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March 2, 2000

Shorter-term disability plan for staff outlined

A short-term disability plan for classified staff who have worked at Pitt for at least six months will take effect April 1.

Such staff who can't work because of long-term illness or injury will, after 30 calendar days, begin receiving 60 percent of their salaries, under the plan.

After a total of 26 weeks (including the 30-day waiting period), the University's long-term disability plan would kick in and continue providing 60 percent of salary.

As long as employees remain medically disabled, they can continue to receive long-term disability payments until they qualify for Social Security benefits at age 65.

During the initial 30 days, staff must use their accumulated, paid sick days and may also use accrued vacation days and personal holidays.

Currently, ill or injured staff must fend for themselves for six months on unpaid leaves — in most cases, using accumulated, paid sick and vacation days and personal holidays to provide income during a portion of that time — until they qualify for the University's long-term disability plan.

Faculty, in contrast to staff, receive 100 percent of the salaries for the six months it takes to qualify for long-term disability coverage. After that, they receive 60 percent of pay.

Establishment of the new benefit won't change Pitt's current sick days policy for staff, said Ron Frisch, associate vice chancellor for Human Resources.

"There were no trade-offs in establishing this new benefit," he said. "Nobody loses anything. It's simply a gain for staff."

Frisch denied any cause-and-effect relationship between the new staff benefit and Pitt's new health insurance deal with UPMC Health System — although, he allowed, cost savings from the latter made the staff short-term disability plan more feasible. (See page 7.) Human Resources plans to mail brochures to staff later this month, describing the new plan and answering questions about short-term disability leaves.

CNA Insurance will underwrite Pitt's new plan.

— Bruce Steele

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