HR, Payroll and Benefits News

Maximize Your Retirement Savings with Catch-Up Opportunities

Saving for retirement may have been a challenge in 2020. If you are able to save in 2021, consider maxing out your UW Tax-Sheltered Annuity (TSA) 403(b) Program contributions. The current IRS limit is $19,500 for everyone. But did you know that there are two additional catch-up opportunities? You may be eligible for one or both of these catch-ups.

Age 50 and Older Catch-Up
If you are age 50 and older at any time during 2021, you are eligible to contribute an additional $6,500. You do not need to take any specific action to be eligible for this catch-up.

15-Year Service Catch-Up
If you have at least 15 years of service with UW System in 2021, you may be eligible to contribute an additional $3,000. There are specific eligibility requirements, and you will need to have your situation reviewed. Please contact your human resources office for more information.

In order to adjust your current contribution amount, visit MyUW Portal, click on the Benefits Information tile, and choose Launch full app. At the bottom of the screen select Update TSA Deductions.

Not Enrolled Yet?
If you are not currently enrolled in the TSA Program, it’s never too late! Sign up by completing the EZ Enrollment and turning it into your human resources office.

Learn more about the TSA Program by registering for the Save Smart, Save Early webinar on Monday, March 8, or Select, Sign Up and Save with Your UW TSA 403(b) webinar on Wednesday, March 10, for a basic introduction to the program. Visit the TSA Program website for more information.

Source: UW System Office of Trust Funds

Summer Prepay Insurance Premium Deductions

Summer prepay insurance premiums are deducted from spring paychecks to cover the cost of continuing insurance coverage through the summer (contract break) months for eligible Faculty, Academic Staff, Limited Appointees, Student Assistants, and Employees-in-Training.

The following employee groups will have Summer prepay deductions taken for State Group Health Insurance and other insurance programs in which enrolled* in addition to regular monthly insurance premium deductions.

    • Academic (9-month) employees who will return to UW employment in the fall of 2021 will have deductions on April 1, April 30 and June 1 paychecks.
    • Academic (9-month) employees with a summer service/summer session appointment will have deductions on April 1, April 30 and June 1 paychecks.
    • Academic (biweekly non-exempt employees) will have deductions on March 25, April 8 and 22, May 6 and 20 and June 3 paychecks.

Employees will receive an email with an estimated summer prepay deduction amount prior to the above pay dates.

Why are Summer Prepay Deductions Taken in the Spring?
The additional summer prepay deductions are taken to continue an employee’s insurance coverage through the summer (contract break) months. The Summer prepay deductions must be taken in the spring since these insurance premiums cannot be taken during a contract break and cannot be deducted from summer service/summer session earnings.

What if an Employee’s Employment Status Changes?
If an employee’s summer or fall 2021 employment status changes after they have had summer prepay deductions, they may receive deduction refunds. If an employee will be terminating employment, and will not return in fall 2021, they should contact their human resources office to determine their employment termination and insurance coverage end dates.

Employees who anticipate that they will experience any other status change; marriage, adoption, birth, divorce, etc., should contact their human resources office immediately regarding the impact to their insurance benefits.

What if an Employee does not Have Summer Prepay Deductions Taken?
If an employee does not have summer prepay deductions taken in the spring, and then has a summer session/summer service appointment, they will be billed directly for payment of the additional premiums due to provide them with insurance coverage during the summer months.

If a bill is received, payment must be made by the billing invoice due date to ensure that insurance benefits are not canceled due to non-payment. If benefits are canceled due to nonpayment, the next opportunity to enroll in the insurance benefits may be during the fall 2021 Annual Benefits Enrollment period with an effective insurance coverage date of January 1, 2022.

For questions, contact your human resources office.

* Does not include: Flexible Spending Account (FSA), Health Savings Account (HSA), Tax Sheltered Annuity (TSA), and Wisconsin Deferred Compensation (WDC) deductions. Health Opt-Out Incentive payments and HSA Employer contribution will be processed in the summer months.

Source: UW System Human Resources

Form 1095-C Now Available Online

Electronic copies of the 2020 Form 1095-C are now available online in the MyUW portal. Employees will receive a paper copy of Form 1095-C via U.S. mail by March 2, 2021. Paper copies are mailed to all employees except those who elected to receive an electronic only 1095-C by January 18, 2021.

