HR, Payroll and Benefits News

The Annual Benefits Enrollment Period Ended October 23, 2020

The Annual Benefits Enrollment (ABE) period held from September 28 - October 23, 2020 has ended. ABE is the annual opportunity for eligible employees to enroll in or make changes to most benefits unless an employee has a qualifying life event. Changes made during ABE are effective January 1, 2021.

Watch for upcoming portal articles regarding 2021 premium deductions, benefits ID cards and an article reminding you of the 2021 benefit changes.

If you have a need to reference ABE-related portal articles previously posted, you may find them below. The ABE website also continues to be available as a resource.

Source: UW System Human Resources

Reminder To University Staff: Review & Bank Leave Balances

Eligible University Staff employees have an annual opportunity to bank and/or request a pay out of their unused vacation. All banking or pay out requests must be submitted by December 31, 2020. Personal and Legal Holidays are not eligible to be banked or paid out.

To be eligible to bank or request a cash payout of unused vacation, you must meet the years of service requirement. Review UW System Administrative Policy 1210 (formerly BN 1) Vacation, Paid Leave Banks, and Vacation Cash Payouts for details on banking or cashing out vacation. All requests to bank or receive vacation cash payout must be received by December 31, 2020.

You may review your leave balances and submit your banking request online via Self Service:

  1. Log into the MyUW portal for UW System Institutions or for UW-Madison.
  2. Go to the "Time and Absence" module.
  3. Click on Timesheet.
  4. Click on Absence Balances tab on left side of screen or in the tab below timesheet section. Conversion Eligibility will be displayed between the Posted leave balances and the Projected leave balances.
  5. Follow instructions for converting vacation to banked leave: Banked Leave Tipsheet.
  6. Review Vacation Carryover, Personal Holiday and Legal Holiday balances. Legal holiday must be used by 12/31 or it will be lost.

As a reminder, In October, an interim policy was released for University Staff employees which allows unused vacation from calendar year 2019 (January 1, 2019 - December 31, 2019) to be carried over for one additional year. Additionally, unused personal holiday from calendar year 2020 (January 1, 2020 - December 31, 2020) may be carried forward. All Vacation and Personal Holiday hours carried over under this temporary extension must be used by December 31, 2021.

For more detailed information on vacation, paid leave banks, and vacation cash payouts, review:

Source: UW System Human Resources

Monthly Pay Date For December Earnings Is January 4, 2021

For UW employees who are paid on the 1st of each month, the monthly pay date for December 2020 earnings is Monday, January 4, 2021. January 4 is the pay date because January 1 (New Year's Day) is a Federal Reserve holiday.

When a pay date falls on a weekend or Federal Reserve holiday, the pay date is usually the previous business day. An exception to this is the monthly pay date that falls on New Year's Day, January 1.

To avoid tax-related issues, the January 1 pay date for December earnings is paid in the new calendar year and must be the first "official banking business day" following the New Year's holiday. The "official banking business day" is defined as a calendar day other than a Saturday, Sunday or a Federal Reserve holiday.

Source: UW-Shared Services

Update Your Address For Tax Form Distribution

Now is the time to make sure your address information is up-to-date for tax form distribution (such as the W-2 Form). Review and update your address as soon as possible.

Your 2020 W-2 Form will be mailed to the first available address on record in the following order: mailing, home or office address. Note: Active employees who have signed up for electronic-only W-2 Form delivery will not receive a mailed copy.

To ensure your W-2 Form and other tax forms are sent to your preferred address, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to the MyUW portal for UW System institutions or UW-Madison.
  2. Launch the Personal Information tile to view your current mailing and/or home address. If the address you prefer for W-2 Form distribution is not displayed, update your mailing address by clicking on the Update My Personal Information link. Refer to Change Your Personal Details for instructions.
  3. If you want to update your office address, you must contact your human resources office.
  4. While in the portal review your other personal information, such as work and personal email, phone number, etc. and make updates as needed.

An online copy of your W-2 Form will be available in late January in the portal Payroll Information tile.

Update your address by January 4, 2021 to guarantee that your address has been received in time for tax form distribution. If you have questions, contact serviceoperations@uwss.wisconsin.edu.

Source: UW-Shared Services

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

Reminder: Health Care Flexible Spending Account Participants

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. This article is a reminder for participants to use their FSA money and to substantiate claims timely. Remember, eligible expenses include:

    • Medical (post-deductible only for the Limited Purpose FSA)
    • Dental
    • Vision

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

How to Pay for Eligible Expenses
Once eligible expenses have been incurred, determine how to pay for them. Until December 31, 2020, 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 and/or substantiate claims after the payment card has been used:

Provide Information Timely to Substantiate Claims
For efficient processing, include appropriate IRS required supporting documentation with your claim(s) submission by March 31, 2020. CYC will contact participants directly when additional information is needed.

Review your account on the CYC Portal to see if you have claims to substantiate.

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

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.

