State of Connecticut

HEALTHCARE COST
CONTAINMENT COMMITTEE
COMPTROLLER'S SEAL STATE OF CONNECTICUT 55 ELM STREET
HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT
06106-1775
Telephone (860) 702-3480
Facsimile (860) 702-3556
STATE OF CONNECTICUT  
  HEALTHCARE POLICY & BENEFIT SERVICES DIVISION
OFFICE OF THE STATE COMPTROLLER
 

RETIREE HEALTH FUND
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
UPDATED NOVEMBER 2010

A. Calculation of 5 years service as of July 1, 2010

1. Q—In order to determine whether an existing employee will be subject to the 3% deduction, how should we calculate service time to see if he or she has five years of service as of July 1, 2010? 

A—Only service during which an employee was eligible for State-paid healthcare benefits will be counted toward fulfillment of the 5-year service requirement.  You should deduct any calendar month of unpaid leave during which an employee does not receive any paycheck.  For purposes of the 3% deduction only you do not need to deduct individual  unpaid leave days or periods of unpaid leave that are not of sufficient duration to result in an employee’s not receiving any paycheck in a given month. June 2010

2 Q—We have existing employees who completed active duty military service before starting State employment.  Can they get credit for prior military service time for purposes of satisfying the requirement for 5 years of service as of July 1, 2010? 

A—Yes, for purposes of fulfilling the 5-year service requirement only, an employee who was hired before July 1, 2009, can receive credit for military service that pre-dates State employment, but only if he or she has purchased that time for retirement purposes or is in the process of making the contributions for such purchase via payroll deduction.  June 2010.

3. Q—Isn’t this different from previously announced guidance?

A—Yes.  After the issuance of Comptroller’s Memorandum 2010-11 the military service issue was reviewed by the bargaining parties to the SEBAC 2009 Agreement; it was agreed that for the limited purpose of fulfilling the 5-year service requirement as of July 1, 2010, credit would be allowed for purchased military service time.  June 2010

4. Q—What is the rule for crediting service time for employees who were called up to active duty wartime military service and returned to State employment?

A—If those employees have entered into an agreement to purchase military service time for retirement purposes, this time will count toward fulfilling the 5-year service requirement as of July 1, 2010.  In order to get credit for military service time the employee must either have completed the purchase or be in the process of completing the purchase transaction by making payroll deductions for that purpose.  Attach a copy of the Military Purchase paperwork to the CO-1300.  November 2010

5. Q—If the military service time has not been purchased, but the employee says that he plans to do so at some time in the future, can we just defer the start of the 3% deduction?

A—No, in order for the returning member to have military service time count toward completion of the 5-year service requirement as of July 1, 2010, the purchase must have been completed or there has to be a purchase plan already in place with contributions being made by payroll deduction.  June 2010

6. Q—We recently rehired a State employee who got a refund of his contributions to SERS when he left State service in 1995.  Can he get credit for that prior service in determining if he is subject to the 3% deduction?

A—Yes, a rehired employee is entitled to credit for prior healthcare-eligible service with the State, even if he received a refund of his retirement plan contributions or experienced a permanent break in service.  June 2010

7. Q—Will a faculty member or an employee who was employed on an academic calendar who was hired on August 1, 2005 for the 2005-2006 academic year and has worked through May of 2010 fulfill the 5 year requirement as of July 1, 2010?

  A— Employees on an academic year schedule get a half year of credit for every semester worked.   Therefore, a faculty member who worked full or part-time for every semester since August 2005 is treated as having 5 years service as of July 1, 2010.  Similar rules would apply to employees on other types of academic years.  June 2010

8. Q—Are employees of quasi-public bodies, like the Connecticut Development Authority and Connecticut Innovations, subject to the 3% deduction? 

A—Yes.  Employees of quasi-public agencies are treated like State employees for purposes of retirement plan membership, qualification for retiree health benefit coverage, and contributions to the Retiree Health Fund.  June 2010

9. Q—We have employees who will not become eligible for healthcare benefits until they have completed six months of employment.  Should we sign them up for the 3% deduction when they start?

