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7.0 General Employment Policies

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7.4 Benefits for Faculty and Staff Members

The benefits programs of the Institute are available to all faculty and staff members who are appointed for at least 50 percent of the normal, full-time schedule of their department or laboratory/center, with an appointment of at least three months, and who are paid by MIT. The benefits do not, however, apply to graduate or undergraduate students, to postdoctoral or research fellows or affiliates, to most visitors (see Sections 2.3.4 Visiting Assistant Professor, Visiting Associate Professor, Visiting Professor; 2.3.10 Visiting Lecturer; and 5.3.4 Visiting Engineer, Visiting Scientist, Visiting Scholar), or to members of the armed services assigned to the Institute.

Faculty and staff members may elect to continue benefits coverage during unpaid leaves of absence granted by the Institute-except for contributions to the MIT Retirement Plan and tax-deferred annuity plans-provided they make the necessary arrangements with the Benefits Office prior to the leave. Certain benefits are unique to members of the Faculty and are so identified. Further information may be obtained from the Benefits Office.

The benefits programs offer faculty and staff members a variety of plans designed to allow the flexibility to tailor the benefits to their needs. The plans provide economic security through a selection of health care and life insurance options, educational assistance, income protection through the Long-Term Disability Plan, and future financial security through retirement and savings plans. Many of the benefits are provided on a tax-favored basis.

The Institute's benefits programs are dynamic, changing continually as the needs of the MIT community fluctuate and as necessary to keep pace with the constant stream of tax and benefits legislation. The benefits programs may be amended from time to time at the discretion of the Institute. Inquiries should be directed to the Benefits Office in the Human Resources Office.

Effective communication of the Institute's benefits programs is a primary concern of the Benefits Office which has developed comprehensive resource materials to improve understanding of the various plans and options that are available.

7.4.1 Benefits Communications

Benefits orientations are conducted once each week for new faculty and staff members to explain the benefits package. Although the focus of the session is on the choices available to new faculty and staff, anyone who would like a review of the benefits package is invited to attend.

From time to time, the Benefits Office conducts topical meetings to provide opportunities for members of the MIT community to learn more about their benefits. The office also presents pre-retirement planning seminars that address the issues of financial planning, Social Security, legal concerns, and other personal considerations that are important in preparing for a fulfilling retirement.

Once each year, during the month of November, benefits-eligible members of the MIT community are given an opportunity to enroll in benefit plans for the first time or to change their previous elections. Information meetings are held in the weeks preceding open enrollment to introduce any plan changes, to review plan provisions, and to assist individuals in evaluating whether their choice of plans in the current year will continue to meet their needs in the following year.

To facilitate the decision-making process, a personal statement of benefits is mailed to each eligible member of the community in October. This individualized statement contains a description of the specific benefit choices made by each individual for the current year and mentions the options available for the next year.

In addition, benefit fairs are scheduled during the open-enrollment period at various sites both on and off campus to allow community members to speak directly with representatives of the health, dental, and life insurance plans.

At the conclusion of open enrollment, a personalized confirmation statement that reflects the changes made during the open enrollment period is mailed to benefits-eligible members of the community.

The Benefits Office publishes a booklet about each plan that includes the details of the eligibility requirements to participate in the plan, the plan provisions, a description of when plan members are entitled to receive benefits, and the circumstances that could result in the denial of benefits, as well as the procedures for filing claims for benefits. These plan booklets, or summary plan descriptions, as they are also known, are given to each new faculty and staff member at a benefits orientation soon after they begin working at MIT. Additional copies of these booklets may be obtained from the Benefits Office.

The staff of the Benefits Office is available for consultation regarding specific benefits questions. The office is open for walk-in inquiries between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm, and the staff can provide assistance over the telephone between the hours of 9:00 am and 5:00 pm. Current information, including some benefits forms, can be accessed electronically at

BenTalk is an interactive telephone system designed by the Benefits Office to provide access to information about MIT's benefits plans 24 hours a day, seven days a week. BenTalk provides an alternative way to obtain information about plan provisions and how to file claim forms. This telephone service allows callers to leave messages requesting that particular forms or booklets be sent to them. BenTalk supplements the services provided by the Benefits Office staff and provides answers to general questions at all times.

