CSEA Benefits Orientation

Welcome to SUNY Cortland | Benefits at a Glance

SUNY Cortland offers a comprehensive benefits package to its employees.  To help you get a better understanding of the benefits that are available to you, the Human Resource Employee Benefits Office presents this online orientation as a general guide.

Because SUNY Cortland is a public institution in the State University of New York (SUNY) system, benefits are provided through both New York State and union representation.  This orientation is for classified staff represented by CSEA (Civil Service Employees Association).

Benefit descriptions, eligibility requirements, effective dates, and costs are all detailed along with the forms listed below.

You will be scheduled for an in-person benefits orientation on your first day of employment. Although the benefit information presented in the orientation session is available online, you may still choose to attend an orientation session in person.

If you have any questions or would like to attend an orientation session, please contact Employee Benefits at 607-753-2302 or at michelle.congdon@cortland.edu.

Health Insurance

New CSEA staff who are eligible have the opportunity to participate in the New York State Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP) which is one of the largest group health insurance programs in the United States. NYSHIP provides valuable medical benefits for you and your eligible dependents through two different options: The Empire Plan with some managed care features, or health care from a participating Health Maintenance Organization (HMO). Both options provide medical and surgical care, hospital expense benefits, mental health and substance abuse benefits and prescription drug coverage. There are no pre-existing condition exclusions.

Am I Eligible?
Full-time CSEA staff are eligible for health benefits if they have an appointment of at least three (3) months duration.  Part-time CSEA staff are eligible to receive benefits if they are hired to work at least half-time hours and are appointed for at least three (3) months.

Are my dependents eligible for coverage?
You may enroll for either individual or family coverage. Eligible dependents include a spouse or domestic partner and children under the age of 26.  If you wish to carry family coverage, copies of the following documents are needed to support your dependent’s eligibility: marriage certificate for a spouse, proof of current financial interdependence if married for more than one year, proof of residency and financial interdependence for a domestic partnership. Copies of birth certificate(s) and social security card(s) will also be required prior to enrolling all dependents.

When will my coverage be effective?
If you wish to enroll for health insurance/prescription coverage, you must select a plan within the first 42 days of appointment to avoid any extended waiting period. Coverage will be effective on the 43rd day of employment.

What is the cost of coverage?
New York State pays a significant portion of the premium for yourself and your dependents. You pay the balance which is deducted from your paycheck on a bi-weekly basis. There are two types of coverage that you may purchase: individual or family.  For current rates, visit health insurance rates (PDF).

One of the decisions you will need to make when enrolling for health insurance is whether or not to participate in the Pre-Tax Contribution Program (PDF) (PTCP). Under PTCP, your health insurance premiums are deducted from your pay before taxes are taken out. This lowers your taxable income and gives you more spendable income. Under Internal Revenue Rules (IRS), if you participate in PTCP, you cannot change your health insurance deduction once the amount is set for the tax year unless you have a "qualifying event".

Health Insurance Plan Choices

Empire Plan
Membership in the New York State Empire Plan allows you to seek medical services from any doctor, hospital, or health care provider that you wish. Hospital and related benefit coverage is provided through Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Major medical/surgical benefits, provided by United HealthCare, are available through participating and non-participating providers. Participating providers, which are paid directly by the insurance company, have agreed to accept the negotiated usual, customary and reasonable (UCR) fees as payment for services. You are responsible for a co-payment: $25 for office visits, diagnostic/therapeutic services, and rehabilitative care. Fees for services received through non-participating providers may be higher than the UCR rates and are subject to an annual deductible. Once your annual deductible is met, reimbursement is 80% of reasonable and customary expenses. Claims for services from providers who do not participate in the plan are submitted using a claim form.

Empire Plan Participating Providers
CVS/Caremark Prescription Drug Plan 1-877-769-7447

Under the Empire Plan prescription drug plan, you can have your prescriptions filled at any network pharmacy, the mail service pharmacy or the designated specialty pharmacy. This plan uses a flexible formulary and for up to a 30-day supply of a covered drug, you pay a $5 copayment for Level 1 or most generic drugs, a $25 copayment for Level 2, preferred drugs or compound drugs and a $45 copayment for Level 3 or non-preferred drugs.  This plan also allows for a 90-day supply of a covered drug, you pay a $10 copay for Level 1 (generic), $60 for Level 2 and $120 for Level 3. The network of participating pharmacies includes many of the major chains as well as several independent pharmacies.

