A downloadable PDF version of the handbook is available at College Employee Handbook.

Retirement Benefits

Plan Administrator. The Retirement Plan is available through Rhodes College. The benefits are provided by retirement annuity contracts issued to Participants by TIAA-CREF. The Rhodes Chief Human Resources Officer, 2000 North Parkway, Memphis, Tennessee 38112, (901) 843-3750, is the Administrator of this Plan. The Administrator is responsible for enrolling Participants, forwarding Plan Contributions for each Participant to TIAA-CREF, and performing other duties required for operating the Plan. The Employer Identification Number is 62-047630; the Plan Number is 001.

Information About the 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, Rhodes 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). Contributions may be invested in one or more funding vehicles which are currently available under this Plan: TIAA (See web site for available investment options). The College’s current selection of fund sponsors and Funding Vehicles is not intended to limit future additions or deletions of fund sponsors and Funding Vehicles. Employees will be notified of any additions or deletions. 

Information concerning TIAA can be obtained by writing to:
730 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10017

Employees 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 calendar year (January 1 to December 31).

Plan Eligibility. 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 an employee’s employment is incidental to the employee’s educational programs at Rhodes College, if the employee is employed by Rhodes College primarily as a music commission teacher or as a consultant, or if the employee is not a regular Rhodes College employee and the employee is employed by or through the College on the basis of grants and/or contracts and/or agency agreements the employee is not eligible to participate. If an individual is treated as an independent contractor, but the Internal Revenue Service subsequently determines that for tax purposes the individual should be treated as an employee, the individual will still not be eligible for the plan despite the reclassification.

Plan Participation. If an individual is an eligible employee, the employee 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 the employee performs 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” the employee has 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 the employee with Hours of Service for a maternity or paternity absence. These are absences taken on account of pregnancy, birth, or adoption of a 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 the employee incurring a Break in Service. The Plan Administrator may require the employee to furnish proof that the employee’s absence qualifies as a maternity or paternity absence.

The appropriate enrollment forms must be completed and returned to the College.

The College will notify the employee when the employee has 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.

Counting Years of Service. An employee is credited with a year of service for each 12-month period starting with the employee’s date of employment (or anniversary date of employment) during which the employee completes 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 the employee’s 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.

Participation During An Approved Leave Of Absence. During a paid leave of absence, the College will continue its Plan Contributions on the employee’s behalf. The Plan Contributions will be based on the employee’s compensation during the leave of absence.

Vesting. Employees are immediately vested in the contributions made by Rhodes College for the employee’s benefit under the Plan. Such contributions are non-forfeitable.

How Plan Contributions Are Made. When an employee begins 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 the employee’s regular salary in accordance with the following schedule. If the employee participates in the Plan for only a part of a year, the employee’s allocation will be based on the portion of salary applicable to the period in which the employee participates.

Plan Contributions. Rhodes' plan contributions is 8% of the employee's regular budgeted salary. 

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).

Limitations on Contributions. The total amount of contributions made on the employee’s 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.

Rollover of Accumulations. If the employee is entitled to receive a distribution from the employee’s contract which is an eligible “rollover distribution,” the employee may rollover all or a portion of it either directly or within 60 days after receipt into another retirement plan or into an IRA. An eligible rollover distribution, in general, is any cash distribution other than an annuity payment, a minimum distribution payment or a payment which is part of a fixed period payment over ten or more years. The distribution will be subject to a 20 percent federal withholding tax unless it′s rolled over directly into another retirement plan or into an IRA – this process is called a “direct” rollover.

If the employee has the distribution paid to them, then the plan must withhold 20 percent even if the employee intends to roll over the money into another retirement plan or into an IRA within 60 days. To avoid withholding, the employee should instruct the fund sponsor to directly roll over the money for them.

Normal Retirement Age. The normal retirement age under the Plan is the first day of the month on or following the employee’s 65th birthday. 

When Annuity Income Begins

In General. Although income usually begins on the normal retirement age, the employee 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, the employee may not receive distributions while employed by the College.

Retirement benefits must normally begin no later than April 1 of the calendar year following the year in which the employee attains age 70 ½, or ceases to be an employee of the College, whichever is later. Failure to begin annuity income by the required beginning date may subject the employee to a substantial federal tax penalty.

If the employee dies before the distribution of benefits has begun, the employee’s entire interest must normally be distributed within five years after the employee’s 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 the employee’s death. If the designated beneficiary is the employee’s spouse, the commencement of benefits may be deferred until the employee would have attained age 70 had the employee 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.

Options Available For Receiving Retirement Income. An employee may choose from among several types of income options when the employee retires. If an employee is married at the time the employee elects to begin receiving distributions, the employee’s right to choose an income option will be subject to the employee’s spouse′s right (under federal pension law) to survivor benefits as discussed in the next question, unless this right is waived by the employee and their spouse. A summary of the annuity income options provided under each the current Funding Vehicles are available from the TIAA website.

Receiving Retirement Income While Preserving Accumulation. One or more of the Funding Vehicles may offer such an option. Employees should consult the Income Options section of the TIAA website (depending on which Funding Vehicle the employee has elected for their account) to determine if this option is available to the employee.

Receiving A Portion Of Accumulation In A Lump Sum Upon Retirement. This option may be available depending on the Funding Vehicle the employee has chosen. Please check the appropriate web site.

Lump Sum Payment From The Plan. This option may be available depending on the Funding Vehicle the employee has chosen. Please check the appropriate web site. Employees may not receive any distributions while employed by the College.

Effect of Termination of Employment Before Retirement. An employee’s Retirement Annuities remain in force, including all benefits purchased by the College′s contributions. Employees don’t forfeit any of the benefits that have already been set aside for them.

