You may be able to ease into retirement

Starting to plan for what comes next?

You may be able to ease into retirement on a reduced work schedule or choose a monetary allowance according to your age plus years of university service.

The University of St. Thomas is offering a window of opportunity, April 1, 2005, through March 31, 2006, for qualifying staff to choose the phased retirement or monetary retirement option that is designed to help soften some of the financial hardships that may result from retiring early.

Voluntary, early retirement is open to staff who are age 55 or older on the date of application; who have a combined age and years of full-time service at UST equal to or greater than 70 (e.g., age 55 plus 15 years of service = 70); and who have completed at least 10 years of continuous full-time service with the university. Excluded from early retirement are faculty (including adjunct faculty), staff covered by a labor contract, administrators with yearly faculty contracts, and temporary employees.

A request for early retirement must be initiated voluntarily by an eligible staff member in writing and approved by the appropriate dean, program director and/or vice president. Approval is subject to budgetary constraints and final endorsement must be given by the appropriate executive vice president, who may find it necessary to limit the number of staff participating based on the needs of the university.

Staff who meet the criteria are encouraged to announce their retirement early in exchange for either phased retirement or the monetary retirement allowance. Following is a brief overview of the two options.

Phased retirement

A phased-retirement agreement allows staff to phase into retirement by working a reduced schedule while earning wages to alleviate financial concerns.

A work schedule that is acceptable to both the staff member and the department or division must be arranged either directly or via a stepped or gradually declining schedule with the stipulation that during the phasing period, a staff member may hold no greater than a 75 percent appointment. While other arrangements may be negotiated, a work schedule of less than one-half may render the staff member ineligible for certain university employee benefits. Salary and any salary-dependent benefits are prorated to reflect the decreased work schedule.

The official retirement date for the retiring employee typically is not more than two years after the start of the phased-retirement agreement. Full retirement is required at the end of the phasing period. Once the phased-retirement period is initiated, the staff member may not return to a full-time appointment.

Applications for the Phased Retirement Option described in this Section I must be submitted during April 1, 2005, through Oct. 1, 2005 (the “Phased Retirement Window Period”). The phasing period must begin no later than Jan. 1, 2006 and retirement must occur no later than Dec. 31, 2007. Eligible nonfaculty staff must submit a completed application to the Department of Human Resources.

Employees whose applications were submitted timely (before Oct. 1, 2005) but declined can reapply during the period April 1, 2006, through Oct. 31, 2006. In this instance, the phasing period must begin no later than Jan. 1, 2007 with retirement occurring on or before Dec. 31, 2008. No candidates will be considered after Oct. 1, 2005, unless his or her initial application was declined.

Monetary retirement incentive

  • A monetary retirement incentive is a salary-continuation agreement that provides pay at the retiring staff member’s annual salary rate on the date of retirement. Specifically, it provides for a certain number of weeks of pay for years of full-time continuous service up to a maximum of 26 weeks of pay; thus, the size of the monetary incentive will vary, depending on length of service.

Eligible staff must submit a completed application to Department of Human Resources between April 1, 2005, and Oct. 1, 2005. Retirement must occur on or before March 31, 2006. If you get your application in before Oct. 1, 2005, but it is declined, you may reapply during the period from April 1, 2006, through Oct. 31, 2006. Retirement must occur on or before March 31, 2007. No candidates will be considered after Oct. 1, 2005, unless his or her initial application was declined.

Retirement allowance payments will be made on a biweekly pay period basis beginning the first pay period after the staff member’s retirement date. All university employee benefits, except those mandated by statute, cease at the time of retirement.

A staff member who elects the monetary retirement option may not subsequently participate in the phased retirement option. Similarly, if a staff member chooses phased retirement, he or she is precluded from participating in the monetary option.

The university will base its decision to approve or deny a voluntary retirement request on whether or not its financial condition and normal business processes will be substantially weakened by the approval; however, the university reserves the right to amend or terminate this program at any time with or without notice.

For more information and to get complete instructions about the voluntary, early retirement options, you may contact either Pete Ronza, (651) 962-6521, or Edna Comedy, (651) 962-6511. The HR Department is located in Room 217, Aquinas Hall.