SEBB clarifies recent mailing to employees

Last week, the Washington State Health Care Authority School Employees Benefit Board (SEBB) began mailing the SEBB Initial Notice of COBRA and Continuation Coverage Rights booklet to employees.

SEBB notified the district to share with employees that receiving the booklet does not mean that an employee’s coverage has ended. They wrote, “The notice is only to inform newly enrolled employees of their options if their coverage ends in the future. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused your employees given the current school closures due to COVID-19.”

This 13-page booklet, which explains employees’ available options for SEBB Continuation Coverage, must be sent by March 30 to all employees enrolled in SEBB coverage as of January 1, 2020 in accordance with federal requirements.

When an employee’s SEBB coverage ends, the agency will send the SEBB Continuation Coverage Election Notice booklet, which explains how employees and their eligible dependents can continue coverage under the SEBB Program.

Department of Retirement Systems announces March webinars

Person typing on a laptop computer

The Department of Retirement Systems’ (DRS) Education & Outreach team invites you to visit their DRS webinars webpage to sign up for the following webinars in March 2020:

  • DCP Distributions
  • Plan Choice
  • Plan 2: PERS, SERS, TRS
  • Plan 3: PERS, SERS, TRS
  • Purchasing an Additional Benefit (Annuity)
  • Early Retirement PERS, SERS, TRS
  • Getting Ready for Retirement
  • Applying for Retirement (tutorial of the online application)
  • Beneficiary Options at Retirement
  • Returning to Work After Retirement (PERS SERS TRS)

For date, time and link to join, please select the webinar you would like to attend. We recommend that you join the webinar 10-15 minutes in advance to test connection and sound. Please review How to Join a DRS Webinar for tips on accessing the webinar, audio and sending questions. If you encounter technical problems when joining a webinar, please call (360) 664-7930 for assistance.

Unable to attend a webinar? While the webinars are not recorded, many of the topics are available in video format by scrolling the video page of the DRS website.

DRS retirement planning information including online seminars

Open notebook with words "My Plan" at the top and person preparing to write with a penWe have two recent announcements to share from the Department of Retirement Systems:

  1. The Department of Retirement Systems has posted an article on the DRS website that is of particular interest to teachers and school employees who are nearing retirement. It provides information about the various implications to consider when weighing a July vs. September retirement date, including a new consideration related to the launch of SEBB and health insurance costs. Here is a link to the article: Plan 2/3 teachers and school employees ask: What’s the best retirement month for me?
  2. The 2020 Retirement Planning Seminar schedule is available from the Department of Retirement Systems. If you are a member of a DRS-administered system (LEOFF, PERS, PSERS, SERS, TRS, WSPRS) and within five years of retirement, these workshops are for you. See the seminar overview and register online at your convenience. Other options for registering are to email DRS at drs.register@drs.wa.gov or call 360-664-7300 or 888-711-6676.

    If you don’t find a seminar that is convenient for you, you may be interested in viewing a DRS seminar video online. Also, the education section of the DRS website will help with your retirement planning regardless of how close or far away it is.

    If you haven’t yet, be sure to sign up for your DRS online account. When logged in, you can review your service credit, contributions, beneficiary information and much more. You can also create a benefit estimate that is based on the data in your account and, when you’re ready, retire online.

    Please note: Due to space limitations, registration for DRS seminars is limited to members of DRS-administered retirement systems. DRS is not able to accommodate reservation requests for members of other retirement systems.

Take the SEBB Open Enrollment Survey

Close up of person typing on laptop computer with notebook in the foreground

How did your SEBB open enrollment go?

The Washington State Health Care Authority wants to hear about your first School Employees Benefits Board (SEBB) Program open enrollment experience. Please take this short online survey by 5 p.m. on January 31, 2020, to let HCA know what worked and what could be improved about SEBB enrollment.

The survey should take about 10 minutes to complete. It is being conducted and analyzed by an independent research firm apart from HCA to ensure that your answers remain confidential.

Thank you for your participation!

SEBB replaces December 9 mailing with letter containing updated information

Below is a copy of an email sent to all OSD employees on December 19, 2019:
The School Employees Benefits Board (SEBB) December 9 mailing to Olympia School District employees contained incomplete or incorrect information and could be missing dependents due to a programming error. SEBB is mailing a corrected version to all 2,751 employees that were affected statewide.
The new letter will include updated dependent(s) and health plan enrollment information. This letter replaces the December 9 letter. Employees should review the corrected letter and, if necessary, submit any appeals based on the new letter.
If your letter is dated something other than December 9, and your letter has the correct information that relates to your SEBB account, then no further action is necessary.

New W-4 payroll form effective January 1, 2020

Calculator with accounting sheet and pen

The IRS has created a new Payroll Form W-4 for 2020. Newly hired employees in 2020 or any employees hired prior to 2020 who wish to adjust their withholdings in 2020 must use the redesigned form.

This new design reduces the complexity of the process and improves the withholding system’s clarity and reliability. In the past, the value of a withholding allowance was tied to the amount of the personal exemption. Due to changes in law, currently you cannot claim personal exemptions or dependency exemptions. Allowances are no longer used for the redesigned Form W-4, therefore you cannot complete the old W-4 Form.

Key Points to Remember:

  • New Form Name “Employee’s Withholding Certification.”
  • No longer uses allowances which have been tied to the amount of personal exemptions.
  • Form is now divided into 5 steps. Steps 1 and 5 are required. Steps 2-4 are optional.
  • There are 5 worksheets in Publication 15-T (Federal Income Tax Withholding Methods).
  • Only newly hired employees in 2020 or any employees hired prior to 2020 who wish to adjust their withholdings in 2020 must use the redesigned form.

View the form on the IRS website

Supplemental benefits; unique opportunity to enroll through December 20

Stethoscope with heart-shaped center designThe school district is offering several benefits packages that are supplemental to the new health care benefits through the state Health Care Authority. These benefits include Short Term Disability, Accident, Cancer/Critical Illness, Cancer Screening, Hospital Coverage, Long-Term Care, and Legal, ID Protection, and Pet Insurance.

Open enrollment has been extended through December 20. Benefits begin January 1, 2020.

The Payroll Office has brochures for each type of insurance. Please stop by to pick one up.

Carefully consider the following: The district will offer supplemental benefits now. This year only there are NO medical questions related to signing up for these benefits and NO waiting periods for pre-existing conditions. Supplemental benefits typically carry pre-existing conditions exclusions, but these are all waived during this introductory time. (Insurance companies typically waive questions when new benefits are introduced to employees).

In the future, employees may contact N.W. Benefit Advisors directly. In any future enrollment there will be medical questions to answer. Waiting periods and exclusions for pre-existing conditions WILL also apply next year. Take some time and consider these options now!

If you want more information you can contact Claudia De Alba at (425) 458-4988 or claudia@nwbenefitadvisors.com.  They have evening and weekend phone appointments.