Answers to Your Top Questions on Preparing for Retirement

Have you worked at MSU for at least 25 years in a benefit-eligible position? Or are you at least 62 years old and worked at MSU for at least 15 years in a benefit-eligible position? If you answered yes to either of these questions, you may be thinking about retiring from MSU someday (or even soon).

To help you prepare for retirement, we’ve compiled a list of the top questions we receive as employees think about transitioning to retirement:

Q1: What will be the retiree health care plan?

A1: This depends on whether you, your spouse/other eligible individual (OEI) or any covered dependents are eligible to enroll in Medicare when you retire. Review the Effect of Retirement on Benefits for details about your situation and the applicable year Open Enrollment Guide for Retirees for health plan information.

Q2: How much will retiree health care cost?

A2: Most retirees are eligible to receive the full university contribution level towards retiree health and dental benefits. To determine your level of university contribution, please review the Retiree Benefits Policy to understand your “Retirement Calculation Date” and your level of “FTE Service Months” (both can be viewed in your Personal Profile tile in the EBS Portal), and how they will affect the amounts that you pay in retirement. Then check the appropriate health care Monthly Plan Premiums chart in the applicable year Open Enrollment Guide for Retirees to determine the cost.

Q3: Am I eligible to cover my spouse/OEI or dependents on my retiree health care plan?

A3: Your “Retirement Calculation Date” (which can be viewed in your Personal Profile tile in the EBS Portal) will determine the university’s contribution for your spouse/OEI and dependents toward retiree health and dental coverage based on university policy. To see which contribution you will qualify for, please review the Retiree Benefits Policy. Even if you’re not eligible to receive a university contribution toward retiree health care for your spouse/OEI or other dependents, you can still enroll them in the university’s group retiree health care plan by paying the full premium cost.

Q4: How is retiree health care different from my current coverage?

A4: Please review the Health Plan Coverage Summary in the applicable year’s Open Enrollment Guide for active employees (faculty or support staff) and retirees to compare the benefits offered.

Q5: What does retiree health care cover?

A5: Please review the Retiree Open Enrollment Guide to view the Health Plan Coverage Summary for benefits offered.

Q6: Does the retiree health care plan include prescription drug coverage?

A6: Yes. Your retiree health care plan and prescription drug coverage is bundled together in one plan. To learn more about the prescription drug coverage, please review the Summary of Health and Prescription Plan Provisions in the Retiree Open Enrollment Guide.

Q7: Is Medicare necessary?

A7: Yes. If you, your spouse/OEI, or any other covered dependent are eligible for Medicare by being age 65 or older, or due to disability (SSDI), the eligible individual must enroll in Medicare Parts A and B (please do NOT enroll in Part D). Please review this Medicare and Social Security Information for more details about enrolling. Once you’re enrolled, you will need to send MSU Human Resources your MBI number from your Medicare card to enroll in MSU’s retiree health care plan.

Q8: Which parts of Medicare do I need?

A8: You must enroll in Medicare Parts A and B (please do NOT enroll in Part D). Please review this Medicare and Social Security Information for more details about enrolling. Once you’re enrolled, you will need to send MSU Human Resources your MBI number from your Medicare card to enroll in MSU’s retiree health care plan.

Q9: When should I sign up for Medicare?

A9: You should enroll in Medicare Parts A & B at least 2-3 months in advance of the effective date, as it will take time for Medicare to process your application and send you your Medicare card (which you will need in order to send MSU Human Resources your MBI number to enroll in the MSU retiree health care plan). If you are eligible for a Special Enrollment Period with Medicare, contact the HR Solutions Center at SolutionsCenter@hr.msu.edu or 517-353-4434 to complete the required form.

Q10: How early do I have to request retirement from MSU?

A10: We suggest you submit your MSU Retirement Form at least 90 days prior to your planned retirement date so we can ensure your enrollment in Medicare and/or the MSU retiree health care plan is completed smoothly and timely. You can submit your completed form up to 120 days in advance of your planned last day of work (for support staff positions) and up to 365 days in advance of your planned retirement date (for faculty, academic staff and executive management positions). You will submit your Retirement Form in the EBS Portal. Instructions to complete and submit the form are available.

Q11: How do you request retirement?

A11: You will submit the MSU Retirement Form via the EBS Portal. Instructions to complete and submit the form are available for your assistance.

Q12: As a support staff employee, what are my options regarding my unused vacation, personal and compensatory time?