A—Do not start the 3% deductions for these employees until the first day of the pay period during which the employee becomes entitled to health coverage.   June 2010

10. Q—How can we determine whether an employee’s prior service was healthcare-eligible?

A—An employee must work at least 0.5 full-time equivalent (FTE) to be eligible for State-paid health benefits.  The following Core-CT benefit program codes identify the most common healthcare-eligible positions:

SCT (Standard State Program)
SLN (Supp. Life, no min. sal.)
LEG (Legislators-12 pay)
FIV  (Legislators-5 pay).
     June 2010

11. Q—We have a permanent employee who was covered under the State health plan while she was a graduate assistant from 1998 to 2003.  Will that service count as prior healthcare-eligible service for purposes of determining if she is required to pay the 3% retiree  health contribution?

A— Yes, the bargaining parties have agreed that certain prior service as a graduate assistant can be counted in determining whether someone has 5 years of service as of 7/01/10.  Graduate assistants who were employed by the Connecticut State University or the University of Connecticut between July 1, 1998 and Aug. 20, 2003 and worked at least 0.50 full-time equivalent will have such service counted toward the minimum 5 years of service.  Service as a graduate assistant at any other time (prior to July 1, 1998 or after August 20, 2003) will not be counted toward the 5-year minimum, even if the employee was eligible for health benefit coverage under the graduate assistant health plan.   November 2010

12. Q—We recently hired a post doctoral instructor as a permanent employee.  He worked as a post-doc for 1 ½ years.  He received State-paid health benefits during that period but was not eligible to participate in a retirement plan.   How would we treat his prior service for purposes of the 3% contribution?  How would it be treated for purposes of his future eligibility for retiree health coverage?

A—For purposes of the 3% deduction only, the employee will receive credit for 18 months of prior employment because he was eligible for State-paid health insurance during that period.  That means that he will required to pay the 3% contribution for 8 ½ years.  However, his post-doc service will not count towards eligibility for retiree health coverage.  In order to obtain retiree coverage he must complete 10 years of actual service during which he both participates in a retirement plan and is eligible for State-paid health benefits.  November 2010.

13. Q—How do we calculate prior service time for part-time faculty in higher education to determine whether they had 5 years of service as of 7/1/10 or the amount they will be required to contribute to the Retiree Health Fund if they qualify for retiree coverage?

A—The bargaining parties have agreed that service time for part-time faculty in higher education will be calculated using semesters worked rather than courses taught.  For purposes of the 3% Retiree Health Fund only, part-time faculty may receive credit for pre-July 2010 service that was not healthcare-eligible.  November 2010. 

14. Q—Does this rule also apply to those who were previously employed as student workers?

A—No, it is limited to part-time faculty only.  November 2010

B. Compensation on which 3 % contribution is based.

1. Q—Will employees whose full-time job makes them eligible for State-paid health benefits have to pay the 3% on compensation they receive from a part-time job with the State?

A—No.  If an employee has a full-time job that provides him or her with State-paid healthcare benefits, the 3% contribution should not be deducted from compensation on the part-time position.  June 2010

2. Q—If a full-time faculty member teaches at a State college or university during the summer or intersession, will that faculty member have to pay the 3% contribution on the part-time job?

A—No.  If the faculty member qualifies for State-paid healthcare benefits from his or her full-time job, do not deduct the 3% on the summer or intersession compensation.  June 2010

3. Q—Will an employee who is eligible for State-paid health benefits from a part-time position be required to pay the 3% if he or she has other part-time employment with the State? 

A—Yes.  For employees with multiple part-time positions, the 3% contribution must be collected from all State positions, not just the one that makes him or her eligible for healthcare benefits.  June 2010

C. Employees exempt from 3% deduction

1. Q—We understand that adjunct faculty members are exempt from the requirement to contribute to the Retiree Health Fund, but we sometimes appoint them to full-time, temporary special lecturer positions and provide them with State-paid healthcare benefits.  Should we enroll them in the 3% deduction during these temporary full-time appointments?

