Steps to Retirement

This information is provided as a source regarding retiree benefits for employees who are now ready to consider retiring and for individuals who have previously retired from the university.

Current Employees

The following are steps that you will need to begin doing at least six months prior to retiring

  1. If you’re in the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS): Contact TRS at (800) 223-8778 to request a copy of form TRS 18 (Request for Estimate of Retirement Benefits). You may also obtain this form online at www.trs.state.tx.us. Complete form TRS 18 and return it to TRS to receive a retirement packet.  If you’re in the Optional Retirement Program (ORP): Contact your ORP vendor(s) to discuss your retirement options. You may need to provide an original or certified copy of your and your primary beneficiary’s birth certificates.
  2. Contact your local Social Security office to apply for Social Security (and Medicare, if applicable) benefits. You will need:
    • W-2 tax forms for the two years before retirement
    • An estimate of earnings for the year of retirement
    • A record of date of birth (the oldest available record is best)
  3. Contact your Human Resources Office to schedule a meeting to discuss your retirement eligibility and options.

Eligibility for Insurance Benefits and Employer Contribution

Under current state law, if you were retired from or employed in a benefits-eligible position with the A&M System on August 31, 2003, you are eligible for the employer contribution toward your premiums as a retiree when:

  • You are at least age 55 and have at least 5 years of service credit, or your age plus years of service equal at least 80, or you have at least 30 years of service.
  • You have 3 years of service with the A&M System.
  • The A&M System is your last state employer.
  • You have an intact TRS or ORP account. An intact TRS account is one that has not been withdrawn.

If you left A&M System employment before Sept. 1, 2003, but you met the above criteria as of Aug. 31, 2003, you qualify for retiree benefit coverage under these criteria. If you were hired by the A&M System in a benefits-eligible position after Aug. 31, 2003, or if you left A&M System employment before Aug. 31, 2003, and did not meet the criteria listed above as of Aug. 31, 2003, you are eligible for the employer contribution as a retiree when:

  • You are at least age 65 and have at least 10 years of service credit, or your age plus years of service equal at least 80 and you have 10 years of service credit, and • you have 10 years of service with the A&M System.
  • The A&M System is your last state employer.
  • You have an intact TRS or ORP account.

Years of service in the A&M System is calculated the same way that years of service credit for TRS is calculated.

If you are in TRS, you must also provide a copy of the TRS letter that confirms that your retirement application has been processed and includes the date annuity payments will begin. In the event of a last-minute retirement, a copy of your application for TRS retirement benefits (TRS-30, Application for Service Retirement) will suffice initially. However, you must provide a copy of the confirmation letter from TRS within three months after retiring or your retiree insurance benefits will be cancelled.

You may apply the employer contribution toward your health premiums, or you may decline A&M System health coverage and use one-half of the employee-only employer contribution to purchase Alternate Basic Life, AD&D, dental and/or vision insurance. To do this, you must certify that you have other health coverage.

Bridge Back Provision

Texas Insurance Code Section 1601.102 includes a “bounce back” or “bridge” provision that provides an exception to the general rule that an employee must have the appropriate years of service with the A&M System or the University of Texas System and the last place of state employment must be with that same System. An A&M System employee with the required years of service for retiree eligibility can terminate employment, begin work with the UT System or with ERS or a state agency that participates in ERS and later return to the A&M System and regain his/her retiree benefit eligibility, if he/she has not yet met the UT System’s or ERS’s or a state agency that participates in ERS’s retiree eligibility requirements.

Likewise, a UT System employee with the required years of service for retiree eligibility can terminate employment, begin work with the A&M System or ERS and later return to the UT System and regain his/her retiree benefit eligibility, if he/she has not yet met the A&M System’s or ERS’s retiree eligibility requirements.