A12: There are 3 options:

  1. Receive payment after your retirement date.
  2. Use all your time before your retirement date. After you indicate your last day worked on the Retirement Form, Human Resources will review your form and your available unused vacation, personal and compensatory time to determine your official retirement date.
  3. Combination of the options listed above: On the Retirement Form, please fill in the Notes section with the number of hours and type of hours (vacation, personal, and/or compensatory time) that you would like to use after your last day worked.

For more information on preparing to retire from MSU, please review the retirement resources on the HR website. These include a Roadmap to Retirement webinar, the effect of retirement on your benefits, information about Medicare and Social Security, a retirement checklist and much more. If you’re ready to take the next step, we recently made updates to the Retirement Form in the EBS Portal to make it more user-friendly.

Celebrate National Pet Day with MSU Vet Clinic and Pet Insurance

April 11 is National Pet Day! Pet lovers already know, and the Center for Disease Control confirms, that there are many benefits to owning pets. Pets increase opportunities for exercise, enjoying the outdoors, and socializing. These health benefits can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. The companionship of pets makes us less lonely, reducing the effects of depression. 

Owning pets comes with responsibility, and Michigan State University offers services and resources to assist in those responsibilities. First, the MSU Veterinary Medical Center (VMC) can provide for all the health needs of your entire animal family. They provide health care for cats, dogs, equine, pigs, cows, camelids, sheep, goats, pocket pets, zoo animals, and wildlife. Their services include cardiology, oncology, primary care, and more. 

The VMC uses the most advanced technology combined with cutting-edge research to provide optimal care for all animals. Similar to specialists in human medicine, veterinarians pursue additional education and certification beyond veterinary school. That training allows the Hospital to offer 20 specialty services with clinicians who supervise and teach our senior veterinary students, interns, residents, and veterinary technology students to fulfill the Hospital’s commitment to educating future professionals. 

Maintaining optimal health for your pets is a financial investment, and emergency care can be costly. Keep those expenses manageable with preferred pricing from Nationwide pet insurance offered through MSU Benefits Plus, where you can choose from 50% or 70% reimbursement for services from any vet. You’ll also receive additional benefits for services such as emergency boarding, lost pet advertising, and more. Visit the MSU Benefits Plus website to learn more and enroll. Locate the Nationwide Pet Insurance tile under Featured Benefits and click Visit Site to request a free quote. 

Don’t Forget Your Optional MSU Benefits and Resources

Like many, during the pandemic, your family has probably experienced an increased need for virtual health care options, mental health resources, and opportunities to save money. MSU is committed to offering valuable benefits to support you and your family. As a benefits-eligible employee, you’re probably aware of MSU’s health and dental care benefit options. However, on top of those, there is a range of optional benefits we’d like to remind you about as well.

Beyond meeting your health care needs, these optional benefits can help you save money on needed products and services. We realize keeping track of all these different resources can be overwhelming. To help, we’ve created the following recap to jog your memory with links to more detailed information to learn more.

This graphic provides a quick summary of these optional benefits (click the image for a PDF version):

Optional benefit programs available:

  • Teladoc: virtually speak with a doctor 24/7 via web, phone or mobile app. They can even write you a prescription if necessary. Employees have described Teladoc as “a game changer,” and particularly helpful during the pandemic (read employee experiences here). If you haven’t already, we recommend you sign up for Teladoc now, so you’re prepared when you need it.
  • Livongo: this diabetes management program provides free supplies delivered right to your door whenever you need it and support with optional virtual coaching. Save time and money on needed supplies. Read an employee’s perspective on Livongo and find instructions to sign up.
  • Teladoc Medical Experts (formerly Best Doctors): get medical advice from experts on your specific medical condition and feel empowered to make the best choice possible for your care. Their Mental Health Navigator tool offers expert advice on the diagnosis and treatment options for mental health conditions. Learn more about the services Teladoc Medical Experts offers.
  • Voluntary Benefits and Employee Discounts: these are optional benefits offered through MSU Benefits Plus. Find insurance offerings such as vision, legal, pet, home/auto, and critical illness (some have enrollment periods). Additionally, there are a variety of discounts on everything from electronics, home goods, meal delivery services and much more.
  • On-Campus Services: save time by getting your MRI, x-ray, or CT scan done right on-campus at MSU Radiology or have the MSU Pharmacy deliver your prescriptions directly to your home if you live within 30 miles of campus (on-campus delivery still available for free). MSU Pharmacy also has an on-campus location you can visit and offers a variety of services to help you manage your prescriptions.