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

University Insurance Association (UIA) Life Insurance Annual Premium Deduction

The University Insurance Association (UIA) Life Insurance annual premium of $24.00 will be deducted from October monthly earnings, paid October 30, 2020.

Participation in the UIA Life Insurance plan is a condition of employment for UW System Faculty/Academic Staff/Limited Appointment (FA/AS/LI) employees. Additionally, eligible employees must meet the minimum monthly salary threshold which is $2,822 for the 2020-2021 plan year. The minimum monthly salary threshold is determined each year and is based on 45% of the average instructor's salary for the previous year.

Once an employee becomes eligible for coverage, eligibility will continue for the full plan year. Employees must re-qualify for eligibility each year.

Note: The plan is moving to a calendar year. To make this transition, the 2021 plan year will run from October 1, 2020 to December 31, 2021. Beginning in 2022, the policy year will be January 1 to December 31, with coverage effective January 1 of each year.

For more information about the plan, including coverage levels, visit the UW System Employee Benefits website.

Source: UW System Human Resources

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, November 2020

External link: https://etf.wi.gov/news/wrs-news-online/issue/18536

Register for your Flu Shot

Protect yourself this flu season by registering for your annual flu shot!

The Well Wisconsin Program offers workplace flu shot clinics because a quick needle stick now is better than a nasty illness later. Flu shots are free and voluntary for all employees and spouses enrolled in the State Group Health Insurance Program.

To receive a flu shot you must:

    • Pre-register.
    • Wear a mask to your appointment.
    • Present your health insurance ID card at the flu shot clinic.
    • Complete the Flu Shot Consent Form and bring it to your appointment. This form will be available for download from your appointment confirmation email.

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 (you should receive the vaccine directly from your physician).

To register for your flu shot:

    • If you already have an account, log into the StayWell portal at wellwisconsin.staywell.com. Then, from the dashboard, click on the Register Now button on the Flu Shot Clinics slider.
    • If you do not already have an account, go to the StayWell portal at wellwisconsin.staywell.com, click the Sign Up button and follow the instructions.

For more information:

Source: UW System Human Resources

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

Long-Term Care Insurance

Effective July 8, 2020, all WRS eligible employees, an employee’s spouse, an employee’s parents and an employee’s spouse’s parents are eligible for long-term care insurance. Participants must live in Wisconsin to be eligible. This insurance plan is offered by Mutual of Omaha through HealthChoice (the designated agent for State employees).

What is long-term care insurance?

Long-term care insurance typically covers care not covered by health insurance (or Medicare/Medicaid). It may include coverage for assisted living, adult day care, hospice care, nursing homes, Alzheimer’s facilities and/or home modification to accommodate disabilities.

How much does long-term care insurance cost?

Each policy is individually underwritten with premiums based on age, gender and your individual health at the time of enrollment. Your premiums are also based on the length of your selected waiting period, policy limit and other components of your customized plan. Each policy may include various discounts for the life of the policy.

How do I pay the premiums for long-term care insurance?

Since this is an individually underwritten insurance policy, you are responsible for paying your premiums directly to HealthChoice. Payroll deduction is not an option.

When can I enroll in long-term care insurance?

You may enroll in long-term care insurance at any time. Your premiums will be partially based on your health at the time of your enrollment.

How do I enroll in long-term care insurance?

To enroll in long-term care insurance, contact HealthChoice directly at 1-800-833-5823 or info@healthchoice.com. Or visit www.healthchoice.com for additional information.

Source: UW System Human Resources

Faculty, Academic Staff and Limited Appointees May Bank Unused Vacation for Future Use

Twelve-month Faculty, Academic Staff and Limited Appointees (FAASLI) are eligible to bank unused vacation after they have completed 10 fiscal years (July 1 through June 30) of employment.

Twelve-month FAASLI are allocated vacation on a fiscal year basis. While they can carry unused vacation into the following fiscal year, the vacation must be used by the end of that fiscal year, or it will be lost. The option to bank unused vacation is a way to save vacation for future use.

How Much Vacation Can I Bank?
Twelve-month FAASLI are eligible to bank up to 40 hours of vacation per fiscal year after completing 10 fiscal years of employment, and up to 80 hours of vacation per fiscal year after completing 25 years of employment. The amount of vacation that can be banked is prorated for part-time employees. There is no limit to the total number of hours (balance) that can be retained in Banked Leave and the hours do not expire.

As of June 30th, any remaining vacation or vacation carryover is eligible to convert to banked leave. HRS will convert the vacation carryover first then convert the remaining vacation.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Due to COVID-19, an interim policy allows leave eligible FAASLI to extend the carryover of unused vacation from fiscal year 2019 (July 1, 2018 - June 30, 2019) for one additional year. Unused Personal Holiday from fiscal year 2020 (July 1, 2019 - June 30, 2020) may also be carried forward. All Vacation and Personal Holiday hours carried over under this temporary extension must be used by June 30, 2021. Read More.

