Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Voya Financial®?
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The Voya® family of companies is a leading provider of deferred compensation and defined contribution plan education, administration and investment services to governmental plan sponsors and participants. Voya, and its predecessor companies have provided Voluntary Savings Plan services to SUNY employees since 1986 and Optional Retirement Planning services since 1994.

What is the Optional Retirement Program?
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The SUNY Optional Retirement Program is a New York State Pension plan in which the State invests a portion of your compensation based on your date of hire on a pre-tax basis, and any earnings are tax-deferred. Taxes are due when money is distributed from the Plan. The amounts accumulated on your behalf are distributed at retirement, severance from employment or death. For additional information regarding the State’s Optional Retirement Program, please see the Plan Overview section. 

How do I enroll in the Plan?
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You are able to enroll on-line, please see the Enrollment section of this website for additional information.  You may request to meet with a Voya Financial® representative at your worksite or at the local Voya® office. Please see the Enrollment section of this website for additional information.

Can I contribute to the Plan?
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No. In the Optional Retirement Plan (ORP), the State invests a portion of your compensation based on your date of hire on a pre-tax basis, and any earnings are tax-deferred. Voluntary contributions are not permitted into the ORP. If you wish to elect to defer additional savings for your retirement, please refer to the State Voluntary Savings Plan options. Voya Financial® is also an investment provider in the SUNY 403(b) elective deferral savings Plan.

Can I change the amount I defer?
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No. ORP contributions are defined by the Plan based on your date of hire and amount of compensation, please refer to the SUNY benefit web site for additional information on the percentage of income that applies to you individually.

Can I transfer or rollover into the Plan?
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The Plan can accept ORP account transfers from other approved SUNY ORP retirement Plan investment providers. The Plan does not permit other any other assets to be transferred or rolled into your ORP account. Before transferring assets, carefully consider the features of both the existing and the new product for differences in costs, surrender charges and other important aspects. There may also be tax consequences associated with the transfer of assets. Consult with your own advisors regarding your particular situation.

When are contributions credited to my account?
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Contributions received in good order by the close of business, generally 4 p.m. Eastern Time (ET), on any day the New York Stock Exchange is open, will be processed at the close of that same business day and reflected in your account on the next business day. Contributions received in good order after the close of business, generally 4 p.m. Eastern Time (ET), on a New York Stock Exchange business day will be processed as of the close of business on the next business day.

How is interest compounded?
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Interest in the Voya Fixed Account is compounded daily and credited to your account daily. Voya Fixed Account interest rate is announced monthly, and credited to portfolio with contractual guarantee of 3%.

The guarantees of the Voya Fixed Account are based on the claims-paying ability of Voya Retirement Insurance and Annuity Company. Amounts allocated to Guaranteed Accumulation Account (GAA) are held in a non-unitized separate account established by the Company under Connecticut law. To the extent provided for in the contract, assets of the separate account are not chargeable with liabilities arising out of any other business that the Company conducts. Guarantees do not apply to the investment return or principal value of the separate account. The Voya Fixed Account interest rate is announced monthly 

Are there withdrawal fees associated with any of the investment options that are available under the Plan?
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No. Withdrawals or transfers from the GAA before the end of the guaranteed term may be subject to a market value adjustment, which may be positive or negative.

How can I receive information on fund performance?
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You can receive fund performance in a variety of ways:

Through the Investment Performance section of this website;

With your quarterly participant statements and newsletter;

Through our local office; or

By calling Customer Service at  (800) 584-6001

A Registered Representative* or Investment Advisory Representative** is available to assist you with information pertaining to the investments offered under our contract.

*Registered Representative of and securities offered through Voya Financial Advisors, Inc., member SIPC.

** Securities and investment advisory services offered through Voya Financial Advisors, Inc., member SIPC

Will Voya Financial® make available daily prices for each of the variable investment options?
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Yes. Daily fund prices are available by logging in to your online account.

How frequently will fund performance be updated? What historical performance will be shown?
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Fund performance is updated on a monthly basis. Monthly performance reports are available in the Fund Performance section of this website. Quarterly performance reports will also be included with your quarterly statements. You will be able to track daily fund prices on this website by logging in to your account.