An employee’s accumulations in the Funding Vehicle the employee has chosen will continue to participate in the earnings (or losses) of the fund as would have been the case had the employee continued contributions.

Effect of Death Occurring Prior to Receipt of Benefits. If an employee dies before beginning retirement benefits, the full current value of the employee’s annuity accumulation is payable as a death benefit. Subject to the special rules for married participants discussed above, employees may choose one or more of the options listed in the employee’s annuity contracts for payment of the death benefit, or the employee may leave the choice to their beneficiary.

Federal tax law puts limitations on when and how beneficiaries receive their death benefits. The Fund Sponsor or annuity company whose Funding Vehicle the employee has chosen will notify the employee’s beneficiary of the applicable requirements at the time they apply for benefits.

An employee should review their beneficiary designation periodically to make sure that the person the employee wants to receive the benefits is properly designated. Employees may change their beneficiary by completing the "Designation of Beneficiary" form available from the Fund Sponsor or appropriate annuity company. If an employee dies without having named a beneficiary, the employee’s spouse will automatically receive half of the employee’s accumulation. The employee’s estate will receive the other half. If there′s no spouse, the employee’s estate receives the entire accumulation.

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 the employee’s death, the employee’s surviving spouse at the employee’s death shall continue to receive income that is at least half of the annuity income payable during the joint lives of the employee and their spouse (joint and survivor annuity). If the employee dies before annuity income begins, the employee’s surviving spouse shall receive a benefit that is at least half of the full current value of the employee’s 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 the employee.

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 the employee and the employee’s spouse may elect to waive the pre-retirement survivor death benefit begins on the first day of the plan year in which the employee attains age 35. The period continues until the earlier of the employee’s death or the date the employee starts receiving annuity income. If the employee dies before attaining age 35 – that is, before the employee has had the option to make a waiver – at least half of the full current value of the annuity accumulation is payable automatically to the employee’s surviving spouse in a single sum, or under one of the income options offered under the applicable Funding Vehicle. If the employee terminates 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 the employee’s 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 the employee’s spouse be considered the employee’s primary beneficiary for a portion of the accumulation.

Amending or Discontinuing the Plan. The Board of Trustees of the College reserves the right to modify or discontinue the Plan at any time. The College, by action of its Board, also may delegate any of its power and duties with respect to the Plan or its amendments to one or more officers or other employees of the College. Any such delegation shall be stated in writing. The College will exercise good faith, apply standards of uniform application, and refrain from arbitrary action.

Questions and Further Information. Requests for information concerning eligibility, participation, contributions, or other aspects of operating the Plan should be in writing and directed to the Plan Administrator. Requests for information concerning the Plan and its terms, conditions and interpretations may be directed in writing to: 

Chief Human Resources Officer
Rhodes College 
2000 North Parkway 
Memphis, TN 38112
(901) 843-3750

How to File a Claim

  • Filing a claim for benefits. A claim or request for plan benefits is filed when the requirements of a reasonable claim-filing procedure have been met. A claim is considered filed when a written or oral communication is made to the College. 
  • Processing the claim. The Plan Administrator must process the claim within 90 days after the claim is filed. If an extension of time for processing is required, written notice must be given to the employee before the end of the initial 90-day period. The extension notice must indicate the special circumstances requiring an extension of time and the date by which the Plan expects to render its final decision. In no event can the extension period exceed a period of 90 days from the end of the initial 90-day period. 
  • Denial of claim. If a claim is wholly or partially denied, the Plan Administrator must notify the employee within 90 days following receipt of the claim (or 180 days in the case of an extension for special circumstances). The notification must state the specific reason or reasons for the denial, specific references to pertinent plan provisions on which the denial is based, a description of any additional material or information necessary to perfect the claim, and appropriate information about the steps to be taken if the employee wishes to submit the claim for review. If notice of the denial of a claim is not furnished within the 90/180-day period, the claim is considered denied and the employee must be permitted to proceed to the review stage. 
  • Review procedure. The employee or their duly authorized representative has at least 60 days after receipt of a claim denial to appeal the denied claim to an appropriate named fiduciary or individual designated by the fiduciary and to receive a full and fair review of the claim. As part of the review, the employee must be allowed to see all plan documents and other papers that affect the claim and must be allowed to submit issues and comments and argue against the denial in writing. 
  • Decision on review. The Plan must conduct the review and decide the appeal within 60 days after the request for review is made. If special circumstances require an extension of time for processing (such as the need to hold a hearing if the plan procedure provides for such a hearing), the employee must be furnished with written notice of the extension, which can be no later than 120 days after receipt of a request for review. The decision on review must be written in clear and understandable language and must include specific reasons for the decision as well as specific references to the pertinent plan provisions on which the decision is based. For a plan with a committee or board of trustees designated as the appropriate named fiduciary, a decision does not have to be made within the 60-day limit if the committee or board meets at least four times a year (about every 90 days). Instead, it must be made at the first meeting after the request is filed, except that when a request is made less than 30 days before a meeting, the decision can wait until the date of the second meeting following the plan′s receipt of request for review. If a hearing must be held, the committee can wait to decide until the first meeting after the hearing. However, it must notify the employee and explain the delay, which can be no later than the third meeting of the committee or board following the plan′s receipt of the request for review. If the decision on review is not made within the time limits specified above, the appeal will be considered denied. If appeal is denied, in whole or in part, the employee has a right to file suit in a state or federal court.

Plan Not Insured By The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). Since the Plan is a defined contribution plan, it is not insured by the PBGC. The PBGC is the government agency that guarantees certain types of benefits under covered plans.

Agent For Service Of Legal Process. The agent for service of legal process is: Chief Human Resources Officer, Rhodes College, 2000 North Parkway, Memphis, Tennessee 38112.