You might not always need or think of these resources but keeping them tucked away can make it easier and more cost-effective to manage your family’s health. As always, if you have any questions about these benefits options, please visit the HR website to learn more or contact the HR Solutions Center at SolutionsCenter@hr.msu.edu or 517-353-4434.

Deals and Discounts for Spring Break 2022

Contrary to the weather in Michigan, Spring Break 2022 is quickly approaching! Prepare for a relaxing beachside week, a week of theme parks or a week at home with family using these exclusive employee discounts from MSU Benefits Plus.

To access all the discounts, visit MSU Benefits Plus and sign up for a free account using your ZPID number (located on your Spartan Card ID badge or on EBS).

Still looking for that perfect rental car or hotel for your trip? Are you headed to Disney World and need a discount on tickets? These are the perfect travel discounts for you:

  • National Car Rental: Use the code XZ20LK4 when booking your car rental for their exclusive Big Ten employee discount.
  • Wyndham Hotel Group: At participating Wyndham locations, book over the phone or online for up to 20% off the “Best Available Rate” with ID number 1000009114.
  • OrlandoVacation.com: Discounted Walt Disney World vacations for MSU staff, faculty, students and family members are available online with the code msusaves.

Staying at home during break has never sounded so enticing! See a new movie for less or bring your family to their first basketball game with these entertainment discounts:

  • Premium Seats USA: It is the height of the NBA season and there is no better time to check out a game with a 10% discount on tickets! Use the code CORESTREAM on the Premium Seats USA website.
  • AMC Theaters: Book movie tickets online for over 40% off at AMC, AMC Loews, AMC Showplace, Cineplex Odeon, Magic Johnson and Star Theaters.

Whether you are leaving town or staying in, you can try a new restaurant, see a show and more with these bonus flexible discounts:

  • Tickets at Work: Before you travel, book tickets for a show, visit an event and more, check your MSU discounts through Tickets at Work. The site is always being updated with new discounts and exclusives for employees.
  • Restaurant.com: As a special exclusive deal for MSU employees, pay $6 for $25 in restaurant certificates online using the code CORE.

Find these savings as well as many other benefits by visiting the MSU Benefits Plus portal. Sign up or log in today and have a great Spring Break!

Tackle Savings, Debt, and More During America Saves Week 2022

America Saves Week is February 21-25, 2022! This week is an annual event that encourages you to learn and plan for increased savings, lower debt, investing, and preparing for retirement. You can do all this using resources provided to employees by the university and our benefits partners. Both of MSU’s retirement partners, Fidelity and TIAA, offer ways to plan during this week. This includes live webinars, courses for financial literacy, and other resources. Through America Saves Week, you have access to planning tools for managing financial emergencies, which can be very useful during these uncertain times. 

Fidelity Resources

Check out online workshops from Fidelity that cover topics including “Ditch your Debt,” “Manage Unexpected Events and Expenses,” and “Invest Confidently for Your Future,” among many other topics throughout the week. All the programs can be attended live by registering here and important information can be viewed on-demand as workshops here. Interested in learning the specifics about Fidelity’s rainy day investment and savings plans? Visit their Netbenefits site. Other tools and calculators provided by Fidelity to their MSU members can be found here

TIAA Resources

If you feel dissatisfied about your current financial situation, TIAA wants to remind you that you are not alone. Read the 2021 TIAA Personal Finance Index and learn that it’s not just you. Some ways you can start to build financial resiliency with TIAA include contributing to your retirement savings, paying down debt, and growing an emergency fund. According to a survey conducted by TIAA, having more in retirement savings is a top contributor to financial resiliency. Visit the EBS portal to learn more about your contribution options. You can also read about financial vulnerability and how to avoid it in this published study, created to help millennials address their finances.

Schedule a Virtual Consultation with Fidelity or TIAA

Both Fidelity and TIAA offer virtual appointments with financial consultants! Be sure to set up an appointment to get your questions answered for no additional cost. Set up your Fidelity consulting appointment here or set up your TIAA consulting appointment here.

For general questions about retirement, contact the HR Solutions Center at SolutionsCenter@hr.msu.edu or (517) 353-4434 or visit the HR website. For questions about your specific financial plans, contact your vendor. 

Employee Discounts to Support your 2022 Resolutions

Another new year means new resolutions, and MSU Benefits Plus wants to make those goals and tasks more achievable than ever. Below, you can learn more about these exclusive health, wellness, and other helpful discounts for MSU employees and start your journey to a happy new year today!

