Guide To The Faculty Retirement Process
This Guide summarizes the information you need to make the transition to Emerita/us status as smooth as possible.
Note: The University of California Retirement System uses the term “retire” to mean the exact date you begin your retirement benefits. In this discussion, unless otherwise stipulated, we use “retire” in the more common sense of the term, which includes both the end of your regular employment (referred to as “separation” in UCRS documents) and initiating your retirement benefits.
For most Senate faculty retirement actually involves two separate processes:
Negotiating an agreement with your department/school regarding your plans in the quarters leading up to and the years immediately following retirement. Most Senate faculty find that this is best accomplished with a “Pathway to Retirement” Agreement (discussed below), which you negotiate with your chair and/or dean, and which is backed up by the authority of the Chancellor’s Office. Pathway agreements are usually best worked out a year or more before you actually retire.
Navigating the UC retirement process takes place during the three to four months before your retirement but we suggest that you familiarize yourself with the steps and the choices you will have to make well before that. All UC employees go through the UC Retirement Process, and it is distinct from any agreement you may make with your Chair or Dean.
What time of the year is best to retire?
The end of the academic year is usually best. Technically you “separate” from your regular position on the penultimate weekday of June, and then “retire into” your UC pension and other retirement benefits on July 1. Because of the way the UC pension cost of living adjustments (COLAs) are calculated, you pick up at least one and possibly two additional annual COLAs, compared to retiring any other time of the year.
The end of June is also the only point in the Academic Year when the end of a quarter coincides with the end of a pay period for academic year
faculty paid over 12 months. If you retire at the end of the Fall or Winter Quarters, your last pay check will be on October 31 or February 28, respectively, neither of which coincides with the last work day of that quarter. Generally, you can only retire at the end of a pay period.
A suggested calendar that integrates the two processes:
A Year or More before retirement:
--Take the Winter Quarter Faculty Retirement Workshops (http://www.errc.ucla.edu/Faculty/Planning-for-Retirement/Path-Forward-Workshops These Workshops cover both Pathway Agreements and the UC Retirement process.
--Meet with the UCLA Faculty Retirement Liaison (https://www.errc.ucla.edu/Faculty) to discuss your individualized Pathway Agreement, and how to coordinate it with the UC retirement process. The Liaison is himself a UCLA Emeritus Professor with extensive academic and administrative experience.
--Negotiate your Pathway Agreement with your chair and/or dean, and have it signed by all parties.
Winter Quarter of your retirement year:
--Sit in on the Faculty Retirement Workshops (http://www.errc.ucla.edu/Faculty/Planning-for-Retirement/Path-Forward-Workshops), especially if you have not done so previously.
--Contact your designated Campus Retirement Counselor to set up an appointment date in April (your departmental academic personnel staff will know who this is). Your Counselor will help you navigate the formal UC retirement process over the months to come. S/he will also guide you to resources available to you, including the website that provides individualized estimates of your pension and other benefits.
April of your retirement year:
--Meet with your retirement counselor. S/he will generate your Personal Retirement Profile that lays out the details of your specific retirement benefits and the choices you have to make. Once you have made these choices the counselor will help you obtain the Election Form that incorporates your choices and specifies the benefits you will receive.
Before May 15 of your retirement year:
--Send your signed and dated Election Form to the UC Retirement Services in Oakland. Be sure to include all the documents and signatures requested.
--Check with your departmental academic personnel staff to be sure that you are set up to “separate” from your position on the penultimate working day of June.
Important Note: You and only you are the link among the various offices you need to communicate with as part of the retirement process (your department or school, your UCLA Retirement Counselor, the UC Retirement Service Center, Social Security, etc.). For the most part they do not communicate with each other, and a staff member of one office cannot act on your behalf with the other offices.
Remember: you will not receive your retirement benefits unless you have been separated by your department and you have sent in your Election Form.
Your Pathway to Retirement Agreement
UCLA encourages continued active campus engagement of Senate Emeriti faculty. To that end we have developed the “Pathways to Retirement” program, which allows Academic Senate faculty, in conjunction with their chairs and deans, to develop detailed plans for up to two years leading up to retirement, and up to three years following. These agreements are binding contracts between you and the University, and are signed by the Vice Chancellor for Academic Personnel.
Elements You Might Include in a Pathway Agreement:
Teaching and Service Releases: Department chairs have the discretion to grant partial teaching load reductions or exemption from departmental service requirements in the quarters preceding retirement.
Sabbatical Leaves Rearrangements: UCLA is very firm in its adherence to UC policy requiring faculty to return from sabbatical leaves for at
least as long as the leave itself. But, there is some flexibility around scheduling and the nature of your departmental duties during the quarter(s) after returning from your leave.
Postponement of 5-Year Reviews: The requirement for performance reviews at least once every five years is also firmly adhered to at UCLA. But Pathway Agreements can take precedence over the usual performance review schedule and requirements.
Research Professor Title: Emeriti now have the opportunity to apply to use the “Research Professor” for up to three years following retirement, with year-to-year renewals after the initial three years. Those who are above scale when they retire can call themselves “Distinguished Research Professors.” https://www.apo.ucla.edu/policies-forms/the-call/appendices/appendix-38-research-professor
Paid Teaching Recall: If you want to continue departmental teaching after retirement you should specify the terms in your Pathway Agreement, for example “four undergraduate courses over three years.” Department policies regarding emeriti teaching vary; consult your chair for more information, including current pay rates for emeriti recall teaching. https://www.apo.ucla.edu/policies-forms/the-call/appendices/appendix-28-recall-appointments
Research Expense Funding: Some department chairs can provide you with a modest contribution to your research expense account, in support of your continued research expenses after retirement, such as travel to professional meetings.
Space: Some departments are able to provide limited and/or shared office space following retirement. In addition, if you want to continue using departmental space for extramurally-supported research following retirement, be sure to include the details in your departmental agreement.
The UCRP Retirement Process
Your Retirement Counselor will assist you through the UC Retirement Process and understanding the choices you need to make. But s/he cannot advise you on these choices; they are up to you. The two key choices are:
--taking a Lump Sum cashout instead of lifetime monthly retirement income (“pension”). If you opt for the Lump Sum, then you will not be eligible for UC Retiree Health benefits or any other retirement benefits.
--taking the maximum monthly pension for your lifetime, or opting to receive a somewhat lower initial pension in order to provide lifetime income to a person (“contingent annuitant”) that you designate. In either case, if you have a spouse or other “eligible survivor” then they will automatically receive lifetime income equal to one quarter of your pension if you die first; there is no cost for this. You can combine these two benefits if your spouse/eligible survivor is also your designated contingent annuitant.
Remember: all these lifetime income streams have annual Cost of Living adjustments built in; the Lump Sum does not.
We suggest that you also take the opportunity to review your individual tax-deferred and other retirement savings and potential income streams, including any funds you may have in UC/Fidelity accounts (403(b), 457, DCP). These funds are separate from your pension benefits, but they may affect the choices you make regarding the form of your pension benefits.
Generally, you will not need to make any decisions about your continuing health coverage at the time you retire. Instead, you will be automatically shifted to the Retiree Health plan that is nearest to your employee coverage. You will continue to have the option to change from one retiree plan to another during the annual Open Enrollment period.
Retiree Health Benefits are subject to change. And because they are based on Medicare financial backing for most retirees 65 and over, they will differ in some details from the coverage you had before. In the last few years several adjustments have been made. For example, the support for UC retirees living out of state is now quite different than for retirees who remain in California. And for 2020 one popular plan has been dropped, and a new plan has been added.