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Improvements made to UFT Welfare Fund health benefits
by Cara Metz | January 17, 2013 New York Teacher issue
The UFT Welfare Fund Board of Trustees has approved enhancements to a range of Welfare Fund health benefits, all of which will go into effect over the course of the year.
At its Dec. 11 meeting, the board reviewed the Welfare Fund’s performance and found ways to optimize health benefits for in-service and retired members.
“Although health care costs generally increase steeply each year and for most Americans usually result in a diminishment of benefits over time, the Welfare Fund has a goal of working to continually improve both member and retiree benefits,” said Welfare Fund Executive Director Arthur Pepper.
The improvements include:
- Child care supplemental health benefit: Effective April 1, Welfare Fund benefits will be extended to cover six months of health care benefits following the birth or adoption of a child when the UFT member takes an extended child care leave; previously the benefit covered four months. This is a savings of approximately $1,200 for a family that would previously have had to purchase COBRA benefits for that time period.
- Optical benefit: Effective April 1, this benefit, which provides for optical services (including eyeglass or contact lens purchases for members and their eligible dependents) will be increased to $125 every two years. The benefit had been $100 every two years.
- Disability benefit: In-service pedagogues have the protection of a disability plan that can provide valuable income when personal illness renders them temporarily unable to work. Effective April 1, teachers and other in-service pedagogues will be eligible to receive up to $475 per week for up to 52 weeks (increased from the $350 maximum previously provided); and paraprofessionals and others in the same salary range will be eligible to receive up to $375 per week for up to 52 weeks (increased from the $250 maximum that was previously provided). This is an increase of up to $6,500 for individuals in either group.
- Retiree Optional Rider Reimbursement: This benefit is available to retirees who have a pension check deduction for the purchase of a City Optional Rider or health insurance. Members who have purchased a separate health plan that covers prescription drugs may also be eligible for the benefit.
Effective with the processing of the 2012 reimbursements (which retirees will receive in February and March of 2013), the new reimbursement has increased to up to $780 annually. Previously, the benefit was for up to $720 annually.