When Can I Use my Banked Leave?
With your supervisor's approval, you may use the Banked Leave Balance at any time, and it can be used in any circumstance in which you are allowed to use paid leave.

What If I Terminate Employment?
If you terminate employment any unused banked leave will be paid to you at your current wage rate.

To View Eligible Banked Leave Hours
If you have a Banked Leave balance, you may view your balance:

To Review the Vacation Policies

If you have questions, contact your human resources office.

Source: UW System Human Resources and UW-Shared Services, Service Operations

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%. 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

CARES Act Offers Financial Relief/Flexibility to Retirement Plan Participants

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act ("CARES Act" or "Act") was signed into law on March 27, 2020. The CARES Act includes provisions related to retirement plans that offer both financial relief and flexibility to plan participants. The UW Tax-Sheltered Annuity (TSA) 403(b) Program has adopted the following CARES Act provisions.

Coronavirus Related Distributions
The CARES Act allows for distributions of up to $100,000 (aggregated across all plans and IRAs) for an individual who has a COVID-19 event, defined as a person:

  • who is diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • whose spouse or dependent is diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • who experiences adverse financial consequences resulting from COVID-19, including being quarantined, furloughed, laid off, having work hours reduced, experiencing COVID-19-related child care issues that impede one’s ability to work, or the closing or reduction of hours of a business owned or operated by an individual impacted by COVID-19.

Participants self-certify that they qualify for the distribution as an "affected individual." Distributions must be made before December 31, 2020. These distributions are not subject to early withdrawal penalties or mandatory withholding when taken.

The legislation permits participants to:

  • Spread out the income taxes that would be due on the distribution ratably over 3-years
  • Repay the amounts back into the retirement plan or IRA over next 3-year period if that plan accepts roll-in contributions (the repayments are not subject to retirement plan contribution limits). The repayment does not need to be made to the same plan or IRA from which the distribution was made.

Participant Loan Changes
The Act includes specific relief for participant loans from retirement accounts. A participant must have a COVID-19 related event (as noted above) to be eligible.

  • Plan Loan Dollar Limits Increased. The Act temporarily increases the maximum amount available that participants can borrow from $50,000 to $100,000 (less any outstanding loan amounts) from their plan account balance. The Act also allows participants to borrow up to the lesser of $100,000 or 100 percent of their account balance (subject to provider requirements), rather than the 50 percent limit under current rules. These loan limit increases are in effect for 180 days following the signing of the bill into law (March 27, 2020).

    The participant is still limited to only having two open loans across all providers at one time. If the participant already has two open loans, one loan must be paid off before applying for a new loan.
  • Extension for Loan Due Dates. The Act provides a one-year extension for any loan payment due between March 27 and December 31, 2020. Remaining payments, plus applicable interest, can be re-amortized over the extended period.

Temporary Waiver of Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) Rules

  • The CARES Act waives required minimum distributions (RMDs) for calendar year 2020 for defined contribution plans, including 401(k), 403(b), 457(b), as well as IRAs, allowing individuals to keep funds in their retirement plans. This includes payments to beneficiaries required under RMD rules. Participants who have already taken a 2020 RMD may now transfer the distribution amount back into the account within a 60-day rollover period of taking the withdrawal.
  • The waiver applies to 2019 RMDs due by April 1, 2020 and for 2020 RMDs due by December 31, 2020.

Contact your TSA provider for more information. TSA provider contact information can be accessed on the TSA Program web page.

Please remember that taking a loan or distribution from your retirement account could have a long-term negative effect on your account.

Source: UW System Human Resources

Employee Assistance Program Offers Resources and Webinars

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides UW employees and members of their household with confidential resources to address personal and/or work-related concerns. EAP services are offered at no cost to employees. FEI is the administrator of the EAP program for most institutions. Click here to verify if FEI is your EAP administrator.

2020 Monthly Webinar Series
The FEI monthly webinar series is open for registration for eligible employees. Registration is required. Note: Employees must attend a webinar on their own time or consult with their supervisor for approval to attend.

Click here for webinar information and registration. Follow the individual links on each webinar for registration.

October 2020 Webinar: Relationships 101

Time: Wednesday, October 21, 2020 - 11:00am to 12:00pm CDT

Description: What is the foundation of a good relationship? Whether you're building a relationship with a co-worker, significant other or someone you just clicked with online, we'll explore the fundamentals good relationships, discuss strategies for improving them and how you can make positive connections.

November 2020 Webinar: Cultivating Digital Wellness: Digital Declutter

Time: Wednesday, November 18, 2020 - 11:00am to 12:00pm CDT

Description: Electronic devices. Apps. Social media. It seems like everything digital is designed to steal your time and attention. We'll discuss how social media and digital devices are designed to distract us. You'll also learn how to clear your digital clutter, set achievable goals and regain your focus-both "IRL" (in real life) and online.

Source: UW System Human Resources