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Employee Handbook

HEALTH INSURANCE

Individual full-time employees and part-time employees who work at least 17 ½ hours per week are eligible for health insurance.  Coverage for your spouse, dependants and same gender domestic partner is also available with the State contributing towards the premium cost and the employee paying the balance through payroll deductions.  All State employees have the opportunity to select a health insurance plan at the time of hire and once again each year during an open enrollment period, usually during the month of May.

Every employee should carefully look at the health care options offered and be sure to elect one that best meets his or her individual and/or family circumstances. Plan description booklets, enrollment/change forms, and provider directories are available in your local Human Resources office.

Health insurance coverage generally becomes effective the first day of the second full month following application, with the premiums paid one month in advance. For example, if you applied for coverage during the month of May, you would be covered as of July 1.  This would also apply to any change in coverage, such as adding or canceling family members.  It is critically important that you add any new family members to your coverage, as they become eligible, by completing the proper health insurance forms. If you forget, the family member will not be covered by your health insurance and you may have to wait until the next open enrollment period to add the new member.

Continuation of coverage following termination of employment for reasons other than gross misconduct is available to eligible employees, their spouse or former spouse, and dependent children, for periods of 18 to 36 months, depending on the qualifying event.  Those who elect to continue coverage will be responsible for the full premium payment. Information and premium rates for continued coverage can be obtained by contacting your local Human Resources office. Dental coverage is a separate election and can be combined with any of the primary health plans listed above. Dependent coverage for dental expires at age 19, whether a student or not. Continuation of coverage is available, but at the full premium rate.

CONSOLIDATED OMNIBUS BUDGET RECONCILIATION ACT (COBRA)

Under federal law, the State of Connecticut is required to offer covered employees and covered family members the opportunity to elect a temporary continuation of health coverage at group rates, when coverage under the plan would otherwise end due to certain qualifying events. This rate includes the employee's share, the State's share and a 2% administrative fee. Examples of qualifying events are: termination, lay off, leave of absence without pay; death of employee or retiree, divorce or legal separation and dependent child no longer qualifying as dependent.  Please contact your Human Resources office if you have any questions.

GROUP LIFE INSURANCE

Group Life Insurance is an option available to permanent employees with six (6) months of continuous State service.  The amount of coverage is based upon your annual salary and premiums are paid bi-weekly through payroll deductions at the rate of $.20 for each $1,000 of life insurance. You must elect or decline such coverage at the time of hire.  If you elect coverage it is effective after six(6) months of employment.  If you choose to obtain coverage at a later time you may be required to provide evidence of insurability.

This plan provides term life insurance for the duration of your State employment and terminates upon resignation.  Upon retirement, your Group Life is continued at a reduced amount of coverage at no cost to you.  For more details on Group Life Insurance Coverage consult your copy of the booklet, "Group Life Insurance for Employees of the State of Connecticut or visit the Office of the State Comptroller Web site at http://www.osc.state.ct.us/empret/

RETIREMENT

The State of Connecticut provides retirement benefits through the State Employees Retirement System (SERS) that is comprised of several different retirement plans.  Your collective bargaining unit and date of hire determine eligibility for participation in one of these plans.

Tier IIA

If you are initially employed by the State of Connecticut on or after July 1, 1997 you will join the Tier IIA retirement plan which requires a contribution by the employee at the rate of 5% of salary for hazardous duty members and 2% of salary for all other members.  This retirement plan is similar to Tier II.

Tier II

If you were initially employed as a State employee on or after July 2, 1984 but before July 1, 1997 you are automatically covered under the Tier II (non-contributory) plan.  Tier II members are eligible for normal retirement benefits at age 60 with 25 years of vesting service, age 62 with ten (10) years of vesting service, or age 70 with five (5) years of vesting service.  The Tier II Plan also has provisions for early retirement at age 55 with at least ten (10) years of vesting service but with reduced benefits; work related disability retirement (no minimum service time required); non-work related disability retirement (minimum 10 years of vesting service required); and vested rights. Vested rights allow you to receive retirement benefits at the minimum retirement age if you left State service with at least ten (10) years of vesting service, but were not of retirement age at the time of separation. If you leave state service with at least five (5) years but less than ten (10) years of actual state service, you may receive a vested benefit at age 65.