To access all of these discounts and more, login to MSU Benefits Plus today. If you haven’t used MSU Benefits Plus previously, register using your ZPID number (located on your Spartan Card ID badge or in EBS). 

Exercise and Mental Health:

  • Zeamo – On Demand workouts and fitness classes from top fitness brands and instructors – select free workouts and get 50% off your first month of gym and studio access with promo code 50OFF09.
  • Fitbod – Workouts that improve as you do by studying your strength and training ability, all from your phone – 25% off membership with promo code CORE.
  • Calm – 57% off of a one year subscription for the Apple App Store and Google Play Store’s most popular mental wellness application ($29.99 instead of $69.99).

Travel:

  • LMT Club – A free membership to the exclusive Last Minute Travel club (a $50 value), a website created so you can get the best deals on hotels and other travel needs.
  • Tickets at Work – Find deals of up to 60% off hotels in tons of destinations using this exclusive link.

Taxes:

  • Turbo Tax – While it’s no one’s favorite part about the new year, get a little more excited about filing your taxes by saving up to $20 using the link found on the MSU Benefits Plus website.

Education:

  • Spartan Bookstore – If you are looking for books to learn something new or just to enjoy some reading, visit the Spartan Bookstore for 10% off new and used books with your faculty/staff ID.
  • Walden University – The new year is the perfect time to gain some new knowledge that can support you in your career. Receive10% off your tuition for bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs at Walden University with this link.

Tech:

  • Apple – Get ready to get the best deals if you choose to spend your holiday gift money on new Apple products because MSU employees get exclusive pricing through the Employee Purchase Program using this link.
  • Dell – Ready to upgrade your workspace in 2022? Get the best prices from Dell’s Work from Home Bundles with Member ID PS113067902.

The HR website also offers other deals you can find on-campus through the MSU Tech Store, MSU Bakers, and the Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center, among others. You can check out some of those deals through the MSU HR Website.

For more information on discounts from MSU Benefits Plus, visit the HR website. If you have any questions about the discounts, please call MSU Benefits Plus at 888-758-7575.

Don’t forget your Health Care FSA Funds this Holiday Season

Are you looking for more ways to save money this holiday season? If you have a health care FSA for the 2021 plan year with funds still available, you can save an average of 30% by using pre-tax dollars on eligible expenses. While you still have some time to use 2021 FSA funds in the new year, it’s a good idea to think about your expenses now so you can maximize how you’ll spend any remaining balance.

Consider the following ways your FSA could benefit you and your family this holiday season. Whether you’d like to reduce holiday stress or prepare for New Year’s resolutions, your health care FSA can help. All items listed below are from the FSA Store, which means you can shop worry-free knowing everything is automatically an eligible expense.

Before you place an order, be sure to check out the FSA Store’s monthly coupons and promo codes for additional savings. If you have any questions about your FSA, please contact MSU’s benefit provider HealthEquity/Wageworks directly at 877-924-3967. You can learn more about FSAs on the HR website.

Recognize World Diabetes Day with Livongo

World Diabetes Day was November 14 and MSU HR is here to remind you that if you are living with diabetes, Linvongo can help. 

Livongo is a diabetes management program offered completely free to MSU employees and their spouses/dependents. The Livongo program aims to reduce the burden on those living with diabetes by offering technology and support to help members easily manage their health.

You can enroll for Livongo at any time and it takes less than 10 minutes to sign up. Once you register, you will receive a welcome kit in the mail. The kit contains your own Livongo connected meter, unlimited testing strips, a lancing device, lancets, a carrying case, and optional coaching by a healthcare professional. 

One of the first to enroll in Livongo was Jeff Brodie, a Management Analyst for MSU Human Resources, who was diagnosed with diabetes in 2011. Here’s what Jeff had to say about his experience using Livongo: “There is nothing to lose at all, and everything to gain. Even if you sign up and do the [minimum], you will be healthier than if you didn’t sign up at all.” You can read more about Jeff’s experience using Livongo in this previous HR blog post.

To learn more about using your free Livongo benefit, visit the Livongo for Diabetes Management webpage. If you have questions or are ready to sign up, visit the Livongo website. 

Recognize World Diabetes Day with Livongo and find more testimonials like Jeff’s here! Do you have your own experience with Livongo? We’d love to hear in the comments below or email us at hrcommteam@hr.msu.edu.