Form 1095-C is provided to all employees who were full-time, as defined by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), for all or some months of 2020. Employees should retain Form 1095-C with their tax records.

For more information regarding Form 1095-C and the ACA: Affordable Care Act.

If you have questions, contact your Payroll office.

Source: UW System Human Resources

Workshops to Offer Details on Upcoming Employee Paycheck Changes

UW System recently announced benefits deduction and payroll frequency changes for employee paychecks. Benefits deductions will be split evenly between biweekly paychecks for all employees and paycheck frequency will change for employees who are currently paid monthly.

If you are currently paid biweekly, most deductions for benefits such as health, dental, vision, and life insurance will be split evenly over the first two biweekly paychecks each month starting with your April 22, 2021, paycheck. Learn more about how this will affect you and your paycheck on the Split Benefits Deductions resources website.

If you are currently paid monthly, you will be paid on a biweekly schedule beginning in July. Learn more about when these changes to your paycheck will go into effect on the Single Payroll resources website.

Town Hall Meeting for Split Benefits Deductions – February 16
A virtual Split Benefits Deductions Town Hall Meeting was held Tuesday, February 16 for current biweekly paid employees. View the presentation slides and video to learn when split benefits deductions go into effect, how your paycheck will be affected, and information on preparing for the change.

Presentation Slides

Presentation Video

Town Hall Meetings Schedule for Single Payroll Change
If you are currently paid monthly, attend one of four virtual Single Payroll Town Hall Meetings. Learn how you will be paid during the transition, how the new payroll schedule will affect your paycheck, and what you can do to prepare for the change. Each session will provide the same information. Each session will have a different topic of focus based on how you are paid. Please attend the session that applies to you. Go the Single Payroll resources website to join one of these town hall meetings:

Wednesday, March 3, Noon-1:00 PM - Overview for All Employees Paid Monthly
Tuesday, May 4, 8:00-9:00 AM - Information for 9-Month Contract Employees
Thursday, May 13, 4:00-5:00 PM - Information for 12-Month Contract Employees
Monday, May 17 1:00-2:00 PM - Open Session for all Employees Paid Monthly

Spending and Savings Plan Workshops
UW System is teaming with UW Credit Union Financial Mentors to help you plan for changes in your paycheck. The Spending and Savings Plan Workshops will help you create a spending and savings plan that works for you. You must register for the workshop. You can register right up until the workshop starts.

Get More Information on Your Payroll Change
Visit the payroll change website that corresponds to your current pay schedule to get FAQs, Personal Budget Planning Seminars, Town Hall Meeting Schedule, and Paycheck Schedule.

Source: UW System Human Resources

Well Wisconsin Program: New Website

Recently, the Well Wisconsin Program administrator (StayWell) merged with WebMD Health Services. If you are enrolled in the State Group Health Insurance Program, you are eligible for the Well Wisconsin Program. To participate in the Well Wisconsin Program this year, you need to create a new account on the new well-being website known as WebMD ONE.

Although WebMD and StayWell have merged, the Well Wisconsin Program remains the same in 2021. To earn the $150 wellness incentive, you need to complete a health assessment, a health check and one well-being activity by October 8, 2021.

How to Get Started with WebMD

    • Create your new account on the WebMD ONE website and/or
    • Download the Wellness At Your Side mobile app through the App Store or on Google Play (code: SOWI)

The WebMD ONE website and Wellness At Your Side mobile app is where you will track your progress toward earning the $150 well-being incentive.

Reminder: Your privacy is important. Whether you are completing the health assessment, health check or speaking with a WebMD health coach, WebMD is committed to protecting your privacy. Watch the privacy video for details.

Review the Well Wisconsin Program page to learn more about the program.

Source: UW System Human Resources

UW System Announces Payroll Schedule and Benefits Deduction Changes

UW System will be changing the paycheck frequency for employees who are paid monthly and splitting benefits deductions between biweekly paychecks for all employees.

