For eligible UUP represented and Management Confidential professional staff considering retirement in their near future, the program provides an option for working less than full-time during their last year of employment, prior to final retirement. While not appropriate for every person or position, it provides additional opportunties for professionals and the University.
The Binghamton University Phased Retirement Program (PRP) has many goals. Among them are to:
- Provide eligible professional staff with an opportunity to transition smoothly into retirement by working a reduced obligation and developing other facets of their lives
- Promote workforce succession planning by developing staff and considering internal promotions and reassignments
- Assure the transfer of knowledge and institutional history to new staff through mentoring
- Promote the renewal and vitality of both the participant and the University
- Liberate salary dollars to be deployed in other ways
- Provide increased university flexibility in staffing
In contemplation of retirement, this program allows for professional staff to apply for a reduced work obligation for a period of one year (which may be renewed upon mutual agreement). The reduced work obligation requested would be sufficient to keep the participant benefits eligible - in the case of UUP that is driven by salary and with management/confidential, by FTE.
Both the University and the applicant must carefully consider the implications of participation in this program. Such implications would include a reduced salary, diminished final average salary (for staff in the Employee's Retirement System or the Teacher's Retirement System), less money being contributed to retirement contracts, accrual earning changes, differences in contractual raises (across the board or lump sum distributions), changes in contributions to SRA or TDA accounts, and possible changes in benefits eligibility. For these reasons, consideration as to whether or not to participate in the program is a serious matter and should be reviewed with great diligence.
In many cases, the staff member should review their plans with tax advisors, retirement system representatives, University benefits staff or financial planners before making the decision to apply.
It is important to acknowledge that not all professional positions are conducive to this arrangement for a range of operational reasons. Because of that, it should be understood that this program is not an entitlement, but rather an option to be explored between staff member, supervisor, and the Vice President of a division. Each application will be reviewed on its own merits and approval or disapproval will be influenced by a number of variables.
In order to be eligible for this program, individuals would need to be at least 54 years of age and have a minimum of ten (10) years benefits eligible service with New York State at the beginning of the phased retirement period and be 55 years of age or older at the end of the period and willing to retire when the phased process concluded. Once made, a decision to enter the PRP would be binding and irrevocable unless otherwise mutually agreed to by both the University's management and the staff member.
The program is entirely voluntary and staff can apply any time they meet or are approaching the eligibility criteria, observing the application requirements as noted in this document. The application must be reviewed and approved by the immediate supervisor and by all supervisory levels up to and including the Vice President of the staff member's division. Vice Presidential approval will include a thorough review by the Office of Human Resources.
The application for phased retirement must include:
- a completed application form
- a proposed work plan that contains information about the percentage of work effort to be diminished as well as a general description of the work to be assigned to the participant. A revised performance program must also be created, reflecting the new assignment
- a supervisory description of how the workload associated with the phased retirement would be redirected or otherwise dealt with. Of course, the specific work assignment for the participant could be changed as the 'phased retirement' period unfolds and as operational needs dictate. In that case, a revised performance program would reflect the change and the work effort and salary must remain within the agreed-upon limits of the plan.
An application for consideration must be made at least six (6) but no later than eleven (11) months before the proposed date the program would begin. Once approved for participation, the participant's salary would be adjusted to reflect the newly agreed upon work effort. For example, if staff member Jones earns $45,000 as a full time employee and is approved for a phased retirement program at 50% FTE for one year, their salary would become $22,500.
Since program participation would mean the participant would become a part-time staff member, eligibility for salary increases or adjustments would be distributed as outlined in appropriate union agreements or SUNY Policies of the Board of Trustees for management/confidential staff.
Approved participants in the program would retain the full range of rights, benefits and responsibilities appropriate for their title, percentage of effort, role, union affiliation (if any) and status.