U.S. Retirement

 Eligibility

The IARC U.S. Retirement Plan (the Plan) was established in 1996 to help Center employees save for retirement. The Plan is a defined-contribution retirement plan. The U.S. Plan is set up in accordance with Section 403(b)(7) of the Internal Revenue Service Code. An account is established for a participant (employee) to receive contributions from the Center (employer contributions) and to make voluntary (employee) contributions by the participant to the investments which he or she has selected from the investment platform. All contributions made on your behalf (employer contributions) or by you (voluntary contributions) are 100% vested.


Your Center will contribute its employer amount on a monthly basis in accordance with the retirement sponsorship agreement with AIARC. Please contact your Center HR Staff for the contribution formula. Please note that as a U.S. taxpayer there are limits on the amount of voluntary and total contributions that can be made from both the employee and the employer. Please refer to the current year limits for deferrals and maximum annual contributions as published by the Internal Revenue Service. If you are interested in making voluntary contributions, please contact your Center’s AIARC Coordinator to assist you in calculating your maximum allowable amount.


You are eligible to participate in the offshore retirement plan if you are: 1) employed by a member Center that sponsors the Plan, 2) a U.S. taxpayer, and 3) an active employee of the Center because you meet the respective criteria for one of the following employment classifications:

  • A full-time employee working your Center’s normal work week;
  • A part-time employee working at least 20 hours per week or 50% of your Center’s normal work week and hired to work at the Center for at least one year;
  • A long-term consultant contracted to work for a Center for at least a year; or
  • A short-term employee or consultant contracted to work for a Center less than a year but more than two months.

Eligible employees begin participation in this retirement plan on the first day of their employment.

Please note that you will be advised by your Center if you are eligible to join the Plan. If you are eligible, you will receive the U.S. Retirement Plan Enrollment Form enabling you to select investment choices and designate beneficiaries in the event of your death. In addition, you will receive the 403(b) Salary Reduction Agreement (SRA) Form so you can make voluntary (employee) contributions to your retirement account. The SRA Form authorizes voluntary contributions to be deducted from your monthly salary. If the Tax Residency Self-Certification and U.S. Retirement Plan Enrollment Forms are not completed, your retirement contributions will be delayed. Please note that you must forward the original U.S. Retirement Plan Enrollment Form with your “wet” signature, otherwise Vanguard will not consider these forms to be valid.


After you are enrolled in the Plan, you can change your personal details, investment choices, and beneficiaries at any time by creating a Vanguard personal account following the instructions from the Vanguard Online Registration Login Guide.

 Frequently Asked Questions

This section provides you with answers to the most frequently asked questions about retirement benefits under the IARC U.S. 403(b) Retirement Plan. Please refer to the Vanguard website for more information about the Plan.


What is the Plan?
The Plan was established in 1996 to help Center employees save for retirement. The Plan provides for the creation and administration of custodial accounts to receive contributions from the Center on behalf of the Plan participants in accordance with Section 403(b)(7) of the Internal Revenue Service Code. The Plan is a defined-contribution retirement plan. All contributions deposited into your account are 100% vested.

The Association of International Agricultural Research Centers (AIARC) is the plan administrator. AIARC is a nonprofit membership corporation located in Alexandria, Virginia, USA, that was established by CGIAR to manage personnel benefits for the Centers. As the administrator of the Plan, AIARC is responsible for enrolling participants, depositing contributions for each participant, and performing other duties required for the operation of the Plan. Additionally, the plan administrator may further designate other third parties to carry out specific duties on behalf of the Plan.


Who is eligible?
You are eligible if you are (1) employed by a qualifying Center and (2) a U.S. taxpayer.

Please note that you will be advised by your Center if you are eligible to join the Plan. If you are eligible, you will receive the U.S. Retirement Enrollment Plan Form enabling you to select your investment choices, authorize voluntary contributions to be deducted from your salary, and designate beneficiaries in the event of your death.

Eligible employees begin participation in this retirement plan on the first day of their employment, as advised to AIARC by the Center.


How much is contributed?
Center Contributions: Your Center will contribute a monthly amount based on the Center’s retirement formula in the sponsorship agreement with AIARC. The contribution amount will be payable from the date you join the Plan until you leave employment. Please contact Human Resources at your Center for specific details concerning the formula (e.g., 15% times gross monthly salary) used for determining the employer contribution amount.

