The UFT enhanced its Welfare Fund optical benefit and hearing aid benefit for in-service members and retirees on March 1.
Every two years, UFT members are now eligible to be reimbursed for a maximum amount of $175, up from $125, toward the purchase of eyeglasses or contact lenses plus a basic eye exam. Members will continue to be eligible for additional discounts for progressive lenses and designer frames from participating optical providers.
The hearing aid benefit, which can be used once every three years, has also increased. Members will be reimbursed for up to $1,500, up from $1,000, for a hearing aid, comprehensive audiological evaluation, ear impression and required visits necessary for a proper fitting.
“We’ve worked diligently over the last few years to make sure the UFT Welfare Fund is in strong fiscal shape so we can improve our offerings to in-service and retired members,” said Geof Sorkin, the executive director of the Welfare Fund.
UFT members and retirees receive their medical and hospitalization benefits through the city’s health plans and Medicare. The UFT Welfare Fund provides an array of supplemental health benefits, including dental, optical, hearing and prescription drugs.
The annual optional rider benefit for retirees, which provides a partial reimbursement for the purchase of a prescription drug rider, has also increased. The maximum reimbursement, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2021, will be $840, up from $780, for retirees whose optional rider was in effect for all of 2021. This increased amount appeared in the optional rider reimbursement sent to eligible retirees in March.
The three benefits taken together amount to more than an $8 million enhancement in member benefits, said Sorkin.
“We’re always looking to make benefit enhancements while maintaining fiscal responsibility in our management of the Welfare Fund,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew, who is the chair of the Board of Trustees of the UFT Welfare Fund. “We felt it especially important to offer these enhancements during this time of pandemic-related hardship and struggle.”