RFCUNY provides a 403(b) tax-sheltered annuity plan at the time of retirement. The mandatory and voluntary pension retirement savings plans, offered through TIAA, allows employees to defer funds on a pre-tax basis into an annuity account. Accounts accrue earnings while allocated across an employee-designated array of asset options including stocks, bonds, and target date funds. Allocations can be changed at any time. Employees may select their investment allocations and designate beneficiary(ies) through the TIAA website. If an employee makes no allocations, the funds will be deposited into the default investment option.
Full-Time and Part-Time A employees are eligible to participate in a defined contribution retirement plan administered by TIAA (the "pension plan"). Participation in the pension plan is mandatory for eligible employees.
TIER I (those hired and enrolled in TIAA before July 1, 1994 with no break in service)
RFCUNY contributes 11% of the first $16,500 of the employee's earnings during the calendar year, and 14% of the employee's earnings over $16,500.
TIER II (those hired on or after July 1, 1994, and before January 1, 2000, with no break in service)
There is a one-year waiting period to participate in the pension plan. After the employee enrolls in the plan, RFCUNY contributes 8% of the employee's earnings during the first seven years of service (as defined in the Plan), and 10% of the employee's earnings thereafter. Employees are vested in their employer contributions after three years of service (the one-year waiting period counts toward this requirement). In addition, employees must make a mandatory employee contribution of 3% of his/her earnings (on a pre-tax basis) after enrolling in the plan.
TIER III (those first hired, or rehired after a break in service,* on or after January 1, 2000 and before January 1, 2009)
There is a one-year waiting period to participate in the pension plan. After the employee enrolls in the plan, RFCUNY contributes 8% of the employee's earnings (as defined in the Plan), and 10% of the employee's earnings from seven years of service and thereafter. Employees are vested in their employer contributions after three years of service. (The one-year waiting period counts toward this vesting requirement.) In addition, employees must make a mandatory employee contribution of 3% of his/her earnings (on a pre-tax basis) after completing three years of service, which coincides with the vesting of employer contributions.
TIER IV (those first hired, or rehired after a break in service, on or after January 1, 2009)
There is a one-year waiting period to participate in the pension plan. After the employee enrolls in the plan, RFCUNY contributes 8% of the employee's earnings (as defined in the Plan), and 10% of the employee's earnings from seven years of service and thereafter. The employer contribution for each year is allocated to the plan in a lump sum as soon as practicable after the final payroll for that year. Employees are vested in their employer contributions after three years of service. (The one-year waiting period counts toward this vesting requirement.) No employee contributions are required. Effective July 1, 2020 Tier IV participants who are vested will have nonelective vested contributions remitted to the Plan each payroll period.
All employees of the Research Foundation who receive compensation reportable on an IRS Form W-2 are eligible to participate in the Plan, as long as the employee contributes a minimum of $200 per year. Two exceptions are non-resident aliens who receive no U.S.-based income from RF CUNY and student employees, who are not eligible to participate in the Plan. This plan, administered through TIAA, allows employees to have a percentage of their pre-tax income withheld for retirement. GSRA deductions usually begin on the payroll on or after receipt of the Salary Reduction Agreement form. Contributions to a GSRA are not retroactive. RFCUNY does not make any contributions to the GSRA.
The IRS allowable maximum for 2021 GSRA contribution is $19,500. Employees age 50 and over may contribute an additional catch up amount of $6,500 for a total of $26,000.
Changes in the amount of an employee's contributions of pre-tax income to their GSRA plan may be made during the annual Open Enrollment period and once a year outside of the Open Enrollment period. If an employee currently participants in the GSRA program and does not wish to change the amount of their contribution to the plan in subsequent years, no action is necessary. If an employee is not a participant of the GSRA program or is a participant and wishes to change the amount of their contribution to the plan, the employee must complete and submit a Salary Reduction Agreement form to the campus benefits coordinator.