Health Maintenance Organizations
HMOs are managed health delivery systems organized to deliver health care services in a specific geographic area. An HMO provides a predetermined set of benefits through a network of selected physicians, laboratories and hospitals for a prepaid premium. Except for emergency services, you and your enrolled dependents must receive services from your primary care physician (which you select at the time of enrollment) or at health centers or hospitals affiliated with the HMO unless you have made other arrangements with your HMO. Medically necessary visits to specialists are covered when authorized by your primary care physician. If you select services outside your HMO network, payment for these services will generally be your responsibility.

All HMOs charge a small co-payment for certain services, usually in the form of a per-visit fee. HMOs have no annual deductibles and rarely, if ever, are claim forms required. Member’s out-of-pocket costs are usually the lowest with this type of plan.

How do I enroll?
Please indicate your intention to participate or not to participate in a health insurance plan on the Benefits Election Form. To enroll, you please complete the New York State Health Insurance Transaction Form (PS-404) (PDF) online or provided in your orientation packet and return it to the Employee Benefits Office, Miller Administration Building, room 301, within 42 days of your appointment date to avoid any extended waiting period.

If you are currently covered under an employer-sponsored group insurance plan through other employment of your own, or a plan that your spouse, domestic partner, or parent has as a result of his or her employment, you may qualify for the Opt Out Form (PS-409) (PDF). This program allows eligible employees to opt out of health insurance coverage through SUNY Cortland in exchange for an incentive payment. To participate in the Opt-Out Program, you must complete the New York State Health Insurance Transaction Form (PS-404) (PDF) and the Opt Out Form (PS-409) (PDF) no later than the first date of your eligibility for health insurance benefits.

Dental and Vision

The CSEA Employee Benefit Fund provides vision and dental benefits at no cost to employees who meet the eligibility requirements for participation in the New York State Health Insurance Program. These benefits are available to you and your eligible dependents whether you enroll for individual or family coverage in the health insurance program or decline to participate. Coverage under the CSEA Employee Benefit Fund is not automatic; you must first enroll yourself and your dependents.

Detailed information about eligibility requirements for you and your dependents, covered benefits, and instructions on how to use your plans may be found at the CSEA Employee Benefit Fund.

Dental Care

CSEA Dental Plan
One Lear Jet Lane
Suite One
Latham, NY 12110
CSEA Employee Benefit Fund - Dental Benefits

Eligible members and dependents are entitled to one comprehensive dental examination and cleaning every 6 months. Other services may be covered in full if performed by a participating provider. If you choose to use a non-participating provider, you will be eligible for a partial reimbursement. Dependent children who are age 19 or older, but under age 25, are eligible if they are full-time students. Student verification will be required.

CSEA Dental Claim Form

Vision Care

Davis Vision
PO Box 1525
Latham, NY 12110
Davis Vision website

Eligible members and dependents over the age of 19 are entitled to vision services once every two years (24 months from the last month of benefits received). Dependent children who are age 19 or older, but under age 25, are eligible if they are full-time students. Student verification will be required. Dependent children up to the age of 19 are entitled to vision services every year (12 months). When using a network of participating providers, the benefit includes an eye exam and one pair of glasses without co-payment (from a select frame assortment) or plan-covered contact lenses. A $25 allowance toward non-plan contact lenses (specialty contact lenses, i.e. colored, toric, gas permeable, etc., are not covered in full). A list of participating providers is available from Davis Vision.  If you choose to use a non-participating provider, you will be eligible for a partial reimbursement toward the cost of your exams, glasses, frames or contact lenses.

Davis Vision Form

How do I enroll?
You will be eligible for coverage as soon as you complete a 28-day waiting period. To enroll, complete the CSEA Enrollment Card provided by the CSEA Employee Benefit Fund or enroll online.

Retirement Plans

Full-time permanent employees (with appointments of 3 months or more) are required to join a retirement system within 30 days of their appointment/hire date.  Part-time employees and those with provisional or temporary appointments have the option to join a retirement system at any time.

Retirement Plan Options
Eligibility for a retirement system depends on a variety of factors, including your bargaining unit/union, your position classification, and whether you are full or part-time.

