The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.

Staff Benefits

There has been a dramatic growth in employee benefit programs since 1940. These have become a significant part of employee compensation. To serve employee needs better and to provide service and information for these benefits, the Office of Staff Benefits was established in January of 1960. Also at that time the Committee on Staff Benefits was formed to keep current the plans involving employee benefits. In April of 1976, an annual statement to employees was designed and issued for the first time.

Vacation and Holidays

Regular staff members other than faculty on an academic-year basis receive the various benefits described below:

Most professional and administrative staff and 12-month faculty receive twenty-four work days per year as vacation allowance, cumulative to two years. Other level professional and administrative staff, clerical and office staff, technical, trades, and service workers also receive the same vacation allowance after eight years employment, eighteen days per year for from five to eight years employment, and twelve days per year in the first five years of Page  41employment, except as altered by union contracts.

Holidays are recognized on New Years Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, two days at Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and three "swing" days between Christmas and New Years Days, except as modified by union contracts.

Disability and Preventive Care Income

Nonbargained-for employees are provided temporary salary continuation for sickness or disability: one year at full pay and one year at half pay for faculty and six months at full pay and six months at half pay for professional and administrative staff.

Disability Plan

A plan for long-term disability was first proposed by the Regents in October of 1952. The first effective date was July of 1953. It was a self-insured plan for employees aged forty or above and who had been enrolled in a University retirement program for ten years. The plan provided benefits of one-half salary between a range of $125 minimum and $200 maximum per month and paid premiums for retirement and group life insurance. Social Security benefits were integrated in 1960.

On July 1, 1966, the following changes were approved: No minimum age and five years only of service were required. Monthly benefit maximum was raised to $400. Health insurance premiums were also paid.

Further amendments were approved February 3, 1970. Monthly benefit maximum was raised to $700. Monthly benefit maximum was raised to $1,000 July 1, 1972. In December of 1973, Medicare "B" premiums were paid. On July 1, 1975, the monthly benefit maximum was raised to $1,200.

Other more minor changes have also occurred in this plan since 1953.

Health Insurance

Health insurance coverage is optional for University Page  42employees. Most exercise the option, as the greater part of the premiums are covered by the University.

In 1939 Blue Cross coverages were offered to the full-time staff and retirees. In 1940 Blue Shield coverages were added.

Major medical insurance coverages began in July of 1960 for faculty and certain other staff members. In December of 1973 coverage was extended to all regular employees and retirees. Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA) are the insurors.

The University began its participation in premium payments for health insurance in July of 1963. In January of 1973 the University began paying total premium cost for retirees and spouses of deceased employees. As costs increased over the years, the University has raised its payment share of the monthly premium for active staff, and at June 30, 1977, it was paying up to $65 per month per employee, or about 83 percent of the total premium.

Comprehensive periodic physical examinations were made available free of charge to faculty and certain administrative staff in 1956. In September 1963 the examination frequency was changed to include a one-stop birthday examination annually, and a more complete examination every five years.

In 1976 the University began a program of contributing $6.70 per month for Medicare "B" premiums for those applicable employees and retirees.

Group Life Insurance

Group life insurance coverage is optional for regular employees. The University contributes approximately one-half of the premium. The plan is experience-rated and net costs may vary from year to year.

The plan began in February of 1950 with Prudential Life Insurance Company as the carrier. It required participation of 75 percent of the eligible employees. Coverages vary with age and salary level. Premiums vary with age level.

Page  43Paid-up coverage of $1,000 was provided in July 1953 for retirees. In July of 1961 coverage was improved to approximately one and one-half of salary level. Retiree coverage was increased to $2,000 in July of 1961. In July of 1964 coverage was increased to approximately twice the salary level, and since 1972 ranges from two to three times salary level. From age sixty-five to seventy coverage now reduces gradually to $2,000 for active employees. These are some of the salient changes that have occurred in this benefit program since 1950.

