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August 22, 2012

Changes to employee benefits plans announced

Tuition waivers and reimbursement and some short- and long-term disability plans adjusted

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Beginning Jan. 1, 2013, the University’s benefits programs will be altered according to the recommendations of a task force appointed by President Seligman and cochaired by Senior Vice President Ronald Paprocki and former Provost Ralph Kuncl.

Action item: Review your benefits information

The Office of Human Resources recommends that faculty and staff begin the process of reviewing their benefits programs, keeping in mind changes taking place during 2013.

In particular, eligible employees—including their spouses, domestic partners, and dependent children—who are taking part in tuition benefits programs must be matriculated into an appropriate educational program by no later than the academic session for summer 2013 in order to be grandfathered under the current tuition benefits programs.

In addition, eligible employees who are interested in enrolling in or increasing their coverage under the full long-term disability program have an opportunity to do so during this fall’s open enrollment period without receiving medical certification.

Note: Strong Memorial Hospital residents and fellows will continue to receive benefits in accordance with their programs. Employees represented by collective bargaining agreements will continue to receive benefits in accordance with those agreements.

Employees are encouraged to closely read enrollment materials that will be mailed to their homes. Faculty and staff can also visit www.rochester.edu/benefits, or speak with a benefits counselor by calling 275-2084 (or, ASK-URHR at 275-8747), if they have questions.

The goal of the task force was to continue to provide a comprehensive and competitive benefits package in an environment in which both health care reimbursement and federal investment in medical research are under some pressure.

Seligman applauded the task force for taking an approach that tried to minimize the impact on faculty and staff while preserving jobs even in challenging times.

The changes, some of which are outlined below, result in modifications to the tuition benefits program, including the tuition waiver for University of Rochester courses taken by employees or by their dependents.

The changes include some enhancements to long-term disability benefits as well as changes to the short-term disability plan.
Two benefits will be eliminated: the tuition waiver for University courses taken by a spouse or domestic partner and the tuition reimbursement for courses taken at other universities by part-time employees.

Michele Hill, manager of faculty and staff benefits, noted that the changes to the tuition programs and to the long-term disability program may warrant immediate attention from some employees.

Employees who plan to receive tuition reimbursement or waivers next year should immediately review the new grandfathering criteria requirements to learn what action to take in the coming months to continue receiving their current level of tuition benefits.

The limited long-term disability (LTD) benefit will be increased beginning in January, and will now be offered on up to $36,000 of annual salary, rather than $15,000.

In addition, in this fall’s open enrollment, some employees will be able to increase their LTD coverage without the usual medical certification for insurance company approval.


Benefits plans: What you need to know

When do the changes take effect?

Changes to long-term and short-term disability programs take effect Jan. 1, 2013, with the new plan year for faculty and staff. Changes to the tuition benefits program are effective beginning fall 2013.

Tuition Programs

How is the tuition waiver program for employees changing?

The University’s tuition waiver program will be modified so that eligible employees who take courses at the University will be responsible for a portion of the tuition costs for their courses.

The amount that employees will be responsible for will be based on three salary bands.

Employees in the lowest salary band will be eligible for a 95 percent waiver; employees in the middle band will be eligible for a 90 percent waiver; and employees in the highest band will be eligible for an 80 percent waiver.

To be eligible for the tuition waiver program, employees must be enrolled in credit-bearing courses related to their job or part of a degree program to prepare them for a future job at the University.

If the courses are not job-related, employees will be eligible for a 70 percent waiver of the tuition.

Is there action I need to take now?

Those who are currently participating in the tuition benefits program should review the criteria to see if they can be grandfathered into the current program so that their tuition benefits remain unchanged.

In order to be grandfathered under the current tuition benefits program, employees must be receiving tuition benefits for and be matriculated into a program by summer 2013.

What about courses outside the University?

Regular full-time faculty and staff who enroll in courses at another college or university will be eligible to receive a reimbursement of 70 percent of their tuition costs for up to two approved courses in each semester or quarter. To be eligible for reimbursement, courses must be directly related to your job at the University. As with the tuition waiver benefits program, in order to be grandfathered under the current tuition reimbursement program, regular full-time faculty and staff must be receiving tuition benefits for and be matriculated into a program no later than summer 2013.

