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Benefits eligible employees are offered to continue enrollment in the MUS Choices Medical Plan, Select Dental Plan, and/or Vision Hardware Plan upon retirement.
To be eligible as a retiree, the employee must be eligible to receive benefits from the public retirement plans at the time the employee leaves employment with the MUS. Retirees who are in the Montana University System Retirement Plan (MUS-RP) (with investment options through TIAA), the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS), the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) or any other defined contribution plan sponsored by the MUS or the State of Montana must, in order to continue enrollment in MUS health coverages at the time they leave employment with the MUS, meet the following criteria for their specific retirement plan:
MUS-RP: The Retiree must be at least age fifty (50) and completed five (5) years of membership service.
PERS Defined Benefit Plan:
- For members hired before July 1, 2011: The Retiree must be at least age fifty (50) with five (5) years of membership service or any age under sixty (60) with twenty-five (25) years of membership service.
- For members hired on or after July 1, 2011: The Retiree must be at least age fifty-five
(55) with five (5) years of membership service.
PERS Defined Contribution Plan: The Retiree must be at least age fifty (50) and completed five (5) years of membership service.
- For Tier One (1) members (hired before July 1, 2013): The Retiree must be at least age fifty (50) with five (5) years of membership service, or any age under sixty-five (65) with twenty-five (25) years of membership service.
- For Tier Two (2) members (hired after July 1, 2013): The Retiree must be at least age fifty-five (55) with five (5) years of membership service.
No Retreat Rights:
If an employee declines MUS retiree coverage(s) or does not make a benefit election for retiree MUS Choices Medical, Dental, and/or Vision Hardware Plan coverage(s), the employee and their eligible dependents will permanently forfeit eligibility for retiree coverage and will NOT be allowed to enroll in the future. The right to continue coverage under the Plan, for Medical, Select Dental, and/or Vision Hardware, is a one‑time opportunity.
If a retiree is declining coverage for their eligible dependents because they are currently covered by another health insurance plan, the retiree may be able to enroll their eligible dependents for coverage under the MUS Plan in the future, provided the retiree requests such coverage within 63 days after the other coverage ends.
An eligible retiree must arrange with their campus Human Resources/Benefits Office to continue coverage as a retiree on a self-pay basis within sixty-three (63) days of retirement. All retiree status changes must be reported to the campus Human Resources/Benefits Office to facilitate premium and enrollment adjustments. A covered retiree may continue coverage, as well as coverage for their covered legal spouse and/or their covered dependent child(ren), in the MUS Choices Medical Plan, the Select Dental Plan, and/or the Vision Hardware Plan. If a retiree does not make a benefit election to continue enrollment in the Medical, Select Dental and/or Vision Hardware Plan when they first retire, the retiree will permanently forfeit eligibility for these coverages. The right to continue coverage under the Plan, for Medical, Select Dental, and/or Vision Hardware, is a one‑time opportunity.
Retirees who fail to continue coverage within sixty-three (63) days or who allow coverage to lapse due to nonpayment of monthly premiums may not later rejoin the Plan.
To select MUS Choices benefit options, the retiree must complete and return a Retiree Enrollment Form to their campus Human Resources/Benefits Office to make their benefit elections:
- within 63 days of retirement and becoming eligible for retiree benefits. If the retiree does not enroll within the 63-day enrollment period, they will permanently forfeit their eligibility for all retiree insurance coverage.
- during annual enrollment by the stated deadline. If the retiree does not make any benefit changes, they will be automatically enrolled in their current benefit elections and coverage levels or to the stated default coverage if the existing plan(s) is/are changing.
- when a retiree has a mid-year qualifying event (marriage, birth or adoption of a child, loss or gain of eligibility for other health insurance coverage - voluntarily canceling other health insurance does not constitute loss of eligibility) and wants to make an allowed mid-year change in benefit elections. This change must be made within 63 days of the event. Documentation to support the change will be required.
