Meet OP: Retirement Administration Service Center (RASC) Customer Care
About 5,000 UC employees retire each year systemwide. You may not be at that stage of life yet, but when you’re ready to retire, what happens and who will help you?
Meet Ellen Lorenz, the dynamic director of RASC, and her team, which she describes as “experts who are well-versed in all things related to the UC retirement plan.” Focused on delivering best-in-class service, the unit’s “daily mission is to help you — not just during the transition to a post-work life but throughout your retirement,” says Lorenz.
RASC has two main areas: Fulfillment Operations, which takes care of processing and operational compliance, and Customer Care, which is the front face of RASC.
RASC currently takes care of 70,000 UC retirees, dependents and surviving family members, administering payment of their UC Retirement Plan (UCRP) benefits. They also provide retirement counseling and support to all UC employees with regard to their pension and retirement health benefits – both before and after they retire. Interacting with UC faculty and staff systemwide, Customer Care logs a staggering 140,000 customer contacts per year!
We spoke with RASC Customer Care Manager Michael Waldman to find out what his area is working on and what we should be thinking about when it comes to our own retirement.
RASC is dedicated to making sure all UC employees are ready for one of life’s biggest transitions, Waldman said. Each spring and fall, RASC offers “Preparing for Retirement” workshops at UCOP and on every UC campus that are intended for faculty and staff within five years of retirement. This spring alone, that meant delivering 23 presentations that attracted 1,800 attendees. During these discussions, RASC staff answer employee questions and explain critical information such as how to estimate retirement benefits, who qualifies for retiree health and welfare benefits, and how a retirement check differs from a regular paycheck.
So, besides attending one of these workshops when the time comes, what advice does Waldman have for OP staff as they plan for retirement?
“Employees typically don’t realize that their retirement benefit doesn’t have to be as big as their salary in order to have the same amount of take-home pay,” says Waldman. “If you look at your pay stub today, many things are deducted, like the Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA), federal and state taxes, UCRP contributions, parking payments, disability premiums, and so on. When you receive a UC retirement check, there are only three main deductions — federal tax, state tax, and your portion of the health and welfare premium.”
Based on advice from financial planners, Waldman recommends that “employees should aim to have at least 80 percent of their take-home pay in retirement income.” But your UC pension is just part of the picture. “Total retirement income consists of your pension plan, Social Security benefits and savings,” Waldman and his staff always remind employees.
And there’s another change that employees are often unaware of: Once you retire, RASC also becomes your benefits office, handling all of your changes to tax withholding, health plans and personal data.
As its name implies, caring for their customers is the top priority for the RASC. The unit regularly sends automated surveys to UC retirees, who consistently rate their satisfaction with RASC at 88 percent or better. Not resting on that high approval rating, RASC is continually focused on improvement by training their representatives and finding ways to streamline internal functions.
Have a question or suggestion for the RASC staff? You can reach them by filling out a form at https://contactrasc.universityofcalifornia.edu/contacts/csform.html or by calling 1-800-888-8267. With service on their mind, they hope to hear from you!
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Reporting for this profile was provided by Carol Lake and Cindy Lau. Interested in doing some reporting for Link? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.