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Eyeglasses and contact lenses

New York Teacher
Eyeglasses and contacts

As a member of the UFT Welfare Fund, you and your eligible dependents can obtain optical services 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. The quickest way to check is to visit the Welfare Fund website and use the online form to request an optical certificate. (You’ll need to log in to access the form.) You may also call the 24-hour forms hotline at 212-539-0539 or, if you prefer to speak to a representative, you may contact the Welfare Fund at 212-539-0500.

Once you’ve made a request and your eligibility has been verified, the Welfare Fund will mail an optical certificate to your home, along with a booklet of participating providers. This certificate is valid for 90 days. You’ll need an optical certificate for each family member who needs services.

If you have used the optical benefit within the last two years, you will receive a letter telling you when you will again be eligible.

To save money, take your optical certificate to one of more than 1,500 providers that participate in the UFT optical program. Each member and dependent is entitled to a free pair of eyeglasses, including single-vision, bifocal or trifocal lenses, and a basic frame (which must have a retail value of at least $100). A basic exam is also covered with the optical certificate. There will be an additional charge if dilation is necessary.

Discounts are available for more expensive frames and special features including progressive lenses. If you buy designer frames, you will receive a $100 "frame allowance" plus a $125 discount from your optical certificate (for a total discount of $225) plus 10 percent off the original retail price. Progressive lenses are also discounted by 10 percent.

Participating providers also can 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 certificate before ordering.

You also can use the optical 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 (usually a more expensive option), fill out and submit your optical certificate to the Welfare Fund with an original paid, itemized receipt and a copy of your prescription. Mail it to: UFT Welfare Fund, 52 Broadway, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10004. The Welfare Fund will reimburse you up to $125.

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.