2022 Open enrollment for state employee health coverage and flexible spending accounts 

Open enrollment elections made between May 2 and May 16, 2022 take effect July 1, 2022.  Employee contribution changes take effect beginning on the July 15, 2022 pay date. Employees may confirm their elections in Cardinal ESS. Reference materials from open enrollment remain available on the open enrollment page.   

Grace period for 2021-2022 dependent care flexible spending accounts (DCFSA) 

In an effort to meet the needs of employees during these extraordinary times, the Commonwealth is adding a grace period to the 2021-2022 DCFSA plan year (7/1/2021 - 6/30/2022), which will extend the period to incur claims under the DCFSA until September 15, 2022. The grace period is a predetermined timeframe after the plan year ends that enables participants to spend down any funds remaining from the previous plan year.  Employees enrolled in the DCFSA on June 30, 2022 who have a balance remaining may continue using the funds to file for claims incurred from July 1, 2022 through September 15, 2022.  All claims must be received by PayFlex no later than October 30, 2022 in order to be eligible for reimbursement under the grace period. See more information and Q&A on the state program's web site.  There will be no grace period for health care flexible spending accounts.  

Emails from third-party financial planners offering "analysis of the retirement plans offered by VCU" are Spam

Individual advisers from outside companies may occasionally offer "analysis" of the investment options available in VCU's retirement plans as an introduction to soliciting customers for individual planning services. These analyses often include incomplete or misleading information. VCU does not share employee email addresses with third-party financial services companies other than our approved account providers Fidelity Investments and TIAA.  For complete information about how VCU selects investment options for the employer-funded retirement plans, faculty and staff may reference the Investment Policy Statement.  Performance of approved investment options, including benchmarking and expense information, is available at Approved ORP funds.  As a reminder, participants in VCU retirement plans have access to no-cost planning and guidance services. See individual counseling for information.

Online elections for health benefits and flexible spending in Cardinal Employee Self Service (ESS)

Cardinal is the Commonwealth of Virginia's new system that provides state employees with online access to enroll in, or make changes to, health coverage and flexible spending accounts.  Learn more about Cardinal and how to register for access.

IRS 1095 forms for health plan participants

The Office of Health Benefits (OHB) at the Virginia Department of Human Resource Management mailed 1095-C forms for 2021 to state employee health plan participants during the weeks of January 24 and January 31, 2022.  Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance states that the forms are not required in order to file a tax return and should not be filed with a tax return.  See "Questions and Answers about Health Care Information Forms for Individuals" on the IRS web site for more details.

VCU Human Resources does not receive copies of these forms. If you did not receive your 1095 form and would like to request a duplicate, send a request to OHB at including your health plan member ID number and a current mailing address.  Replacement forms are issued within 7-10 days. 

Health Plan Reimbursement of COVID-19 At-Home Tests 

Faculty and staff who participate in the state health benefits program are eligible for reimbursement of costs for eligible over-the-counter diagnostic COVID-19 tests purchased January 15, 2022 or later during the declared federal Coronavirus Public Health Emergency. Each individual covered on an employee's health plan can receive up to eight over-the-counter COVID-19 tests each month. If you purchase a test kit that includes two rapid tests, those will count as two of the eight covered tests. For reimbursement information, see:

For questions, contact your health plan company directly using the contact information on your member ID card.

Optional Life Insurance Premium Update 2022 

Premiums for Optional Life Insurance are based on age and salary.  Updated premiums apply to employees who experienced salary changes, and to employees and covered family members whose  age category changed, since the 2021 premium update.  Updated premiums are automatically applied to paychecks based on billing from the insurance provider, Securian.

The monthly premium rates by age range for each thousand dollars of coverage can be found in the program brochure.

Tax Withholding for Unsubstantiated Flexible Spending Claims (2020-2021 Plan Year)   

For employees with unsubstantiated flexible spending account (FSA) claims from the July 2020-2021 plan year, the state program reclassified the FSA contributions spent on those claims as taxable income and directed VCU to withhold applicable taxes by the end of the year.  The tax withholding for those amounts will occur on the December 16 and December 31 paychecks of affected employees.  For more details, see “Improper Payments” on page 19 of the 2020-2021 Flexible Spending Sourcebook.

2022 Deferral Limits for Voluntary Retirement Savings

The 2022 annual elective deferral limit for 403(b) and 457(b) retirement savings plans is $20,500. The limit for each plan type applies to pre-tax and after-tax (Roth) contributions combined in the following plans:

Note to Hybrid Plan participants: Voluntary contributions to the VRS Hybrid Plan are made to the VRS Hybrid 457.  These contributions count toward the same 457(b) limit as contributions to the Commonwealth of Virginia 457(b) Deferred Compensation Plan (“DCP”).  Combined contributions to both plans may not exceed the 457(b) limit.

Employees eligible for the age 50+ catch-up may defer an additional $6,500 to 403(b) and/or 457(b) plans in 2022.

No action is required to continue existing deferral elections in 2022. Employees who wish to change deferral elections may request changes at any time. See Tax Deferred Annuity and Deferred Compensation Plan for more information. 

The 2022 limits apply to all plans in these categories to which a person makes elective deferrals during 2022.  If you participate in plans outside of VCU that fall under the same limits, you must ensure that your combined contributions to VCU plans and all like plans outside of VCU do not exceed the limits. 

Questions? Request HR support at

Medicare Creditable Coverage Notices

Faculty and staff participating in state employee (COVA) health coverage who are aged 65 or over, or who are covering family members aged 65 or over, were sent Medicare Creditable Coverage Notices by mail during October 2021. No employee action is required, however the notices should be kept for future use when enrolling in Medicare prescription drug coverage after age 65. For more information about Medicare and state health coverage during VCU employment, see Medicare FAQ.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Limited Waiver Opportunity

On October 6, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education announced a change to Public Service Loan Forgiveness program rules. For a limited time, borrowers may receive credit for past payments made on loans that would otherwise not qualify. Read more about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program rules.

Virginia Retirement System Updates

Campus operations are currently altered in response to COVID-19. 

All benefit election(s) and supporting documentation must be returned by creating a service request at, by email or fax, or by uploading to VCU Filelocker. See Enroll in Benefits page. 

Signing up for benefits? Making changes? ALEX is here to help!

ALEX for VCU is the new interactive benefits counselor for faculty members and University and Academic Professionals.  Have chat with ALEX about health coverage, flexible spending, retirement benefits, life insurance, and disability coverage by visiting from your computer, smartphone, or mobile device.

VCU benefits announcements will come only from VCU email addresses or social media accounts

VCU Human Resources is aware that some employees have received email solicitations or social media contacts that attempt to represent themselves as official communications from VCU about employee benefits. VCU announcements about employee benefits will come only from VCU email addresses or through official VCU social media channels. VCU's approved retirement plan service providers are Virginia Retirement System, TIAA, and Fidelity Investments. Communications from these approved retirement plan service providers will include their logos and references to specific programs in which VCU employees participate. Communications from other parties are not authorized by VCU.