ERS Is Working for You Now, as Always

APorter Wilson Executive Director of ERSs we all face the unique challenge of a global pandemic, I want you to know how the Employees Retirement System of Texas (ERS) is keeping members’ health and welfare our number one priority. We continue to work diligently to address your needs.

Your retirement security

First, I want our annuitants to know your annuity is safe. You will continue to get your monthly payment as scheduled—whether by direct deposit or check. 

I also want to assure ERS members and retirees that our ERS Investments team is up to the task of meeting the demands of this very volatile market. ERS invests the Retirement Trust Fund in a variety of ways to help protect it from instability in the markets. The diversity of our investments helps us secure the Trust Fund for the long term and continue to pay retirement benefits for decades to come. We have weathered uncertain times in the past, and our portfolio remains well positioned for the current challenges. To learn more, I invite you to watch a series of videos about our investment strategy.

Many of you are seeing decreases in your Texa$averSM 401(k) or 457 accounts. If you are considering changes to your account or investments, I encourage you to think carefully about your long-term needs and, if possible, consult a financial or investment advisor. Texa$aver participants have access to investment advice through Advised Assets Group, LLC, a registered investment adviser.

Serving you with safety in mind

As ERS implements health and safety measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we have made temporary changes to how we provide customer service:

  • Our customer service representatives will be available by phone and email, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT, Monday through Friday. Please keep in mind that you might not need to call or email. You can make some changes and do other business in your self-service ERS OnLine account—24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • We apologize if you have experienced long wait times and understand how frustrating that can be. Please know that our representatives are working to attend to every caller’s needs as completely and efficiently as possible.
  • We will continue to accept payments and required forms through the drop box at the front of the ERS building.
  • If you have scheduled an in-person retirement counseling session at ERS, a counselor will now call you at your appointment time to conduct your session over the phone.
  • We will be conducting all upcoming benefits education sessions—such as our popular “Ready, Set, Retire!"and "Medicare Preparation" presentations via webinar. Please see the ERS events calendar or contact your agency's or institution's benefits coordinator for more information.

As the situation evolves, ERS may need to make additional changes to its customer service in the coming days and weeks. Please check our website for updates.

Protecting your and your family’s health

ERS is working with health plan administrators to assist State of Texas employees and retirees and their families who may be affected by the virus. All Texas Employees Group Benefits Program (GBP) health plans are equipped to help participants understand and prevent the virus and, if needed, treat anyone who becomes ill.

  • At this time, all GBP medical plans offer physician-ordered COVID-19 testing at in-network labs at no cost to participants, for those who meet federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. Your health plan also has trained staff who can answer questions about the virus and COVID-19.
  • To help limit exposure to the coronavirus and other possible infections, you should consider a virtual visit or telemedicine. Virtual visits allow you to see a licensed doctor through your smartphone or computer. Many GBP health plans offer these options at no cost to participants or at a lower cost than a typical office visit. Learn more about virtual visits in your health plan.
  • Many people are feeling anxious and scared. All GBP medical plans cover comprehensive mental health services. Some of our plan administrators are also making additional resources available:
    • Optum has opened its Emotional-Support Help Line—staffed by mental health professionals—to anyone who may be experiencing fear or stress because of COVID-19. Call (866) 342-6892. You do not have to be a plan member to use this service.
    • For participants in the HealthSelectSM plans administered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, Magellan has opened its crisis help line at (800) 442-4093.

To learn more about your coverage and how to appropriately access covered health services, please see information on the ERS website or contact your plan directly.
 

Our members are our first priority at ERS. Now, as always, we are working for your health and security.
 

Sincerely,

Porter Wilson, Executive Director