Edited.JDO.030922 Not Apprvd
Learn about the Mission, History and Function of the Division of Retirement and Benefits (DRB).
Mission StatementTo administer State of Alaska and political subdivision retirement and benefit plans.
The operational management of State of Alaska retirement and health benefit plans requires a high degree of coordination and outreach from the Division of Retirement and Benefits (DRB) to ensure excellent, accurate, and timely service to plan members. Our focus is aligning business processes with customer needs and improving those processes to satisfy customer requirements.
The DRB continues to support the needs of retirees while providing customer service to active members. With a full understanding of the constitutional protections afforded to state retirement benefits, the DRB team has comprehensive knowledge of the systems' administrative requirements to assist member participants with professional service and expertise. We achieve organizational excellence by focusing on the customer to deliver exceptional services using effective and efficient processes.
The first Alaska retirement system was the Teachers' Retirement System (TRS). Developed in the Territory of Alaska, the system encouraged teachers to live and teach in the "new" territory. Alaskans recognized the importance of having a competitive education system; the benefits offered under TRS were among the best available at the time. The Territory of Alaska paid the employer costs of this new retirement plan and the plan members paid a membership fee.
The Territory expanded retirement benefits to all non-TRS employees by signing a Federal Social Security Agreement. This Agreement enrolled into Social Security all territorial employees who were not members of the TRS. Public Law Section 218 authorized this agreement. This benefit for governmental employees was later offered by the territorial legislature to employees of political subdivisions across the State, excluding members of TRS.
At Statehood, the governing agencies transferred these retirement plans from the Territory of Alaska to the State of Alaska.
The state government developed and offered the Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS) to all political subdivisions whose employees participated in Social Security under Section 218.
Some political subdivisions of the State dissolved their federal Section 218 Agreements and used the PERS as their predominant retirement plan. In 1978, State of Alaska employees voted themselves out of Social Security coverage with the agreement the State would develop an alternative plan.
January 1, 1980, the State of Alaska activated the Supplemental Benefit System (SBS). In order to replicate the displaced Social Security plan, the SBS provided members an assortment of insurance options. SBS regulations stipulated remaining employee contributions be directed into an employee-managed annuity account. In 1983, this system became available to other political subdivisions not participating in Social Security.
Subsequently, the TRS and PERS underwent several changes adapting to the continuing needs of participating employers and members. Legislators developed different tiers of the plans to meet the needs of controlling costs and still provide meaningful member benefit.
By 2005, it became clear that the costs of continuing the defined benefits PERS and TRS were prohibitive. State legislators began developing legislation to evolve these plans into defined contribution plans. The PERS tier IV and TRS tier III defined contribution hybrid plans were activated July 1, 2006.
The State of Alaska continues to evaluate and adapt the government retirement plans available to both the state and political subdivision employers. Offering a competitive benefit package continues to be the goal, allowing participating employers to recruit and retain the most qualified employees available.
The Division of Retirement and Benefits (DRB) manages the State of Alaska’s retirement systems and health benefit plans. As provided in Alaska Statutes, the duties of the DRB amount to three primary directives:
- Manage the plans
- Report plan status
- Recommend policy
The Division’s scope of work includes serving as the point of contact for administrative, legal, legislative, and procedural issues regarding the management of the retirement systems and explaining benefits to members.
The Department of Administration's commissioner delegates the responsibility of overseeing the DRB and the operation of state-sponsored retirement and health benefit plans to one of the Deputy Commissioners. The Division Director reports directly to the Deputy Commissioner and supervises the Chief Officers of the Pension, Health, and Finance sections, as well as the managers of the Operations and Information Services sections. Our director and chief officers are subject matter experts in the areas of operations, pension, health, and finance, and supervise all Division sections that, together, carry out the DRB's State-mandated directives:
The Operations Manager manages the Operations section:
- Administrative Services
- Clerical Support
- Records Management
- IT/Project Support
- Member Service Center
The Information Services Manager manages the Information Services section:
- Application Development
- Core Services
The Chief Pension Officer (CPO) manages the Member Benefits section:
- Appeals/Risk Mitigation
- Adjustments, Disability, and DCP
- Retirement Processing
The Chief Health Official (CHO) manages the Health Plan Administration section:
- Health Operations
- Health Policy
The Chief Finance Officer (CFO) manages the Finance section:
- Internal Audit/FICA Compliance
- Retiree/Refund Processing
- Employer Payroll