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Phased retirement: A new way to plan for life after CUNY

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Phased retirement at CUNY offers a new way for full-time instructional staff members to move to retirement, and several dozen faculty members have already made the transition. The program, originally agreed to between the PSC and CUNY as a pilot program, is now permanent. The deadline to apply is November 15, 2016.

Full-time faculty who are 65 and older, have at least 15 years of pensionable service and are members of the Optional Retirement Program (mostly TIAA-CREF) are eligible to apply to “phase” for up to three years. Faculty can apply to receive 50 percent of their salary during that time in exchange for continuing 50 percent of their workload, but must irrevocably commit to retiring at the end of the phasing period.

BENEFITS COVERAGE

During the phasing period, faculty receive full health coverage and pension contributions based on their reduced pay. Faculty with accrued sick leave are eligible for Travia leave at full pay during their final semester, but do not have the option to return to full-time CUNY employment. More information is available on additional issues the agreement covers.

HEOs and CLTs are eligible to phase for up to one year with a 20 percent workload reduction (one day per week) for 80 percent pay, if they meet the same eligibility criteria as a faculty member. They also receive Travia leave at full pay at the end of the phasing period, full health coverage and prorated pension contributions.

TRS EXEMPTION

Full-time employees who belong to TRS are not covered by the program, because reductions in their pay would directly reduce their retirement benefit.

Agreement between the instructional staff member and his/her department chair/supervisor about what constitutes the 50 percent workload and how to schedule it over the period is very important. Those wishing to start phased retirement in Fall 2017 must develop a phasing plan with their department chair/supervisor and submit an application to their college human resources office by November 15, 2016. The application form is available in the Retirement Benefits section of the CUNY website and on college websites.