Voluntary Contributions: If your Center is making monthly employer contributions on your behalf, you can make voluntary contributions as well. Your monthly contribution must not exceed your monthly net salary, but the Internal Revenue Service also imposes annual limits for both voluntary and total contributions. You may only make these contributions through monthly payroll deduction from your monthly salary. To begin, change, or stop voluntary reductions, please complete and return the Sec. 403(b) Salary Reduction Agreement Form for U.S. Taxpayers to your designated AIARC Coordinator.

Please note that both your employer and voluntary contributions are 100% vested.


Is there a maximum amount that can be contributed?
Yes, there are limits for both voluntary contributions and total contributions (employer plus voluntary). Please refer to the current year limits for deferrals and maximum annual contributions as published by the Internal Revenue Service.

If you are interested in making voluntary contributions via salary reduction, please contact your designated AIARC Coordinator so that your coordinator can calculate the maximum allowable amount that you can contribute for the calendar year to ensure that you do not go over the maximum limit.


When do contributions begin?
Your contributions will begin after you complete and return both the Tax Residency Self-Certification Form and the U.S. Retirement Enrollment Plan Form from Vanguard. Please note that no contributions will be made until your forms are received by AIARC. After the forms are received by AIARC, contributions will begin to your account (and will include contributions for prior periods, if applicable).


What are my investment options?
The Plan offers funds from Vanguard and other fund managers representing a diversified range of asset classes. You will make all your initial investment choices on the enrollment form.


Can I make changes to my account after enrollment?
After you are enrolled in the Plan, you can change your personal details, investment choices, and beneficiaries at any time by creating a personal account on the Vanguard website.


When can I withdraw funds from my account?
Except as otherwise provided in the Plan document, the assets of a participant’s account shall not be distributed before the participant:

  • Has a severance from employment;
  • Attains age 59½;
  • Has a hardship;
  • Becomes disabled; or
  • Dies.

What is considered normal retirement age?
Normal retirement age is considered to be the last day of the month in which age 65 is attained. Consequently, only with the approval and instruction of its members and/or clients will AIARC continue to make contributions for those retirement plan participants who have reached retirement age. The retirement plan participant understands that under current U.S. laws and regulations, he or she must begin to receive disbursements from Vanguard by April 1 of the year following the year in which he or she reaches the age of 70½. Additionally, in most cases the plan participant cannot withdraw, without penalty, any of the accumulated funds before the age of 59½, unless the assets are rolled over into another tax-qualified plan.


If I die, what happens to my account?
In the event that you die prior to commencement of retirement benefit payments, the current value of your account, including the portion attributable to employer contributions, will be payable to the beneficiary or beneficiaries named in a single sum or under any one of the options offered by Vanguard.

For married participants, the surviving spouse will receive death benefits, unless a written waiver of the benefit by the employee and written consent to the waiver by the spouse are filed with Vanguard.

It is recommended that you designate beneficiaries to ensure that your beneficiaries will receive any undistributed amounts credited to your account should you die. A beneficiary may be an individual, an institution, a trustee, or your estate.

It is very important that your personal details are kept up to date to ensure that the payment of your account goes to the intended beneficiaries.

Please note that if you are married, and at your death you have named someone other than your spouse as your beneficiary, and if your benefits are covered by ERISA, your spouse will be entitled to receive 50% of the pre-retirement survivor death benefit and your named beneficiary will receive the remainder. Please keep in mind that your non-spouse beneficiary will be entitled to 100% of the benefits only if your spouse has consented to that designation.

In the event that a judgment, decree, or order establishes the rights of another person (the “alternate payee”) to a participant’s benefits under this plan, and where such order, hereafter called a “qualified domestic relations order”, is for the purpose of providing child support, alimony, or other marital property payment(s), said payment(s) will be made in accordance with that order. If a court issues a qualified domestic relations order, such order preempts the usual requirement that the spouse of the participant be considered the participant’s primary beneficiary.

 Other Information

Vanguard Online Account Registration

To review quarterly statements, change investment allocations, and change beneficiary information, you will need to create a personal account at the Vanguard website by following the instructions in the Vanguard Online Registration Login Guide.


Vanguard Fund Fact Sheets and Investment Questionnaire

The Plan offers a diversified lineup of Vanguard funds. For more information about a particular fund, review the fund fact sheet or visit Vanguard to obtain a prospectus.

Vanguard Investment Questionnaire will assist you in determining the optimal long-term investment mix of stocks and bonds for your investment portfolio.


Vanguard Contact Information

If you need assistance, you can contact Vanguard at +1-800-523-1188 or overseas at +1-610-669-1000 Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., U.S. Eastern time.