When This Change Will Occur

For Employees Who Are Paid Biweekly:

    • Most deductions for benefits such as health, dental, vision, and life insurance will be split evenly over the first two biweekly paychecks each month starting with your April 22, 2021, paycheck
    • In months when there are three paychecks, benefits deductions will not be taken from that paycheck with the exception of Wisconsin Retirement System, Tax Sheltered Annuity 403(b) and Wisconsin Deferred Compensation 457 contributions

For Employees Who Are Paid Monthly:

    • On July 30, 2021, you will receive a partial monthly paycheck for days worked between July 1-July 17
    • Starting August 12, 2021, you will begin receiving biweekly paychecks every other Thursday (except on Legal Holidays)
    • Most deductions for benefits such as health, dental, vision, and life insurance will be split evenly over the first two biweekly paychecks each month starting with your August 26, 2021, paycheck
    • In months when there are three paychecks, benefits deductions will not be taken from that paycheck with the exception of Wisconsin Retirement System, Tax Sheltered Annuity 403(b) and Wisconsin Deferred Compensation 457 contributions

What You Need to Do

    • If you have automatic payments set up (for example, mortgage, car loan, utilities, etc.) review your monthly budget and prepare for biweekly paychecks and split benefits deductions. You may want to adjust your automatic payments to match your biweekly paycheck amounts.
    • If you have payroll deductions that are flat dollar amounts (for example, Tax-Sheltered Annuity (TSA) 403(b), Wisconsin Deferred Compensation (WDC) 457, additional tax deductions, direct deposits into multiple accounts, etc.), you may want to change these amounts.
    • You can update your direct deposits on the MyUW Portal https://my.wisconsin.edu.

How You Can Learn More

Visit the payroll change website that corresponds to your current pay schedule to get FAQs, Personal Budget Planning Seminars, Town Hall Meeting Schedule, and Paycheck Schedule.

Source: UW-Shared Services, Service Operations

Updated Income Continuation Insurance Premiums Effective February 1, 2021

Income Continuation Insurance (ICI) premiums are reviewed annually and any updates are effective February 1, 2021. Any premium change for University Staff will be reflected on the February 25, 2021 paycheck and for Faculty/Academic Staff/Limited Appointees will be reflected on the March 1, 2021 paycheck.

If you are currently enrolled in the ICI program, visit the ICI Premium Notice web page for your personalized updated premium amount. Current enrollees were sent an email January 23 directing them to this customized web page.

Several factors determine your premium amount:

    • For University Staff: the ICI premium* is based on your 2020 eligible earnings and unused sick leave balance as of December 19, 2020.
    • For Faculty/Academic Staff/Limited Appointees: the ICI premium* is based on your 2020 eligible earnings earnings and the elimination period your elected.

*If you were placed on an intermittent furlough, temporary work reduction, consecutive day furlough or were on an unpaid leave of absence during 2020, review ICI Premium Notice web page for information on how your premium may be affected.

Premium Rate

For 2021 the ICI premium rates will remain at current levels.

Note: The ICI annual premium update does not reflect any enrollment made during the ICI Deferred Enrollment period which began in January and ends March 1, 2021. Employees who are eligible to participate in the ICI Deferred Enrollment period received notification about their opportunity via an email sent January 16, 2021.

For ICI plan information visit the UW System Employee Benefits ICI plan web page. If after reviewing the web page you have additional questions, contact your human resources office.

Source: UW System Human Resources

Income Continuation Insurance Deferred Enrollment Through March 1, 2021

You may be eligible to participate in the annual Income Continuation Insurance (ICI) Deferred Enrollment opportunity now through March 1, 2021. ICI is an ‘income replacement’ benefit that replaces up to 75% of your gross salary if you are unable to work due to a short or long-term disability. Employees who are eligible to participate in the ICI Deferred Enrollment opportunity were notified by email on January 16.

Eligibility

    • If you are currently enrolled in the ICI plan and have Standard ICI coverage, you may be eligible to enroll in Supplemental ICI coverage during the ICI Deferred Enrollment opportunity.
    • If you are not currently enrolled in the ICI plan, you may be eligible to enroll during the ICI Deferred Enrollment opportunity. This is the only time during the year you may enroll in the ICI plan without evidence of insurability.

How are ICI Coverage and Premiums Determined?

ICI coverage and premiums are based in part on your eligible earnings.* For University Staff employees, your sick leave balance* is also a factor in determining premiums. For Faculty, Academic Staff and Limited Appointees, the elimination period you elected is an additional factor in determining premiums.

