 4 p.m.) in the designated drop-box located in the foyer. (Note: At this time, NHRS is unable to notarize forms and other documents.)

Scheduled member appointments with NHRS Benefits Specialists will be conducted by telephone until further notice. 

Upcoming in-person member and employer education events have been canceled; additional webinars will be scheduled.

NHRS is closely monitoring COVID-19 news and we are in regular communication with state health officials. The situation remains fluid, so please check our website for updates on retirement system operations. Email subscribers will also receive updates from NHRS. If you are not an email subscriber, you can sign up at: https://www.nhrs.org/sign-up.

Consult primary sources for information on COVID-19: 

 

For Immediate Release: March 17, 2020

Notice to participating employers: Retiree employment during state of emergency

The statute governing the New Hampshire Retirement System, RSA 100-A, contains several provisions governing part-time, post-retirement employment of retirees by NHRS-participating employers.

RSA 100-A:7-b states that the annual limitations on part-time employment “excludes any hours worked during an emergency,” which the statute defines as “any event declared by the governor or while working under the direction of the director of the Division of Forests and Lands during woodland fire control.”

Gov. Sununu declared a state of emergency in New Hampshire effective at 5:15 p.m. on Friday, March 13, 2020.  As a result, any hours worked by NHRS retirees for a participating employer for the duration of this state of emergency will not count toward the annual limits on retiree work hours.

Although annual reporting of hours worked in calendar year 2020 will not be reported to NHRS until next year, RSA 100-A:7-b requires that participating employers must keep track of retiree hours worked during the emergency. NHRS will develop a format for employers to report these exempt hours as a separate entry in the annual report.

As a reminder, the law limits NHRS retirees who began working part-time for retirement system participating employers after January 1, 2019, to a maximum of 1,352 hours worked per calendar year. (A calendar year is January 1-December 31.) 

The law also contains a “grandfathering” provision that allows retirees already working part-time for one or more participating employers on the effective date of the law (January 1, 2019) to a maximum of 1,664 hours per calendar year for as long as they remain in at least one of the position(s) they held on that date. 

For more information, see: https://www.nhrs.org/faqs


For Immediate Release: 
March 16, 2020

Message to NHRS Stakeholders Regarding Recent Economic Developments

To our members, benefit recipients, and employers:

While the economic fallout from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is concerning, it does not impact the ability of the New Hampshire Retirement System (NHRS) to meet its benefit obligations to retirees and beneficiaries. In other words, your pension is safe and secure.

Additionally, the recent financial market conditions do not affect members approaching retirement because NHRS is a defined benefit plan, which means pension benefits are based on a statutory formula, not on day-to-day market outcomes. 

NHRS is a long-term investor, with a well-diversified portfolio of assets. We continue to monitor global financial markets closely, but do not anticipate taking any short-term action. The portfolio is designed to take advantage of rising investment markets while also withstanding periodic market downturns. Our goal is to meet or exceed our assumed rate of return over the long-term, i.e. 20 to 30 years or more. 

* * *

To help prevent the spread of the COVID-19, remember to:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or use the inside of your elbow. Throw used tissues in the trash. Immediately wash your hands, following the above guidelines.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. 
  • Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care.
  • If you are sick, you should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are unable to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes. If you are not sick, you do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask). 
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection. 

Symptoms of COVID-19:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of taste or smell

– Source: CDC