ERS does not have the “bounce back” or “bridge” provision, so an ERS – covered employee who terminates and transfers to either the A&M System or UT System cannot return to ERS and regain retiree benefit eligibility based on his/her previous ERS employment. An individual who retired with either TRS or ORP and then came to work for the A&M System but did not work previously in the A&M System should be set up as an active employee. For example, if an individual who retired from the UT System begins employment with the A&M System in a benefits-eligible position, he/she would be considered an active employee and should be given the option to select A&M System group insurance benefits or keep UT System coverage. If he/she enrolls in A&M System insurance benefits but does not remain covered for three years, he/she should be eligible to re-enroll in the UT System retiree insurance plan upon termination of employment with the A&M System.

Former Employees

If you leave A&M System employment before retirement, you may be eligible for A&M System benefit coverage when you retire. You must meet the eligibility criteria listed above. You may apply for coverage within 60 days of meeting the eligibility criteria or within 60 days of leaving a TRS – eligible position with another TRS – covered employer after meeting the eligibility criteria. In these cases, you may choose to have your coverage become effective:

  • On the later of the first of the month following the date the Human Resources office receives your application or the first of the month after you meet the eligibility criteria, or
  • on your employer contribution eligibility date (the first of the month that falls at least 90 days after the Human Resources office receives your application or you become eligible, whichever is later). If you do not enroll on one of the above dates, you may enroll during a later Annual Enrollment period. In that case, you can choose to have your coverage become effective on the next Sept. 1 or Dec. 1.

If you choose to have your coverage become effective before your employer contribution eligibility date, you must pay the full cost of coverage until you become eligible for the employer contribution.

Retiree Insurance Billing/Paying your Premiums

As a retiree, you may pay your premiums:

  • Monthly through a bank draft, or
  • Monthly by Prairie View A&M University billing system.

How will your Group Benefits change after retirement?

Health

In general, your health coverage will be the same as that provided to employees, and you may cover yourself and eligible dependents. However, when you or a dependent become eligible for Medicare (at age 65), the A&M System’s health coverage becomes secondary to Medicare coverage (meaning Medicare pays first), unless you continue working for the A&M System after retirement. When A&M System health coverage becomes secondary, it pays benefits as if you are enrolled in both Parts A and B of Medicare. Because of this, NOTE: if you aren’t enrolled in both Parts A and B of Medicare, you will pay more expenses out of your own pocket. You can enroll in A&M Care 350, A&M Care 1250 or any HMOs available in your area. If you and your spouse (if covered) are 65 or older, enrolled in Medicare, and not employed by the A&M System, you have the additional option of selecting the 65 PLUS plan. You may switch health plans each Annual Enrollment period.

Medicare Information

Dental/Vision

Your dental and vision coverage will be the same as that provided to employees, and you’ll pay the same premiums. You may cover yourself and eligible dependents.

Note: As a retiree, in the event of your death, your spouse, if enrolled at the time of your death, may keep A&M System health, dental and/or vision coverage indefinitely, although he/she will no longer receive the employer contribution. Your eligible children may retain coverage until they are no longer eligible.

Life Insurance

If you are insured under Basic Life, Alternate Basic Life, Optional Life and/or Dependent Life at the time of retirement you may continue these coverages.

Basic Life

  •  As a retiree, you automatically have $7,500 of this term insurance if you have System health coverage. Basic Life includes an additional $5,000 of Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D) coverage. You may purchase this coverage if you are not enrolled in an A&M System health plan and do not certify that you have other health coverage. However, you may not pay for Basic Life insurance by using the employer contribution. If you don’t already have this coverage, you must provide evidence of insurability to enroll.

Alternate Basic Life

  •  If you are not enrolled in an A&M System health plan but certify that you have other health coverage, you may enroll in Alternate Basic Life coverage. At retirement, you may keep or enroll in Alternate Basic Life coverage of $50,000 or the total amount of life coverage you had immediately before retirement, whichever is less. If, after retirement, you decide to enroll in Alternate Basic Life, you will be limited to the total amount of Basic and/or Optional Life coverage you have at that time or $50,000, whichever is less.NOTE: You may not have Optional Life coverage if you enroll in Alternate Basic Life. You must provide evidence of insurability to enroll if you do not already have life coverage or to increase your coverage to $50,000 if you had less than $50,000 in life coverage when you enrolled in the plan.

