Retirement benefits for postdocs vary depending on the postdoc's title code, as explained below. If you are unsure of your title code, ask your HR administrator. (Your title code is also indicated on your paystub.)
Postdoc Employees (title code 3252)
Postdocs are not eligible for participation in the University of California Retirement Plan (UCRP); however, postdoctoral scholar employees do contribute to the University of California Defined Contribution Plan (DCP) as “Safe Harbor” participants. (This means that while Postdoc Employees do pay into the DCP, they do not pay into Social Security.) The DCP mandatory contribution is approximately 7.5% of salary and automatically defaults to the UC Savings Fund. Postdoctoral scholars employees have the option of redirecting their contributions to other UC or Fidelity Funds. Postdoctoral scholar employees also have the option to enroll in a 403(b) and/or the 457(b) retirement savings plans.
When postdoc employees leave UC employment, they may:
• Request a distribution to be paid directly to them
• Arrange for a direct rollover of their money to a traditional IRA or other employer plan that accepts rollovers
• Keep their money in the plan if their balance is at least $2,000; or
• Receive retirement income from the plan, if eligible.
Participants who leave UC employment and have a balance of less than $2,000 in the plan cannot leave their money in it. Account balances of $1,000 or less will automatically be distributed at the end of the quarter to participants who have not provided alternative distribution directions. Balances greater than $1,000 but less than $2,000 will be rolled over into an IRA in the participant’s name unless the participant provides distribution directions. It is important that UCSF has your current address to assure delivery of any distribution. Tell your HR administrator if you are moving.
Distributions are generally taxed as ordinary income in the year they are issued and may be subject to early distribution penalties if they are taken before age 59 1⁄2.
To access DCP funds or to enroll in the retirement savings plan, or for more information about the tax treatment and potential penalties of plan distributions, contact Fidelity Retirement Services online at netbenefits.fidelity.com or call the toll-free number: 1-866-682-7787. Fidelity Retirement Services representatives are available Monday through Friday, from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Pacific Time.
Postdoc Fellows and Paid-Directs (title codes 3253 and 3254)
Postdoctoral scholar fellows (title code 3253) and postdoctoral scholar paid-directs (title code 3254) without a concurrent postdoctoral scholar employee appointment are not eligible for participation in the UC Retirement Plan, the University of California Defined Contribution Plan, or the 403(b) and/or the 457(b) retirement savings plans. Fellowship money cannot be tapped for contributions to the above plans.
These postdocs are advised to consult with a financial adviser about non-employer retirement savings options.