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Office of Human Resources

Guidelines in the Event of the Death of an Active Faculty or Staff Member

The University of Rochester mourns the loss of any faculty or staff member.  In the event of the death of an active faculty or staff member, the below guidelines should be followed, understanding that all actions should be handled with tact and sensitivity and modified when individual circumstances warrant.  The department head or designee is responsible for assisting the family with matters relating to the faculty or staff member’s University employment. The Benefits Office is responsible for assisting the family and designated beneficiaries with matters relating to University Benefit Plans. 

The University faculty or staff member who first learns of a death should inform the dean, director or department head to whom the faculty or staff member reported.  It is the dean, director, department head or designee’s responsibility to promptly inform the appropriate Vice President or Provost, Benefits Office of Human Resources, Public Relations Department (Medical Center) and Communications Department (River Campus) and to secure the deceased individual’s personal possessions.  The department head or designee is responsible for assisting the family with matters relating to the faculty or staff member’s University employment. The family should be made aware of the availability of the University’s chapels and chaplaincy services.

  1. Department completes a 510 (faculty member) or a 610 (staff member) change form and sends the form to the HR Service Center for processing.
  2. The Benefits Office notifies the President’s Office of the death and provides “next of kin” information.
  3. The Benefits Office notifies University Communications of the death so that they can appropriately communicate to the University community.
  4. ( If applicable ) The Benefits Office notifies Securian Life Insurance Company and any Retirement Program investment companies of the death.  The companies will, in turn, contact the appropriate beneficiary in writing and provide the necessary forms, instructions, and counseling in connection with a claim for benefits.
  5. ( If applicable ) The Benefits Office mails a condolence letter to the beneficiary of the Group Life Insurance Plan.  If the beneficiary of the life insurance is not the surviving spouse and/or dependent child, the Benefits Office will mail a condolence letter to dependents outlining the impact the death of the active faculty or staff member will have on any employee benefit plan coverage that the surviving spouse or dependent child has through the University of Rochester.  The letter will include applicable instructions and information on continuing benefit plan coverage(s) and which companies have been notified by the Benefits Office.  Eligibility for the continuation of benefit plan coverages is detailed below:
  6. Health Care
    ( Eligibility:  Surviving spouses and/or dependent children of deceased active regular full-time and part-time faculty or staff members, including deceased active 1199 SEIU staff members receiving Long-Term Disability benefits )

    1. If the active faculty or staff member had 5 or more years of service , but did not meet the eligibility requirements to retire, then the surviving spouse and eligible dependent children would remain eligible for, paying the same cost-sharing as active faculty and staff members (based on the deceased faculty or staff member’s applicable salary band) for a period of one year following the faculty or staff member’s death. (Dependents would be billed quarterly for their share of the monthly premium charges by the University.). After one year, the surviving spouse and eligible dependent children may continue coverage under COBRA (dependents would be charged the full premium cost, plus an administrative fee, for up to 36 months).  At that time, Aetna or Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield will contact the surviving spouse and/or dependent child regarding COBRA continuation. 
    2. If the active faculty or staff member had 5 or more years of service , and met the eligibility requirements to retire , then the surviving spouse and eligible dependent children would remain eligible for coverage, paying the same cost-sharing as active faculty or staff members (based on the deceased faculty or staff member’s applicable salary band) for a period of one year following the active faculty or staff member’s death. (Dependents would be billed quarterly for their share of the monthly premium charges by the University).  After one year, the surviving spouse and eligible dependent children may continue coverage by paying the cost sharing of the retiree rate applicable to the Grandparent Level of the deceased faculty or staff member.
    3. If a the active faculty or staff member had less than 5 years of service, the surviving spouse and/or dependent children may continue coverage under COBRA (dependents would be charged the full premium cost, plus an administrative fee, for up to 36 months). Aetna or Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield will contact the surviving spouse and/or dependent child regarding COBRA continuation. 

    Dental
    ( Eligibility:  Surviving spouses and/or dependent children of deceased active regular full-time and part-time faculty or staff members )

    1. Upon the death of an active faculty or staff member, a surviving spouse and/or dependent children may continue coverage under COBRA (dependents would be charged the full premium cost, plus an administrative fee, for up to 36 months). Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield will contact the surviving spouse and/or dependent child regarding COBRA continuation.

  7. The Payroll and Employee Records Center (PERC) will create a check for any final wages/salary/pay in lieu of accumulated vacation, and send the check to the Benefits Office, who will mail the check to the next of kin.
  8. Upon notification of the death of an active regular full-time or part-time faculty/ staff member, the Benefits Office will contact the Payroll and Employee Records Center (PERC) to calculate the death benefit gratuity.  The amount of the death benefit gratuity is equal to the amount of pay the active faculty or staff member would have received for the remainder of the pay period in which they deceased.  A check is requested for the amount of the gratuity and paid to the Group Life Insurance Plan beneficiary(ies).  The payment is charged to the faculty or staff member’s department account(s) that was normally used to pay their salary.  If the faculty or staff member was on short-term disability prior to their death, the “sick leave” account is charged for the gratuity payment.  The death benefit gratuity check is sent to the Benefits Office, who will mail the check to the Group Life Insurance Plan beneficiary.
  9. ( NOTE :  Faculty or staff members who were receiving Long-Term Disability benefits or an 1199 SEIU staff member prior to their death are not eligible for the death benefit gratuity.) 

  10. For more information please see Policy #119