CSEA and PEF employees are eligible to join the New York State and Local Employees' Retirement System (ERS). ERS is a defined benefit pension retirement system. Retirement pension benefits will depend on the results of a calculation at the time of retirement that takes into account the final average salary, number of years of credited membership service, and age at the time of retirement.

Vesting: What is it and when am I vested?
When you are vested, you have ownership of the assets held in your retirement account. Vesting does not mean that you have an immediate right to withdraw these assets, but simply that you would retain these assets upon termination of employment. The vesting period is ten (10) years of full-time credited service.

What are the employer and employee contributions?

Your contributions will be made on a before-tax basis (federal taxes only) through payroll deduction, throughout your active membership.

Employee Contribution Rate:  Contribution rates are based on a member's salary: 

          3% for $45,000 or less
          3.5% for $45,001 - $55,000
          4.5% for $55,001 - $75,000
          5.75% for $75,001 - $100,000
          6% for $100,001 or more

Retirement Plan Enrollment

All new employees must use the SUNY online enrollment and management system at retirementatwork.org/suny. Please refer to the ERS enrollment guide (PDF) for instructions.

You must also complete the ERS Membership Application and return it to the Employee Benefits Office.

ERS Tier VI Membership Application (PDF) 

For further information and/or assistance with the enrollment process, please contact the Employee Benefits Office.

Tax Deferred Annuities and College Savings Program

The State University of New York provides employees with the opportunity to save for their retirement through the SUNY Voluntary 403(b) Tax-Deferred Annuity Program (PDF) and the NYS Deferred Compensation Plan.

Participating in a tax-deferred voluntary savings plan is a great way to build your retirement savings and reduce current taxes. 

All employees who receive a W2 from SUNY are eligible to participate in the SUNY voluntary savings programs.

Voluntary Savings Plan Overview
These programs allow employees to have money deducted from their paychecks on a pre-tax basis to help supplement their post-retirement income from Social Security, employer sponsored pension plans, and personal savings.  Your contributions, plus earnings, are not taxed until you withdraw the funds, allowing for even greater savings through tax-deferred growth. Usually this will be during your retirement, when your income may fall within a lower tax bracket.

Voluntary Savings Plan Types
There are two different types of voluntary savings plans available to SUNY employees, each type being authorized under a different section of IRS Code:

SUNY Voluntary 403(b) Tax-Deferred Annuity Program (PDF) 
Section 403(b) tax-deferred annuity investment retirement savings plan administered by and available to employees of SUNY State-operated or community college campuses. Some of the key features of this plan include:

  • Wide variety of tax-deferred annuity fund investment options representing key asset classes.
  • Choice of authorized investment provider(s) to invest with.
  • Payroll deduction and remittance of desired contributions to the Investment Provider of your choice.
  • Flexible and convenient distribution options.
  • Lifetime income stream annuity option availability.
  • Loan and hardship withdrawal availability.
  • Free individual investment fund selection, asset allocation, and financial planning assistance are available at your campus or by appointment.
  • In depth investment and wealth management services may also be available. Additional fees may apply, consult providers for details.
  • Investment educational programs and related services in partnership with SUNY to help employees achieve their retirement savings goals.

New York State Deferred Compensation Plan 
Section 457(b) tax-deferred mutual fund investment retirement savings plan administered by the NYS Deferred Compensation Board and available to all NYS employees and employees of participating community colleges and localities. The Plan provides a wide array of investment options selected by the Board. Some of the key features of this plan include:

  • Wide variety of tax-deferred mutual fund investment options representing key asset classes.
  • Payroll deduction and remittance of desired contributions.
  • Flexible and convenient distribution options.
  • Loan and hardship withdrawal availability.
  • Investment educational programs and related services to help employees achieve their retirement savings goals.
  • Post-tax Roth IRA option.

Both plans function similarly but there are a few important key differences between the two plan types that you should be aware of. The SUNY Voluntary Savings Programs 403(b) vs 457 (PDF) chart provides a summary containing further details about some of the key features and differences between 403(b) and 457(b) plans to help you decide which plan is right for you.

