University of Southern California

USC Benefits

FAQ

Health care

When will I receive my USC Network Medical Plan ID card?

Your card will be mailed to your home address by HealthComp, the Third Party Administrator (TPA) for the plan. It will arrive in an envelope with the words "Member Card Enclosed" across the front of the envelope. All ID cards carry only the name of the enrolled employee (not dependents). Present the card whenever you seek care from a physician, hospital, pharmacy or any other medical provider. If you don't receive your card within 30 days, contact Health Plans at (213) 740-0035.

How do I find a participating USC Network Medical Plan physician?

To select a provider: For a USC Keck School of Medicine/USC Care Medical Group physician (Tier 1), go to the Doctors of USC website. For other in-network physicians (Tier 2) in California, go to the Anthem Blue Cross website and search for a provider within the Prudent Buyer network. For all other in-network providers across the nation (Tier 2 outside of California), access the Anthem BlueCard PPO network of providers. If you still need assistance finding a physician, contact the USC Health Plans office at (213) 740-0035.

How do I make an appointment with a physician I have chosen from the USC Network/Anthem Blue Cross website?

To make a doctor's appointment, call the provider's office directly. If you are seeing a USC Keck School of Medicine/USC Care Medical Group physician, tell the office you are covered by the USC Network Medical Plan. If you are seeing an Anthem Blue Cross Prudent Buyer physician, tell the doctor's office that you are covered by the USC Network Medical Plan and the plan uses the Anthem Blue Cross Prudent Buyer network. If you need to access a provider outside of California but within the U.S., identify yourself as having the Blue Cross/Blue Shield PPO plan.

What kind of referral or authorization do I need to see a specialist in the USC Network Medical Plan?

The USC Network Medical Plan does not require a referral or authorization for visits to specialists. It is important, however, that you tell any doctor you see about any other doctor visits you may have had recently and about all medications you are taking.

I received a billing statement from a health provider even though I have the USC Network Medical Plan. What should I do?

If you receive a billing statement from a health provider, be aware that HealthComp processes claims for the USC Network Medical Plan. Contact HealthComp for the payment status of your claim. At their website you can view your claims history and determine if your claim has been received or processed. If processed, you can also view your patient responsibility amount. If you are unsuccessful in resolving a claim issue with HealthComp, contact the USC Health Plans office for assistance at (213) 740-0035.

Why didn't I receive an ID card for Delta Dental?

Delta Dental does not issue ID cards for their plan—Delta verifies your eligibility using your Social Security number and the USC group number, 3378. If you wish to download an ID card, you may do so by registering on the Delta Dental website.

How do I access my VSP vision benefits?

VSP does not issue ID cards; once you've selected an eye care provider at their website, they'll verify your eligibility by using your USC Network subscriber ID number (if you are enrolled in the Network plan or USC Alternative Coverage). HMO participants who've chosen VSP can use their Social Security number to verify eligibility.

Call an optometrist directly to make an appointment. In order to receive the highest benefit coverage you must verify that the optometrist is a participating VSP Choice Network provider. To check your eligibility, view your personal benefits and/or to locate a participating VSP Choice Network provider, visit their website or call (800) 877-7195.

What is the difference between my current USC Network Health plan and USC Senior Care?

USC Senior Care is a Medicare supplement plan for retired employees and their eligible dependents who have Medicare Part A, B and D. The Senior Care plan also includes Delta Dental and the Vision Service Plan. The USC Network plan is only for active employees and their dependents.

Can I increase or decrease my flexible spending healthcare or dependent care amounts at any time?

No, you can only increase or decrease those elections if you have a "qualified" status change, as defined by the IRS (or during open enrollment). Remember, the change must be done within 30 days of the qualifying status change, and substantiating documentation is required.

When do my medical benefits end if I am on disability?

Employees on disability can continue their medical benefits for 4 months (1–4 yrs. of service), 8 months (5–9 yrs. of service) or 12 months (over 9 yrs. of service). If you return to work before your medical benefits end, your medical plan will continue as normal—but if you do not return to work and your medical benefits expire, you will need to elect COBRA in order to continue your medical benefits.