MEDICARE ENROLLMENT: Retirees and/or their covered dependents who are or become Medicare-eligible (age 65) at retirement or after, must be enrolled in BOTH Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B. If Medicare enrollment is not completed within sixty-three (63) days from the date of the employee’s retirement or retiree’s or covered dependent’s Medicare eligibility date, the individual(s) will be disenrolled from the MUS Choices Medical and Prescription Drug Plans. Enrollment in the Select Dental Plan and/or Vision Hardware Plan may be continued if the Medicare-eligible retiree is enrolled in those plans at retirement or on the date of Medicare eligibility even if they are disenrolled from the MUS Choices Medical and Prescription Drug Plans due to not enrolling in Medicare Part A and Part B.
MUS retirees who have Medicare as their primary coverage cannot cover or continue medical coverage for their legal spouse if the legal spouse is also a MUS retiree who has Medicare as their primary coverage. Medicare rules prohibit enrollment in more than one (1) Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan (dual coverage). Retirees who have Medicare as their primary coverage will need to choose to remain on their own MUS Medicare Retiree Plan or choose to enroll on their legal spouse's MUS Medicare Retiree Plan as a dependent.
PREMIUM PAYMENT: A retiree may be able to apply payout from their final paycheck toward retiree premiums through the end of the calendar year or the Benefit Plan Year, whichever comes first, on a pre-tax basis. Discuss this option with your campus Human Resources/Benefits office. Other payment options include:
- Automatic Deductions – Retirees may arrange to have monthly automatic deductions from their retirement pension plan, or directly from a checking or savings account via scheduled automated clearing house (ACH) transactions via the MUS’ Direct Bill Administrator.
- Online Payments – Retirees may submit monthly premium payments online from the MUS Choices homepage.
- Manual Payments – Retirees may make monthly premium payments with a manual check to MUS by mailing payments to the MUS Direct Bill Administrator, with the provided monthly billing statement.
Monthly premium rates vary depending on the number of covered Plan Participants, the benefit plans selected, and whether the Eligible Retiree and/or their covered Eligible Dependent(s) are enrolled in Medicare. Payment of claims while covered under retiree coverage will be contingent upon the receipt by the MUS of the applicable monthly premium payment for such coverage. The monthly premium payment is due the first of the month for each month of coverage. A grace period of thirty (30) days from the first of the month will be allowed for payment. Failure to submit the monthly premium payment within the allotted time will cause coverage to be canceled. Canceled or lapsed coverage cannot be reinstated.
There is no Employer monthly premium contribution toward Retiree benefits.
If you have questions about your retiree benefits enrollment, please contact your campus Human Resources/Benefits Office.
Retirees may not add dependents during the Plan year unless there is a qualifying event. See the Summary Plan Description for more information.
If a retiree acquires an eligible dependent, due to marriage, birth, adoption, or placement for adoption of a child under the age of 18, they may enroll their newly acquired dependent child(ren) or legal spouse for coverage under the MUS Plan, provided that such enrollment occurs within 63 days after the marriage, birth, adoption or placement for adoption.
Eligible dependents include:
- Legal spouse. Legally married or certified common-law married spouses, as defined under Montana law will be eligible for enrollment as a dependent.
- Dependent children under age 26. Children include the retiree's natural children, stepchildren, and children placed
in your home for adoption before age 18 or for whom you have court-ordered custody,
or you are the legal guardian.
- Coverage may continue past age 26 for an unmarried dependent child who is mentally or physically disabled, is incapable of self-supporting employment, and is chiefly dependent upon the retiree for support and maintenance and is enrolled on the Plan when they turn age 26. Proof of incapacity must be submitted to the MUS Plan for review within 31 days of the child's 26's birthday. Eligibility is subject to review each benefit Plan year. Note: A disabled dependent child, age 26 or older, cannot be added to the Plan.
IMPORTANT: The MUS Group Benefits Plan requires you to submit written documentation to verify a qualifying event (documents that provide proof of a change in status) and/or dependent eligibility (documents that provide proof your dependent is an eligible dependent) when enrolling dependents. Qualifying event and dependent verification documents will be reviewed by your campus Human Resources/Benefits Office.
Documentation must be received within 63 days (marriage, birth, loss of/gains eligibility for other coverage, etc.) or 30 days (divorce or death) of a qualifying life event or your dependent’s benefits enrollment change will not be approved.