*If you were placed on an intermittent furlough, temporary work reduction, consecutive day furlough or were on an unpaid leave of absence during 2020, review your ICI employee web page for information on how your premium may be affected.

ICI Benefits

    • Standard ICI pays up to 75% of your salary to a maximum benefit of $4,000/month (based on a maximum salary of up to $64,000 per year).
    • Supplemental ICI pays up to 75% of your salary to a maximum benefit of $7,500/month (based on a maximum salary of up to $120,000 per year).

For More Information or to Enroll in ICI during the Deferred Enrollment Period

Review the UW System Employee Benefits ICI web page or visit ALEX.

To enroll during the ICI Deferred Enrollment Period, submit an application to your human resources office by 4:30 p.m. on Monday, March 1, 2021.

If you have questions after reviewing the available information, contact your human resources office.

Source: UW System Human Resources

W-2 Forms (Wage and Tax Statements) Now Available Online

Electronic 2020 W-2 Forms (Wage and Tax Statements) are now available in the MyUW portal. Employees will receive a paper copy of the W-2 Form via U.S. mail by February 1, 2021. Paper copies are mailed to all employees except those who chose to receive an electronic only W-2 by January 18, 2021.

Instructions to View/Print 2020 W-2 Form.

Availability of Other Tax Forms
Some employees will receive additional tax forms from UW System. These additional forms are not applicable to all employees. Examples include:

    • Form 1095-C - A separate communication will be sent to employees who will receive this form.
    • The Fellowship Letter - Typically available in February.
    • The 1042-S Forms - Typically available in the MyUW portal in March. Employees who have chosen electronic delivery through the Glacier System may have access to their forms earlier. Others will have their form mailed to their home address. Instructions to View/Print 1042-S Form and Fellowship Letter.

Resources
Visit Tax Statement Help for resources regarding the various tax forms.

Filing Taxes
Employees should use their W-2 Form, not their final 2020 earnings statement, to file taxes.

Some employees have had adjustments to their 2020 taxable earnings since the last 2020 payroll was paid and may have an additional earnings statement generated reflecting these adjustments. These adjustments will already be reflected on the W-2 Form that the employee receives.

The IRS will begin accepting and processing 2020 tax year returns on February 12, 2021. Employees may want to file their return as soon as all tax forms are received to minimize the chance of a fraudulent return being processed using their Social Security number, or Individual Tax Payer Identification number. More information is available on the IRS website.

If you have questions, contact your Payroll office.

Source: UW-Shared Services, Service Operations

Employee Assistance Program Vendor Change January 1, 2021

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) vendor for most* UW System institutions will change on January 1, 2021 from FEI to Kepro.

The EAP services provided by Kepro will remain confidential and continue to address personal and/or work-related concerns. Some of the specific concerns you may use the EAP for include:

    • emotional issues
    • substance abuse
    • grief and loss
    • legal and financial issues

The EAP will continue to provide you and your household family members up to six sessions per person per issue per year.

How to Contact Kepro:

    • Phone: 833-539-7285 or 877-334-0489 (TTY)
    • Website: https://sowi.mylifeexpert.com (code SOWI); to access the online resources, you will need to set-up a username and password

If you are currently receiving services through FEI, you may continue to do so through December 31, 2020. After January 1, 2021 you should contact Kepro to continue EAP services with your current provider (if they are in the Kepro network) or a new provider.

Note: FEI recently sent their network providers a communication making them aware of this change. The communication included information for them to become a Kepro provider.

For more information, visit the UW System EAP webpage.

* Excludes UW-Madison and UW-Superior

Source: UW System Human Resources

Get your Flu Shot

Protect yourself this flu season by getting your annual flu shot!

The shot will vaccinate against the four most likely causes of flu illness during the upcoming season, including the H1N1- strain of influenza. The vaccine is not preservative-free and is not recommended if you are:

    • Allergic to eggs or egg products.
    • Sensitive to the mercury-based preservative thimerosal.
    • Have an active neurological disorder.
    • Have a fever, acute respiratory or other active infection or illness.
    • Pregnant (contact your physician to find out if you should receive the vaccine).

Between September and November, the Well Wisconsin Program offered on-site workplace flu shot clinics because a quick needle stick was better than a nasty illness later. Flu shots were free and voluntary for employees and spouses enrolled in the State Group Health Insurance Program.

