Several changes regarding the SMART Voluntary Short-Term Disability (VSTD) Plan for bus and rail members will take effect Jan. 1, 2023.

The temporary reduction of premiums for Plan participants announced Oct. 21, 2020, will expire Dec. 31, 2022. VSTD premiums will be reset to the standard rates of bus members paying $26.00 and rail members paying $34.50. 

The maximum weekly benefit available to bus members participating in the plan will be reduced from $240 to $210. For rail members, the maximum weekly benefit will be reduced from $450 to $402.  

Additional details, including notifications from the VSTD Board of Trustees and the full Summary of Material Modifications (SMM), are available in the respective pages in the SMART Member Portal:

For bus members

For rail members

Plan participants with questions or who need more information should contact VSTD plan administrator Southern Benefit Administrators directly at (844) 880-1071.

The UTU has selected Lincoln National Life Insurance Co., a member of the Lincoln Financial Group, to provide a national group voluntary short-term disability plan for all bus members.

Coverage is for off-duty accidents and illness, and is automatic unless bus members opt out.

The Lincoln National Life disability insurance plan provides a basic “safety net” of coverage for UTU bus members, and is designed to work in combination with state-mandated disability programs.

The Lincoln National Life plan pays up to $200 per week for up to 52 weeks a year, and provides coverage for off-the-job accidents and sickness.

The cost is $26.50 per month, and is collected through payroll deduction.

New UTU members will be enrolled automatically, unless they choose to opt-out of the plan by submitting a waiver form to the UTU International.

A disability-plan membership information kit will be mailed to all new members and will include a plan overview, as well as instructions for waiving coverage (opting-out of the plan) if they so choose.

Any member waiving coverage who desires to obtain coverage under the plan in the future, must make application to Lincoln at that later date. There will be no guarantee of acceptance.

Once enrolled, everyone is subject to a so-called 3/6 pre-existing condition provision. This provision excludes, for the first six months that a member is covered, any disability claims relating to treatment, diagnoses or existing condition that existed in the three months just prior to the enrollment date.

After the first six months that an enrollee is covered, the pre-existing condition limitation expires.

The member information kit describes the plan in greater detail, and also provides answers to frequently asked questions. Members are not required to complete any paperwork to enroll in the plan, but must complete a waiver form if they choose not to participate.

Members desiring additional disability insurance coverage may purchase an individual policy through the UTU Insurance Association. This individual coverage would pay in addition to the Lincoln plan, without any offset or reduction in benefits to either plan. Contact your Field Supervisor or call the UTUIA Sales Department at (216) 228-9400 for more information.

By Richard Deiser
Vice President, Bus Department

It was gratifying to see the large number of Bus Department local and committee officers and legislative representatives in attendance at the regional meeting in New Orleans. There were many long-time experienced veterans and many new faces.

President Futhey’s emphasis on organizing efforts will no doubt increase the need for training new officers in the future. The regional meetings continue to be a primary source of training for new and old. In New Orleans, we had seminars on what constitutes a grievance and preparing for arbitration by Dr. Francis X. Quinn.

Ernie Martinez (Local 1607), ably assisted by David Ojeda, conducted a two-part discussion on accident investigation.

The class on duties of local officers, taught by the International’s Director of Strategic Planning John Nadlin, was attended by an overflow crowd, as was the first-responder class directed by UTU organizer Billy Moye.

In addition, we had an open forum during which attendees had opportunity to discuss items of interest at their local and gather suggestions.

Everyone agreed that they came away having learned something new. I urge all the bus locals to send at least one officer to one of next year’s regional meetings. The few dollars you spend on training now can save thousands later.

Training also is available over the Internet through the UTU’s iLink connection to the UTU University.

The International also has booklets available, such as a manual for Bus Department chairpersons, and “Progress through Unity,” which is a compilation of materials from a number of previous regional seminars.