FAILURE TO PROVIDE SUFFICIENT WRITTEN DOCUMENTATION OF DEPENDENT ELIGIBILITY WITHIN THE REQUIRED TIMEFRAME WILL RESULT IN YOUR DEPENDENT(S) NOT BEING ENROLLED IN COVERAGE.
If you have questions about dependent eligibility or dependent verification, please contact your campus Human Resources/Benefits Office.
"Special Enrollment Period" means a period of time allowed under the Plan in which an eligible dependent may request to enroll in or disenroll from coverage under the MUS Plan as a result of a qualifying life event. To enroll or disenroll eligible dependents from coverage, employees must complete the online enrollment for the specific life event mid-year change and submit the required documented proof of the qualifying event and/or verification of dependent eligibility within 63 days of the event, except for divorce or death, which must be requested within 30 days of the event.
Special Enrollment Periods for adding an eligible dependent
- Birth of a child
- Adoption/Pre-Adoption placement
- Marriage/Common-law Marriage
- Court-ordered legal guardianship
- Court-ordered legal custody
- Qualified Medical Child Support Order
- Loss of eligibility for other coverage
Effective dates for a new eligible dependent
Coverage for newly added eligible dependents will be effective on the first day of the month following the date the online life event mid-year change request is made - except for the following:
- Birth - the date of birth.
- Adoption - the date of the qualifying adoption or placement for adoption.
- Court-ordered legal custody or court-ordered legal guardianship – the date of the court order.
- Qualified Medical Child Support Order – the first day of the month following the date of the order.
Voluntary cancellation of other insurance coverage does not constitute a qualifying event.
Special Enrollment Periods for removing a dependent
- Divorce or legal separation
- Dissolution of an Adult Dependent
- Dependent child reaching age 26
Termination dates for an ineligible dependent
Coverage for an ineligible dependent will terminate as follows:
- Divorce or legal separation - the last day of the month in which the event occurs.
- Death - the last day of the month in which the event occurs.
- Dissolution of an Adult Dependent separation - the last day of the month in which the event occurs.
- Dependent child reaching age 26 separation - the last day of the month in which the event occurs.
- Gains eligibility for other coverage – the last day of the month following the date the online life event mid-year change request is made.
If an eligible dependent is removed from MUS coverage, the dependent can only be re-enrolled in the Plan due to a new qualifying event.
Responsibility To Remove Ineligible Dependents
It is the Subscriber’s responsibility to remove any dependents that cease to be eligible for coverage within 30 days of the loss of eligibility. Failure to notify of a dependent’s loss of dependent status within 60 days will result in the dependent’s loss of COBRA rights. The Subscriber is responsible for repayment of any claim dollars paid out for an ineligible dependent. Premiums paid pre-tax for a dependent who is no longer eligible may not be retroactively adjusted more than 30 days or beyond the start of the calendar year, whichever comes first.
FAILURE TO PROVIDE SUFFICIENT WRITTEN PROOF OF A QUALIFYING EVENT AND/OR DEPENDENT ELIGIBILITY WITHIN THE REQUIRED TIMEFRAME WILL RESULT IN YOUR DEPENDENT(S) NOT BEING ENROLLED IN OR DISENROLLED FROM COVERAGE.
If you have questions about dependent eligibility, dependent verification, or proof of a change in status, please contact your campus Human Resources/Benefits Office.
Below are links to Choices benefits information for Montana University System Retirees.
Choices Benefits Information
- 2023-2024 Choices Retirees Workbook
- 2023-2024 Choices Annual Enrollment Presentation Video
- 2023-2024 Choices Annual Enrollment Presentation Slides
Benefits eligible employees are offered enrollment in the MUS medical plan, Select dental plan, and/or vision hardware plan upon retirement.
To select MUS Choices benefit options as a retiree, you must complete and return a retiree enrollment form to your campus HR/benefits office within 63 days of becoming eligible for retiree benefits.
If you do not enroll within the 63-day period, you and your eligible dependents will permanently forfeit eligibility for all MUS retiree insurance coverage.
No Retreat Rights: If you decline MUS retiree medical, dental, and/or vision hardware coverage, you and your eligible dependents will NOT be allowed to enroll in the future.