A—No.  These are temporary positions.  Do not enroll these employees for the 3% deduction.  June 2010

2. Q—Are employees of the Probate Courts (clerks, probate judges) subject to the 3% deduction.   

A—No.  Probate Court judges and their employees are not State employees and are not subject to the 3% deduction.    June 2010

3. Q—We hire employees who are not eligible for retirement plan participation, such as people on J1 and F1 visas, Graduate Assistants, Special Payroll, Student Payroll, 1199 per diems.   Are they required to make the 3% contributions?

A—No.  These employees are not eligible to participate in a State retirement plan and are not subject to the 3% contribution.  June 2010

4. Q—Are there codes to identify employees who are not eligible for retirement plan participation?

A—Yes.  Employees in jobs with the compensation codes set forth below are not eligible for retirement plan participation.    November 2010

0274 Registered Pro Nurse-Per diem P1
0276 Licensed Practical Nurse NP6
0444 CC Student Worker Financial Aid
0446 CC Student Worker
0448 Maintenance Trainee (STEP)
0510 National Guardsman
0857 BSAA Student Worker-KS only
2552 Cooperative Education Intern
4110 General Worker-Student
4111 General Worker-Senior Citizen
4112 General Worker-Technical Services
4185 Graduate Assistant
4666 Physician—Per Diem
4667 Psychiatrist—Per Diem
4668 Psychologist—Per Diem
4669 Occupational Therapist—Per Diem
4670 Physical Therapist—Per Diem
4671 Speech Pathologist—Per Diem
5021 Employment Security Intermittent Interviewer—Labor Dept. only
5022 Intern, Dept. of Higher Education
6149 Patient Worker/Inmate Worker
7685 CDA CO-OP Education Intern
8105 University Assistant
8106 Graduate Intern
8145 Student Intern—Higher Education
8152 Student Laborer (Worker)
8181 Student Law Clerk
9097 State Work Study—ST Universities Only
9098 University Student Laborer
9099 Federal Work Study—ST Universities Only

5. Q—Our agency employs part-time interpreters whose hours are not consistent.  They get paid only when they work and qualify for State-paid active employee coverage only during months when their hours worked equal at least 0.5 full-time equivalent.  How should we treat them for purposes of the 3% deduction?

A—Do not collect the 3% deduction from these employees because they are only intermittently eligible for State-paid active benefits.  If such employees do qualify for retiree health coverage by completing sufficient actual service, they will be required to contribute an amount equal to 3% of his or her total compensation for 10 years (or such lesser time as may be required of those actively employed by the State as of July 1, 2009).   If you have employees in this job category who have already accrued 5 or more years of health-care eligible service as of July 1, 2010, be sure to have them fill out the CO-1300 to show that they have met service requirements.   November 2010.

E. Exemption based on other retiree coverage

1. Q—I was hired by the State in June 2008 and have less than 5 years of service.  My husband is a retired State employee, and I am covered under his retiree health plan.  Can I get an exemption from the 3% deduction because I already have retiree healthcare coverage?

A—No.  In order to be exempt from the 3% deduction you must have alternative retiree coverage in your own right from a source other than the State of Connecticut.  The coverage upon which you rely is based solely upon your status as the spouse of a retired State of Connecticut employee, and, therefore, is not in your own right.  Since the spousal benefit is being provided by the State it is not "from another source.”  June 2010

2. Q—We hired someone who is vested under the Probate Court pension plan who will be eligible for retiree health benefits under the Probate Court plan.  Will that employee be exempt from the 3% deduction?

A—Yes, the Probate Court’s retiree benefits are provided by a separately funded plan.  Have the employee provide a Waiver or Retiree Healthcare Coverage (CO-1304) and sufficient proof of coverage under the Probate Court Plan (either an Affidavit (CO-1303) or a statement from the plan’s administrator.  June 2010

3. Q—We hire retired military personnel.  Is there some way a retired military person can demonstrate eligibility for retiree health coverage other than having the Affidavit (CO-1303) completed.