How do I get grandfathered?

Eligible employees who apply for a tuition waiver for qualified courses at the University (whether for themselves, their spouses, domestic partners, or dependent children) will need to sign a grandfather certification on the fall 2013 tuition waiver application. For tuition reimbursement at outside colleges and universities, employees will need to sign the grandfather certification on the fall 2013 tuition reimbursement application and submit a letter from the college or university where they have been taking classes. The letter is needed to confirm that the employee is matriculated in a degree program by summer 2013.

What about part-time employees?

Eligible part-time staff may receive tuition benefits for one course in each relevant semester or quarter for courses taken at the University. Part-time staff will no longer be eligible for employee tuition reimbursement at other colleges and universities, including noncredit courses and certification or recertification exams.

Is the program for tuition for dependents changing?

The families of regular full-time faculty and staff with at least 10 years of full-time service whose dependent children matriculate at the University as first-time, first-year undergraduate freshman students will share in the cost of tuition by paying an amount equal to the annual in-state tuition at SUNY schools. As of this fall, that cost would be $5,570. Eligible employees will receive a tuition waiver for the remainder of the cost of tuition.

Regular full-time faculty and staff with more than five but less than 10 years of service will be eligible only for a 50 percent tuition waiver benefit. A 25 percent tuition waiver will no longer be available.

Tuition benefits for part-time staff with more than six years of service remain unchanged.

What if my child is already enrolled at the University?

Employees whose dependent children are currently receiving tuition benefits and matriculated at the University before the start of the fall 2013 semester are eligible to be grandfathered under the current level of tuition benefits.

The levels are based on years of service and on full- or part-time employment.

Long-term Disability

What’s changing?

Beginning Jan. 1, 2013, the University will provide limited long-term disability (LTD) insurance to regular full-time faculty and staff that covers 60 percent of an annual salary up to a salary maximum of $36,000. (The previous salary maximum was $15,000).

The increase means that full-time employees selecting full long-term disability coverage will see slightly lower premiums because the University will provide coverage between $15,000 and $36,000.

If full-time faculty and staff want coverage above the $36,000 limited LTD maximum, they can choose additional full LTD coverage.

The cost is 30 cents a month or 15 cents per semimonthly or biweekly pay period for each $1,000 of covered annual salary above the limited LTD salary maximum. The maximum covered annual salary under the full LTD plan is $300,000.

Can I add full long-term disability coverage if I have previously waived it?

Individuals who previously waived coverage or did not elect full long-term disability coverage may be eligible to increase their coverage during this fall’s open enrollment period without completing medical certification and receiving approval from the insurance carrier.

How can part-time employees enroll in long-term disability coverage?

Regular part-time faculty and staff who enroll in the long-term disability plan will continue to pay the full group premium of 54 cents per month or 27 cents per semimonthly or biweekly pay period for each $1,000 of covered annual salary up to a maximum covered annual salary of $300,000.

What if I’m on already on long-term disability?

There is a notable change for faculty and staff on long-term disability.

Medicare will become the primary payer, effective Jan. 1, 2013, for health care expenses for Medicare-eligible individuals covered under a University health care plan.

Short-term Disability

What’s changing?

Beginning with any absence on or after Jan. 1, 2013, the policy will provide for a maximum of 26 weeks of salary for faculty and staff in hourly paid positions (six months for semimonthly and monthly paid positions).

Regular full-time staff in non-exempt positions will continue to have a progressive benefit based on years of service that will stop increasing at the six-year mark with a maximum benefit of six weeks of full pay and 20 weeks of half pay.

Faculty and salaried staff will continue to receive a progressive benefit based on years of service, now capping at six months of full salary.

Are there changes to workers’ compensation?

Beginning Jan. 1, 2013, benefits for new and existing workers’ compensation claims will be paid based on New York State levels rather than coordinated with the sick leave plan for short-term disability.

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