What are my tax deferred savings options?
There are several different plan options and investment providers to choose from through the SUNY voluntary savings plan. The authorized investment providers offer a wide choice of investment options, including stock, bond and guaranteed funds.  The following plans and investment providers are available:

Contact:  Claire Coombs
TIAA SUNY Retirement website

Voya Financial
Contact:  Courtenay Tresco
Contact:  Stephen Donella, Jr.
Voya SUNY Be Ready to Retire website

Corebridge Financial (formerly AIG) Retirement
Contact:  Janet Lake
Corebridge SUNY Retirement website

Fidelity Investments 
Contact:  William Stark
1-844-FOR-SUNY (1-844-367-7869)
Fidelity SUNY Retirement Website

NYS Deferred Compensation Plan (457)
Contact:  Dan Kain
New York State Deferred Compensation Plan website

How much can I contribute?
For 2020, you may contribute up to $19,500 per year to either a 403(b) or a 457(b) account, or to both.

Because 403(b) and 457(b) plans are governed by different sections of IRS Code, employees may contribute to both plans concurrently, allowing a combined deferral maximum of up to $39,000 per year.

Contributions to all 403(b) and 457(b) plans are combined, so if you use multiple investment providers, or are also a participant in a 403(b) or 457(b) plan of another employer, your combined contributions cannot exceed the IRS limit for each plan type. If you do participate in more than one of each type of plan, you are responsible for tracking and reporting the amount of all of your contributions to the plans so that the total amount of all your contributions to all plans in which you participate do not exceed the IRS limit. Note also that the sum of all of your contributions, and those of your employers, to all 403(b) and 457 plans that you participate in are generally limited to the lesser of $57,000 or 100% of your annual compensation.

If you are age 50 or older any time during 2020, you can contribute an additional $6,500 to either type of plan, for a maximum of $26,000 per year.

Additional Information
You can learn more about the Voluntary Savings Plan details and options available to you by visiting the following links:

Enrollment and Changes to Your Plan
To enroll, visit either link (or call) as noted below. Once enrolled, you can review and change the amount of your contributions as often as once per pay period via the same processes as enrollment.  The exact date your investment allocations will take effect may vary depending upon the policies of the investment provider managing the investment options you chose for plan contributions.  To be certain you enter your election by the cut-off date indicated to impact the payroll date you wish to be affected, please refer to the SUNY 403(b) Plan Account - Payroll Change Schedule (PDF)

New York’s 529 College Savings Program
If you are looking for a way to save for your child’s college education, New York’s 529 College Savings Program may be of interest to you. This program allows parents, grandparents, relatives or friends to open an investment account for future college students with as little as $25.

Contributions to the account are invested according to the options selected by the account owner. The program’s investments are managed by The Vanguard Group, a leading financial services organization. The program provides significant tax advantages. New York taxpayers can deduct up to $5,000 in contributions each year from their New York taxable income and none of the investment earnings will be taxed by the state as long as the money is used for qualified higher education institutions anywhere. Federal tax on earnings is deferred until the student uses the money for college expenses, and then the earnings are taxable at the student’s income tax rate.

For additional information, call 877-697-2837 or visit New York's 529 College Savings Program.

Flex Spending Accounts

The Flex Spending Account is a state benefit that allows eligible employees to pay for certain expenses with pre-tax dollars.  The account offers three benefits: Health Care Spending Account (HCSAccount), Dependent Care Advantage Account (DCAAccount), and Adoption Advantage Account.

Health Care Spending Account
The HCSAccount allows employees to set aside from $100 to $2,700 annually in pretax salary to pay for health-care expenses not reimbursed by health insurance.

Dependent Care Advantage Account
The DCAAccount allows employees to set aside up to $5,000 annually in pretax salary for eligible child care, elder care, or disabled dependent care expenses. An employer contribution is available to employees based on salary. 

Adoption Advantage Account
The Adoption Advantage Account allows employees to set aside up to $14,080 in pretax salary for expenses related to the adoption of an eligible child. 

The 2020 plan year employer contribution rates for eligible employees:

If your salary is... The employer contribution is...
under $30,000 $800
$30,001 - $40,000 $700
$40,001 - $50,000 $600
$50,001 - $60,000 $500
$60,000 - $70,000 $400
over $70,000 $300
Graduate Assistants (GSEU) only $600

What’s the catch? Use-it-or-lose-it!
You must estimate your expenses carefully. If you overestimate your costs, you lose any money that remains in your account at the end of the calendar year.  

