Texas Income Protection Plan FAQs
1. What is changing?
Effective September 1, 2013, Aon Hewitt Absence Management LLC (Aon Hewitt) will take over administration of the Texas Employees Group Benefits Program (GBP) disability plans. Aon Hewitt will provide customer service and claims processing.
2. Why are we switching?
ERS rebids all of the Texas Employees Group Benefits Program (GBP) contracts regularly to ensure members get quality benefits at a reasonable cost. Aon Hewitt was selected after a bid review process, and the ERS Board of Trustees awarded the third-party administrator contract to Aon Hewitt in a February 2013 board meeting. The contract will cover a four-year term beginning September 1, 2013 through August 31, 2017.
About Aon Hewitt
3. Where is Aon Hewitt located?
Aon Hewitt will manage the short-term and long-term disability claims out of their New Britain, Connecticut location. The Texas Income Protection Plan (TIPP) Customer Care will be located in The Woodlands, Texas, and all other services will transition to The Woodlands location within 18 months of the September implementation.
4. Will my claims be processed overseas?
No. ERS does not allow Aon Hewitt to do any work offshore. Your claims will be processed in the United States.
Texas Income Protection Plan (TIPP)
5. What is TIPP?
ERS is taking this opportunity to brand its self-funded disability plans, which includes short-term and long-term disability benefits. The new name will be Texas Income Protection Plan (TIPP). Members will begin seeing this name and a new logo beginning this summer in Annual Enrollment materials.
TIPP is available to active employees as an optional benefit and provides benefits for disabilities resulting from occupational and non-occupational illness or injury.
- Short-term disability provides a maximum benefit of 66% of an enrolled employee’s monthly salary (up to a maximum salary of $10,000) or $6,600, whichever is less, for a period up to five months.
- Long-term disability coverage provides a maximum benefit of 60% of an enrolled employee’s monthly salary (up to a maximum salary of $10,000) or $6,000, whichever is less, for a period ranging from 12 months up to full Social Security retirement age, depending on the employee’s age at the time of disability.
6. Where can I get more information?
You can visit the TIPP website to view Annual Enrollment material and messages. Aon Hewitt will also be available at Annual Enrollment fairs throughout the State this summer. TIPP participants can call TIPP Customer Care at Aon Hewitt toll-free at (855) 604-6230 Monday – Friday, from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. CT.
Coverage and Costs
7. Is the coverage changing?
Yes. ERS believes these changes are in favor of the member.
Successive Disabilities – The plan currently considers disabilities separated by less than 90 days to be a single disability and, therefore, does not require the disabled employee to satisfy another waiting period for the second period of disability. Effective September 1, 2013, the successive disability threshold for long-term disability will be increased from 90 to 180 days in order to provide more equitable treatment to plan participants. The short-term disability threshold will remain at 90 days.
Substance Abuse – The plan currently provides the same benefit period for disabilities with a co-morbid condition of substance abuse as it provides for disabilities attributable to all other illnesses and injuries. Effective September 1, 2013, a 24-month limitation will be added on benefits payable for disabilities with a co-morbid condition resulting from substance (drug and alcohol) abuse. Typically, employer plans include a 24-month limitation on benefits payable for disabilities with a co-morbid condition of substance abuse in order to prevent abuse of plan benefits.
Definition of Total Disability – Currently, after benefits have been paid for 24 months, a disabled employee “will be conclusively deemed not to be disabled if employed and compensated in any manner.” This provision effectively prevents a disabled employee from continuing to receive benefits if he or she engages in even limited gainful employment. Effective September 1, 2013, this provision will be removed and the disabled employee may continue to receive benefits while working provided he or she does not earn more than 80% of his or her pre-disability earnings. This change is consistent with the requirement under Section 814.203, Texas Government Code, applicable to ERS disability retirement benefits.
Autopsy – The current plan includes a provision that allows the administrator to require an autopsy in the event of death of a disabled employee. This provision is removed from TIPP plans beginning September 1, 2013 and pertains only to the Life benefits.
