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November 20, 2008


Second Annual MyHealth Weight Race!

Back by popular demand, the University of Pittsburgh working in collaboration with UPMC Health Plan and the University’s Department of Health and Physical Activity will once again be offering faculty and staff members, as well as their spouse/partner, the opportunity to participate in the MyHealth Weight Race. The Race, which will begin in January, is a twelve-week weight loss competition that is designed to be an enjoyable opportunity for individuals to lose or to maintain a healthy weight in a supportive atmosphere. Free nutritional counseling with registered dieticians, health coaches, and ongoing educational newsletters are some of the key supports offered to engage participants. Last year, nearly 1,300 participants took part in the Race. The average weight loss per participant was six and one-half pounds.

The Health Plan conducted focus groups that provided valuable feedback. Many of the recommendations will be incorporated into the 2009 race including:

Individuals will have the option to join their colleagues in the creation of a team OR individuals will have the option to participate by themselves in the Race. Both groups will be eligible for prizes.

An additional “official” weigh-in will be offered to further engage the participants.

A more streamlined registration process involving web-based enrollment of teams similar to the “Pitt Steps It Up” challenge.

Additional details regarding the race, including registration information, will be mailed on campus to all faculty and staff members in December.

Health Care and Dependent Day Care Flexible Spending Account Deadline Change Reminder

With the implementation of electronic claims filing for flexible spending accounts, a faster turnaround for reimbursements has resulted. For this reason, the grace period for submitting healthcare and dependent day care claims against the appropriate flexible spending account (FSA) was reduced from one year to six months as announced during open enrollment in April 2007.

All healthcare and dependent day care claims that were incurred between July 1, 2007 and June 30, 2008 must be submitted for reimbursement no later than December 31, 2008.

The federal regulations have provided an extension that allows for healthcare claims to be incurred until September 15, 2008. However, the deadline for submitting claims for reimbursement remains December 31, 2008.

Benefit plans, in accordance with IRS regulations, are not allowed to make exceptions to this deadline.

Please contact the University’s flexible spending account administrator, eBDS, for account balances and eligibility information. eBDS may be reached by calling 1-800-207-9310.

Qualified Commuter Expense Account Deadline Reminder

No changes have been made to the deadline for submitting claims for reimbursement from the two Qualified Commuter Expense Accounts: the Qualified Parking Expense Account and the Qualified Mass Transit Account.

Claims incurred during the plan year while you are enrolled in a program, must be submitted within 90 days after the end of the plan year (by September 30th) to receive reimbursement for expenses incurred during that plan year. For example, expenses incurred between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2009 must be submitted with the appropriate documentation to eBDS by September 30, 2009 to be eligible for reimbursement. Employees terminating participation in a program have 90 days to submit unclaimed expenses to be eligible for reimbursement.

Please note that unclaimed funds in a Qualified Parking Expense Account and/or a Qualified Mass Transit Account will roll over from month to month and plan year to plan year. This means that any portion of your monthly contribution to a Qualified Commuter Expense Account that is not reimbursed during a particular month will roll over to subsequent months until you submit an eligible claim.

Unlike the Health Care and Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts, the “use it or lose it” rule does not apply to the Qualified Parking Expense Accounts unless you discontinue the program, or if you terminate employment and do not submit eligible claims for reimbursement within 90 days of termination.

Please contact the University’s flexible spending account administrator, eBDS, for more information regarding Qualified Commuter Expense Accounts. eBDS may be reached at 1-800-207-9310.

New Option to Defined Contribution Retirement Plan – The Roth 403(b):

Effective October 1, 2008 the University of Pittsburgh introduced a new option within the Defined Contribution Savings Plan called the Roth after-tax 403(b) option.

Meetings were conducted by the Benefits Department staff, TIAA-CREF, and Vanguard across all of the University’s campuses during the month of September to provide information on the Roth after-tax 403(b) and answer questions pertaining to the University’s Retirement Plan options.

Information was mailed to the home address of all participants introducing the Roth after-tax 403(b) including brochures from both Vanguard and TIAA-CREF.

The Roth after-tax 403(b) provides diversity in the taxation of a portfolio upon retirement. The main difference between Roth and pre-tax 403(b) involves the taxation of the employee contributions. Pre-tax contributions and any earnings on the contributions are taxed upon withdrawal. Under the Roth 403(b), contributions are taxed when first deducted from your paycheck. However, upon retirement, the contributions and any earnings on those contributions are not taxable.

Additional information pertaining to the Roth after-tax 403(b) including Roth enrollment instructions, a Roth presentation, and frequently asked questions can be found on the University’s HR Web page at

Participants can make changes to their 403(b) contributions once per month. Keep in mind, the Roth is an option within the Defined Contribution Plan. Changes to either the Basic or Supplemental plans can be completed by going through the University’s Online Enrollment Guide at:

Changes must be completed by the last day of the month in order to be effective the first of the following month.

All of the Roth 403(b) contributions made by a participant will count towards the IRS limits for the calendar year.

Retirement counselors at both TIAA-CREF and Vanguard can be reached at:

TIAA-CREF: 1-800-842-2776 or online at to schedule an on-campus, one-on-one appointment with a TIAA-CREF consultant.

Vanguard: 1-800-662-0106 ext 14500 or online at to schedule an on-campus, one-on-one appointment with a Vanguard consultant.

“Pitt Steps It Up” – Challenge

The “Pitt Steps It Up” exercise challenge is nearing the finish line. More than 1,700 faculty and staff along with family members joined in this competition. The challenge was conceived by Dr. John Jakicic, Chairperson of the Department of Health and Physical Activity and programmed internally by Bob Alt, Systems Analyst/Webmaster within the Human Resources Department.

David Garcia, an ACSM Clinical Exercise Specialist within Dr. Jakicic’s department, has been providing daily motivational messages and keeping participants engaged with his “Ask David” interactive Web page on the site specifically created for the challenge. Participants are completing their sixth and final week of the challenge. Through four and one-half weeks, nearly 400 million steps have been taken! The goal is to reach the half-billion step mark at the end of six weeks. All campuses are participating and the feedback has been extremely positive to the challenge. The results and prizes will be announced on the website Tuesday, November 25th.

NOTE: The benefits of employees covered by collective bargaining agreements will be governed by the terms of those agreements.

Important Contact Information

Benefits Department

Office Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. M–F

200-B Craig Hall

Phone: 412-624-8160

Fax: 412-624-3485

Please visit our Web site for FAQs, downloadable forms and other benefits information.

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