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Frequently Asked Questions

Check our FAQ on the 2020-21 school reopening for the latest updates and information.

See the FAQ

A list of the most commonly asked questions.
If there are no more optical certificates, how will I access my benefits?

Eligibility information will be available electronically via and the GVS mobile app (coming soon on iOS or Android) as well as via a dedicated phone line at 212-729-5395. As always, you have the option to access your benefits either in-network, or out-of-network.


Information on your eligibility for benefits will be available not only to you and your dependents, but also to participating optical service providers. This will make it easier to schedule appointments and use your benefits for covered services at participating providers. Once you confirm your eligibility, you can contact a participating provider’s office to schedule an appointment, or walk in. Participating providers can verify eligibility for you and/or your covered dependents. These providers will offer you all of the program discounts and benefits to which you are entitled.


Once you confirm your eligibility (either at or on the GVS app), and obtain covered optical services at an out-of-network location (including online providers) you can submit a claim. As is the present case, you must provide a paid, itemized receipt and a copy of your prescription. These can be submitted electronically via or the GVS app. Alternatively, paper claims can be mailed to GVS.

Have our benefits in the optical program changed? Will these changes cost me anything?

These changes do not affect benefit levels or eligibility; they only serve to improve speed and ease of access by eliminating the need to wait for a paper optical certificate before you or your dependents access your benefits. This additional benefit (as with all other Welfare Fund benefits) is available at no additional cost to our enrolled members and their eligible dependents.

Why is the UFT changing its optical program? How will I benefit from these changes?

In partnership with our optical benefit administrator (General Vision Services / GVS) we are upgrading the optical program so you can obtain your benefits more quickly and conveniently. Removing the logistical limitations of obtaining an optical certificate will enhance the speed and accuracy of your access to services while further protecting the security of your personal health information. Other than the optical certificate itself, all of the other program elements which provide value to you are either unchanged, or enhanced.

These changes provide advantages to you at every stage of the process. First, you no longer need to obtain a physical certificate for optical services, so there's no need to wait for it to arrive by mail, and no risk of losing it. With new online access to services, you will be able to access your benefits more seamlessly and receive claim payments more quickly.

Who is General Vision Services (GVS)?

For years, GVS has served as the third-party administrator for the Welfare Fund’s optical program, providing services such as claim processing. GVS will now also maintain new resources such as the program's website and mobile app. Their dedicated UFT representatives can assist with appointment scheduling, benefit questions, and inquiries about services rendered. On request, GVS can also serve as a liaison for you and/or your covered dependents when obtaining services at participating providers.

What do the GVS website and GVS mobile app do in regards to our optical benefits?

Both the GVS website and the GVS app (coming soon on iOS or Android)) allow you to verify eligibility for optical benefits, locate in-network providers, and submit claims.

How do I obtain an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) from the Welfare Fund's optical program?
As is presently the case, GVS will mail your EOB after paying your claim.
Can the Welfare Fund reply to my inquiry directly via text or social media message?

For the privacy and security of your personal information, program representatives will not send you texts or direct messages to social media accounts. They will communicate with you either by phone call, postal mail, or email to your address of record.

Can the Welfare Fund pay my optical claims through direct deposit or a third-party app?

No. Although claims can be submitted electronically, they will continue to be paid by check mailed to your address of record.

How does the Welfare Fund's optical program keep my personal information safe?

All Personal Health Information (PHI) managed in relation to this program (as well as all other Welfare Fund programs) is maintained in adherence with Federal laws requiring strict security in terms of use, storage, and disposition.

How is the UFT's optical program changing? What will I have to do to obtain my benefits?

As of Feb. 1, 2021, UFT members will no longer be required to obtain a paper certificate in order to access optical benefits for yourself or your eligible dependents. Once you confirm your eligibility (either at or on the GVS app, coming soon on iOS or Android), you can contact a participating provider’s office to schedule an appointment (or simply walk in.)  In-network providers will offer you all applicable plan discounts and benefits, with no claims for you to file.  To obtain reimbursement for out of network services, as in the present case, you must provide a paid, itemized receipt and a copy of your prescription. These can be submitted electronically via the GVS website or the GVS app.  Alternatively, paper claims can be mailed to GVS.