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Total Rewards frequently asked questions

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What is the vacation waiver, and why did I receive a communication about it?

If you received a vacation waiver comminucation, UM System records estimate you may be impacted by changes to retiree insurance eligibility, effective January 1, 2018. If you have the desire to retire before changes take effect, the waiver may provide peace of mind if unavoidable circumstances arise and push your official retirement date into 2018.

The waiver allows you to receive a lump sum payment for unused accrued vacation that, without the waiver, would be used after December 30, 2017.

Please note, any vacation accruals paid as a lump sum will not be included in creditable service or salary in your final pension calculation.

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My coworker/friend received information about the vacation waiver. Why didn’t I?

Employees who received the vacation waiver communication are estimated to meet the following criteria:

  • Already submitted a Notice of Intent to Retire form for 2017; OR
  • Are estimated to be in Access Category B or C as of December 31, 2017;
  • Are eligible to retire in 2017; and
  • Are in a vacation-accruing position.

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Can faculty with a 9-month position waive service credit and retire in December of 2017?

The waiver form is only available to employees in vacation accruing positions, and allows them the option to waive their right to associated service and salary credit in their pension calculation. This option is not available to 9-month faculty appointments.

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Did retiree insurance change for employees who retired prior to 1/1/18?

Changes to UM System retiree insurance eligibility and subsidies, effective 1/1/2018, have no effect on employees who retired prior to 1/1/2018. These retirees, as well as their spouses and other dependents, who are enrolled in UM’s insurance plan(s) will:

  • Retain their UM insurance coverage—including medical, dental, life, and vision insurance.
  • Retain the current subsidy from UM—including subsidies for spouses and other dependents.

For a list of current plans available to retirees—including dental, vision, and life—visit the retiree benefits overview on the Total Rewards website.

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I submitted my NOI form but wish to change my retirement plan. Why does my dept. have to approve?

It is possible your department has already begun reviewing their budget and taking steps to make staffing changes as a result of your previously submitted retirement plan. It is at the discretion of your department if a change for an already submitted retirement plan is approved.

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If I submitted a waiver and retired in 2017, when will I receive a lump sum payment for vacation?

The lump sum payment for vacation that would have extended into 2018 will be processed in January 2018, on your final active pay cycle (biweekly – 1/24/18, monthly – 1/31/18) to allow for final accrual review and confirmation. If you have questions regarding taxes on your lump sum distribution, please work with your tax advisor.

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If I submitted the vacation waiver and retired in 2017, what happened to my unused sick leave?

While sick leave is not paid out upon retirement, you will receive service credit for all unused sick leave. There is no maximum amount of sick leave one can accrue. 

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Was there a deadline to return the signed waiver?

No. However, please be aware that if your retirement plans change within 60 days of your official retirement date, your first pension payment and retiree health insurance enrollment will likely be delayed.

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How do changes to retiree insurance, effective 1/1/18, effect current faculty and staff?

Under the changes, employees’ eligibility for UM System retiree insurance benefits, as well as their eligibility for a UM System premium subsidy, is different depending on their age and years of service. Visit the Retiree Insurance Eligibility webpage for general information on eligibility.

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What research was conducted to support the new structure of retiree insurance, effective 1/1/18?

The Retiree Medical Study provided the research on which the Total Rewards Advisory Committee (TRAC) made its deliberations when developing its retiree insurance recommendations, which have since been approved and implemented. For more information, access the Retiree Medical Study webpage or the Retiree Insurance Eligibility webpage.

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When deciding which Access Category I am in, does UM round my age and years of service?

Effective January 1, 2018, employee’s eligibility for the university’s retiree insurance plans will change. Eligibility will differ based on whether an employee falls into Access Category A, B, C, or D. The Access Category you are assigned to is based on whole numbers; partial years are not counted. For example, if you are age 50.5 and have 5.5 years of service, you drop the half a year on each and add 50 and 5. In this example, the calculation is 50 + 5 = 55. It’s not 50.5 + 5.5 = 56.

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Do changes to retiree insurance affect all retiree insurance benefits, or just medical plans?

The changes pertain to eligibility and subsidies for these retiree insurance plans: medical and dental. In the future, as recommended by TRAC, the University will conduct a review of retiree life insurance as well to leverage the marketplace and provide focused value to retiree needs. 

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How does an employee become eligible for UM retiree insurance right now?

Prior to 1/1/2018, or for those employees in Access Category A, an employee was eligible for retiree health insurance if the employee was:

  • Eligible for retirement* and
  • Enrolled in a UM insurance plan prior to retirement

This structure of retiree insurance benefits applied to any employee who retired before January 1, 2018, or any employee in Access Category A. A new structure for retiree health insurance took effect on January 1, 2018, and changed eligibility criteria. Read about how eligibility criteria changed in 2018.

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If I have a sick or vacation time accrued, what happens to it when I retire?

When you retire, you will receive day-for-day service credit for accrued sick leave, and there is no cap on sick leave accruals. 

For unused accrued vacation time, you will receive service and salary credit. Unused accrued vacation time is paid out over time at retirement; there are caps on vacation accrual based on your accrual rate. 

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If an employee retired, then returns to a benefit-eligible position, could the benefit change again?

We can't tell you absolutely that UM System retiree insurance will never change again. But at this time, we don’t anticipate additional changes. If an employee retires and comes back to a benefit-eligible position, the retiree would return to their original retiree insurance eligibility as of their original retirement date.

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I’m in Category B with 19 years of service on 1/1/18. Can I enroll in ret. insurance after 1/1/18?

If retiring 1/1/18 or later, you must work to at least age 60 and attain at least 20 years of service to be eligible for retiree insurance. Category B employees who work to age 60 and attain 20 years of service can enroll in UM System retiree insurance plans, any date after the employee reaches those two benchmarks.

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I’ve heard I can only retire at certain times of the year; is that true?

If you are in a 9-month appointment, you may retire on 3/1 or 9/1. All others can retire on any day of the year after meeting the eligibility requirements to be a retiree.

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If spouses work for UM, what if one retired while eligible for ret. insurance and the other didn’t?

If a spouse losteligibility for UM System retiree insurance, the retiree may add the spouse as a dependent for UM System retiree insurance benefits. Please keep in mind, the newly covered spouse is eligible only for continued coverage under the same programs that individual was enrolled in as an eligible employee. Additionally, such a change must be made within 31 days after the change in status.

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If I meet eligibility requirements, what UM health insurance plans can I enroll in as a retiree?

If eligible, a retiree may enroll in the plans they were enrolled in immediately prior to their retirement date. For more information, access the Retiree Insurance Eligibility webpage.

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