Information About the Plan
1. What Is The Rhodes College′s Retirement Plan?
The Rhodes College Retirement Plan (the "Plan") is a Defined Contribution (“Money Purchase”) Plan. The Plan operates under Section 403(b) of the Internal Revenue Code and uses annuity contracts to provide retirement benefits. It was established by the Board of Trustees of Rhodes College as of January 1, 1945 and was amended and restated in its entirety on December 21st, 2002, to comply with certain tax law changes including the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (“GATT”), the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (“USERRA”), the Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996 (“SBJPA”), the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 (“TRA’97"), the Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 (“RRA”) and the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (“EGTRRA”).
As sponsor of the Plan, the College selects the “Funding Vehicles” into which employer contributions may be paid for the benefit of participants. Funding Vehicles are annuity contracts which meet the requirements of Section 403(b) of the Internal Revenue Code. Currently benefits are provided through annuities issued by
- the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA),
- the College Retirement Equities Fund (CREF) (TIAA′s companion organization)
Information concerning TIAA and CREF can be obtained by writing to:
730 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10017
You may also contact TIAA at (800) 842-2733 (or the TIAA-CREF telephone counseling center at (800) 842-2776).
TIAA, CREF, and any other insurance, variable annuity or investment company that provides Funding Vehicles available to Participants under the Plan are sometimes referred to herein as “Fund Sponsors”.
As part of its fiduciary duties under ERISA, the College periodically reviews the Funding Vehicles offered to Plan participants.
The Administrator of the Plan is Rhodes College. The Plan Year is the fiscal year (July 1 to June 30).
2. Who Is Eligible To Participate In The Plan?
All categories of employees are eligible to participate in this retirement plan except employees who normally work less than 20 hours per week, student employees, employees whose employment is governed by the terms of a collective bargaining agreement and leased employees. However, if your employment is incidental to your educational programs at Rhodes College, if you′re employed by Rhodes College primarily as a music commission teacher or as a consultant, or if you are not a regular Rhodes College employee and you are employed by or through the College on the basis of grants and/or contracts and/or agency agreements you are not eligible to participate. If you are treated as an independent contractor, but the Internal Revenue Service subsequently determines that for tax purposes you should be treated as an employee, you will still not be eligible for the plan despite your reclassification.
3. When Do I Begin Participating In The Plan?
If you′re an eligible employee, you will begin participation in this Plan on the first of the month following completion of a 24-month period that constitutes two Years of Service at the College without a Break in Service. A Break in Service means a 12-month period during which you perform less than 501 Hours of Service with the College. If a Break in Service occurs prior to satisfaction of the participation requirements, any “Year of Service” you have earned prior to the Break in Service will not be counted for purposes of meeting the participation requirement.
The Plan Administrator will be required to credit you with Hours of Service for a maternity or paternity absence. These are absences taken on account of pregnancy, birth, or adoption of your child. No more than 501 Hours of Service shall be credited for this purpose and these Hours of Service shall be credited solely to avoid your incurring a Break in Service. The Plan Administrator may require you to furnish proof that your absence qualifies as a maternity or paternity absence.
The appropriate enrollment forms must be completed and returned to the College.
The College will notify you when you′ve completed the requirements necessary to participate in the Plan. All determinations about eligibility and participation will be made by the College. The College will base its determinations on its records and the official Plan Document on file with the Plan Administrator.
4. How Are Years Of Service Counted?
You are credited with a year of service for each 12-month period starting with your date of employment (or anniversary date of employment) during which you complete 1,000 or more hours of service. Year(s) of Service with any educational organization or any organization that meets the eligibility requirements of Code Section 403(b)(1), any teaching institution, any institution of higher education or any nonprofit research institution during the 24-month period immediately preceding your date of employment with the College will be counted for meeting the participation requirements. However, no credit is given for a period of employment with another institution which does not meet the hours of service requirement for a complete Year of Service.
5. Do I Participate During An Approved Leave Of Absence?
During a paid leave of absence, the College will continue its Plan Contributions on your behalf. The Plan Contributions will be based on your compensation during your leave of absence.
6. When Do My Benefits Become Vested (i.e., owned)?
You are immediately vested in the contributions made by Rhodes College for your benefit under the Plan. Such contributions are non-forfeitable.
7. How Are Plan Contributions Made?
When you begin participation in the Plan, contributions will be made by the College automatically to a “Funding Vehicle”. A “Funding Vehicle means the financial instrument(s) issued for the purposes of funding benefits under this Plan and specifically approved by the Employer for use under this Plan The contributions are based on a percentage of your regular salary in accordance with the following schedule. If you participate in the Plan for only a part of a year, your allocation will be based on the portion of salary applicable to the period in which you participate.
Plan Contributions: Rhodes' plan contributions is 4% of the employee's regular budgeted salary.
8. Is There A Limitation On Contributions? For faculty, Regular Salary means the salary stated in the academic year contract or appointment letter. For all other employees, Regular Salary means the basic annual earnings excluding overtime pay, bonuses, and any other forms of supplemental remuneration. In no event will the salary taken into account under the Plan exceed the limits of Internal Revenue Code Section 401(a)(17) ($220,000 in 2006).
Yes. The total amount of contributions made on your behalf for any year will not exceed the limits imposed by Sections 402 and 415 of the Internal Revenue Code. These limits may be adjusted from time to time. For more information on these limits, contact the Fund Sponsor.
9. What Is The Normal Retirement Age Under The Plan?
The normal retirement age under the Plan is the first day of the month on or following your 65th birthday. Annuity income usually begins on that date.
