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UTSA Voluntary Separation Incentive Program (VSIP)

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q.1   What is a “Voluntary Separation Incentive”?
         A “Voluntary Separation Incentive” is a lump sum payment made to eligible faculty in return for their voluntary resignation from UTSA employment.

Q.2    How much is the incentive amount?
         The incentive amount is equal to the 9-month faculty base salary as of September 1, 2011.

Q.3   If I participate in the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program, when will I receive my incentive payment?
         You will receive your payment no later than August 31, 2012.

Q.4   How was the program developed?
         A faculty committee reviewed VSIP programs from other campuses in Texas and provided recommendations concerning how a similar program might be constructed at UTSA. 

Q.5   Can I request to receive the payment in two different tax years to lower my tax liability?
         No.  The payment is scheduled to be made no later than August 31, 2012.

Q.6   Will my Voluntary Separation Incentive payment be taxable?
         Yes.  All federal and state taxes and other deductions will be withheld as required by law.  However, no retirement contributions or insurance premiums will be withheld from or made by the University on this Incentive Payment.

Q.7   Can I defer any of my VSIP incentive to a UTSA tax sheltered annuity or deferred compensation plan?
         Yes, subject to plan limits.  However, you will be required to complete appropriate paperwork timely in accordance with plan requirements and prior to August, 2012.  Specific details will be provided at the meeting with your Benefits Representative.

Q.8   How was the Rule of 80 calculated?
         The Rule of 80 is the sum of a faculty member’s age and the length of service with Texas state agencies (both as of September 1, 2011).

Q.9   How much time do I have to decide?
         You will have between October 17, 2011 and January 1, 2012 to review the packet that you receive.  Voluntary Separation Agreements will only be accepted from 8:00 a.m. January 2, 2012 through 5:00 p.m. January 17, 2012.

Q.10   What is the process if I want to accept the VSIP?
          To be accepted into the VSIP, you must:

    • Meet the eligibility criteria identified in Exhibit A.
    • An eligible faculty member has more than 45 days to decide whether or not they want to apply for the program. 
    • Schedule an appointment with your designated Human Resources Benefits representative to discuss the VSIP and to sign the Voluntary Separation Agreement and Release of All Claims document.  The acceptance period to review and submit an agreement is from 8:00 a.m., January 2, 2012 through 5:00 p.m., January 17, 2012.  The designated Human Resources Benefits Representatives are as follows (based on the first letter of your last name):
        • For last names beginning with the letters A-G, contact Fran Thibodeaux, ext. 4652
        • For last names beginning with the letters H-O, contact Jaime Lopez, ext. 6710
        • For last names beginning with the letters P-Z, contact Mary Lou Aguilar, ext. 4258
    • The signed agreement must be notarized; all Benefits Representatives are notaries; their notary service will be free. 
    • The tenured faculty member must also notify their Department Chair and Dean of their participation no later than the day that the signed agreement is submitted to the Human Resources Department.

YOU ARE ADVISED TO CONSULT WITH AN ATTORNEY PRIOR TO EXECUTING THE VOLUNTARY SEPARATION AGREEMENT.  Further, it is recommended that you consult with your significant others, including a financial and tax advisor.

Q.11   What if I sign a Voluntary Separation Incentive Agreement but change my mind?
          You may revoke the Agreement by completing Exhibit C (with notarization) and submitting it to Barbara Centeno, Associate Vice President for Human Resources, on or before 5 p.m. of the first business day following the seventh calendar day after the execution of the Agreement. HR will provide you with your specific deadline for revocation when you submit the Agreement.

Q.12   What happens to my health insurance if I participate in the program?
          For employees planning to retire, it is the employee’s responsibility to confirm his/her eligibility for retiree benefits with a Benefits Representative.  If not eligible for retiree benefits, you may continue health, dental and vision through Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA).

Q.13   Will I be able to immediately receive retirement benefits if I elect the VSIP?
          Eligibility for the VSIP has no relationship to and is wholly independent of eligibility for retirement.  Before electing the VSIP, faculty members are strongly encouraged to contact a TRS Retirement Plan Representative (1-800-223-8778), their ORP vendor, and a UTSA Benefits Representative to determine retirement eligibility and find out more about retirement benefits. Faculty members are solely responsible for consulting with their retirement program to determine eligibility for an annuity. 

Q.14   Do I have to retire to be eligible to participate in the VSIP option?
          No.  You do not need to retire in order to participate in the UTSA Voluntary Separation Incentive Program (VSIP).  You must resign your employment to participate in this program.  You may also choose to retire under Teacher Retirement System (TRS) or the Optional Retirement Program (ORP); however, eligibility to participate in the VSIP does not guarantee eligibility for retirement under TRS/ORP.  It is the employee's responsibility to submit the application and information required for retirement to TRS or the ORP financial provider, whichever is applicable, for processing within required timelines under these programs.

