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Deadline close for changes to retirement contributions

by Richard Veilleux - November 28, 2005

Only about two weeks remain before UConn employees participating in the Alternate Retirement Plan (TIAA-CREF) or who contribute to a 403(b) plan must decide where to direct their future retirement contributions.

Those who do not re-enroll by Dec. 15 will no longer have money deducted from their paycheck for the voluntary 403(b) plan, effective with the Jan. 6, 2006 paycheck. Payroll deductions will continue for employees enrolled in the Alternate Retirement Plan, and the state’s new third-party administrator will redirect their future deductions to a retirement fund in the new menu that is similar to the TIAA-CREF fund they were contributing to in September 2005.

Alternate Retirement Plan participants must, however, complete a new beneficiary designation form.

Employees enrolled in Tier I or Tier II plans through the State Employees Retirement System, and who are not contributing to a 403(b) plan, are not affected by the changes.

Representatives of ING have been leading state employees through the changes during meetings that began Nov. 17. Meetings will continue to be offered in Storrs, at the regional campuses, the schools of law and social work, and the UConn Health Center through Dec. 15. The dates and locations of future meetings can be found on the State of Connecticut Defined Contributions Plan web site at www.CTdcp.com.

Of the approximately 8,500 employees at UConn’s Storrs-based programs and the Health Center, nearly 5,200 are enrolled in the Alternate Retirement Plan. Nearly 2,700 employees participate in 403(b) plans. All should attend one of the meetings.

The changes were announced by the state Comptroller’s Office more than a year ago. The new system allows the state to get out of the brokerage business and assigns one company – ING won the bid – to manage the myriad investment choices made by thousands of state employees every week. The new system is expected to save investors as much as $10 million annually in administrative costs – hundreds of dollars per employee – which will continue to be invested in their retirement rather than deducted from individual accounts for management costs.

The new plan offers Alternate Retirement Plan participants 24 investment options, ranging from virtually no-risk, fixed-return funds, to high-risk/high-reward funds. It also offers a family of “target date” retirement funds, where an individual or team of investment managers will rebalance the employee’s retirement money to a more conservative allocation, based on the employee’s retirement date. This option is designed to take the worry and guesswork out of retirement planning for workers either not familiar with the vagaries of investing or who prefer not to choose for themselves among the funds.

“It’s not complicated, but it may be confusing,” says Francis LeBlanc, one of ING’s UConn-based counselors.

“The presentations and question-and-answer period at these meetings will go a long way toward clearing up that confusion. And we’re available for further questions or individual consultations at any time after that.”

Questions about the new plan should be directed to ING representatives at 800-784-6386 before Dec. 15, or to 800-584-6001 after Dec. 15 when the conversion to ING will be complete.

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