Eligibility Requirements and Enrollment

  • Must be receiving regular bi-weekly paychecks.
  • Must be eligible for health insurance.
  • Must enroll within 60 days of appointment, during the annual open enrollment period, or when you experience a valid change in status.

For program details or to enroll in the FSA, visit the New York State Flex Spending Account website or call the FSA hotline at 1-800-358-7202.

Vacation and Sick Leave

Employees earn accruals during the course of their employment in accordance with the CSEA contract agreement with New York State.  Employees will complete their time record in the online Time and Attendance System accessed through the myRedDragon portal.

Full-time employees earn at the rate of one half day per pay period after the completion of 13 pay periods of employment. Bonus days are added each year on vacation anniversary date at the rate of one day per year of service to a maximum of 20 days per year after 7 years.

Upon completion of 7 years of service, vacation is earned at a rate of 13 days per year for first 7 years then 20 days per year thereafter. Employees also receive bonus days upon completion of 20+ years of service.

Vacation is earned as noted, with completion of 1 to 35 or more years of service. Part-time employees who work a regular schedule of at least half-time earn accruals on a pro-rated basis.

On April 1 of each fiscal year, accumulated vacation credits in excess of 40 days are forfeited.

Years of Service 1 -7
Years of Service 8 - 35+
Years of Service 8 - 35+
1 14 8 – 14 20 8 – 19 20
2 15 15 – 19 21 20 – 24 21
3 16 20 – 24 22 25 – 29 22
4 17 25 – 29 23 30 – 34 23
5 18 30 – 34 24 35 or more 24
6 19 35 or more 25  
7 20  

Sick Leave*
Full-time employees earn at the rate of ½ day per pay period (13 days per year), up to an accumulated maximum of 200 days.
Part-time employees who work at least half-time earn on a pro-rated basis.

Personal Leave*
Full-time employees are credited with 5 days each year on personal leave anniversary date. Personal leave is not cumulative and any unused leave remaining at the close of business the day preceding the personal leave anniversary date is forfeited.

*Employees paid on an hourly basis do not qualify for Attendance Rules Coverage (holidays, vacation, sick leave, personal, etc.) until completion of 19 consecutive pay periods of at least half time service.

Benefits and Retirement Contact Information


Agency Police Services (APSU) and NYSCOPBA Customer Service

Dental: Emblem Health 800-947-0101
Vision: Davis Vision 800-999-5431
Website:  New York State Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP) website


Dental and Vision 800-323-2732
Website: CSEA Employee Benefits Fund website

Management Confidential (M/C)

Dental: Emblem Health 800-947-0101
Vision: Davis Vision 800-999-5431
Website: New York State Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP) website


Dental: Emblem Health 800-947-0101
Vision: Davis Vision 800-999-5431
Website: New York State Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP) website

United University Professions (UUP)

UUP Benefit Trust Fund 800-887-3863
Website: United University Professions (UUP) website

Dental: Delta Dental (group # 0165) 800-471-7093
Vision: Davis Vision 800-999-5431

Health Insurance

Empire Plan
Participating Empire Plan providers

Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield – hospitalization (in-patient admission requires pre-approval)
New York State Service Center
PO Box 1407
Church Street Station
New York, NY 10008-1407
Claims must be submitted with the YLS prefix

United Healthcare – Major Medical  (pre-authorization required for out-patient MRI, MRA, PET Scan, CT Scan, Nuclear Medicine Diagnostic testing)
PO Box 1600
Kingston, NY 12402-1600
Group #: 30500

CVS/Caremark - prescription
The Empire Plan Prescription Drug Program
PO Box 52136
Phoenix, AZ 85072-2136
Group #: RX6027 Bin #: 004336 RXPCN: ADV

Area HMO’s

CDPHP Capital District Physicians' Health Plan (CDPHP) website

HMO-Blue Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) website

MVP Health Plan MVP Healthcare website

Retirement Plans

New York State & Local Police and Fire Retirement System (ERS, PFRS)

Website: New York State Comptroller Retirement website

Corebridge Financial (formerly AIG)

Website: Corebridge SUNY Retirement website


Website: Fidelity SUNY Retirement website

NYS Deferred Compensation Program

Website: New York State Deferred Compensation Program website

NYS Teachers’ Retirement System (NYSTRS)

Website:  New York State Teacher's Retirement System website


Website: TIAA SUNY Retirement website


Website:  Voya SUNY Be Ready to Retire website