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Retirement tips for PS&T employees

By SHERRY HALBROOK

If you’re planning to retire in the near future, here are some questions that you may need to start thinking about:

• Can I continue my NYSHIP coverage in retirement?
• Will I be able to stay in the same plan I have now if I move out of New York state?
• When do I need to enroll in Medicare?
• What will happen to my dental and vision care coverage when I retire?
• Will I be able to use my sick leave to offset the cost of my coverage as a retiree?

For answers to these and other questions regarding your health, dental and vision care coverage in retirement, start by visiting NYSHIP Online at http://www.cs.ny.gov/employee-benefits. Next, select your group (PEF) and plan, if prompted, and then “Planning to Retire?” This section includes publications, videos, contact information and links to important resources that will help you prepare for retirement. You can also order a Planning for Retirement package that includes a helpful booklet, companion DVD, and a benefits checklist that indicates what you need to do before and after retiring. This package is also available from your agency’s health benefits administrator (HBA) in Human Resources or the Business Service Center.

As an active employee, your source for benefit information is your HBA. Before retiring, you will need to meet with your HBA to discuss all of the information you need regarding health insurance in retirement. This includes the eligibility requirements for continuing health insurance coverage as a retiree and whether you meet them, whether your current health insurance plan will meet your needs in retirement, when you must enroll in Medicare, whether you may continue your dental and vision coverage, and calculating the value of your sick leave credit.

You may also want to visit the NYS Governor’s Office of Employee Relations (GOER) website. GOER offers Pre-Retirement Planning Information that can be found here: https://goer.ny.gov/pre-retirement-planning-information.

Frequent questions and answers

Will I be able to stay in the same plan I have now if I move out of NYS?

If you are enrolled in a NYSHIP HMO and move out of this state, you must change to the Empire Plan.

The Empire Plan is available to all NYSHIP enrollees regardless of where they live or work in retirement. Coverage is worldwide. However, you should carefully review the list of network providers in the area in which you plan to retire as The Empire Plan does not offer in-network providers in all 50 states. If you move to another state, there may be no in-network providers within a reasonable distance of you.

NYSHIP enrollees with retiree benefits are permitted to change health plan options once in any 12-month period. This offers greater flexibility than the Option Transfer Period for active employees, which is held each year in the fall.

When do I need to enroll in Medicare?

Three months prior to your 65th birthday, the Employee Benefits Division (EBD) of the NYS Department of Civil Service will send you a letter with information regarding how Medicare works with NYSHIP, along with the booklet, Medicare & NYSHIP. This booklet explains when Medicare eligibility begins; when Medicare becomes primary (pays first) to NYSHIP; and when you must have Medicare Parts A and B coverage in effect to avoid a reduction in your overall benefits. You will receive this letter even if you are still an active employee.

As an active employee, if you or your dependents are eligible for Medicare, it is usually secondary to (pays after) NYSHIP coverage. Although you are not required to enroll in Medicare, EBD recommends that all individuals enroll in Part A when first eligible because there is typically no premium cost for Part A and timely enrollment should prevent the individual from incurring the Medicare late enrollment penalty. EBD further recommends that these individuals defer enrolling in Part B when first eligible because there is a premium cost for Part B.

Under NYSHIP rules, you and your dependents must be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B when first eligible for Medicare coverage that is primary (pays first) to NYSHIP. For most enrollees and dependents who are already 65 at the time of their retirement, Medicare will become the primary coverage on the first day of the month following the end of the 28-day run-out period for coverage as an active employee. Check with your HBA to find out the exact date that your active employee coverage ends.

It is important to enroll in Medicare on a timely basis. For more information, see Medicare and NYSHIP.

What will happen to my dental and vision benefits?

The state does not provide dental and vision benefits to retirees. Depending on your Medicare eligibility, you may be able to continue them through COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act). An individual who is already enrolled in at least one part of Medicare (e.g., Medicare Part A) at the time of retirement may enroll in COBRA for up to 36 months. An individual who first enrolls in COBRA and later enrolls in Medicare for the first time loses his or her COBRA eligibility.

You will also have the option of converting to a direct-pay dental plan administered by EmblemHealth. The benefits offered under this plan are not the same benefits offered under the Preferred Dental Plan for active employees or the COBRA Plan offered to retirees. You should automatically receive an enrollment form and summary of benefits after you retire.

Finally, if you join the PEF Retirees Organization, you will have the option of enrolling in their dental and/or vision plans.

A comparison of dental and vision plans available to retirees is available here: https://pefretirees.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2015/03/dental-Vision_Comparison_Sheet_12.18.18.pdf

Will I be able to use my sick leave to offset the cost of my coverage as a retiree?

You may be able to use the value of your unused sick leave to pay for all or part of the cost of your health insurance during retirement. The actuarial value of your sick leave hours is converted to a monthly dollar value. The result is a lifetime monthly sick leave credit used to reduce your share of the monthly NYSHIP premium for as long as you are enrolled in NYSHIP.

You are only eligible for the sick leave credit if you retire directly from active employment, Leave Without Pay status, Preferred List coverage or if you are approved for disability retirement retroactive to your last date of employment. This credit will not apply if you are in vested status or after retiring from vested status.

To obtain an estimate of your sick leave credit, visit NYSHIP Online at http://www.cs.ny.gov/employee-benefits and select “Planning to Retire?”


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