Overview

To assist faculty members in making an orderly transition to retirement, Washington University offers a Phased Retirement Program (“Program”) that includes a choice of two phased retirement plans (basic and enhanced) for tenured and certain non-tenured faculty members. The goal of these plans is to offer eligible faculty members the opportunity to take advantage of a period during which they may begin reducing and transitioning their faculty responsibilities.

The basic phased retirement plan consists of half-time service, at half salary and full benefits, for up to three years, with the option of extension to a maximum total of four years. The enhanced phased retirement plan consists of half-time service, at two-thirds salary and full benefits, for up to two years. The details of those plans are described more fully below.

Eligibility

The Program is available to full-time faculty members (1) who are eligible for university retiree benefits and (2) who are tenured or whose faculty appointments are for a term of at least three years. To be eligible for retiree benefits, a faculty member must be at least 55 years old with at least five years of service and with a combination of age plus years of full-time university service equal to at least 75.

Basic Phased Retirement Plan

A basic phased retirement plan may have a term of up to three academic or, for tenured faculty, calendar years. During the term of the plan, the faculty member must work an average of 50% time, based upon a workload plan developed between the faculty member and their department. During the first year of the phased retirement plan, the faculty member will be compensated at a rate equal to 50% of their annual base salary (i.e., benefits eligible salary) prior to the commencement of the plan. In any subsequent years of the plan, the faculty member may be eligible for annual salary increases. For faculty members who would otherwise be eligible for incentive compensation pursuant to a faculty compensation plan of a clinical department, the phased retirement agreement may include a component of such additional compensation. At the joint request of the faculty member and the department chair, and with the approval of the dean, a basic phased retirement plan may be extended for up to a total of four academic or, for tenured faculty, calendar years.

Enhanced Phased Retirement Plan

The university also offers an enhanced phased retirement plan designed to provide a higher level of annual base salary during the term of the plan. This enhanced phased retirement plan may have a term of up to two academic or, for tenured faculty, calendar years. During the term of the plan, the faculty member must work an average of 50% time, based upon a workload plan developed between the faculty member and their department. During the first year of the plan, the faculty member will be compensated at a rate equal to 66.6% of their annual base salary (i.e., benefits eligible salary) prior to the commencement of the plan. In any subsequent year of the plan, the faculty member may be eligible for an annual salary increase. For faculty members who would otherwise be eligible for incentive compensation pursuant to a faculty compensation plan of a clinical department, the phased retirement agreement may include a component of such additional compensation. An enhanced phased retirement plan may not be extended beyond two years.

Impact on Benefits

During the term of a phased retirement plan, the university will continue its contribution toward available health, dental, and vision insurance coverage as if the faculty member were full-time. If the participating faculty member or their spouse/domestic partner is age 65 or older, they will have access to primary health insurance coverage with the university-sponsored plan and have secondary health insurance coverage with Medicare. For the purposes of dependent child tuition benefits, during the term of phased retirement plan and upon retirement the faculty member will be treated as if full-time. All other university-sponsored benefits will be managed consistent with part-time benefits eligibility status.

While participating in the phased retirement program, faculty members will have the opportunity to change their health insurance plan/coverage and/or health flex spending plan during the annual open enrollment. At least 90 days prior to their actual retirement date, faculty members should contact the nearest Social Security office (if applicable) and the university’s Benefits Department to initiate a change to the university’s retiree health benefits.

Phased Retirement Plan Application

To request participation in the Phased Retirement Program, faculty members must submit the Phased Retirement Program Application Form (PDF) to the Department Chair. Applications should be submitted at least six months prior to the beginning of the proposed phased retirement plan.

Once the faculty member and their Department Chair have agreed on the duties to be performed during the phased retirement and have developed a written workload plan, the department should forward the application to hr-benefitsmail@wustl.edu, with a copy to the Dean, and request the applicable phased retirement plan agreement template.

Phased Retirement Plan Agreements

All phased retirement plans under this Program must be documented using the applicable phased retirement agreement. The agreements are standard, will not be individually negotiated, and may not be altered without approval from the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and General Counsel.

An individualized workload plan, approved by the Department Chair, must be attached to and incorporated into all phased retirement plan agreements. Workload plans are based on a 50% workload and must outline with as much particularity as possible the specific responsibilities the faculty member will perform related to research, clinical, teaching, and service/administrative duties, as applicable.

Draft phased retirement plan agreements must be reviewed by the Office of Human Resources prior to signing. Following that review, the agreement must be signed by the faculty member, the Department Chair, and the Dean and then forwarded to hr-benefitsmail@wustl.edu. The benefits team will obtain the signature of the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Compensation and Benefits and return the fully executed document to the faculty member and the department.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Why does the university offer a phased retirement program?

The phased retirement program is offered in response to requests from faculty members interested in a phased transition to retirement. Many of our peer institutions have similar benefits available.

Q. Can I be forced to participate in this program?

No, this is a voluntary program that requires agreement of you, the Department Chair, and the Dean.

Q. Do I need to meet the university’s retirement eligibility requirements in order to apply for phased retirement?

Yes, the phased retirement program requires that you be eligible for university retirement benefits. Specifically, you must be at least 55 years old with at least five years of service and with a combination of age plus years of full-time university service equal to at least 75.

Q. What type of faculty appointment must I hold to be eligible for phased retirement?

To be eligible, you must be a full-time faculty member and hold either a tenured appointment or an appointment with a term of a least three years. The latter type of appointment includes those at the ranks of Associate Professor and Professor on the School of Medicine’s Clinician Track, and depending on length of appointment may include those at the ranks of Senior Lecturer and Teaching Professor on the Danforth Campus Teaching Track as well as Professor of Practice appointments.

Q. Since this program involves a half-time workload, what will happen to my full-time benefits?

You will continue to be eligible to participate in the health insurance and dependent child tuition plans as if you were a full-time faculty member. In other words, neither the university’s contribution toward your health insurance nor the dependent child tuition benefit will be reduced due to your participation in the program. If you are enrolled in health insurance during your participation in this program and either you or your spouse/domestic partner is age 65 or older, you will continue to have primary health insurance with the university and secondary health insurance with Medicare. You will be able to continue to participate in all other university benefit plans as a part-time employee, subject to eligibility and plan rules.

Q. What will happen to my compensation if I participate in the basic phased retirement plan?

You will be compensated at a rate equal to 50% (for basic phased retirement plans) or 66.6% (for enhanced phased retirement plans) of your base annual salary during the first year of the plan. If your plan extends beyond one year, you will be eligible for annual salary increases as appropriate. If you are ordinarily eligible for additional incentive compensation pursuant to a faculty compensation plan of a clinical department, the phased retirement agreement may include a component of such additional compensation.

Q. If I participate in a phased retirement plan, at what point do I relinquish tenure?

Tenure is relinquished at the beginning of the term of the phased retirement plan.

Q. As a retired faculty member, at the conclusion of the phased retirement period may I work for the university in another capacity?

Yes.

Q. Is it possible to alter or defer the phased retirement period?

A phased retirement agreement may not be revoked but may be amended in writing by agreement among the faculty member, the Dean, and the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Compensation and Benefits.

Q. May I extend my phased retirement plan by taking a sabbatical or unpaid leave during the phased retirement period? No, you will not be eligible for additional sabbatical or leave time once the period of phased retirement begins.