If you missed the onsite clinic(s) at your institution: Consider getting your free flu shot from your in-network doctor’s office or pharmacy (call ahead to check availability and find out if an appointment is necessary).

For more information:

Source: UW System Human Resources

2021 Tax-Sheltered Annuity and Wisconsin Deferred Compensation Contribution Limits

The IRS recently announced the 2021 contribution limits for the UW Tax-Sheltered Annuity (TSA) 403(b) Program and the Wisconsin Deferred Compensation (WDC) 457 Program. Both contribution limits will remain the same as 2020 limits.

In 2021, employees may contribute a basic maximum of $19,500 to the TSA Program. Employees age 50 and over can contribute an additional $6,500 for a total of $26,000. These same limits apply to WDC.

If you have 15 years or more of service with the UW System and have contributed less than an average of $5,000 per year over your UW System employment, you may have an additional "catch-up" opportunity with the TSA Program. Contact your human resources office for more information.

Both pre-tax and Roth (after-tax) contributions count towards the annual limits. Note: Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) are a type of retirement account separate from the TSA and WDC Programs and have separate limits.

To increase (or decrease) your TSA deduction for 2021, login to the MyUW portal for UW System institutions or UW-Madison. Launch the Benefits Information tile. On the bottom of the screen, click on “Update TSA Deductions” to make your change. You can also submit a TSA Salary Reduction Agreement to your human resources office.

If you are enrolling for the first time, you can use the EZ Enrollment Form or set your account up online (or paper application) with the provider(s) of your choice and then fill out the Salary Reduction Agreement.

For questions on the TSA program, visit the TSA website or contact your human resources office.

To change your WDC contribution call the WDC office at (877) 457-9327 or access your account at the WDC website. The WDC website also has information about enrolling in the program. WDC changes must be made with Empower, the third-party WDC plan administrator.

Source: UW System Human Resources

Vacation/Personal Holiday Carryover Extended

Due to the disruptive effect of COVID-19 on employee’s schedules, Interim Policies were approved that allow leave eligible employees to extend carryover of unused vacation and personal holiday.

In October, an interim policy was released for University Staff employees which allows the following:

    • Unused Vacation from calendar year 2019 (January 1, 2019 – December 31, 2019) can be carried over for one additional year. All Vacation hours carried over under this temporary extension must be used by December 31, 2021.
    • Unused Personal Holiday from calendar year 2020 (January 1, 2020 – December 31, 2020) may be carried forward. All Personal Holiday hours carried over under this temporary extension must be used by December 31, 2021.

As a reminder, in April an interim policy was release for Faculty, Academic Staff and Limited Appointees which granted an extension as follows:

    • Unused Vacation from fiscal year 2019 (July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019) can be carried over for one additional year. All Vacation hours carried over under this temporary extension must be used by June 30, 2021.
    • Unused Personal Holiday from fiscal year 2020 (July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020) may be carried forward. All Personal Holiday hours carried over under this temporary extension must be used by June 30, 2021.
    • Employees who extend vacation and/or personal holiday carry over are still required to submit monthly leave reports.

You are encouraged to plan ahead and schedule your paid leave in advance to avoid losing any vacation and/or personal holiday hours.

For more detailed information review:

Source: UW System Human Resources

March 31, 2021 Deadline to Submit 2020 Flexible Spending Account Claims

The Health Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and Limited Purpose FSA allow participants to pay certain out-of-pocket expenses with tax-free dollars. Since these are spending accounts, the money is intended to be spent. Below are reminders to use your FSA and substantiate your claims timely.

Eligible expenses for 2020 must have been incurred by December 31, 2020. These expenses must be submitted and substantiated by March 31, 2021.

How to Submit 2020 Claims
In most situations, the payment card from the FSA administrator, ConnectYourCare (CYC) will work at the point of sale or service. Here are the options to submit FSA claims manually:

For efficient processing, include appropriate IRS required supporting documentation with your claim(s) submission by March 31, 2021. CYC will contact participants directly when additional information is needed.

How to Substantiate 2020 Claims
Review your account on the CYC Portal to see if you have claims to substantiate. If additional information is necessary to substantiate your 2020 claim(s), refer to the FSA Unsubstantiated Claims Process webpage.

