Preparing for a new year

OPERS offers tips to help you navigate 2021

By Michael Pramik, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System

Jan. 5, 2021 – When the new year rolls around, it’s a good idea for OPERS retirees to review their accounts. Here’s a list of common first-of-the-year topics and what you need to know about each:

Changes in your benefits

Any time there’s a change in your monthly benefit amount, we’ll send you a Statement of Benefit Payment (formerly called a Benefit Change Notice). You may receive this statement in January because of changes in your premium amount or if you made changes to your health care coverage for 2021.

You also can view this statement through your OPERS online account. In February many retirees will see a change in their pension benefit amount because of federal tax table changes. Your February benefit amount also can be found within your online account in late January.

Changing your tax withholding

Most retirees review their tax withholdings once they file taxes for the previous year. The best way to do so is through your online account, which allows you to see the impact a change will make to your net monthly benefit amount.

2020 IRS 1099-R

OPERS will mail 2020 IRS 1099-R documents, which record pension distributions, by the end of January. About a week before we mail this document, it will be available to view and print from your online account. OPERS will send an email notification when it’s ready. Your 1099-R will not provide your health care deductions for 2020, but that information is available in your 2020 OPERS Health Care Premium Receipt through your online account.

If you’re an OPERS disability benefit recipient, Box 7 on your 1099-R will have a code number 7 or 2, depending on your age. Your tax adviser may incorrectly indicate this code should be a 3. But remember that OPERS members are evaluated for disability from their OPERS-covered position, not as a person who is permanently disabled as defined by the IRS.

2020 IRS 1095-B

The IRS 1095-B form provides evidence of health care minimum essential coverage. In years past the IRS has required these forms be mailed to each primary plan participant who met minimum essential coverage requirements. New guidance on the distribution of 1095-B forms now allows health plan sponsors, such as OPERS, to provide access to these forms through other means. OPERS will not be mailing 2020 1095-B forms.

Beginning in late January OPERS primary plan participants, including group health, Health Reimbursement Arrangement and Retiree Medical Account plan participants, will be able to access their 1095-B form through their OPERS online account. Simply log in to your account, access your documents, select the 1095-B form and print if you wish. Additionally, participants can request a copy of their 1095-B form using the OPERS online messaging center within their online account or by calling our Member Services Center at 800-222-7377.

The IRS 1095-B forms do not have to be filed with your tax returns. They are reference documents that validate health plan coverage. Consult the IRS or your tax adviser if you have additional tax questions.

Health care premium receipts

Beginning in 2021, premiums for the OPERS vision and dental plans will be automatically reimbursed monthly from your HRA account with no additional forms to complete or receipts to provide. Because you no longer need a premium receipt to be reimbursed for OPERS dental or vision premiums, we did not send the “Get Ready” letter and a copy of your premium receipt in December as we’ve done for the last several years.

If you opted out of dental/vision auto-reimbursement during open enrollment, or if you need to be reimbursed for OPERS group pre-Medicare premiums for a dependent, you can obtain these premium receipts through your OPERS online account.

Medicare Part B premium reimbursement

Reimbursement for Medicare Part B premiums from the funds in your HRA previously needed to be submitted annually. Automatic reimbursement for Medicare Part B premiums is now available. To receive this reimbursement for 2021:

  1. Submit a claim for reimbursement. Claims can be submitted online, through the Via Benefits mobile app, or by a form that Via Benefits can provide.
  2. Submit the claim to Via Benefits, along with your Social Security Benefit Award/Proof of Income Letter or your Notice of Medicare Premium Payment Due, which include the following information: premium coverage period, carrier, individual serviced, premium type and monthly amount.

Beyond open enrollment, continue to rely on Via Benefits for help to resolve concerns with your current insurance provider or your online account. Via Benefits also help you access and understand insurance plans and your HRA.

Michael Pramik

Michael Pramik is communication strategist for the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System and editor of the PERSpective blog. As an experienced business journalist, he clarifies complex pension policies and helps members make smart choices to secure their retirement.

Michael Pramik

Communication Strategist

  • I sent this to OPERS on Dec 23, 2020 and never received an answer:

    I was very disappointed not getting a positive response regarding changes to my dental plan.
    Over the years at enrollment time, I NEVER made any changes, always had the high tier for both vision and dental. NEVER sent any change forms in….just left everything as it was because I was satisfied with my plan.
    This year I had to have a dental crown put in and much to my surprise, I was denied coverage. When I called to inquire why, I was told I cancelled my coverage in 2016. You could’ve knocked me over with a feather.
    So I was billed (and had to pay for) $800 to my dentist.
    This year (2020), I mailed on DEC 02, to change my dental to the high tier and my vision to the low tier.
    Well, the other day I get a letter stating I was late getting my request in and have to wait till next year to make any change. When I called OPERS to inquire, I was told because my request was not in your office by Dec 7th, I was denied. When I asked if the postmark had any bearing as to authenticity, (which is acceptable to others) I was told no, it had to physically be in your office by the seventh. I didn’t know that changes would be made so quickly (on the 7th) that change requests could be denied.
    Getting my changes in under the wire couldn’t be helped, there were underlying circumstances at my home that I couldn’t get it in any sooner, and the young lady that I spoke with gave me the impression that I should have done it a lot sooner. I got her “message”. She told me that there would be no exception to getting changes done after December 7 because “we had from October” to do this. I honestly feel that the postmark on my envelope should have given me the courtesy of making the change.
    It baffles me how the change was made to my account, NOT BY ME, in 2016 and I was never notified. Someone messed it up for me, because I know I didn’t do it, and now I have to be the one without the coverage that I have always had.
    If there is some way to grant me this change, I would appreciate it.
    Margaret Julian
    534 Blossom Ct
    North Fort Myers, FL 33917
    817-819-0425

  • I went to the Via Benefits site and clicked on the button next to Part B reimbursement to turn on automatic reimbursement. Do I need to do anything else?

    • Once you have selected to enroll into the automatic reimbursement through the Via Benefits online account there should be no additional action required. If you have additional questions about the automatic reimbursement process please contact Via Benefits. Thanks M.S

    • Sheryl,

      There shouldn’t be an issue printing the blog as it is. One thing we’d caution is to only print the pages you need, as sometimes comments get lengthy and you might not want to print those out.

  • Called Via Benefits and they said automatic reimbursement is on and I do not need to do anything else for me or my wife. So far the paid mine 2 days ago but not my wife’s. I will have to call again on hers.

  • I am reading as much as I can before I decide whether I want to start receiving benefits. The article above is dated January 5, 2020. Should the date be January 5, 2021?

  • Michael,
    I started doing our taxes online today and saw my husband got 2 1099-R

    One was higher on all income and deductions with code 2
    Other one was lower amounts and code 7.

    Wth ? Lol

    • Paula,
      Recipients who turn 59 ½ during the tax year will receive two 1099s. One will represent distributions prior
      to age 59 ½ and will have a distribution code of 2. One will represent distributions after 59 ½ and will have a
      distribution code of 7. Thanks, MS

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