University of Minnesota
Office of Human Resources
http://www.umn.edu/ohr
612-625-2016

Academic Disability Program

The University of Minnesota provides paid medical leave and long-term disability benefits to eligible faculty and Academic Professional and Administrative (P&A) employees who are unable to perform their work duties due to a certified mental or physical health condition. These benefits are under the Academic Disability Program and administered by the University of Minnesota and the Life Insurance Company of North America, a Cigna company (hereafter referred to as Cigna).

Academic Disability Program

The Academic Disability Program is comprised of the following plan and policies:

  • Paid Medical Leave and Disability Benefits Policy for Faculty and Academic Professional and Administrative Employees (Medical Leave)
  • Academic Disability Plan
  • Academic Group Long-term Disability Insurance Policy

Eligibility

Faculty and Academic Professional and Administrative (P&A) employees who hold a 67% time or greater appointment for not less than nine months are eligible (with some exceptions) to participate in the Academic Disability Program.

The eligible job classifications are:

  • 94XX series (excluding visiting, adjunct, or clinical employees from outside the University)
  • 9301-9399
  • 9621-9640
  • 9701-9799 (excluding 9755 - research specialist, 9756 - clinical preceptor, and 9757 - industrial fellow)

Program Benefits

The Academic Disability Program provides several integrated benefits to replace part of your earnings and to ensure continued health coverage during a period of partial or total disability. These benefits include:


Medical Leave Benefit (administered by the department)

Medical leave is available through your department for up to three consecutive calendar months of partial or total disability. The period of three months is not extended by a partial work effort. Salary continuation during the medical leave is based on your covered earnings in effect on your last full day of active work.

Covered earnings are based on your scheduled biweekly rate of earnings on your last full day of active work, not to exceed 100 percent of your current salary. Covered earnings include, but are not limited to basic salary, augmentation, increment, commutation, summer research, summer teaching, and certain lifetime awards. Salary increases will be applied to your work earnings if you are working part-time, but will not increase the remaining medical leave benefit.

Medical leave may be unpaid during any period where there are no scheduled earnings, such as the summer or during an unpaid leave of absence. Refer to your Academic Disability Plan certificate for further information.

You are required to call Cigna, the claims administrator, at 1-855-207-8099 within 14 days of disability to file a claim for medical leave benefits. Delay in contacting Cigna or in providing required documentation may result in a suspension of paid benefits during your medical leave.

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Academic Disability Benefit (administered by the University)

If your leave of absence is greater than three months, the University provides a self-insured disability benefit that replaces 66 2/3 percent to 100 percent of your income during months 4 through 12, depending on your years of service with the University (see chart below).

The academic disability benefit is based on your covered earnings in effect on your last full day of active work, and covers salaries up to the IRS 401 (a) (17) limit. The maximum salary limit for 2014 is $260,000 per year. The percentage of your disability benefit is based on years of service and can be determined using the table below. The University pays the full premium for your disability benefit; therefore, the resulting benefit is considered taxable income.

Percent of Income Replaced
Years of Service Percent of Income Replaced by Disability Benefit
Month 4 through 6 Month 7 through 9 Month 10 through Day 365
Less than 2 years of service
66-2/3%
66-2/3%
66-2/3%
2 to 10 years of service
100%
66-2/3%
66-2/3%
More than 10 years of service – 9 month appointments
100%
100%
66-2/3%
More than 10 years of service – 12 month appointments
100%
100%
100%

Adjustments to the disability benefit may be made to correct any overpayment of salary that occurs while you are on medical or disability leave.

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Insured Long-term Disability Benefit (administered by Cigna)

Cigna will assume responsibility for claim benefit payments beginning with the second year of disability. The insured long-term disability benefit will be paid directly to you on a monthly basis. You may choose one of two payment options: check or direct deposit. Long-term disability benefits may be paid to the Social Security Normal Retirement Age with continued certification of disability.

Duration of Benefits

If you are under the age of 63 at the onset of your disability, you are eligible to receive disability benefits up to your Social Security Normal Retirement Age (SSNRA), contingent upon the ongoing certification of your disability by Cigna.

If you become disabled after age 63, the maximum number of months that you are eligible for long-term disability benefits, beginning with the fourth month of disability, is:

Maximum Number of Months of Long-Term Disability Benefits
Age at Onset Maximum Benefit Period
63 To SSNRA, or 36 months, whichever is longer
64 To SSNRA, or 30 months, whichever is longer
65 24 months
66 21 months
67 18 months
68 15 months
69 or older 12 months

If you are working part-time, you will no longer be certified as disabled if your work earnings exceed 80 percent of your covered earnings.