Failure to provide documentation to CYC when requested may require repayment. Repayment is done by deducting money from your paycheck on an after-tax basis. Claims should be substantiated by December 31, 2020 to avoid the repayment process.

Health Care FSA Carry Over Reminder
Up to $550 of unused funds in a Health Care or Limited Purpose FSA will carry over into the following year (even if you do not enroll in the FSA for the following year). You will have access to your carryover funds on/around April 15, 2021.

Recent Legislation
The Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021 was recently signed into law. The Act has several COVID relief measures including provisions for employers to help ease your concerns over losing unused FSA funds (health care and dependent day care accounts). The Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) is the sponsor for the FSAs that UW System employees are eligible for. The UW System has been in contact with ETF on the potential for any changes to be made to the FSA program. Additional information will be provided if any of the provisions in the Act are adopted.

Additional Information
For questions about your FSA including eligible expenses, claims and/or your payment card, contact CYC at 1-833-881-8158 or service@connectyourcare.com.

For general information review UW System Employee Benefits website.

Source: UW System Human Resources

Social Security and Medicare Taxes for 2021

The Social Security wage base will rise to $142,800 in 2021 from $137,700 in 2020. This means that the first $142,800 of an employee's taxable wages are subject to Social Security taxes. An employee and the UW will each pay 6.2% on taxable wages up to $142,800.

An employee's entire taxable salary is subject to Medicare tax. Both the UW and the employee pay 1.45% on all taxable compensation. Further, any taxable wages that exceed $200,000 ($250,000 for married couples filing jointly) are subject to an additional 0.9% tax. There is no employer match for additional Medicare tax.

Source: UW-Shared Services

New Mental Health Resource Available

A new mental health resource offered through SilverCloud is available to employees. SilverCloud is an online platform that offers self-guided, interactive programs and skill-building tools to help manage anxiety, depression, stress, resilience and insomnia. It is available to all employees and students at no cost. If you are experiencing mild to moderate symptoms for any one of the above conditions, this may be an effective way for you to help manage these conditions.

What does each SilverCloud module contain?
Each module takes an average of 40 minutes and automatically saves your progress so you can come back later if you get interrupted. A typical module contains seven parts:

    1. Introduction: Helps you decide which module to get started with.
    2. Quiz: Helps gauge your knowledge and absorption of new information.
    3. Main Content: Displays the most important information and activities about the topic.
    4. Personal Stories: Based on real-life people, clinical knowledge and experiences to help you realize you are not alone.
    5. Tools: Activities that reinforce the information you learned throughout the module.
    6. Staying in the Present: Many topics discuss living in the past or thinking about the future. This activity uses mindfulness principles to bring you back to the present.
    7. Review: Allows you to reflect, set goals and incorporate what you learned into your life.

How should I use SilverCloud for my well-being?
Studies have shown that online cognitive behavioral therapy can provide an effective form of care for motivated individuals experiencing mild to moderate symptoms. SilverCloud may supplement traditional therapy or appointments with a counselor or you may use it without needing a counselor. A referral from a mental health or medical professional is not necessary to use this free online program.

Where should I go to get started?

For additional information on SilverCloud, go to the Mental Health Resources page.

What is the main difference between SilverCloud and the Employee Assistance Program (EAP)?
The main difference between SilverCloud and the EAP is that Silver Cloud is self-guided whereas the EAP allows you to speak with a counselor for help on a much broader range of services (e.g. work/life balance, will preparation, financial concerns, etc).
Note: Both programs are free and confidential.

For additional information on the EAP, go to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) page.

Source: UW System Human Resources

Benefits Resources during COVID-19

Many UW System employees and their families are working through change to their daily routines due to COVID-19. Watch these brief videos to help you understand why this change is necessary:

If you are covered by the State Group Health Insurance Program, you may have questions on if or how your doctor’s visit will be covered if you or a covered dependent shows symptoms of COVID-19. To answer your questions regarding testing, telehealth, biometric screening cancellations and more, visit the Department of Employee Trust Fund’s (ETF) COVID-19 webpage. ETF’s webpage includes information about using telehealth and nurse line services as an alternative to an office visit.

