Know your benefits

Eyeglasses and contact lenses

Eyeglasses and contact lenses As a member of the UFT Welfare Fund, you, and your eligible dependents, can obtain an optical service once every two years. These benefits start with an optical certificate, so the first step is to request one from the UFT Welfare Fund.

First, you need to check your eligibility to see if you have used the benefit within the last two years. There are several ways to do this.

The quickest way to check is to go to the Welfare Fund website and use the online form to request an optical certificate.

You’ll need a certificate for each family member in need of services (you’ll need to be logged in). You may also call the 24-hour forms hotline at 1-212-539-0539 or, if you prefer to speak to a representative, you may contact the Welfare Fund at 1-212-539-0500.

Once the request has been placed, an optical certificate will be mailed to your home, along with a booklet of participating providers. This certificate is valid for 90 days.

To save money, take your optical certificate to one of more than 1,500 optical providers that participate in the UFT optical program. Each member and dependent is entitled to a free pair of eyeglasses, including bifocals and trifocals, as long as you choose a basic frame that retails for $125 or less. A basic exam is also covered with the optical certificate. There will be an additional charge if dilation is necessary.

You will also incur additional charges if you choose more expensive frames and special features like progressive lenses. If you purchase designer frames, you will receive an additional $100 credit (for a total of $225) plus 10 percent off the retail price.

Participating providers can also charge you the following fixed surcharges for special features: $15 for tinting, $15 for UV block, $20 for scratch-resistant coating, $30 for glare-free coating, $35 for polycarbonate and $50 for photochromic (transitions). You must present the optical certificate before you place your order.

You can also use the certificate to buy contact lenses or prescription sunglasses. (Contact lens exams and nonprescription sunglasses are not covered.)

If you decide to obtain services at a nonparticipating provider, simply fill out and submit your optical certificate to the Welfare Fund with an original paid, itemized receipt and a copy of your prescription. The Welfare Fund will reimburse you up to $125. Mail it to: UFT Welfare Fund, 52 Broadway, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10004.

Whether you visit a participating or nonparticipating provider, you may not “split” the optical service to cover an exam at one place and the glasses or contacts at another. Thus it’s best not to use your certificate for the exam only, but instead, save it for the glasses, which are generally more expensive.

If a UFT Welfare Fund member has a spouse/domestic partner who is also a Fund member, all eligible family members are entitled to use two certificates, one under each member’s name.

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