Some of the frequently asked questions that we have received regarding the COVID-19 outbreak include:
- Pension Payments Will Be Paid On Time
MERS continues to remain operational and will process pension payments on time.
- Help Us Help You by Using myMERS
We are asking participants to use their myMERS account as the primary method of conducting business with MERS at this time. Using this secure online method will help ensure transactions are processed efficiently while teams are working remotely. As an alternative, you can fax us forms at 517.703.9706.Please note that any paperwork that is sent via U.S. mail may experience processing delays.
- If you have an urgent request, the MERS Service Center remains open and available to assist you Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. by calling 800.767.MERS (6377). The Service Center is also available to help you walk through any of our online processes.
- MERS Office Building is Closed
The MERS office building is currently closed. However, MERS staff is still hard at work and you can continue to reach us:
- The MERS Service Center remains open and available to assist you Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. by calling 800.767.MERS (6377)
- You can log in to myMERS to review your account and perform many transactions
As new developments emerge, we will share information with you about how we continue to operate safely and effectively. Thank you for your support as we work to keep our communities safe.
On March 27, 2020, the president signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). This aid package provides financial aid to families and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CARES Act included early access for distributions from individuals’ defined contribution, 457 and IRA accounts and loan relief for “qualified individuals.” This Act expired 12/31/2020.
As a part of the CARES Act, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, including menstrual products, are now deemed an eligible expense when using your MERS Health Care Savings Program (HCSP) account.
This change is effective for expenses incurred on or after January 1, 2020. If you previously submitted a claim for an OTC item you purchased since that time and was denied, you can resubmit the claim online through the Claims Management portal in myMERS or via the mobile app. You are able to use your Health Benefits debit card to cover these OTC expenses.
Some vendors may not have their coding updated to comply with this regulatory change, if you find your transaction is declined, please purchase the item using an alternative method and submit your receipt for reimbursement.
Because CRD’s cannot be rolled over to other plans or to IRAs, the mandatory 20% federal tax withholding did not apply to them. The 10% penalty for early distributions is waived when MERS Plan eligibility was met. Regular 10% income tax withholding was applied to retirement plan distributions, unless your form indicated an opt-out election of that withholding. This information was reported out on your 1099 issued to you in January.
The distributions generally are included in income ratably over a three-year period, starting with the year in which you receive your distribution. For example, if you receive a $9,000 coronavirus-related distribution in 2020, you would report $3,000 in income on your federal income tax return for each of 2020, 2021, and 2022. However, you have the option of including the entire distribution in your income for the year of the distribution.
A coronavirus-related distribution should be reported on your individual federal income tax return for 2020. You must include the taxable portion of the distribution in income ratably over the 3-year period – 2020, 2021, and 2022 – unless you elect to include the entire amount in income in 2020. Whether or not you are required to file a federal income tax return, you would use IRS Form 8915-E to report any repayment of a coronavirus-related distribution and to determine the amount of any coronavirus-related distribution includible in income for a year.
In other words, taxes have to be either paid all in 2020, or it has to be spread evenly over three years – 2020, 2021 and 2022. There are no other options.