The 457(b) Deferred Compensation Plan allows eligible employees who earn over $105,000 per year to set aside a portion of their salary on a before-tax basis, for the purpose of saving for retirement. Eligible employees will be notified by Human Resources.
Contributions and earnings under the 457(b) plan are considered assets of the plan, which is owned by the Research Foundation, and are subject to the claims of RFCUNY’s creditors. In addition, the process for receiving distributions and the income options available following separation from service differ from those available under the RFCUNY Group Supplemental Annuity plan. Details and provisions are outlined in the plan document.
The maximum allowable salary deferral for the 457(b) plan in 2021 is $19,500. This amount is in addition to the maximum allowable contribution available under the RFCUNY Group Supplemental Annuity plan, also $19,500 in 2021 (or $26,000 for employees age 50 and over). Employees who participate in the GSRA and the 457(b) plan have the potential to double their contributions to retirement while reducing present tax liability.
This is not a complete summary of the Foundation's Defined Contribution Retirement or Tax-Deferred Annuity Plan. The official plan document provides other important terms and conditions of the plan. If there is any ambiguity or inconsistency between this summary and the plan documents, the terms of the plan document will govern.
Employees hired before July 1, 2012 are considered eligible for retirement with benefits when:
Employees hired on or after July 1, 2012 are considered eligible for retirement with benefits when:
Research Foundation employees who have satisfied retirement requirements are eligible for a one-time cash payment retirement benefit. The employee may choose one of the following options:
Option A: A benefit period is derived using the formula of three calendar days of leave for each 12 full months of continuous service up to the last day actually worked, for a maximum of 80 calendar days. Actual payment is figured by determining the number of work days (i.e., Monday through Friday) in the benefit period.
Option B: One-half the temporary disability leave (sick leave) balance as of the last day actually worked. The maximum payment permitted is six days for each 12 full months of continuous service, not to exceed a maximum payment of 80 days.
Break in Service
For the purpose of determining an employee's pension tier level, a break in service is defined as a lapse in employment in excess of 4 months or 120 days. Rehired employees who previously vested in RFCUNY’s pension plan will not be required to satisfy a new vesting period.
GRA participants who have separated from RF employment after satisfying the waiting period and/or vesting, and return to RFCUNY employment within 120 days will resume pension contributions within the same pension tier. Participants who have separated from RFCUNY employment after satisfying the waiting period and/or vesting, and return to RFCUNY employment after 120 days will be given previous service credit. However, that participant will be changed to the currently active pension tier regardless of their pension tier prior to the break in service.
GRA Participants who have separated from RFCUNY employment after satisfying the waiting period, but not before completing the vesting requirements, will not have access to the funds. If the employee returns to RFCUNY within 5 years of their last day worked, the employee will be granted previous service credit and given the opportunity to complete the vesting requirement. As per Plan rules, non-vested GRA funds will be forfeited after 5 years from the last day worked.
The Research Foundation GSRA Plan allows loans to be taken from the participant’s account if certain criteria are met. Loans, withdrawals, rollovers, or other distributions may not be taken from the GRA or 457(b) plans while the participant is actively employed by RFCUNY.
Research Foundation Retiree Health Benefits
Research Foundation employees who have satisfied retirement requirements are eligible for health insurance benefits. Health benefits will be continued by the Research Foundation for retired employees, their spouses, and dependents at the level of coverage for which they are eligible at the time of retirement. The retiree will contribute a share of the health insurance premium that equals the rate of contribution that active employees pay toward their health insurance premium. Eligible retirees and their spouses must enroll in Medicare. Upon request and with proof of payment, the Research Foundation will reimburse the retiree and their spouse the standard monthly Medicare Part B premium, less an amount that equals the rate of contribution that the retiree pays toward their health insurance premium. Upon retiree death, spouses and dependents receive an additional month of coverage, after which they are eligible for COBRA.
Pension & Retirement Benefits Forms