RALEIGH — The Retirement Systems Division (RSD) of the N.C. State Treasurer’s office has reported that number of retirement applications filed online has risen rapidly from zero to 38% in under two years.
“I think that the issues surrounding the pandemic have accelerated the use of online retirement,” said N.C. Treasurer Dale Folwell. “We’ve managed this incredible increase with no additional staff. The teams at the retirement and information technology divisions have done unbelievable work to make sure that the process goes as smoothly as possible using online tools and our call center.”
The online retirement system was implemented in 2018. To file for retirement in the past, members had to print and manually fill out an application using the state’s ORBIT system.
Folwell told North State Journal that the online portal has saved time for members and for his staff alike. He said online retirement filings reduce the travel burden on member, saying that “we have people who live closer to five other state capitals than our own.”
As of Oct. 31, there are 302,315 state and local government retirees currently receiving pension benefits, with $549 million being distributed each month in pension and disability benefits. There are 654,373 active and former public employees who are or have contributed money to the pension systems as of October 2020.
North Carolina Retirement Systems (NCRS) paid out over $6.6 billion in retirement and other benefits to more than 363,000 retirees and beneficiaries during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020. Folwell said that that for the first time in the state’s history, there are more people eligible to receive retirement benefits than there are paying into the system.
Moody’s Investors Service recently reported NCRS is the best funded in the nation when looking at its Adjusted Net Pension Liability. The NCRS also received high marks from The Pew Charitable Trust after a “stress test” showed the fund is well-positioned to maintain solvency during tough economic times.
The NCRS is the ninth-largest public pension fund in the country and is currently valued at more than $108 billion. It provides retirement benefits and savings for more than 950,000 North Carolinians, including teachers, state employees, local government employees, firefighters, police officers and other public workers.