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Subsidized Health Coverage

You are eligible to remain in the University's health plan (UPlan) while you are receiving disability benefits. Depending on your years of service, the University may continue to subsidize your medical, dental, and basic life insurance coverage for a period of time according to the chart below. The subsidy is the portion of the total cost of your medical, dental, and basic life insurance coverage that the University contributes, and is based on the rate contributed for similarly situated, active employees. After your subsidy period expires, you may remain in the UPlan by paying the full cost of the coverage.

University Subsidy Length of Time
Years of Service Subsidy during Medical Leave Subsidy during Academic Disability Subsidy during Academic Long-term Disability with Cigna
Less than 2 years of service
3 months
None
None
2 to 10 years of service
3 months
9 months
None
More than 10 years of service
3 months
9 months
365 days

For employees with active appointments during the first year of disability, the employee-paid portion of your health coverage will be deducted from the disability benefit paid through the University payroll. If you are eligible for a second year of subsidy, you will be billed directly from Employee Benefits for the employee cost of your coverage. When the subsidy ends, you may elect to continue your coverage through the medical and dental plan administrators. They will bill you directly on a monthly basis for the full cost of your coverage. If you are on a partial disability, you may continue to qualify for subsidized coverage if you are working 50 percent time or greater of a 100 percent appointment.

If your appointment ends while you are receiving subsidized coverage, you will no longer be eligible for pre-tax deductions through payroll. You will be billed directly from Employee Benefits for the cost of your coverage.

If you become eligible for Medicare while you are receiving disability benefits, you must apply for Medicare Parts A & B. Medicare then becomes primary for coverage and the UPlan is secondary.

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Faculty Retirement Plan Contribution

If you are on an active appointment and are participating in the Faculty Retirement Plan at the onset of disability, you will continue to receive a full contribution to your retirement account while you are receiving disability benefits. The amount of contribution will equal 15.5 percent of your covered salary in effect on your last full day of active work. If you are on a partial disability, you will continue to contribute based on your work earnings and the Academic Disability Program will contribute the remaining amount to equal a full contribution of 15.5 percent of covered salary.

Retirement contributions during the first year of disability are made through the University payroll system and are included under Employer Paid Benefits on your pay statement. If you are working part-time, contributions made by you and the University will be included under Before-Tax Deductions and the remaining contribution from the disability program will be included under Employer Paid Benefits.

Beginning with the second year of disability, contributions are made monthly by Cigna and are deposited directly with your investment company.

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Life Insurance Waiver of Premium

The UPlan life insurance policy 32615-G includes a disability benefit in the form of a premium waiver. If you become totally disabled, all premiums for basic life, additional life, spouse/same-sex domestic partner life, and child life insurance coverage in force at the onset of disability will be waived following a six-month waiting period. Subject to continuous certification for total disability, this coverage will remain in force until age 70 without further payment of premium.

If you have a terminal condition (defined as a condition caused by sickness or accident that directly results in a life expectancy of 12 months or less), you may be eligible for an accelerated payment of the benefits provided under this group policy.

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Return to Work Assistance through UReturn

UReturn is the designated University office to serve employees with a disability or medical condition requiring accommodations or adjustments. UReturn offers a confidential, voluntary, and neutral service to assist you in a successful return to work. To schedule a meeting with a UReturn Specialist, please call 612-624-3316 (v) or 612-626-1333 (v/tty), or 218-722-5232 in Duluth.

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Claim Denial

In the event that your claim is not approved by Cigna, you may be considered on an unpaid leave of absence, and you will be responsible for the full cost of your medical and dental coverage. You may appeal Cigna's claim decision by following the process outlined in your Certificate of Coverage.

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Confidentiality

The University takes its responsibility for confidentiality very seriously. Within the Office of Human Resources, disability records are maintained in Employee Benefits and are not included with personnel files.

When you apply for disability benefits, the medical information that you and your health care provider submit may be shared with other pertinent parties. By signing the Authorization to Obtain Information form from Cigna, you are consenting to this release of information.

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Disclaimer

While the principal features of the Academic Disability Program are described here, these descriptions are subject to all of the terms and conditions of the group disability polices and University policy governing sick and disability leaves.

Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this information. In the event of an error, the plan document for the Academic Disability Program (policy SHD-985157) and the certificate of coverage for the Group Long Term Disability Insurance Policy (LK-980184) will govern. 

For more information, refer to the policy at Paid Medical Leave and Disability Benefits for Faculty and Academic Professional and Administrative Employees.