If a TRS participant does not annuitize immediately, then the person is not considered “retired” for TRS purposes and would not be eligible to receive retiree insurance.  Therefore, the person would have to pay COBRA in order to retain medical, dental and vision coverage.

An ORP participant is not required to annuitize, however, UT System eligibility rules apply.  This can be discussed with your UTSA Benefits Representative. 

Q.15   Are there any special rules or guidelines under TRS regarding the re-employment of a retiree?
          For TRS participants, refer to the TRS guidelines for return to work retirees which can be found at the following link: http://www.trs.state.tx.us/global.jsp?page_id=/benefits/ear_legislative_changes

Q.16   How can I find out about my Social Security Benefits?
          Contact the Social Security Administration (SSA)

Q.17   If I do choose to retire, as a faculty retiree, what privileges do I retain at the University?
          A list of Privileges for Faculty Retirees is available through the recently established Retired Faculty Association website: http://provost.utsa.edu/rfa/

Q.18   If I have a balance of annual leave or floating holiday at the time of my separation, will it be paid out?
          You will receive a payment for any remaining annual leave or floating holidays after you separate employment with the university.  If you transfer to another state agency with no break in service, you will be paid for any floating holidays.  Annual leave will only be paid out if the position in which you transfer is not entitled to (vacation) leave accrual (e.g. faculty position).  Payment of annual leave will be made at the rate at which it was earned.

Q.19   If I have a sick leave balance at the time of my separation, will it be paid out?
          Sick leave is not paid out at separation.  If you transfer to another state agency within a 12 month period, your sick leave will be transferred to that agency.  However, you can choose to donate your sick leave to the sick leave pool.  Sick leave donated to the sick leave pool can not be reinstated once donated.  If you choose to donate, you can discuss this with the Benefits Representative at your meeting.

Q.20   I recently retired.  Can I rescind my retirement and participate in the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program?
          No.  This program is available only to tenured faculty who are employed full-time at UTSA on September 1, 2011 and who did not already submit their resignation/retirement notice.

Q.21   I am participating in the Phased Retirement Program.  Can I rescind my retirement and participate in the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program?
          No.  This program is available only to tenured faculty who are employed full-time at UTSA on September 1, 2011 and who did not already submit their resignation/retirement notice.

Q.22   I am participating in a modified part-time faculty appointment.  Can I rescind my part-time appointment status and participate in the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program?
          No.  This program is available only to tenured faculty who are employed full-time at UTSA on September 1, 2011 and who did not already submit their resignation/retirement notice.

Q.23   I am on developmental leave for 2011-12 (entire fiscal year).  Can I still participate in the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program?
          Yes. You will have to cancel your Spring semester developmental leave and therefore, must not be on developmental leave during Spring semester 2012. 
   
Q.24   Will my future VSIP payment be payable to my estate if I die before it is paid?
          The VSIP payment is conditioned upon the employee remaining on the UTSA payroll through August 31, 2012, thus, it will not be payable to the employee’s estate if the employee, as a result of death, is not on the payroll on August 31, 2012.

Q.25   I don’t have a summer appointment and my Spring semester appointment ends on May 31, 2012.  Am I still considered an employee on August 31, 2012?
          Yes, unless a resignation date is submitted prior to August 31, 2012.

Q.26    Will a Voluntary Separation Incentive Program for faculty be offered in future years?
           UTSA has no plans to offer another VSIP in the future.

Q.27    Where can I receive more information about the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program?
           Attend an information session and then schedule an appointment to meet with your Benefits Representative (their contact information can be found above).  Your spouse, partner, or family members are welcome to attend with you.

Note: Information sessions have ended.

Q.28    How do I enroll in the information sessions?
           To enroll in the VSIP information session (FS310), please email your full name, EID, date and time to: benefits@utsa.edu. Please include the number of guests you are bringing.

Q.29    I believe that I should be eligible for the program but I did not receive a customized packet.  Whom should I contact?
           Send an email with your name and contact information to: Annette.rabago@utsa.edu and Barbara.centeno@utsa.edu

Q.30   Will I be eligible for employment at UTSA after terminating under the VSIP? 
           You may be eligible to serve in a non-benefits eligible staff position or non-benefits eligible, non-tenure track faculty position no earlier than Spring, 2013. If you plan to retire and are a TRS participant, refer to Questions 14 and 15 for important information regarding returning to work.