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If you elect the Virginia Retirement System, you will have the choice to elect the Virginia Sickness and Disability Program (VSDP) or Peer Coverage.

If you elect the Optional Retirement Plan (ORP) you will be covered by Peer Coverage.

Virginia Sickness and Disability Program (VSDP)

The Virginia Sickness Disability Program (VSDP) is a free benefit through the Virginia Retirement System that provides income protection if you can’t work because of a non-work related or work-related illness, injury or other condition, such as surgery, pregnancy, complications from pregnancy or major chronic or catastrophic conditions. VSDP consists of four different components:

Short-term disability

With the short-term disability coverage, there is a one-year waiting period before you can access the benefit. After the one-year waiting period, the program provides you with 60% income replacement for up to six months from your second year of employment to your fifth year of employment. After your fifth year of employment, the income replacement then goes to a graduated scale of 100% to 80% to 60%.

There is a five work-day waiting period before you can begin a short-term disability claim. During that waiting period, we would then use the sick leave or family personal time that you have through this program to satisfy the waiting period.

During the six-month short-term disability, your status as a JMU employee continues, along with your benefits. This program actually provides more protection than federal law.

New employees in the Virginia Sickness and Disability Program who are subject to the one-year waiting period may purchase short-term disability through Aflac, upon qualification. Aflac’s Personal Disability Income Protector Benefit provides a source of income while off work for sickness and/or a non-work related accident disability. This benefit will be an after-tax payroll deduction.

Long-term disability

After six months if you are unable to return to work full time, full duty, then you transition into long-term disability.

At this point, you are no longer a JMU employee. The department will fill your position.

You are, however, still considered a State of Virginia employee. The program will continue to provide you with 60% income replacement for as long as you clinically remain disabled. You also are able to maintain the benefits through the State of Virginia; however, with the health insurance, you would have to pay the entire premium.

Each year that you are in long-term disability counts as another year of Virginia Retirement System service; therefore, you eventually transition over to a service retirement upon reaching the combination of 90 which is when age and service together equal 90 or when you reach unreduced Social Security age. The Virginia Sickness and Disability Program also provides its participants with a $96 daily benefit of long-term care at no cost.

Peer Coverage

If you elect the Optional Retirement Plan your disability plan is Peer Coverage.

Peer coverage is not a policy, but rather a practice at the university where in the case of a sickness or disability, the department will provide 12 weeks of paid coverage. Anything above the 12 weeks of coverage is discretionary in how the department may choose to pay you for your absence.

If you are covered under Peer Coverage, you have the option to purchase voluntary, long-term disability insurance through UNUM.

UNUM Long-term Disability Income Protection

Faculty members that elected the ORP or elected VRS, but chose to participate in peer coverage can purchase UNUM long-term disability coverage.

UNUM Long-term disability coverage is income replacement in a situation where the employee is considered disabled. Employees can elect 25%, 40%, or 50% of their earnings to supplement income. The cost of UNUM long-term disability is based on the employee’s age and salary. If the employee enrolls within the first 60 days of employment an evidence of insurability is not required. If the employee does not elect to enroll in UNUM, there is an open enrollment period that occurs every even year in the spring.


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