Phased Retirement Program

The Phased Retirement Program (PRP) is intended to facilitate retirement decisions by allowing eligible faculty the option to continue participation in academic life and mentoring of students while preparing for the future. PRP was first introduced in 1988 to allow eligible tenured faculty to receive retirement benefits and work part-time for UNC Asheville on a three-year academic contract. Tenured faculty who qualify will receive a letter from the Provost extending an opportunity to participate in the Phased Retirement Program.

Who is Eligible?

Full-time tenured faculty members with at least five (5) years of UNC Asheville service who participate in the Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System (TSERS) or Optional Retirement Program (ORP) are eligible to apply for PRP participation if they:

  1. are at least age 62 [for TSERS participants] or at least age 59 ½ [for ORP participants] upon entering the Phased Retirement Program; and
  2. are eligible to receive a benefit under the TSERS or ORP plans.

A break in service is not required prior to entering PRP because the ages listed above meet “normal retirement age” requirements for the purposes of this program.

Additional eligibility details can be found within the Faculty Handbook, Section 2.12.2, Phased Retirement Program.  Faculty members participating in the Phased Retirement Program vacate their tenured faculty positions when they begin the program.

When Is Notification Sent Out?

Notification for participation in the Phased Retirement Program is emailed to potentially eligible faculty during the fall semester.

Announcement Notification for UNC Asheville's Phased Retirement Program

How Do I Apply?

The faculty member formally applies to the PRP by submitting an unsigned Phased Retirement Program Application and Reemployment Agreement (the “Agreement”) directly to the department head. Details about the application and approval process are explained in the announcement that is sent each fall.   

What Is the ORP or TSERS Retirement Process?

Eligible faculty members may elect to begin receiving the benefits accrued under the Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System (TSERS) or the Optional Retirement Program (ORP), but they are not required to do so. State Health Plan benefits [if eligible] are not provided unless in receipt of a monthly retirement benefit.

Faculty participating in the Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System (TSERS) may begin the retirement process no sooner than 120 days prior to the effective date of retirement while participants of the ORP should begin at least 90 days prior to the retirement effective date. Even though retirement processing time frames are in place, planning generally begins at least a year in advance of the retirement date.

What Happens To Employee Benefit Plans?

Faculty members who retire from TSERS or receive a monthly annuity benefit from the ORP carrier are eligible for retiree health benefits. Dependent coverage premiums are deducted from monthly TSERS payments. ORP participants will be direct-billed by the State Health Plan and may set up payment by bank draft. During the 3-year PRP period, most other benefit deductions continue through payroll deducted.

 

Are There Annual Earnings Limitations Or Salary Restrictions?

Those in Phased Retirement are limited to 50% of their faculty base salary paid out in the last 12 months prior to the start of phased retirement.  This means no summer session pay, grants, distance education classes, etc. for the first year after phased retirement begins.  Subject to any limitations imposed under the State Retirement System and the legislative appropriations process, PRP participants are eligible for salary increases and merit pay in subsequent years of Program participation based on annual evaluations.  After phased retirement, there are currently no earnings limitations for ORP retirees; however, TSERS plan rules impose specific earnings limitations for retirees who return to service, including PRP participants. The allowable earnings limit is adjusted annually on January 1 by the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index, a national measure of increase in the cost of living from one year to the next.

How Does Social Security Coordinate with Phased Retirement?

Full retirement age (FRA) as defined by Social Security Administration (SSA) for eligibility for SSA benefits is determined by a retiree’s date of birth. See the web link below for more information.

Other Resources

Questions?

For additional information on applying for Phased Retirement, contact Elaine Warren in the Office of the Provost: ebwarren@unca.edu or 828.251-6471.

For additional information on retirement (ORP or TSERS) or benefits during Phased Retirement, contact Kim Fisher in the HR Benefits Office:  kfisher@unca.edu or 828.350.4589.