Maximum Benefit Period – Currently, benefits terminate at age 65, which for most employees is prior to the effective date of full Social Security retirement benefits. The maximum benefit period will be revised to align with the eligibility date for full Social Security retirement benefits. In addition, the maximum benefit period for employees becoming disabled at age 69 or older is 12 months.
8. Will my premiums change?
Yes. TIPP is a self-funded plan, which means premiums pay the full cost of the approved benefit claims. Because of this, it was necessary to increase the short-term disability premiums for Plan Year 2014 from $.26 to $.30 per $100 of the monthly insurance salary. Long-term disability premiums will remain the same.
9. What else is changing?
You will need to use the new website and customer care number. (See question 6.)
Claimants will be required to pay for any costs associated with producing the required documentation to support their claim, including provider charges for medical records. The process for proof of good health, also called evidence of insurability (EOI), is changing. Please see the “Enrollment Information” section for more information.
You will file a disability claim by calling Aon Hewitt and establishing the claim. Then, Aon Hewitt will send you a claim form to complete.
10. How do I enroll in TIPP?
You can enroll within your first 31 days of employment without proof of good health, also called evidence of insurability (EOI). Members who do not enroll in short-term and/or long-term disability within the first 31 days of their hire date can apply for coverage during Annual Enrollment or if they have a qualifying life event, like a marriage or birth of a child, but they will need to submit EOI.
Evidence of Insurability
11. What is the EOI process?
Employees who are required to apply for enrollment through the EOI process will be able to apply online starting with the current Annual Enrollment period. To do this, benefits coordinators and/or members sign into the member’s ERS account, select the desired disability coverage, and follow the prompts on the screen. Minnesota Life will be the disability underwriter. This means employees will receive information from Minnesota Life about their EOI application.
12. If I’m already enrolled, do I have to do anything to keep my current coverage?
No. Current participants don’t need to do anything. If you are currently receiving a disability benefit check, please see the “Current Claimants” section for more information.
13. I am currently receiving a disability benefit check from Dearborn National. Will I need to contact Aon Hewitt to set up a new account?
No. Your information will automatically be transferred to Aon Hewitt. You can contact TIPP Customer Care at Aon Hewitt toll-free at (855) 604-6230 to verify your correct phone number and mailing address. Additionally, ERS recommends that you consider electing to direct deposit your benefit check. The Aon Hewitt Direct Deposit form is posted on the TIPP website under the ‘Options and What’s Changing’ tab. Aon Hewitt will audit existing claims and may contact you for more information.
14. Will my direct deposit election with Dearborn National transfer to Aon Hewitt?
No. Direct deposit information contained at Dearborn National will not be shared with Aon Hewitt. Current claimants must establish a direct deposit to a checking account with Aon Hewitt or they will receive paper checks. The Aon Hewitt Direct Deposit form is posted on the TIPP website under the ‘Options and What’s Changing’ tab.
15. When will I receive my disability benefit check?
Beginning October 2013, Aon Hewitt will pay your benefit check on the first of the month. The current administrator releases benefit payments throughout the month. However, Aon Hewitt will release benefit payments on the first of each month. For example, Dearborn National may have released your benefit payment on the fifteenth of the month, but Aon Hewitt will release your benefit payment on the first of the month.
16. How will I receive my disability benefit check?
If you are currently receiving short-term disability benefits, your checks will no longer go to your employer. Aon Hewitt will mail your checks directly to you at the address on file.
All claimants will receive a paper check from Aon Hewitt, unless a direct deposit agreement is set up with Aon Hewitt. The Aon Hewitt Direct Deposit form is posted on the TIPP website under the ‘Options and What’s Changing’ tab.
17. Who do I submit a new disability claim to?
Submit claims to Aon Hewitt. Any forms submitted to Dearborn National after August 21 will be forwarded to Aon Hewitt. Please keep in mind that any new short-term disability claim has a minimum 30-day waiting period and long-term disability has a minimum 180-day waiting period before benefits can be paid.
18. How do I submit a claim to Aon Hewitt in September?
Call TIPP Customer Care at Aon Hewitt toll-free at (855) 604-6230 to start the disability claims process. You will be asked a series of questions to initiate the claim. This is referred to as the intake process. Once you complete the intake process, you will be assigned to a claim manager who will work with you through the life of your claim.