Some UH employees have expressed concern over the withdrawal of state-contributed funds for their retirement benefits plans.
The assumption of these employees is that once they terminate their jobs at UH, they can withdraw both self-contributed and state-contributed part funds from their retirement benefits, but some are finding out that may not always be the case.
Of the main types of plans offered by the University, the two most popular are the Teacher Retirement System of Texas and the Optional Retirement Plan.
Both plans require employees to contribute a small portion of gross salary each month, and the state would add contributions to the plan in proportion to the employee’s gross salary. The portion percentage of each plan is similar, ranging from 6.4 to 6.5 percent.
“Normally I contribute to TRS some money monthly, and UH contributes about the same on my behalf,” Lukasz Sterkowicz, a staff employee at the College of Optometry, said in an email.
“However, if I withdraw the funds before five years of contribution — which is my case, as I’m leaving the country — I only get back my contributions.”
Sterkowicz, who is from Poland, said he heard that the UH-contributed money goes back to the University.
A member of the TRS customer service staff confirmed Sterkowicz’s suspicion.
“TRS members could only acquire self-contributed funds from (their) retirement benefits plan ahead of retirement.”
TRS members who terminate employment before retirement may receive a refund from their contributions plus interest earned by completing the ‘Benefits Section’ of refund applications found at the Human Resources Department.
In contrast, should an employee terminate his employment in an ORP eligible position after vesting occurs, he may receive a refund from his contribution along with the state’s matching contributions.
Employees are enrolled in the TRS plan automatically if not selected to enroll in the ORP plan. Participation in ORP must be initiated by the employee and in writing within 90 days of the employment date.
With ORP plans, employees select a third-party company to invest retirement contributions and undergo processing.
Employees who do not have proficient knowledge in US retirement benefits plans should browse the UH Human Resources website first to clearly understand specific features of the various main retirement benefits before the job positions become eligible.
All related information on UH retirement benefits plans can be found on the HR website.
For more detailed information on employees’ retirement benefits plan, go to www.uh.edu/admin/hr/benefits/retirementinfo.htm.