Are there any restrictions on the number of inter-fund transfers and reallocations that I can make on my account?
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No, unless the request violates the Voya Financial® Excessive Trading Policy. Voya® actively monitors fund transfer and reallocation activity to identify frequent trading activity.

You should consider the investment objectives, risks and charges, and expenses of the variable annuity and its underlying investment options carefully before investing. The prospectuses for the variable annuity and underlying investment options contain this and other information. You can obtain prospectuses by contacting your local representative. Please read the information carefully before investing.

How can I change direction on my investments or receive information regarding my account?
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To make changes or receive information, please contact Customer Service toll-free number at (800) 584-6001 Customer Service is available Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. E.T. The automated voice response system is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at . (800) 855-2880

You can also make changes or obtain account information by logging in to your online account.

How quickly will my transaction requests be processed?
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Transactions received in good order by the close of business, generally 4 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) on any day the New York Stock Exchange is open, will be processed at the close of that same business day and reflected in your account on the next business day. Transaction requests received in good order after the close of business, generally 4 p.m. ET on a New York Stock Exchange business day, will be processed as of the close of business on the next business day. All transactions are processed within these timeframes regardless of whether you use the Internet, automated voice response system, or speak with Customer Service.

Will Voya Retirement Insurance and Annuity Company confirm the transaction I make?
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Yes. Any time you make a change to the manner in which your ongoing contributions are invested or the way your current account is invested, a written confirmation will be mailed to your home within two days of the date the transaction is made. You will receive this confirmation if you make financial transactions over the Internet, through the automated voice response system, or by speaking with Customer Service. 

Are there any transaction fees if I make a change using the Internet? What if I use the toll-free telephone line?
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No. There are no transaction fees associated with any of the transactions you make with Voya Financial®, whether you make them using the Internet, the automated voice response unit, or by speaking with Customer Service.

Are there any fees or a deferred sales charge for withdrawals from my account?
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No. There is no deferred sales charge or a fee for withdrawals that you receive from your ORP account.

When are statements received?
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Statements are mailed quarterly, showing all transactions within your account for the quarter. This would include contributions, withdrawals and fund transfers. You can also sign up to receive your statements electronically.

You can also sign up to receive your statements electronically. To do so, login to your online account, select My Mailbox, and then Mail Delivery Preferences.

What are the fees under the Plan?
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Annual deduction of .85% on variable investment options applies as a contract charge. This is reduced to .35% on Voya Money Market* investments. The contract charge does not apply to assets invested in the fixed account. There are no other fees under the Plan such as deferred sales charges, investment advice or maintenance fees. Investment management fees may apply and vary on each specific investment option; please refer to the Investment Options Fact Sheets.

*An investment in a money market fund is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. Although the fund seeks to preserve the value of your investment at $1.00 per share, there is no assurance it will be able to do so. While the fund's objective includes the preservation of capital, it is possible to lose money by investing in the fund.

You should consider the investment objectives, risks and charges, and expenses of the variable annuity and its underlying investment options carefully before investing. The prospectuses for the variable annuity and underlying investment options contain this and other information. You can obtain prospectuses by contacting your local representative. Please read the information carefully before investing.

Are there any transaction fees if I make a change using the Internet? What if I use the toll-free telephone line?
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No. There are no transaction fees associated with any of the transactions you make with Voya Financial®, whether you make them using the Internet, the automated voice response unit, or by speaking with Customer Service.

Are there any fees or a deferred sales charge for withdrawals from my account?
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No. There is no deferred sales charge or a fee for withdrawals that you receive from your ORP account. 

Does a guaranteed death benefit apply to my Voya Financial® SUNY ORP account?
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Yes, if you die prior to the start of annuity payments, the amount of money available to your beneficiary(ies), is guaranteed to be the greater of a)the account value, excluding any loan account; or b) the sum of contributions to the account, adjusted proportionately for any surrenders/loans. Guarantees are based on the claims-paying ability of Voya Retirement Insurance and Annuity Company.

How do I change my beneficiary under the Plan?
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You can request the form by calling (800)  584-6001 and speaking with Customer Service. Alternatively, you may also request a change of beneficiary  by logging onto your participant access from the Home Screen of this site.