Tier I

Most employees hired before July 2, 1984 are covered under the Tier I plan which is a contributory plan allowing normal retirement at age 55 with 25 years of service or age 65 with 10 years of service.  Persons reaching age 55 with less than 25 years of service may retire with a reduced pension as long as they have a minimum of ten years of service.  Disability retirement and vested rights are also available to Tier I employees.  Because Tier I is contributory, employees who terminate prior to retirement age may elect to withdraw their contributions in a lump sum instead of vesting.  If a Tier I employee leaves State service with less than ten years, he or she may also request to withdraw any retirement contributions made. In either case the amount of contributions will be refunded with interest.

In certain circumstances death benefits are payable to a surviving spouse and various payment options that allow continuation of retirement benefits to your surviving spouse or designated beneficiary if you die after retirement benefits have started.  It is very important that you notify the Department of any change in your retirement beneficiary.  For reporting this, Form CO-931- Designation of Retirement System-Tier-Plan-Beneficiary, is available from your local Human Resources office.

A booklet outlining the details of your particular retirement plan is provided to you upon hire. This booklet should be reviewed for more detailed information on your retirement benefits.  In addition, the Retirement Division of the State Comptroller's Office in Hartford and your local Human Resources office provides retirement counseling.  If you are considering retirement in the near future, it is very important that you contact you local Human Resources office two to three months prior to your anticipated retirement date so that the necessary paperwork can be completed in a timely manner.  Failure to provide sufficient notice may result in a delay in receiving your retirement benefits.

On line copies of the Tier I, Tier II and Tier IIA retirement booklets as well as other helpful information regarding retirement is available at the Comptroller's web site at http://www.osc.state.ct.us/empret/

LONGEVITY PAY

Each State employee with permanent status who has completed at least ten full years of State service is eligible to receive a semi-annual lump sum longevity payment.  The amount of each payment is based on your length of service and salary group as of April 1 or October 1 of the current year.

You must be on the active payroll as of October 1 or April 1 in order to receive a longevity payment. If you are otherwise qualified but are on a leave of absence without pay on those dates, you will receive your longevity payment when you return to work.  If you are terminated or resign prior to those dates, you will not receive a longevity payment. However, retiring employees are allowed a pro-rated longevity payment based on service from the preceding payment date to their retirement date.

Military war service as defined by Conn. Gen. Statutes Section 27-103 is creditable for longevity purposes.  In order to be credited for this time you must submit a non--returnable copy of your discharge papers (DD-214) to your local Human Resources office.

For further information consult your collective bargaining agreement or your local Human Resources office.

DEFERRED COMPENSATION PLANS

All permanent State employees have the option of deferring a portion of their income by payroll deduction.  The primary purpose of a Deferred Compensation Plan is to allow the employee to set aside a portion of salary for retirement and reduce their gross taxable income. Federal income taxes are not paid on these deferrals until they are withdrawn.  Interest and dividends are also not taxed as they accumulate.  Section 457 of the Internal Revenue Code sets an upper limit on such deferred earnings.  Contributions can be taken out of the Plan when the employee retires, leaves State employment, or under some emergency financial situations.  For more information on deferring compensation, call the Plan Administrator at (860) 702-3543, or visit the Comptroller's web site at http://www.osc.state.ct.us/empret/ and click on State of Connecticut Deferred Compensation Plan Information.