7.4.2 Access to Health Services at the Medical Department

Comprehensive health services at the MIT Medical Department are available to faculty and staff members and their families, regardless of their type of medical coverage. Many of the services are free, but others are not. Billing depends upon

  1. the specific type of medical service provided
  2. whether the individual is benefits-eligible or a family member
  3. which health insurance, if any, covers the service

Benefits-eligible faculty and staff receive free visits for treatment of a problem to a physician, nurse practitioner, or physician's assistant in Internal Medicine. Also free are visits to a general surgeon, a psychiatrist, or a social worker for treatment of a problem. Faculty and staff are billed for surgical procedures, laboratory tests, X rays, or visits to specialists, unless the Medical Department can bill their health insurance directly and their health insurance covers these services.

Only benefits-eligible faculty and staff receive these services free. Family members are billed for all services unless their health plan covers them, and the Medical Department can bill their health insurance directly.

Members of the Traditional and Flexible MIT Health Plans receive almost all Medical Department services free of charge. For members of MIT's Blue Choice plan, the Medical Department can bill Blue Cross and Blue Shield directly for some services, and members receive personal bills for other services.

Further information about bills from the MIT Medical Department may be obtained from the staff patient billing representative. The Medical Department also offers a Personal Assistance Program for everyone in the MIT community (see Section 7.4.4).

7.4.3 Affiliate Health Program

Certain visitors and affiliates of the Institute are required to participate in a health insurance program. The criteria for mandatory participation are that the individual is not eligible for MIT employee benefits, not paid by MIT funds, appointed for at least 50 percent of the normal full-time work schedule, and appointed for at least three months. The appointment titles subject to the mandatory health care program are visiting scientist, visiting engineer, visiting economist, visiting scholar, visiting research associate, research fellow, fellow, postdoctoral fellow, and visiting professor (including assistant and associate professor).

Postdoctoral fellows who meet the criteria listed above may, alternatively, participate in the MIT Health Plan. Funds may be available from departments to offset the cost of coverage. Department heads are responsible for setting their departments' financial guidelines and the amount of the subsidy available.

The mandatory health care coverage consists of a health fee, which covers the cost of most services provided by the MIT Medical Department, and outside hospital insurance. The health fee and the cost of outside health insurance may be waived only if the individual has health insurance that meets certain standards of coverage.

Affiliates who do not meet the above criteria but wish to purchase health coverage through MIT will continue to be eligible for the Affiliate Health Program on an optional basis. Questions should be directed to the MIT Medical Department's Health Plans Office.

7.4.4 Personal Assistance Program

The Institute recognizes that certain personal problems, such as alcoholism, drug abuse, and marital and family discord, can seriously compromise an individual's effectiveness. Such problems can be successfully handled in the majority of cases, provided they are recognized in the early stages and referral is made to the appropriate resource. The Institute Personal Assistance Program, within the Social Work Service of the Medical Department, is intended to provide specialized counseling and referral services to troubled individuals. Since an individual's effectiveness may be compromised by the personal problems experienced by members of his or her family, the program is available to spouses and children as well.

Consideration for referral will be based upon the direct request of the individual or upon evidence of unsatisfactory performance. In the latter case, implementation of the program and its related procedures is the responsibility of the supervisor. ("Supervisor" is understood to include deans, department heads, faculty, administrators, and managers.) Compliance with recommendations is the voluntary responsibility of the individual. Self-referral, prior to supervisor intervention, by individuals suspecting that they may suffer from a personal problem that may jeopardize their effectiveness in carrying out their responsibilities, will be encouraged.

No one will be denied any rights or benefits on the basis of participation in the program. All referrals and treatment records are strictly confidential. In instances where it is necessary, sick leave will be granted for inpatient treatment or rehabilitation on the same basis as it is granted for other health problems.

Implementation of this program does not require nor result in any special privileges or exemptions for participants. It does not supersede any existing personnel practice or collective bargaining agreement. When refusal to accept counseling or repeated treatment failure results in continued ineffectiveness, normal personnel procedures apply, up to and including termination.


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