Optional Life

  •  If you are age 80 or older, the maximum coverage you can keep is $30,000 or your current coverage level, whichever is less. If you are between ages 70 and 80, the maximum coverage you can keep is $60,000 or your current coverage level, whichever is less. If you are younger than age 70, the maximum amount of coverage you can keep is $100,000 or your current coverage level, whichever is less. If you are younger than age 70 and currently do not have Optional Life coverage or if you have coverage of less than $60,000, you may enroll in or increase your Optional Life coverage up to $60,000 by providing evidence of insurability. You may not have Alternate Basic Life coverage if you enroll in Optional Life. 

Dependent Life

  • You may continue your current Dependent Life plan, but if you have Plan A, your coverage will be reduced if your Optional Life coverage is reduced. You may also change from Plan A or C to Plan B. If you change from Plan B to Plan A or C, your dependents must provide evidence of insurability. NOTE: You must have life insurance coverage on yourself in order to have Dependent Life insurance.

Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D)

  • You may continue AD&D coverage on yourself (retiree only coverage) or yourself and your dependents (retiree and family coverage) in increments of $10,000 up to a maximum of:
    • $200,000 if you are younger than age 70; or
    • $60,000 if you are age 70 or older.

Long-Term Disability

  •  Coverage automatically ends at retirement.

Long-Term Care

  • Coverage for retirees is the same as that provided to employees; however, you will be billed for premiums directly by the carrier. You will have the option to pay these premiums on a quarterly, semiannual or annual basis or monthly by bank draft.

Flexible Spending Accounts

  •  As a retiree, you may enroll in Flexible Spending Accounts only if you return to part-time A&M System employment.

Returning to Part-Time System Employment

If you return to part-time A&M System employment, your A&M System health coverage becomes primary to Medicare (meaning your A&M System health coverage pays first) for those months that you work. If your premiums exceed the employer contribution, you may have them deducted from your paycheck rather than being billed monthly or having your bank account drafted. If you choose to have your premiums deducted from your pay, you may participate in the Pretax Health/Dental/Vision/AD&D Premium Plan. This allows you to pay your share of health, dental, vision and AD&D premiums with tax-free dollars. As a part-time A&M System employee, you may also enroll in Flexible Spending Accounts. Contributions will be deducted from your paycheck.

Caution: If you return to work at more than 50% time, your TRS retirement payments may be suspended. Contact TRS for specific details pertaining to your situation.

Surviving Dependents

In the event of a retiree’s death, the eligibility requirements for continuation of health, dental and/or vision coverage is as follows:

  • If the deceased was a retiree of the A&M System, the surviving spouse can continue coverage indefinitely if he/she was covered at the time of the death. Dependent children who were covered at the time of the retiree’s death may remain covered until they reach age 25 or marry. Coverage for permanently disabled children may continue indefinitely, subject to coverage rules for disabled children. A survivor of an individual who meets the conditions listed above has 60 days from the end of the month during which his/her
    spouse or parent dies to choose to continue coverage. A survivor of an individual who does not meet the conditions listed above can continue coverage through COBRA and should contact the deceased’s Human Resources office.

Surviving Health/Dental/Vision Continuation Form

Annual Enrollment

A retiree may make changes to their insurance each Annual Enrollment period, July 1 – 31. The Texas A&M System Benefits Office will send benefit information by mail to the current address on record for the retiree. It is very important to read this information each year to be aware of any changes that may occur with the insurance plans and to determine if any changes should be made.

Keeping Your Address Current

Retiree should notify the Office of Human Resources or Payroll Office of a change in address promptly. This will ensure that retirees receive their billing statement and other important information such as provider Identification Cards. Be sure to also notify your retirement vendor (Teacher Retirement System (TRS) or ORP) of your change in address.

 

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