A—Yes.  Have the retired military member provide a copy of the DD-214 and obtain a retiree health coverage eligibility letter from the DMDC at 800-538-9552.  The website address is www.dmdc.osd.mil.  The eligibility letter can be faxed to the member the same day the request is submitted.  The military member should then complete the Waiver (CO-1304); those documents will be accepted as acceptable proof of alternate coverage in lieu of a completed affidavit.  June 2010

4. Q—We hire retired U.S. Government employees.  Is there some other way a retired federal person can demonstrate eligibility for retiree health coverage other than obtaining a completed Affidavit, which may be difficult.

A—Yes.  The retired federal employee should call the Federal Office of Personnel Management at 724-794-2005 to request a proof of retiree income and retiree health insurance.  Those documents will be accepted as proof of alternate retiree coverage in lieu of a completed affidavit.  The employee also needs to complete a Waiver of retiree coverage (CO-1304). June 2010

F. Processing of Refund Requests

1. Q—What can we do to make sure that a separating employee’s request for a refund gets paid promptly?

A—If you are seeking a refund the following procedures will assure the prompt processing:  First determine the amount of the refund through CORE-CT, attach a copy of the result to the CO-1301 Application for Refund; terminate  the deduction immediately to prevent the 3% from being collected from any remaining paychecks while the refund is being processed.  Send the Application for Refund to the Healthcare Policy & Benefit Services Division.  November 2010

2. Q—How do I get a refund for someone who has shown they have alternate retiree coverage? 

A—As soon as you are advised by the Comptroller’s Office that the exemption has been approved terminate the deduction to prevent the 3% from being collected from interim paychecks until the refund has been processed.  Run a query in CORE-CT to determine the amount of the refund and attach a copy to the refund request (CO-1301) along with a copy of the employee’s Waiver (CO-1304), and the Affidavit (CO-1303) (or other acceptable proof of coverage).  November 2010

3. Q—What can we do to speed up the processing of a refund for someone who has shown that they have 5 years of service as of July 1, 2010 due to a purchase of military service time?

A— Determine the amount of the refund through CORE-CT and be sure to terminate the OPEB deduction immediately.  Attach a copy of that person’s CO-1300, showing all service that has been credited for purposes of the 3% deduction, including purchased military service time and provide a copy of the invoice or receipt from the Retirement Division showing that the employee has either paid for such service or is participating in a payment plan.  November 2010

G. Monitoring Requests

1. Q—We keep getting emails from your office asking us to check the status of employees who are not contributing to the Retiree Health Fund.  Why is this happening?

A—The Comptroller’s Office has been using follow-up queries to identify health-care eligible employees who may have been missed during the initial enrollment process.  We are developing a data base to track compliance with the program.  Once we have the information from the agency confirming whether or not an employee is required to contribute, the follow-up emails should cease.  If we do not hear from you regarding a particular employee in your agency, you can expect to hear from us again.  November 2010

2. Q—Some employees in our agency are exempt from the 3% contribution because they were able to purchase military service time.  The Comptroller’s Office has requested copies of the receipts for the military purchase.  Why do you need them?

A— The 3% deductions are being tracked in CORE-CT, which does not reflect purchased time service.   We need to verify that the purchase has either taken place or is in process, and the imaging of retirement purchase documents is not always current.  Unless we can verify the military service being credited your employees will keep showing up on our queries as having less than 5 years service as of July 1, 2010. 

3. Q—We recently identified some employees who should have had the 3% deduction start in July 2010.   How do we deal with them?

A—You can offer those employees a choice.  Calculate the end date for the deduction based on the current deduction start date (instead of July 2, 2010) or allow the employee to make up the missed amount now by taking additional deductions out of the upcoming paychecks.  November 2010

4. Q—If the employee wants to make up the deductions now, how do we do that?

A—There is a deduction code in CORE-CT (ADJOPE) that can be used to make up the missed amounts.  November 2010
 
5. Q—
During the review process, we discovered that some employees should not have had the 3% deduction taken because they are not healthcare-eligible.  How do we get them repaid?

A—Run a query in CORE-CT to determine the amount of the refund and fill out the CO-1301, Application for Refund.   In the “Refund Reason” section check “erroneous deduction” and cross out the words “met service requirements” and write in “not healthcare-eligible”.  November 2010

 

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