Human Resources

Contract College Faculty Phased Retirement

The university's Phased Retirement Program for Contract College Faculty permits eligible full-time tenured faculty members in the contract colleges to reduce their teaching, research, and administrative duties prior to retirement. This Program allows a gradual transition of a specified duration of time (up to five years) to retirement for both the faculty member and his or her department and allows for a planned recruitment of new faculty members. Note: Colleges may have internal practices regarding the duration of agreements. Please consult with your college HR office for details.

This Program was developed and endorsed by the Provost and approved by the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees at their December 1998 meeting.

Eligibility

  1. From January 1, 1999 to June 30, 2000, phased retirement was available to all full-time tenured faculty members who are age 55 and above who have held full-time appointments at the university for at least ten years.
  2. Effective July 1, 2000, phased retirement was available to all full-time tenured faculty members between the ages of 55 and 70 who have held full-time appointments at the university for at least ten years.
  3. Effective July 1, 2000, any full-time tenured faculty member who fails to qualify for a phased retirement agreement under point 2 solely because the individual reaches ten years of service after age 70 will be eligible for a phased retirement agreement for twelve months after he or she achieves ten years of service.
  4. Interested faculty members should discuss plans with their department chair and/or dean's representative to develop a mutually agreeable set of duties, appointment dates and duration. Appointments must be at least half-time for one term each academic year. Normally, appointments should not exceed half-time for the full academic year. Most agreements are established to be half-time each academic year as appointments less than half-time impact benefits eligibility, as noted below.

Participation

Once a formal written agreement has been completed, the faculty member's department will be required to submit notification of the member's change in employment status. This should occur at least 90 days in advance of the beginning of the phased retirement period.

Phased Retirement Benefits

Certain benefits are provided as if the faculty member were full-time while other benefit programs are modified based upon the actual appointed time for the faculty member. Nothing will prohibit or limit an individual's eligibility to participate in current or future State sponsored retirement incentive programs unless explicitly stated in the phased retirement agreement.

Benefits Overview

Health & Dental Insurance

If the faculty member's appointment is for one-half time or more, coverage will continue as if at full-time.

If the faculty member's appointment is for less than one-half time, he or she is not eligible for health or dental insurance benefits. However, faculty members on terminal appointments leading to retirement, with accrued health and personal leave credits, have the option of beginning coverage in a retired status during the period of the phased retirement agreement.

New York State Employees' Retirement System (NYSERS)

The faculty member participating in this program does not receive defined benefit employer contributions and therefore should carefully consider the effect that a reduced-time terminal appointment may have upon their NYSERS retirement benefit. Information on this program can be obtained by calling NYSERS Information Call Center at 1-866-805-0990.

SUNY Optional Retirement Program (ORP)

If the faculty member's appointment is for one-half time or more, the faculty member will receive additional annual payments equal to the difference between the retirement contributions that the State would have made for full-time employment and the contributions made based on his or her actual part-time salary. These additional contributions will be deposited into an account in the faculty member's name under the Cornell University Retirement Plan (CURP). The Optional Retirement Program does not permit additional voluntary contributions to the basic plan. If the faculty member's appointment is for less than one-half time, the faculty member will receive additional annual payments equivalent to the contributions the State will make based on their actual part-time salary. The faculty member may elect to receive distributions from the CURP account during the phased retirement period. Information on the Plan investment funds can be obtain by calling the investment vendors. Representatives from the investment vendors are on campus frequently to provide personal counseling services for retirement planning.

Tax Deferred Annuity Plan (TDA)

Phased retirement participants may continue making voluntary pre-tax contributions to their accounts in the Tax Deferred Annuity Plan based upon their actual phased retirement salary. These contributions are subject to regulatory limits.

Participants who are at least age 59 1/2 may elect to receive distributions from TDA plan retirement accounts during the phased retirement period. Participants who are younger than age 59 1/2 may only elect to receive distributions paid out over 10 or more years or over their life expectancy. Loans and financial hardship withdrawals are available at any age. Contact the investment vendors directly for the appropriate distribution forms and related materials. Representatives from both investment vendors are on campus frequently to provide personal counseling services for retirement planning.

Basic Life Insurance

If the faculty member’s appointment is one-half time or more, basic life insurance coverage will continue based upon the member’s full-time equivalent salary. The basic life insurance coverage provides one-half of the member’s full-time equivalent salary up to a maximum benefit of $50,000.

If the faculty member’s appointment is less than one-half time, basic life insurance coverage will continue based upon one-half of the member’s actual phased retirement salary up to a maximum of $50,000.

Group Universal Life (GUL) Insurance

The faculty member may elect to continue their full amount of Group Universal Life (GUL) coverage. Premium payments for this coverage will continue to be made by payroll deduction.

If the faculty member’s appointment is less than one-half time, the faculty member may elect to continue his/her full amount of Group Universal Life (GUL) coverage.

Personal Accident Insurance

If the faculty member’s appointment is for one-half time or more, coverage will continue based upon the level of coverage that the member has chosen, however, amounts above $250,000 cannot exceed ten times the member’s full-time equivalent salary.

If the faculty member’s appointment is for less than one-half time, coverage will continue based upon the level of coverage that the member has chosen, however, amounts above $250,000 cannot exceed ten times the member’s actual phased retirement salary.

Long Term Disability Insurance

If the faculty member’s appointment is for one-half time or more then the faculty member’s coverage will continue but will be provided based on the member’s actual phased retirement salary on the date of disability.

Cornell Children’s Tuition Scholarship

Benefits will be provided as if the faculty member were full-time.

Flexible Spending Accounts

The faculty member’s coverage and payroll deductions will continue based upon the level of coverage that the member has chosen, but in no case may deductions from paychecks to your flexible spending account exceed 50% of the paycheck amount. Inquiries about flexible spending accounts should be directed to Benefit Services.

Auto, Home and Pet Insurance

The faculty member’s coverage and payroll deductions will continue based upon the level of coverage that the member has chosen. Inquiries about auto and homeowners insurance should be directed to Mercer Voluntary Benefits.

Long-Term Care

The faculty member’s coverage and payroll deductions will continue based upon the level of coverage that the member has chosen. Inquiries about long term care policies should be directed to CNA at 1-866-234-9031.  Faculty members with RetirementGuard should call 1-888-793-6111.

Legal Plan Insurance

The faculty member’s coverage and payroll deductions will continue. Inquiries should be directed to Mercer Voluntary Benefits.

Other Payroll Deductions

Any other payroll deduction benefits will be unaffected as long as the faculty member continues to receive pay from the university.

New York state law limits the amount that a contract college employee can earn from state sources in retirement.

The Phased Retirement Program is governed according to legislation adopted by the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of Cornell University and may be altered, amended or eliminated with the approval of the Board of Trustees. Every attempt has been made to ensure the accuracy of this summary, however, in the case of any inconsistency between this summary and the legal documents for Cornell University’s benefit programs, the legal documents will prevail.

 

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