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Questions and Answers about the Staff Retirement Incentive Plan
Q1 What is the Staff Retirement Incentive Plan?
This voluntary plan provides an enhancement to the Employees' Retirement Plan (ERP) by increasing both the age and credited service of eligible employees by five years (five years of age and five years of credited service). These additional years will be used for the purpose of determining retirement benefits. The additional years will also be used in the determination of eligibility for retiree medical, dental and Children's Tuition Grant benefits.
Q2 Why is the retirement incentive plan only being offered to those participating in the Employees' Retirement Plan and not to those participating in the Faculty and Staff Retirement Plan?
A decision on whether to offer an incentive plan for the Faculty and Staff Retirement Plan is being considered. However, the funding of the two different retirement plans creates unique circumstances for offering an incentive plan. The ERP retirement benefit is paid out through a fund that is separate from the annual operating budget so these voluntary retirements would help reduce expenses for the annual operating budget. Contributions to the Faculty and Staff Retirement Plan are funded through the operating budget and require different considerations.
Q3 Why is the University introducing the Staff Retirement Incentive Plan?
This is the latest in a series of steps taken to help address the University's $125 million budgetary shortfall. This one-time incentive program will help reduce the number of overall positions at the University through voluntary retirements, reducing our overall compensation expenses and limiting the potential for involuntary layoffs later. The University has already announced a limited salary increase program this year, curtailed external hiring and introduced an administrative reform effort.
Q4 Who is eligible for the plan?
Employees of Duke University who:
- Will be age 50 or older during calendar year 2009,
- Have completed ten or more years of Credited Service in the ERP as of March 31, 2009,
- Are employed in a position that has been determined as eligible by the designated administrator of the department,
- Are currently scheduled to work 20 or more hours per week, and
- Are active participants in the Employees' Retirement Plan of Duke University (ERP).
Duke University Health System staff are not eligible for the Staff Retirement Incentive Plan.
Q5 Why aren't staff working in Duke University Health System eligible?
The University and Health System are closely aligned but are legally separate entities with different budgetary issues and income sources. While the downturn in the economy has affected both organizations, the decline in the value of the University's endowment has had a greater impact on its annual operating funds than DUHS, which is supported primarily through income from providing patient care.
Q6 If I worked previously as a biweekly-paid staff member and have a benefit under the ERP but now am a monthly-paid staff member covered by the Faculty and Staff Retirement Plan, am I eligible?
No, only active participants -- those who are currently accruing a benefit under the ERP -- will be eligible for the Staff Retirement Incentive Plan assuming they meet the other eligibility criteria.
Q7 Will schools and departments rehire for any positions that become vacant after a staff member retires?
The University is seeking to reduce the overall number of positions through curtailed hiring and voluntary retirement to limit the potential for involuntary layoffs in the future. Rehiring for any vacant positions will be evaluated through the Vacancy Management process, which requires the approval of the Executive Vice President, Provost or their designee.
Q8 If I'm eligible for the Staff Retirement Incentive Plan, am I protected from future layoffs?
No, your eligibility for this plan does not make you ineligible for future involuntary layoffs or other employment actions by Duke University.
Q9 Why is this offer being made to those age 50 with 10 years of credited service?
The additional five years of age and five years of service will make early retirement a practical option for many employees. Since eligibility for early retirement under the ERP begins at age 45 with 15 years of credited service, the addition of five years of service would enable those with 10 years of service to reach the 15 year threshold.
Q10 When will retirement be effective for staff enrolling in the plan?
The retirement date will be determined jointly by eligible staff and his/her supervisor and should be on or before August 31, 2009 unless the staff member's 50th birthday is after that date, then the retirement date should be the end of the month in which the staff member's birthday occurs.
Q11 How do I know if I am eligible for this plan?
Eligible employees will receive informational packages at their home address in early May that will note their eligibility and will include general information about the plan as well as a personalized statement with an estimate of their retirement benefit under the Staff Retirement Incentive Plan.
Eligible staff interested in taking advantage of the Staff Retirement Incentive Plan must complete the Staff Retirement Incentive Plan Enrollment Form and the Agreement and Release of Claims form and return to Benefits at Box 90502 or in person at 705 Broad Street by 5:00 p.m. on July 6, 2009. Benefits will send a written confirmation once forms are received.
Q12 If I am eligible for the plan, what happens if I don't enroll by the deadline?
Any eligible employee who doesn't return the enrollment form and release agreement to Benefits by 5:00 p.m. (EST) on July 6, 2009, will be considered to have declined participation in the Staff Retirement Incentive Plan.
Q13 If I enroll and return my release agreement, can I change my mind?
Yes, you have seven days from the date you signed your enrollment form and release agreement to change your mind and revoke the agreement. If you want to revoke the agreement, you must submit the revocation in writing to Benefits.
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