SAVINGS BONDS

Employees may buy Series EE U.S. Savings Bonds through payroll deduction.  Savings bonds are available in five denominations. The price is half the bond's face value.  Series EE Savings Bonds earn variable interest, like money market accounts, if held five years.  The rate changes twice yearly on May 1 and November 1, and the investor is guaranteed a minimum return.  The rate is 85% of the market average on five-year treasury securities. Series EE bonds pay interest by increasing in value.  Value at maturity will be at least the full amount of the bond, and more if the market-based rate is higher than the guaranteed minimum. Call 1-800-USBONDS for current interest rates and available denominations. 

SUPPLEMENTAL BENEFITS

Following is a summary of benefits available through the State of Connecticut Supplemental Benefits Program.  All benefits are available on a voluntary basis and are paid entirely by the employee through the convenience of payroll deduction.  If you are interested in more detailed information on any of the programs please contact the agents listed to obtain more information regarding the benefits and the enrollment process.

Bear in mind that both the available benefits and the authorized vendors are subject to revision.  You can get a list of current offerings from your local Human Resources office or access it on line at www.osc.state.ct.us/empret/supplemental/index.html

Short Term Disability Insurance**  Two vendors offer this product

Colonial Supplemental Insurance Company (800) 884-0689

Available to full-time, active employees working 20 or more hours per week, this product protects against the short-term loss of income due to an on the job or off the job covered accident or illness.

Medical Life Insurance company - (866) 858-1171

Available to full-time, active employees working 20 or more hours per week, this product protects against the short-term loss of income due to an off the job covered accident or illness.

Long Term Disability Insurance** One vendor offers this product

Hartford Life & Accident Insurance Company - (888) 723-8583

Available to full-time, active employees, working at least 30 hours a week, this product protects against the long-term loss of income due to accident or illness.  This offering should be of particular interest to members of Tier II and Tier IIA of the State Employee Retirement System as they are not covered by non-service connected disability provisions prior to completing ten years of vesting service.

Auto & Homeowners Insurance  Two vendors offer this product

Metropolitan Casualty & Property Insurance Co. & Affiliates - (800) 438-6381

Liberty Mutual Insurance Company - (800) 225-8281

Available to full-time, active employees, retirees, spouses and domestic partners*, this product protects against liability and damage to, or loss of, auto, home and other personal property.

Cancer Insurance  One vendor offers this product

AFLAC - (877) 295-9939

Available to full-time, active employees, retirees, spouses and domestic partners*, this product pays benefits for certain cancer treatments and screenings.  It is designed to supplement existing health insurance coverage.

Universal Life Insurance*  One vendor offers this product

ING Employee Benefits - (800) 842-8444

Available to full-time, active employees, retirees spouses, domestic partners*, children and grandchildren*** interested in supplementing their life insurance coverage offered on a qualified issue basis. 

Term Life Insurance*  One vendor offers this product

Medical Life Insurance Company - (866) 858-1171

Available to full-time active employees, retirees, spouses, domestic partners*, and children interested in supplementing their life insurance coverage (employee/retiree must participate in the State's basic Group Life Insurance Program).

*Open enrollment periods are conducted for these benefits.  Eligible employees will be allowed to enroll during their agency's open enrollment period without the need for medical underwriting or a physical examination, subject to certain coverage limitations.  This privilege will be extended to new employees hired after the open enrollment period concludes.

Note: The definition of a full-time, active employee may vary by vendor.  Please contact vendors for eligibility requirements.

*Domestic Partners are defined as:  At least 18 years of age, of the same sex, have lived together at least 12 months, are not married to someone else and are jointly responsible for maintaining a common household.

** Open enrollment periods are conducted for these benefits.  Eligible employees will be allowed to enroll during their agency's open enrollment period without the need for medical underwriting or a physical examination, subject to certain coverage limitations.  This privilege will be extended to new employees hired after the open enrollment period concludes.

***Grandchildren who are residents of New York and under the age of 14 ½ are not eligible.

Additional voluntary benefits and programs such as the Connecticut State Employees Credit Union, the State Employees Campaign for Charitable Giving, Dependent Care Assistance Program and YMCA membership are available through payroll deductions.  For further information contact your local Human Resources office.