Why is it important to designate a Plan beneficiary since I have already named a beneficiary for other State benefits?
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The beneficiary you designate under the Optional Retirement Program is separate from any designation you may have made under the State’s pension plan or group life coverage. To ensure that death benefits under the Plan are paid to the individual(s) of your choice, you should periodically review your Plan beneficiary designation(s) and determine whether any changes are appropriate. This is especially true if you have a life change event (e.g. marriage, birth of a child, divorce or death).

What happens if I don’t designate a Plan beneficiary?
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If you do not name a beneficiary (or if your beneficiary predeceases you or does not survive you by 30 days) and you do not have any contingent beneficiaries named, death benefits will be paid to your estate. 

Are loans available under the Optional Retirement Program?
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Yes, loans are available under the Plan according to the IRS loan eligibility rules. SUNY allows for 1 loan to be issued annually, per 12 rolling months. Loans are not permitted for accounts which have a previously deemed outstanding loan balance in which payments have not been satisfied. The maximum loan of $ 50,000 applies to all of your retirement Plan accounts as an aggregated total. You can obtain a Loan application here.

Please note: loans will reduce your account balance, may impact your withdrawal value and limit participation in future growth potential. Other restrictions may apply.

The ORP is a 401(a) - not a 403(b) so the section below is not appropriate. There are other plans offered but this FAQ was headlined as ORP

Can I withdraw funds while still employed with the State?
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No, withdrawals are not permitted while you are still employed with the State.

When am I required to begin receiving distributions?
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The IRS requires that distributions under the Plan begin no later than April 1st of the calendar year following the calendar year in which you attain age 70 ½ or retire, whichever is later. These rules are referred to as IRS Required Minimum Distributions. You must receive at least a minimum distribution by April 1 of the year following the year in which you reach age 70½ or retire, whichever is later, or a 50% penalty may be imposed.

Once I have separated from service or retired, what are my withdrawal options?
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Depending on your age, you may have the following options:

Leave your assets in the Plan and postpone any decision on the payment of benefits to a future date (no later than age 70 ½ or you retire, whichever is later*).

Receive your benefits immediately under one of the withdrawal options available under the Plan.

Rollover your benefits into another employer-sponsored, eligible retirement plan (an eligible retirement plan is a 401 qualified plan, a 403(b) tax deferred annuity program, or a governmental 457(b) deferred compensation plan) or traditional IRA.

* You must receive at least a minimum distribution by April 1 of the year following the year in which you reach age 70½ or retire, whichever is later, or a 50% penalty may be imposed.

When considering your options, be sure to take into account your personal situation, and carefully consider the benefits of existing and potentially new retirement accounts and any differences in features.

Please note that generally, New York State ORP distributions are not considered taxable income in New York State. You may wish to take this into consideration as you consider your options.

Please also note that rollover assets may be subject to an IRS 10% premature distribution penalty tax.

Be sure to consult with your own legal and tax advisors regarding your particular situation.

For more information, please see the Withdrawal Options section of this website. 

How do I obtain forms for a withdrawal?
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When you become entitled to a distribution under the Plan, you should call Service Center at (800) 584-6001 to request forms or log into your account from the Home Screen of this site.

Once I choose a payment method, can I change how I’d like to receive my benefits?
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Yes. If at a later date you decide your existing payment option may not be appropriate for your current situation, you may make a change. (Please note that an annuity payment option may not be revoked.)

Are there any fees or a deferred sales charge for withdrawals from my account?
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No. There is no deferred sales charge or a fee for withdrawals that you receive from your account.

Fund management fees and other fund operating expenses will apply to the investment options under the plan, based upon the investment option(s) chosen. Please refer to the Contract Prospectus Summary for individual fund fee information. You may also contact your local Representative for additional information.

What is a systematic withdrawal option (SWO)?
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A systematic withdrawal option, or SWO, is one of the forms of periodic payment options available for the distribution of your benefits under the Plan. Under SWO, you elect whether to receive your benefits in a specified amount, over a stated period of time of your prior year-end account value subject to certain requirements. While you are receiving your SWO payments, you are still able to direct the investment of amounts remaining in your account. You may change the amount and timing of your SWO payments, as long as the minimum requirements are met and you continue to receive the Required Minimum Distributions (if applicable) under the Plan. Please note, if you have an outstanding loan balance you will not eligible to elect a distribution under this option.