Do I need to sign up for Medicare if I am still working at age 65 or older and am still eligible for the USC medical benefits?

You do not have to sign up for Medicare Part B and Part D as long as you are an active benefits-eligible employee. We do recommend, however, that you sign up for Medicare Part A (hospital coverage) in order to get your information in the Medicare system. Part A is free in most cases. Medicare Part B (doctor services) will not be required until you fully leave employment.

If I am age 65 or older when I retire, what is the procedure for applying for Medicare?

When it comes time to retire, if you are age 65 or older you must contact your local Social Security for a Medicare application, or you may apply online. We recommended you apply 3 months in advance. Social Security will require USC to verify when your employer coverage began and is expected to end. Social Security will give you a form for Benefits to complete.


Retirement

When can I enroll in the USC Retirement Plan?

You can enroll in the USC's Retirement Savings Program after you have satisfied your 6-month/500 hour eligibility period (as long as you are over age 21). Benefits will track eligibility and notify you approximately 30 days prior to your eligibility start date. However, you can begin contributing to the supplemental retirement plan immediately upon hire, and you can change or suspend your contributions to that plan at any time. Your contributions to the supplemental plan are 100% vested.

If I contribute to the supplemental plan before I'm eligible for the USC Retirement Savings Plan, will the amount I contributed count toward that basic matched plan (5% plan) once I become eligible?

Contributions to the supplemental plan do not count toward the USC Retirement Savings Plan (basic matched plan)—they are two separate contributions. However, the two contributions combined cannot exceed the annual IRS voluntary limit.

I have an account from my previous employer—Can I rollover those funds?

If you have a retirement account from a previous employer, you may be eligible to rollover those funds into the supplemental retirement plan if you would like to consolidate your accounts. Contact your previous provider and Benefits for further information. Note that funds transferred will be subject to all of USC's plan rules, including rules on accessing balances.

Do I have to withdraw my money from my retirement plan once my employment ends?

You may leave your money in the USC retirement plans until age 70½. We do suggest you contact your vendor to discuss options and any possible restrictions.

Do I have to take the 70½ IRS-required minimum distribution from my retirement plan if I am still working?

The USC plan does not require taking the 70½ IRS-required minimum distribution from your retirement plan as long as you are still actively at work. If you have retirement accounts from other employers you will need to check with those plans to determine if they will require you to take a minimum distribution.

What is the process for collecting my money from the USC Retirement Savings Plan once I have left USC?

Contact your retirement vendor to discuss your options and request the applicable forms. After completing the forms and having your spouse's signature notarized (if applicable), submit the paperwork to Benefits, which will forward the documents to your vendor on your behalf.

Once I submit my resignation how quickly can I submit forms to withdraw my USC retirement funds?

We recommended waiting a pay cycle to allow all final contributions to post to your account. Also, we cannot process your withdrawal paperwork until the payroll system no longer shows you as active employee and specifies a termination date.

Can I get money from my retirement plan while I am still working for USC?

Faculty may take an in-service withdrawal if over age 59½ and not tenured. Staff may take an in-service withdrawal if over age 59½. All withdrawals are subject to taxes and will be reported as income to the IRS.

Will I pay taxes and a penalty if I withdraw from my retirement plan?

If you rollover your funds, it is not subject to immediate taxation. If you are over the age of 59 1/2 or elect a lifetime annuity there is no IRS penalty applied. You will pay taxes for all withdraws to cash. If you rollover your funds to another retirement plan (i.e., IRA or new employer plan) you will not incur a penalty or taxes.

Can I take out a loan on my retirement account?

Contact Benefits for eligibility.

How much notice should I give when I am ready to retire?

When you're ready to retire, consider giving about 3 months' notice to Medicare, and to your retirement vendors, so that you have plenty of time to review your distribution options. We recommend 30 days' notice to the SSRP, and business etiquette suggests a minimum of 2 weeks' notice to your department.