We realize that the current situation may cause stress and worry for you and your family. Our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available to UW System employees, their spouses or significant others, and their dependents. Services available may include a consultation on legal or financial concerns or help with how to handle an unexpected day care situation (e.g., child day care or adult/elder care). Visit the EAP webpage to determine how to contact the EAP provided at your institution.

For additional information see: Benefits during the COVID-19 Pandemic. This document provides a summary of benefit plan changes you may be able to make during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as links to valuable pandemic-related resources.

Source: UW System Human Resources

WRS News Online, January 2021

External link: https://etf.wi.gov/news/wrs-news-online/issue/18546

Life Insurance Benefits

The UW System offers several life insurance plans to help protect you and your family in the event of death. You may enroll in one or more of the following plans if you are eligible:

  • State Group Life Insurance – Provides coverage of up to five times your eligible earnings. You may also elect up to $20,000 coverage for your spouse and up to $10,000 for dependent child(ren).
  • Individual & Family Life Insurance – Provides coverage of up to $20,000 for you, up to $10,000 for your spouse/domestic partner and up to $5,000 for dependent child(ren). If enrolled, you have an annual opportunity to increase coverage without providing proof of good health. Coverage levels can be increased in $5,000 increments up to $300,000 for employee coverage, $150,000 for spouse/domestic partner coverage and $25,000 for child(ren) coverage.
  • UW Employees Inc. Life Insurance – Provides decreasing term life insurance ranging from $7,000 to $33,000 based on your age. Coverage is not available for family members.
  • University Insurance Association Life Insurance – Provides decreasing life insurance from $3,400 to $101,000 based on your age. Coverage is not available for family members.

See the UW System Life Insurance Comparison chart for more information about who is eligible, the amount of available coverage and additional plan features.

How much life insurance do you need?

Life insurance needs vary based on your unique situation. To estimate the amount of coverage you might need, check out the Life Insurance Needs Calculator.

When can you enroll in coverage?

You may enroll within 30 days from your date of employment or newly benefits-eligible job. This is considered your initial enrollment period. If you do not enroll during your initial enrollment period, you may apply for coverage at any time through evidence of insurability by providing proof of good health (approval is not guaranteed). You may also apply for coverage within 30 days of a qualifying life event. Refer to the Life Events webpage for more details.

How to enroll in coverage.

To enroll or make changes following a qualifying life event, complete the life insurance plan’s paper application and return it to your human resources office within 30 days of the event. To apply for coverage through evidence of insurability, complete the applicable evidence of insurability form and forward it to Securian Financial. The applications and evidence of insurability forms can be found in the Forms & Resources section on each Life Insurance Plan webpage.

No application is required for enrollment in the University Insurance Association Life Insurance. Coverage is a condition of employment (for eligible employees) and you are automatically enrolled in the plan.

How much do I pay for life insurance?

Life insurance premiums vary by plan and depend on your age and the amount of coverage you elect. UW System contributes towards the cost of State Group Life Insurance and you pay the total cost of the premium for any other life insurance plan you may be enrolled in. To review the premiums for each plan, visit the Benefit Premiums webpage.

How do I pay for life insurance?

Most life insurance premiums are deducted from your pay once a month and are for coverage for the upcoming month. See the payroll deduction schedule for more information.

Source: UW System Human Resources

What is an Explanation of Benefits (EOB)?

An Explanation of Benefits (EOB) is a statement that provides details about your health and dental insurance claim(s). An EOB is created by your insurance carrier to show you how much services cost, what portion of your claim was paid by insurance, any amount(s) “written off” as a discount for obtaining services within an approved network of providers and the amount that is your responsibility to pay. Your EOB will also show how much of your deductible and out-of-pocket has been met for the calendar year.

Review the following samples for what to expect on an EOB:

When should I expect an EOB?

You should expect an EOB every time you visit your doctor or dentist. It’s important that you show your health or dental insurance ID card at each visit. It may take a few weeks for your doctor or dentist to send your claim to your insurance carrier. It typically then takes a few weeks for your insurance carrier to process your claim(s) and send you your EOB.

Do I need to submit payment to my doctor’s office or dentist’s office when I receive my EOB?

No. You should not submit payment when you receive an EOB. An EOB is not a bill. Your doctor or dentist will send you an invoice after they have receive payment from your insurance.

What should I do with my EOB?