Additional information on the Systematic Withdrawal Option is available by contacting the Service Center at 1-800-584-6001 or your Local campus representative.

How and when are benefits paid under a systematic withdrawal option (SWO)?
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You can choose from the following two SWO options:

Specified period – not less than 5 years and no more than your life expectancy.

Specified amount – must be at least $250 and cannot be more than 20% of your account.

Can I rollover my benefits to another plan or IRA?
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You can rollover your benefits to another employer-sponsored eligible retirement plan or traditional IRA. (An eligible retirement plan is a 401 qualified plan, a 403(b) tax deferred annuity program, or a governmental 457(b) deferred compensation plan).

All distributions are eligible for rollover except for:

IRS Required Minimum Distributions payable on or after you attain age 70 ½; and

After-tax account balances

Periodic payments made over your life or a specified period of 10 years or more.

Please contact our local office at (800) 584-6001 for additional information on distributions and eligibility for rollover.

Please also note that rollover assets may be subject to an IRS 10% premature distribution penalty tax.

When are my benefits taxable to me?
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Distributions you receive from the Optional Retirement Program are subject to Federal income taxes when distributed to you. Generally, NY pension income tax exempt for State purposes, please consult with a tax advisor for additional information.

Federal income tax withholding will apply to your distributions from the plan, as described below, based on whether you are eligible to rollover the distribution.

If you receive a distribution that is eligible to be rolled over, a mandatory 20% will be withheld for Federal tax.

If you receive a distribution that is not eligible to be rolled over, 10% for Federal tax will be withheld; however, you may elect to have no taxes withheld.

Amounts distributed from the Plan are subject to the IRS 10% premature distribution penalty tax if distributed prior to your attaining age 59 ½, unless an IRS exception applies.

IRS exceptions to the 10% premature distribution penalty tax include payments made:

To your beneficiary as a result of your death;

Upon your severance from employment or retirement on or after you attain age 55;

In substantially equal amounts over your life/life expectancy; or

As a result of your total and permanent disability.

Financial Hardship distributions.

Voya Financial® does not offer legal or tax advice. Please seek the advice of your own legal or tax advisor prior to making a tax-related investment decision. 

I am recently divorced. How will amounts awarded to my former spouse be taxed?
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Your former spouse can leave amounts awarded as a result of a divorce, pursuant to a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO), in an account in the Plan or can rollover the account to another eligible retirement plan or IRA without being taxed. Any amounts paid directly to a former spouse from the Plan will be taxable when a distribution is made. Please contact your local Voya Financial® representative for assistance with the process for authorization and approval of QDRO distributions from your account.

How do I find out more about my distribution options?
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Information on your available distribution choices can be found in the Withdrawal Options section of this website. In addition, local Voya Financial® representatives are available to meet with you individually to discuss your specific situation and withdrawal options under the Plan.

When should I call the local office and when should I call Customer Service?
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You should call the local office when you would like to:

Inquire about plan rules and provisions

Request enrollment information

Inquire about the investment options available to you under the plan and seek asset allocation assistance from your local representative

Obtain pre-retirement planning and a retirement analysis from your representative

Make an appointment with your representative

You should call Customer Service when you would like to:

Make account balance and transaction inquiries

Review and update your personal profile information

Request a change in the way your future contributions are invested

Request a change in the way your current account balance is invested

Review withdrawal options, terms and conditions – taxes, penalties, and timing of withdrawals

Obtain withdrawal and other account service forms

Request a printed account statement

Obtain internet assistance

Does Voya Financial® conduct educational group workshops for State employees?
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Yes. Voya® holds Financial Education Workshops at locations throughout the State. Please contact your Human Resources Benefit Office for further information.

Insurance products issued by Voya Retirement Insurance and Annuity Company, One Orange Way, Windsor, CT 06095-4774. Securities are distributed by Voya Financial Partners, LLC (member SIPC). Custodial account agreements or trust agreements are provided by Voya Institutional Trust Company. Insurance obligations are the responsibility of each individual company. All companies are members of the VoyaTM family of companies. Securities may also be through other broker-dealers with which Voya has selling agreements. Product and services may not be available in all states. CN-0315-13077-0417