10. When Does My Annuity Income Begin?
Although income usually begins on the normal retirement age, you may begin to receive income at any time after termination of employment, which may be either earlier or later than the normal retirement age. However you may not receive distributions while you are employed by the College.
Retirement benefits must normally begin no later than April 1 of the calendar year following the year in which you attain age 70 ½, or cease to be an employee of the College, whichever is later. Failure to begin annuity income by the required beginning date may subject you to a substantial federal tax penalty.
If you die before the distribution of benefits has begun, your entire interest must normally be distributed within five years after your death. Under a special rule, death benefits may be payable over the life or life expectancy of a designated beneficiary (which must be a natural person or eligible trust) if the distribution of benefits begins not later than one year from the date of your death. If the designated beneficiary is your spouse, the commencement of benefits may be deferred until you would have attained age 70 had you continued to live.
The payment of benefits according to the above rules is extremely important. Federal tax law imposes a 50 percent excise tax on the difference between the amount of benefits required by law to be distributed and the amount actually distributed if it is less than the required minimum amount.
11. What Options Are Available For Receiving Retirement Income?
You may choose from among several types of income options when you retire. If you are married at the time you elect to begin receiving distributions, your right to choose an income option will be subject to your spouse′s right (under federal pension law) to survivor benefits as discussed in the next question, unless this right is waived by you and your spouse. A summary of the annuity income options provided under each the current Funding Vehicles are available from the TIAA-CREF website: TIAA-CREF
12. What Are My Spouse’s Rights Under This Retirement Plan?
Benefits must be paid to married Participants in the Plan only as described below, unless a written waiver of the benefits by the Participant and a written consent to the waiver by the spouse is filed with the Fund Sponsor. This provision applies to both retirement benefits and pre-retirement death benefits.
If benefits commence before your death, your surviving spouse at your death shall continue to receive income that is at least half of the annuity income payable during the joint lives of you and your spouse (joint and survivor annuity). If you die before annuity income begins, your surviving spouse shall receive a benefit that is at least half of the full current value of your annuity accumulation (pre-retirement death benefit), payable in a single sum or under one of the income options offered under the Funding Vehicle applicable to you.
Married Participants and their spouses may waive the spousal entitlement to a joint and survivor annuity or a pre-retirement death benefit only if a written waiver of the benefit signed by the Participant and the spouse (and notarized) is filed with the Fund Sponsor. The necessary forms will be provided to the Participant by the Fund Sponsor or the annuity company.
For post-retirement survivor benefits (joint and survivor annuity), the waiver may be made only during the 90-day period before the commencement of benefits. The waiver also may be revoked during the same period. It may not be revoked after annuity income begins.
The period during which you and your spouse may elect to waive the pre-retirement survivor death benefit begins on the first day of the plan year in which you attain age 35. The period continues until the earlier of your death or the date you start receiving annuity income. If you die before attaining age 35 – that is, before you have had the option to make a waiver – at least half of the full current value of the annuity accumulation is payable automatically to your surviving spouse in a single sum, or under one of the income options offered under the applicable Funding Vehicle. If you terminate employment before age 35, the period for waiving the pre-retirement death benefit begins no later than the date of termination. The waiver also may be revoked during the same period.
If a judgment, decree or order made following a state domestic relations law establishes the rights of another person (the “alternate payee”) to your benefits under this Plan, and if such an order (hereafter called a "qualified domestic relations order") is for providing child support, alimony or other marital property payments, then payments will be made according to that order. If a court issues a qualified domestic relations order, the order preempts the usual requirements that your spouse be considered your primary beneficiary for a portion of the accumulation.
13. Is There A Retirement Income Option That Allows Me To Receive Income While Preserving My Accumulation?
One or more of the Funding Vehicles may offer such an option. You should consult the Income Options section of the TIAA-CREF website (depending on which Funding Vehicle you have elected for your account) to determine if this option is available to you.
14. May I Receive A Portion Of My Accumulation In A Lump Sum Upon Retirement?
This option may be available depending on the Funding Vehicle you have chosen. Please check the appropriate web site.
15. May I Receive A Lump Sum Payment From The Plan?
This option may be available depending on the Funding Vehicle you have chosen. Please check the appropriate web site. You may not receive any distributions while you′re employed by the College.
16. What Happens To My Annuities If I Terminate Employment Before Retirement?
Your Retirement Annuities remain in force, including all benefits purchased by the College′s contributions. You don’t forfeit any of the benefits that have already been set aside for you.
Your accumulations in the Funding Vehicle you have chosen will continue to participate in the earnings (or losses) of the fund as would have been the case had you continued contributions.
17. What If I Die Before Starting To Receive Benefits?
If you die before beginning retirement benefits, the full current value of your annuity accumulation is payable as a death benefit. Subject to the special rules for married participants discussed above, you may choose one or more of the options listed in your annuity contracts for payment of the death benefit, or you may leave the choice to your beneficiary.
Federal tax law puts limitations on when and how beneficiaries receive their death benefits. The Fund Sponsor or annuity company whose Funding Vehicle you have chosen will notify your beneficiary of the applicable requirements at the time he or she applies for benefits.
You should review your beneficiary designation periodically to make sure that the person you want to receive the benefits is properly designated. You may change your beneficiary by completing the "Designation of Beneficiary" form available from the Fund Sponsor or appropriate annuity company. If you die without having named a beneficiary, your spouse will automatically receive half of your accumulation. Your estate will receive the other half. If there′s no spouse, your estate receives the entire accumulation.