As a retiree, can I continue to get football tickets at the employee discount rate?

You may continue to get football tickets at the employee discount rate when you retire; contact the ticket office for clarification.

How do I get the retiree Gold Card?

The Emeriti Center provides the Gold Card for retired employees; contact them for more information at (213) 740-8921.

What happened to the benefit I have in the Support Staff Retirement Plan?

The Staff Plan (or SSRP) was amended to freeze benefits as of June 30, 2007 (for non-union participants) and December 2009 (for union participants) and to fully vest each participant as of their freeze dates. Vested benefits under the SSRP will be paid in accordance with the terms of that plan. When you end your employment, you will receive a notice informing you of your options. Upon retirement you should contact Benefits to fill out documents to begin your annuity payments.


Tuition Assistance Benefit (TAB)

Do I need to submit the TAB form every semester?

Employees must submit their TAB forms before the start of every semester (including summer). Dependents, spouses and domestic partners need only submit a TAB form their first semester.

If I am full-time staff or faculty, how much TAB do I get per semester?

Full-time employees using TAB for themselves are allowed a maximum of 6 units per semester or summer term, of which no more than 4 may be at the graduate level.

If I leave USC after 15 years of employment, are my dependents still eligible for post-employment TAB?

Faculty and staff hired on or after July 1, 2011 are not eligible for post-employment TAB for their children. Faculty and staff hired before July 1, 2011, who continue to work in a benefits-eligible position without a break in service, continue to accrue service credit toward the post-employment benefit. Faculty and staff who already completed 15 years of eligible service, whether currently active or previously terminated, retain the opportunity to use the post-employment benefit for their children.

Is TAB taxable?

Tuition Assistance granted for undergraduate work is not taxable if a child of an employee or former employee qualifies as the employee's or former employee's dependent under applicable IRS provisions. The employee or former employee will be asked to certify this by completing a Tuition Assistance Dependent Child Certification Form available at the Payroll website. In the case of a sponsoring employee or former employee who cannot certify to this effect, any tuition assistance for undergraduate courses taken by the child will be considered taxable and reportable income. This form must be filed and renewed at the beginning of each calendar year in which the dependent child is taking undergraduate courses.

All graduate coursework is considered taxable and reportable income to the sponsoring employee.


Life insurance

How do I file a claim for life or AD&D insurance?

In the event of an accident or death, Benefits will file a claim on your behalf once we are notified. In order to finalize a life insurance claim we need an original death certificate to send to Minnesota Life.

How do I change my beneficiaries?

You can change your beneficiaries at the Minnesota Life website; for retirement, contact your vendor.

What happens if my beneficiary is a child under the age of 18?

Our life insurance carrier, Minnesota Life, does not pay proceeds directly to minors (under age 18 in most states). We require a certified copy of court-issued letters of guardianship (or conservatorship) for the property (or estate) of the minor. Note that there are two types of guardianship: property and person. Minnesota Life requires guardianship for the property (estate).


Leaving USC

When do benefits end when I leave USC?

Your active employee coverage ends on the last day of the month in which your employment ends. If a deduction for medical or dental was taken from your final paycheck, it will be refunded back to you in 4–6 weeks.

If I am over age 65, do I qualify for COBRA?

If you are over 65, you do qualify for COBRA—but it is recommended that you decline COBRA and go directly onto Medicare. There are very specific Medicare enrollment deadlines which if missed will result in lifetime penalties. However, your spouse (if not Medicare-eligible) and other dependents may be eligible for COBRA if they meet the criteria.

Important Deadlines

A reminder that, for all plans, benefits-eligible employees must enroll within 30 days of hire, or wait until the next open enrollment period. Your coverage generally begins on the first day of the month after approval of your benefits enrollment transaction.

You must add or delete dependents within 30 days of a status change (also known as "qualifying life event"). See Starting your benefits and Changing your benefits for details.