Review your EOB upon receipt for accuracy and save it in a secure place as it contains personal health information. Additionally, EOBs may be used as follows:

  • If you are enrolled in a Health Savings Account (HSA), your EOB is an ideal document to:
    • Estimate how much to contribute to your HSA from your paycheck. Since an HSA is a component of your High Deductible Health Plan, it is important to be financially prepared to pay 100% of most services* before you meet your deductible. If unforeseen circumstances arise, you may increase or decrease your HSA contribution at any time.
      * Preventive and telehealth services are covered at 100% by your insurance even if you have not met your deductible.
  • If you are enrolled in a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), a copy your EOB is an ideal document to use to:
    • Substantiate your claims. An EOB may be submitted to the FSA administrator to show the money is being used for eligible expenses per IRS regulations.
    • Estimate how much to put into your FSA on an annual basis. Since the FSA is a “use it or lose it” account** it’s important that what you put into your FSA, you plan to use.
      **The Health Care FSA allows for up to $550 to carryover from 2020 to 2021.

How do I access my EOBs?

You may access your EOBs by logging into your account online. The website information is provided on your health or dental insurance ID card.

Who should I call with questions regarding my EOBs?

You should contact your health or dental insurance plan carrier if you have questions regarding the information on your EOBs. Contact information may be found on your EOBs and on your insurance ID card(s).

Source: UW System Human Resources

WRS Contribution Rates for 2021 to Remain Stable

The Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) recently announced the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) employee and employer contribution rates effective January 1, 2021. WRS rates are evaluated and adjusted annually.

Positive investment returns in 2019 were offset by the effect of salary and demographic experience resulting in no change in rates for the general, executive, and elected category. There will be a small increase in rates for the protective categories.

Contribution increase and decrease fluctuations are considered normal for retirement systems like the WRS that pre-fund retirement benefits.

UW System employee contribution rates are determined by employment category. Most UW System employees are in the General/Teacher/Executive category. Employees with law enforcement or public protection duties (police officers, fire fighters) are in the Protective category.

WRS Contribution Rates
Employee Category General, Teacher and Executive Protectives with Social Security
Year 2020 2021 2020 2021
Employer Contribution 6.75% 6.75% 11.75% 11.65%
Employee Contribution 6.75% 6.75% 6.75% 6.75%
Total Contribution 13.5% 13.5% 18.5% 18.4%

The 2021 rates will apply to all paychecks paid in 2021; beginning January 4, 2021 for Faculty/Academic Staff and Limited Appointees paid monthly, and January 14, 2021 for University Staff paid bi-weekly. As a reminder, WRS contributions are taken on a pre-tax basis for state and federal tax purposes.

For more information visit the WRS webpage on the UW System Employee Benefits website.

Source: UW System Human Resources

How To Get Medical Care When You Need It Fast

Would you like the ability to seek basic medical care from the comfort of your own home?
If so, the telemedicine services in the State Group Health Insurance Program may allow you to do so.

Take these steps now to prepare for the unexpected:

What is telemedicine/telehealth (used interchangeably)?
The remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of electronic communication. This means that for non-urgent medical care, you may be able to access care through video chat or a virtual house call. Through telemedicine, a doctor may recommend treatment, prescribe medication, refer you to a specialist or tell you, based on your symptoms, if you should see a doctor in-person.

Why should you consider telemedicine services?
You may receive care quicker and it may be more convenient than going to your doctor’s office or to urgent care. They are also typically less expensive than an office visit or urgent care visit.

How will your telemedicine service be covered by the State Group Health Insurance plan?
Due to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, effective March 27 through December 31, 2020, telemedicine services are covered at 100%. After December 31, 2020, contact your State Group Health Insurance plan carrier to find out how your telemedicine service(s) will be covered. Any follow-up care may be subject to the copayment, deductible and/or coinsurance as described on the Comparison of Health and Pharmacy Benefits.

How can you obtain additional information regarding telemedicine services?
Generally, health plans offer telemedicine services through their online portals and/or through a mobile app. If you’re unable to find telemedicine information through your health insurance plans online portal, contact your health insurance plan directly by calling the toll-free number on your health insurance ID card. Otherwise, go to ETF's Telehealth Options web page for more information.

Source: UW System Human Resources