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Benefits eligibility

Vanderbilt offers two levels of benefits, depending on your employment type and how much you work. Read below for more details or see this quick reference chart.

Fully benefits-eligible employees

A fully benefits-eligible employee is one whose appointment is to a regular faculty or staff position (a position with no currently-defined or anticipated position end date) or term position (a position with a defined term of six months or more) and who is regularly scheduled to work 30 hours or more per week (at least 75 percent of full time). 

[Note: Neither enrolled students whose work is coincident to their primary role as a student, nor temporary employees, are considered fully benefits-eligible, but may be partially benefits eligible (see next section).]

Fully benefits-eligible employees may participate in these benefits, in accordance with the legal plan document, summary plan description, or other guiding materials for each program: 

  • Health plan (including prescription drugs and Go for the Gold wellness incentive),
  • Dental plan,
  • Vision plan,
  • Flexible spending accounts,
  • Life insurance,
  • Short- and long-term disability insurance,*
  • Accidental death & dismemberment (AD&D) insurance, 
  • Paid time off (PTO)* and holidays,
  • Auto, home, and pet insurance,
  • 403(b) retirement plan, and
  • Various other discounts and perks.

*Faculty and post-docs should refer to their manuals and programs for guidance on leave time. Faculty are not eligible for short-term disability coverage.

You may also cover the following family members in the health, dental, vision, life insurance, and AD&D plans:

  • Legal spouses,
  • Natural, step-, or adopted children up to age 26, and 
  • Other qualified dependents, such as disabled children over age 26, with required documentation. (You must contact Vanderbilt Human Resources prior to the child's 26th birthday for more information on continuing coverage for disabled children.)
  • Refer to each plan’s Summary Plan Description for full details of eligibility. 

Aetna automatically issues health plan cards for the ‘default’ health plan option (Aetna Plus plan at the 'employee-only' coverage tier) to new fully benefits-eligible employees. To elect another health plan option and/or to cover eligible family members, you must complete New Hire Enrollment in My VU Benefits within 30 days of your hire date.

Benefits while on leave

Your benefit deductions will continue while you are on a paid leave of absence. If you are placed on an unpaid leave of absence (including during short-term disability), you will receive instructions to pay your health plan premiums directly to Vanderbilt’s benefit administration vendor, Benefit Express. Your premium will remain the same during this time. If your employment later ends, you will be able to continue your coverage through COBRA, but will be charged the full premium (employee plus employer portions), plus a 2 percent administrative fee.

Partially benefits-eligible employees

Partially benefits-eligible employees are comprised of:

    • Regular and term exempt faculty, staff, and post-docs working part-time schedules (less than 30 hours per week / less than 75% of full time).   [NOTE:  post-docs receiving service-free fellowships or traineeships do not have an employment relationship with the university and are not eligible for employee healthcare.  However, they may qualify for the post-doc student healthcare plan.]
    • Regular and term non-exempt employees who are regularly scheduled to work at least 20, but less than 30 hours per week (at least 50% time, but less than 75% time).  
    • Temporary employees, such as VTS and flex employees, who are appointed to work 30 hours per week or more, on average, for 3 months or longer.  Temporary employees whose average workload is expected to vary, and may average below 30 hours per week but is not known in advance, are subject to a 12-month look-back period to determine their eligibility for healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act, or ACA.
    • Student workers, including graduate teaching and research assistants; professional students, and undergraduate student workers, who work 30 hours per week or more, on average, for three months or more.  [IMPORTANT NOTES:  Graduate and professional students must have prior approval in order to work more than 29 hours per week -- and undergrads must have prior approval to work more than 19 hours per week -- from the Dean of the school in which they are enrolled and the Office of the Provost. As a condition of student enrollment, all students (whether working on campus or not) must provide evidence of healthcare coverage, such as through the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) offered by Vanderbilt, their parents’ insurance, or other appropriate coverage. The University funds the cost of SHIP coverage for Ph.D. students who receive graduate teaching or research assistantships.]

Partially benefits-eligible individuals may participate in these benefit programs, in accordance with the legal plan document, summary plan description, or other guiding materials for each program: 

  • Health plan (including prescription drugs and Go for the Gold wellness incentive),
  • Paid time off (PTO),*
  • Holidays,
  • Auto, home, and pet insurance,
  • 403(b) retirement plan, and
  • Various other discounts and perks.

*Faculty and post-docs should refer to their manuals and programs for guidance on leave time.

You may also cover the following family members in the health care plan:

  • natural, step-, or adopted children up to age 26, and
  • other qualified dependents, such as disabled children over age 26, with required documentation. Coverage beyond the age of 26 may be available if child is disabled. (You must contact Vanderbilt Human Resources prior to the child's 26th birthday for more information on continuing coverage for disabled children.)

Spouses are not eligible. Vanderbilt's Health Plan for partially benefits-eligible employees is optional. You will not be automatically enrolled in a default health plan option.