FAQs - Retiree

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for prospective and current retirees of Columbia University.

FAQs

Q. How can I learn more about planning for my retirement?
A. The Columbia University Benefits department sponsors retirement planning workshops several times a year. Workshops are designed to give participants an overview of the retirement planning process and provide education on topics including taxation, income requirements and estate planning. You may register on the Benefits website under “Events.” In addition to the workshops, the University’s investment carriers provide one-on-one counseling with participants to assist with decision making on investments and personal planning for retirement. You can register at the appropriate vendor websites.

Q. I am thinking of retiring. What do I need to do?  
A. Contact the Benefits Service Center at [email protected] or call 212-851-7000 to discuss your options or to schedule a meeting with a benefits specialist. Faculty should also contact The Office of Faculty Retirement for information on transitioning to retirement

Q. Can I choose to remain in Columbia University's sponsored retiree medical coverage?
A. No. Columbia University's traditional retiree medical coverage for Medicare-eligible retirees and Medicare-eligible covered spouses/same-sex domestic partners will end on December 31, 2022. You must select a new medical plan for continued coverage; contact Via Benefits to explore your options.

Q. I am turning age 65 and still working at Columbia University. Do I need to apply for Medicare?
A. No. You do not need to apply for Medicare if you are still employed by the University and eligible for benefits. If you are 65 or older and decide to retire, contact Medicare at medicare.gov or call 877-267-2323 60-90 days ahead of your retirement date to discuss your options.

Q. I am turning age 65 and am about to retire. Do I need to apply for Medicare to enroll in Via Benefits?
A. Yes. You must have Medicare Parts A and B coverage to enroll in medical coverage through the Medicare marketplace. If you're not currently enrolled, visit medicare.gov, call 1-800-772-1213 or visit your local Social Security office.

Q. What is the Medicare marketplace?
A. The Medicare marketplace refers to all the individual insurance coverage choices insurance companies across the country make available to Medicare-eligible retirees. The Medicare marketplace is separate from state marketplaces connected with the Affordable Care Act. The marketplace can offer expanded choices at affordable prices by leveraging the buying power of millions of retirees who enroll for coverage.

Q. Can I continue to see my current doctors?
A.
If you want to continue to see your current doctor(s), before you call to enroll in Via Benefits, ask your doctor(s) which insurance plans they accept. And, when you enroll, have each doctor's name and address to share with the Via Benefits advisor.

Q. What options do I have as a retiree for dental coverage?
A. If you are enrolled in the Aetna Dental Plan you may continue this coverage for up to 18 months under COBRA. You will receive a COBRA packet in the mail and have 30 days in which to enroll. If you are not enrolled in the Aetna Dental Plan you can seek services from the Columbia Dentists which may be discounted.

Q. Can I use my life insurance after I leave Columbia University?
A. You can convert your life insurance coverage to an individual policy by contacting Cigna at 800-423-1282. Rates will be based on your current age. Evidence of insurability will not be required as long as you apply within 31 days after retirement.

Q. How can I learn more about planning for my retirement?
A. The Columbia University Benefits department sponsors retirement planning workshops several times a year. Workshops are designed to give participants an overview of the retirement planning process and provide education on topics including taxation, income requirements and estate planning. You may register on the Benefits website under “Events.” In addition to the workshops, the University’s investment carriers provide one-on-one counseling with participants to assist with decision making on investments and personal planning for retirement. You can register at the appropriate vendor websites.

Q. I am thinking of retiring. What do I need to do?  
A. Contact the Benefits Service Center at [email protected] or call 212-851-7000 to discuss your options by phone or to schedule a meeting with a benefits specialist.

Q. As a member of Columbia's Support Staff, am I eligible for Retiree Medical coverage?
A. You may be eligible for Support Staff Retiree Medical benefits if you leave the University on or after age 55 and have completed at least 10 years of continuous benefits-eligible service with the University after the age of 45.

Q. I am turning age 65 and still working at Columbia University. Do I need to apply for Medicare?
A. No. You do not need to apply for Medicare if you are still employed by the University and eligible for benefits. If you are 65 or older and decide to retire, contact Medicare at www.medicare.gov or call 877-267-2323 60-90 days ahead of your retirement date to discuss your options.

Q. I am turning age 65 and am about to retire. Do I need to apply for Medicare if I elect a Columbia University Retiree Medical Plan?
A. To enroll in a Columbia University retiree medical plan, you must enroll in Medicare Parts A and B. The Supplemental plans offered by Columbia University are secondary to Medicare. These plans also include prescription drug coverage so there is no need to enroll in Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage).

Q. What options do I have as a retiree for dental coverage?
A. If you are enrolled in the Dental Plan you may continue this coverage for up to 18 months under COBRA. You will receive a COBRA packet in the mail and have 30 days in which to enroll.

Q. Can I use my life insurance after I leave Columbia University?
A. You can convert your life insurance coverage to an individual policy by contacting Cigna at 800-423-1282. Rates will be based on your current age. Evidence of insurability will not be required as long as you apply within 31 days after retirement.