Types and Purchase Amounts of Prior Service
Unlimited Purchase Amounts
Purchases of VRS-refunded service, no-cost military leave, sick leave or disability credit conversion at retirement and workers' compensation are unlimited.
- Refunded service: If you leave VRS-covered employment and take a refund of your member contributions and interest, your membership and eligibility for any future benefits will be canceled. If you return to covered employment, you will be rehired under the applicable retirement plan for that position. You may purchase the refunded service as service credit in your current plan.
- The purchase cost is based on the refund amount, plus interest compounded annually from the date of the refund to the date you buy back the service. The interest rate is 7 percent, which is the assumed rate of return of the VRS fund.
- You may purchase all of your refunded service or a portion at any time while an active VRS member.
- No-cost military leave: You can receive prior service credit at no cost for each occurrence of leave from a VRS-covered position for active duty military service. You can apply for no-cost military leave at any time, provided your discharge is not under dishonorable conditions and you return to covered employment within one year of discharge.
- Sick leave conversion at retirement: If you are eligible for a payment of unused sick leave at retirement, you may elect to have this payment converted to service credit that will count toward your benefit calculation.
- Your employer will deduct the appropriate tax withholding from the payment and then send the funds to VRS for this purchase. VRS will calculate the service credit amount represented by the remainder of the payment based on an actuarial equivalent cost.
- If you wish to apply the full sick leave payment amount toward the conversion, you may make a lump-sum payment to cover the difference between the full payment amount and the amount withheld for taxes.
- Workers' compensation: If you go on workers' compensation and member contributions are not withheld from your workers' compensation payment or any compensation you receive from your employer, you may be eligible to purchase service credit for this period. For leave without pay, the maximum amount eligible for purchase is 24 months per occurrence.
Limited Purchase Amounts
You may purchase up to a combined total of 48 months of the following types of prior service. With the exception of some types of active duty military service, the service must not be used to qualify you for a benefit under another retirement plan.
- Educational leave: Approved leave from a VRS-covered position.
- Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave: Leave—up to 12 workweeks in a 12-month period—for your own serious health condition or that of your immediate family member (spouse, child or parent), both as defined under FMLA and approved by your employer at the time of the leave. The FMLA defines “serious health condition” as an illness, injury, impairment or physical or mental condition that involves a) inpatient care in a hospital, hospice or residential medical care facility, or b) continuing treatment by a health care provider.
- Federal service (salaried, full-time): Service in a civilian position with the federal government.
- Leave for the birth, adoption or death of a child: Approved leave—up to 12 months maximum per occurrence—from a VRS-covered position. If your spouse is also an active VRS member and was also granted leave for birth, adoption or death of a child, he or she also may purchase this leave.
- Non-covered service with a VRS-participating employer: Service in a temporary, part-time or other non-covered position for an employer that participates in VRS. Total hours must be confirmed by the employer where you previously worked.
- Public service (salaried, full-time) other than VRS: Service with a Virginia public employer that does not participate in VRS, or with a public employer or a school system of another state or U.S. territory.
If you are eligible, you may purchase additional months above the 48-month limit if you have active duty military service or are a vested school superintendent.
- Active duty military service: You may purchase up to an additional 48 months of active duty military service, provided it was full-time service of at least 180 consecutive days and at the time of purchase it does not qualify you for a military pension in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard or reserve components.
- Exception: If you were in the U.S. Armed Forces Reserves or the National Guard, you may purchase up to an additional 48 months of active duty military service, even if it will be used to qualify you for a military pension.
- Additional public service for school superintendents: If you are a vested school superintendent, you may purchase an additional 10 years of public service with a Virginia public employer that does not participate in VRS, or with a public employer or a school system of another state or U.S. territory.
- You have one year from the date you become vested to purchase additional service at the 10 percent rate. After the one-year period, the cost will be actuarial.