Benefits Services

In fiscal year 2003, the Benefits Office in conjunction with Financial Systems Services (FSS) continued with SAP implementation and enhancements by introducing two additional features to the Employee Self-Service (ESS) product: New Hire Self Service and Review Your Benefit.

The New Hire application allows newly hired employees to use online enrollment tools for quick, easy, and convenient election of their chosen plans. Review Your Benefits permits employees to "view" their current benefit enrollments including the cost of their plans and who is enrolled on their plans. In addition, this feature displays the contribution MIT makes to each plan on the employee's behalf.

The ESS application is having a positive impact on the daily business operation at the Benefits Office. ESS has allowed our benefits administrators to spend less time on tasks such as manually examining forms and performing data entry, and more time on counseling employees. The Benefits Office also continues to strive for improved interaction with employees through print and web communication pieces designed to promote the convenience of online access to their plan information. ESS has also enabled the Benefits Team to devote more time and attention to projects that will enhance plan design and customer service.

During the 2003 Open Enrollment period, the Benefits Office introduced spousal equivalency health and dental benefits for opposite sex unmarried but committed partners. In addition, the Benefits Office worked with our Flexible Spending Account (FSA) vendor, Benefits Concepts, to streamline and expedite reimbursement for these accounts in 2003.

The Benefits web pages were updated during the Human Resources (HR) web site redesign project. The project included the implementation of a Status Change page for employees who experience an employment or family life event, which impacts their benefits coverage. Qualifying life events include marriage, birth, adoption, and spouse/spousal equivalent loss of coverage.

This past year saw a few staff changes. Brenda Mahon left our office after five years in the benefits area, and Paula Hong shifted her duties from a HR generalist to a full time benefits administrator. Eileen Calvey moved from HR data entry to HR generalist proving support in the front reception area. Marianna Dimarco recently stepped down as benefits administrator.

Shawn Foley
Manager, Benefits Services

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Disabilities Services Office

The Disabilities Services Office (DSO) continues to expand the services and activities of the Institute's integrated disability management program. The major new employment initiative entails centralizing leave and attendance process and procedures for employees. We are presently implementing an action plan that was developed in response to the findings of the Leave of Absence Business Process Redesign. The primary features of which are the development of Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) System Administration software and the hiring of a leave administrator to ensure consistent application of MIT's leave policies. Marie Noel, FMLA leave administrator, was hired in April to oversee with the implementation of FMLA tracking and compliance software, which has been purchased and is being customized to accommodate MIT's leave policies. Customization and implementation should be completed in September at which time beta testing and campus-wide training will begin. In the interim, the leave administrator is meeting with all departments to ensure that their concerns regarding the leave process are addressed in developing the new system.

With respect to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodation, the office has experienced a significant increase in the number of employees seeking accommodation. To meet the needs of employees as well as departments, the office offered more training programs in the past year. In addition, to ensure consistent application of the Institute's accommodation policies and procedures, an ADA compliance component is being added to the FMLA administration software.

The Workers' Compensation program's transition to Liberty Mutual/Helmsman Management was successful. The Liberty Group better serves MIT employees through improved case management and ensures substantially lower claims cost. It also provides us with the services and team support needed to better serve MIT employees who are injured at work. As a part of the introduction of Liberty Mutual's claim administration, an employee pamphlet was developed to assist and educate employees regarding the new process and procedures with respect to injury claims. In addition, a more cost effective method of paying bills from the MIT Medical Department was adopted. We are saving time and money by processing the bills through the SAP journal voucher system.

The major initiative for the Long Term Disability Program during the past year was a review of all open claims to ensure that recipients were receiving proper benefits and claims that should no longer be maintained by MIT be closed. As a result of this review, the office realized substantial monetary saving by dropping ineligible claims and ensuring that all eligible program recipients applied for social security benefits. We continue to improve the efficiency of the assistance provided to employees who are eligible or express an interest in returning to work by offering enhanced vocational assistance and training. We are working on improving our Phased Rehabilitative Program that would allow participants to return to work on a part-time basis, while gradually increasing their hours to full-time status.

Our primary accomplishment in the area of student services, was to centralize services for students with disabilities in Room 7-145. In this location, the Adaptive Technology Computer Center and Disabilities Services for Students collaborate on identifying and providing appropriate accommodations. As a result of this relocation, office staff was able to provide prompt, comprehensive, professional services to all students with disabilities—learning, physical, and psychiatric. The DSO staff members have expanded their relationships around the Institute by working in partnership and providing consultations in both the academic and administrative areas, dealing with students with disabilities issues. The staff is presently developing a faculty handbook to assist faculty members in understanding their responsibilities in providing services to students with disabilities.

DSO continues to consult with the Department of Facilities and other departments in addressing physical accessibility issues. In the past year, our consultation included providing path of travel assistance during events such as Christopher Reeves' visit and working with the Athletic Department on research and funding for accessible equipment for the Zesiger Center.

Barbara Roberts

Retirement Programs Office

The Retirement Programs Office is responsible for retirement counseling, providing ongoing support to plan participants, overseeing the administration of the retirement plans, and providing investment education to the community. In the past year our office counseled more than 800 employees to help them prepare for retirement.

To inform and update the community about the features and provisions of the Basic Retirement Plan and the Supplemental 401(k) plan, our office also conducted presentations at individual departments, labs, and centers.

In the 2002–2003, our education and retirement planning service was expanded to include a 401(k) Investment Fair. The event featured an agenda of seminars designed to meet the ongoing need for retirement planning and investment education and to encourage participation in the 401(k) Plan. Throughout the year a variety of workshops were offered on campus and at Lincoln Laboratory on topics including Understanding the MIT Retirement Plans, Basics of Investments, MIT 401(k) Investment Review, Investing in Uncertain Markets and Estate Planning. In addition, we coordinated two Retirement Days with presentations specifically designed for employees over age 55. Total attendance at presentations exceeded 2,200.

In September of 2002, Kimberly Soroko joined our staff as a retirement counselor.

Ellen Weiss

More information about Benefits Services can be found on the web at


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