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