Postdoc Health Insurance & Retirement Benefits

Postdoc Health Insurance & Retirement Benefits

UC Postdoctoral Scholars Benefits Plan (PSBP) Insurance
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As a condition of appointment, postdocs must have adequate health insurance coverage for the duration of their appointment. The UC Postdoctoral Scholars Benefits Plans (PSBP) offers health and welfare packages through Gallagher Benefit Services (formerly known as Garnett-Powers Associates). PSBP works similarly to employer-sponsored health insurance, where you contribute a nominal monthly payment towards the insurance premium, and the university pays the rest. You can choose plans to cover medical, dental, and vision insurance, as well as short and long-term disability insurance. PSBP also offers mental health, pharmacy, chiropractic and wellness benefits. Your department will automatically pay for and enroll you in life, accidental death, and disability insurance. Keep in mind that costs vary depending on what plan you choose and whether you elect coverage for a spouse and/or children. Peruse the PSBP Plans & Rates page for an overview of each plan’s costs and benefits.

Make sure you enroll in coverage within thirty-one days of your start date to avoid having your coverage delayed. If you enroll before starting your appointment, the plan will begin on your first day of work. If you wish to opt out of PSBP, you must complete and submit the Postdoctoral Scholar Health Benefits Opt Out Form.

For international postdocs, PSBP insurance satisfies U.S. visa requirements, including medical evacuation and repatriation benefits. If you plan to opt out of PSBP and use an alternative health insurance plan, please make sure it meets the Department of State requirements

HMO? PPO? What do all these letters mean and what plan should I choose?
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Choosing the right medical plan depends on the unique needs of you and your family. PSBP offers you the choice between a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) and a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) model. 

Under the HMO model, you and your enrolling family members will choose a Primary Care Physician (PCP) who coordinates your healthcare needs. If you are in need of treatment from a specialist or in need of an in-patient or out-patient procedure, you must obtain a referral from the PCP prior to any type of consultation or treatment. If the referral is not obtained, no benefits will be paid. HMO plans usually have lower premiums.

The PPO plan offers much more flexibility regarding your choice of provider, but have higher premiums and deductibles. With a PPO plan, you have the ability to seek care from a specialist without obtaining a referral from a Primary Care Physician. For more details, visit the Gallagher Benefits Overview Page.

I still have questions. Who should I talk to?
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If you need someone to help walk you through choosing insurance coverage, please reach out to one of the people below. 

Gallagher Benefit Services:

Antonio Kontokanis 
Account Manager
Gallagher Benefits Services
Phone: (800) 254-1758
Email: antonio_kontokanis@ajg.com

 

UC Berkeley Benefit Inquires:

Sharon Johnson, MBA
Benefits and Leaves Manager
UC Berkeley
Phone: (510) 664-4126
Email: sdjohnson@berkeley.edu

 

Postdoc Retirement Benefits
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Retirement benefits for postdocs vary depending on the postdoc's title code. If you are unsure of your title code, ask your HR administrator. Your title code is also indicated on your pay earnings statement located in UCPath.

Postdoc Employees (Title Code 3252)

Postdoc Employees contribute to the University of California Defined Contribution Plan (DCP) as “Safe Harbor” participants. This means that while postdoc employees do pay into the DCP, they do not pay into Social Security. The DCP mandatory contribution is approximately 7.5% of salary. By default, funds will be deposited to the UC Savings Fund, but you have the option of redirecting your contributions to other UC or Fidelity Funds. Postdoc employees also have the option to enroll in the Voluntary UC Retirement Savings Program 403(b) and/or 457(b) retirement savings plans.

If you are a postdoc employee with assets in a DCP, you have some options when you separate from the University.

  1. Keep your money in the plan. If your balance is at least $2,000, you may elect to leave your money in the plan. You may no longer contribute to the plan after separating from UC; however, you may still change the way your money is invested.
  2. "Roll over" some or all DCP assets to a traditional IRA or to an employer plan that accepts rollovers. Balances greater than $1,000 but less than $2,000 will be rolled over into an IRA in the participant’s name unless the participant provides alternative distribution directions.
  3. Request periodic distributions without having to make a specific request for withdrawals each time.
  4. Cash out. If your balance is less than $1,000, the University will automatically pay the balance to you, unless you request the money to be rolled over to another retirement account. Regardless of the amount, you may cash out all or part of your balance if you wish. Important: Distributions are usually taxed as ordinary income in the year they are issued. Distributions may also be subject to early withdrawal penalties if they are taken before a certain age.

The university must have your current address to assure delivery of any distribution. Update your personal information record in UCPath if you move to a new permanent address.

To access DCP funds or to enroll in the retirement savings plan, or for more information about the tax treatment and potential penalties of plan distributions, contact Fidelity Retirement Services online or call the toll-free number: 1-866-682-7787. Fidelity representatives are available Monday through Friday, from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Pacific Time.

Postdocs in All Other Title Codes

Postdocs appointed under any other postdoc title code (3253, 3254, 3255, 3256) are not eligible for participation in the Defined Contribution Plan nor any other plan through UC Berkeley. These postdocs have the option to save for retirement through an Annuity or Individual Retirement Account (IRA). More information about non-employer retirement savings options can be provided by a professional financial planner.