Retirement Plans

The Older Faculty Plan, a limited plan for faculty members in the 1920s and earlier, is still paying annuities to a few retirees and surviving spouses. The last active member retired under this plan in June of 1963.

In July of 1945 the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA) retirement plan for faculty was modified when the University increased its range of contributions to 10 percent from 5 percent, depending upon the vintage of contracts. In July of 1952 the College Retirement Equities Fund (CREF) was made available to University employees as a companion plan to TIAA that allowed purchase of stocks to serve as a better hedge against inflation. In July of 1955 salary limits for coverage under TIAA/CREF were eliminated. In January 1962 a salary/annuity option was offered for employees wishing to declare premiums tax-deferred up to 20 percent of salary. By November of 1972 all regular staff became eligible at any appointment fraction for TIAA/CREF participation. In addition to the significant changes listed above, other plan modifications have occurred from time to time.

A retirement plan for nonacademic employees became effective in July of 1942. This plan became the Employees Retirement Plan in 1952 and followed somewhat the same general principles governing the TIAA faculty plan, although differing some in rates and eligibility requirements. Moneys provided by employees and matched by the University were held by the University in a separate fund entitled the "Employee Retirement Fund," and this fund participated in the University's investment program.

Page  44The University contracted with the Connecticut General Corporation to pay out annuities in this fund beginning in October of 1952.

As actuarial reserves exceeded needs for retirement and death benefit requirements from time to time, dividends were distributed to plan members as additional pension benefits.

Compulsory participation at age thirty-five with no service requirement began in January of 1967.

On July 21, 1972, the Regents authorized the use of the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA) - College Retirement Equities Fund (CREF) to replace the Employees' Retirement Plan (ERP), including the transfer of past service benefits, to provide continuing retirement benefits for the members of the Employees' Retirement Plan.

Following that authorization, the members of ERP, consisting of 4,516 service-technical, clerical, and professional-administrative staff, were informed about the features of TIAA-CREF and the various alternatives which were available. The most significant features of TIAA-CREF are immediate vesting, portability, the variable annuity, the salary or annuity option, and the ability for a participant to add additional money to the retirement plan.

By the end of December 1972, the assets of ERP had been transferred and allocations were made to each participant. The total amount of transfer from ERP assets to the Teachers Insurance Annuity Association was $61,856,936. Each participant benefited from a significant increase in the value of common stocks as well as from a release of actuarial reserves based on common stock values which were applicable to the individual's account under the TIAA-CREF plan.

The Congress of the United States in 1954 amended the Federal Social Security Act to permit the inclusion of certain public employees previously excluded from coverage under the Act. This amendment extended the coverage of Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance to these employees as of January 1, 1955. Adoption of the program by the Page  45University was dependent upon a referendum scheduled for September 1955, through which all eligible employees would, by secret ballot, indicate whether they did or did not wish to secure the retirement benefits made available by the 1954 amendment to the Federal Social Security Act. The referendum was held on September 26 and 27, 1955, and 85 percent of the eligible University employees voted to participate, and the University entered the program effective January of 1955. Since that time, the cost of the annual tax has increased greatly, and employees in 1977 are paying 5.85 percent of a salary base of $16,500 which is matched by the University.

An early retirement program was instituted in August of 1974 in which a staff member could retire before the mandatory age of seventy with reduced annuity benefits but group life and health insurance benefits protected, depending upon length of service and age, beginning as low as age fifty-five.

In the fall of 1969, the Personnel Office and the Office of Staff Benefits began an orientation program for prospective retirees entitled "Planning for Retirement Program." Four seminars are held each year for 15 to 20 employees per seminar.

Travel Accident

In February of 1960 the Regents approved blanket travel accident insurance policy for the benefit of employees traveling on University business. Coverage for an accident causing death ranged from a minimum of $50,000, or five times annual basic salary, to a maximum of $200,000. Scaled-down coverages apply to permanent disabilities resulting from such accidents. The University pays the full premium cost.

Workers Compensation

All employees are covered at University expense for medical expenses resulting from on-the-job injury or death.