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Early retirement program proves popular
June 20, 1997
The state's Early Retirement Incentive Program (ERIP) is luring about as many UConn employees as expected, but the clock is ticking and Virginia Miller, assistant vice chancellor for human resources, says faculty and staff who have even a glimmer of interest should consider obtaining advice soon.
Miller says 109 people have already left UConn under the incentive in April, May, and June, and more than 200 others have given a "preliminary expression of interest" for the July and August dates. She says anyone who qualifies for the package, and may be even slightly interested, should file a retirement information application as soon as possible. Filing the paperwork, which can be obtained on the University's Web pages , or from the Department of Human Resources in the Brown Building on the Depot Campus, is not binding. It does, however, put workers on the list to receive a packet of information, and allows personnel staff to begin working on various options and gathering financial information for the applicant.
Employees are also encouraged to advise their supervisors of their potential interest because of the need to make staffing adjustments quickly, should the person decide to leave August 1 or sooner.
Miller says people who are considering the early retirement package should keep in mind that, after this window closes, a new, 20-year pension plan takes effect which, among other things, changes health insurance benefit costs for retirees.
"Workers who are on the fence (about retirement) really should look into all their options," says Miller. "There are health insurance issues that would benefit from thoughtful consideration depending on personal or family situations."
Dennis Dion, manager of employee benefits, says people who leave under the early retirement incentive program will receive free health benefits regardless of which plan they choose. However, after the program expires, state employees who retire will be charged almost $22 per month for an individual, or more than $56 per month for a family, if they choose the Blue Cross Preferred plan. Other plans, including Blue Cross Point of Service and Point of Entry plans, MD Health or Kaiser Permanente, will still be free, at least until July 1, 1999. After that, costs will be tied to the Blue Cross Point of Entry plan, with the state picking up all costs equal to the charges associated with that plan, and retirees paying all costs above that level for whichever plan they choose.
Miller says human resources staff are staying on the job until 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and 7 p.m. on Wednesdays through July 29, so workers can include their spouses in any question and answer sessions with retirement counselors. She adds that while July 29 is the last day for filing, anyone interested in leaving August 1 under the incentive program should file a retirement information application by July 25 to allow human resources staffers time to prepare and file retirement papers.
For those employees left behind, the news is generally good. Recognizing UConn's unique mission, state legislators exempted the University from a number of provisions in the early retirement incentive program that state agencies must follow, including limits on the number of positions that can be refilled. UConn officials have good flexibility, Miller says, although constraints regarding diminution of bargaining units do exist.