transforming risk into opportunity
About TRM
Partners

If you do not see your preferred partner
listed here, please let us know. TRISTAR
would be happy to approach any RX
or PPO Provider you may be interested
in utilizing.

 

Rx Providers
  • Express Scripts
  • Partners Rx
  • NPS
  • Envision Pharmaceutical Services
  • CVS Caremark
  • IPM

 

PPO Providers
  • A&G Healthcare Services
  • CommunityEmployers Health Alliance
  • (CEHA)
  • CommunityEmployers Health Alliance
  • (CEHA) With Mayo Clinic
  • Connection Dental
  • Encoreconnect
  • First Choice
  • First Health
  • Healthlink
  • Healthsmart
  • Health Systems International
  • HFN
  • Interplan
  • LabOne
  • Medcost
  • Midlands Choice
  • PHCS / MultiPlan
  • PreferredOne
  • Stratose
  • United Claims Solutions
SERVICES

TRISTAR is one of the country's largest and most comprehensive providers of third party administration for self-funded employee benefit plans. Together, we offer excellent programs and service that support our clients' ability to attract and retain talented employees while keeping cost control a top priority.

Frequently Asked Questions
  1. What is the California Voluntary Disability Insurance (CA VDI) Plan?
    The CA VDI Plan is a replacement authorized by the State of California for participation in the California State Disability Insurance (CA SDI) plan. The Plan provides benefits when you become disabled and when you need to take time off to care for a serious ill family member or bond with a new child (Paid Family Leave).
  2. How would a CA VDI plan benefit my employees?
    Your employee's claims will be handled by a designated team at TRISTAR Benefits Administrators (unlike CA SDI claims where your employees may speak to different people any time they call). TRISTAR will guarantee a decision on your employee's benefits within 5 business days of receipt of the certification.
  3. Would the employee ever receive less in benefits from the CA VDI Plan than from the CA SDI plan?
    No. The law requires that CA VDI plans must provide equal or better benefits than CA SDI plans.
  4. What happens to the funds employees contribute to the CA VDI Plan?
    Employee contributions are maintained in a special account established to pay the claims and expenses of the CA VDI plan. This account is audited by the State of California to ensure that only plan expenses are billed to the account. In addition, any savings from the plan must be used exclusively for the benefit of the participating employees in some manner, such as further improvements in plan benefits, funding of other benefit plans for employees, or reducing the contributions of the plan participants in future years.
  5. Are benefits under the CA VDI Plan guaranteed as they are under CA SDI?
    Yes. The employer has the responsibility to ensure that all employees receive the benefits to which they are entitled. If the expenses of the CA VDI Plan exceed the employee contributions, the employer must make up the difference. The CA VDI Plan is governed by the California Unemployment Insurance Code, which mandates that the employer post security with the State of California to guarantee that all the obligations of the plan are met.
  6. If an employee rejects the CA VDI Plan what happens?
    If any of your employees reject the voluntary plan they are still covered but only eligible to receive CA SDI benefits.
  7. Are CA VDI plan contributions eligible for itemization deductibility on my Federal income taxes?
    CA VDI plan contributions may not be tax deductible on your Federal tax return. However, here are the reasons employees should still consider joining the CA VDI Plan:
    • If they are not a member of the CA VDI Plan, he/she will receive benefits ONLY from CA SDI if they have a disability.
    • The base period earnings, as defined by the State, may be as long as 18 months prior to any claim date, leading to the possibility of reduced benefits being paid (based on a smaller base salary).
  8. Who will process the claims?
    TRISTAR Benefit Administrators will review and process the claims from our United States offices. The benefit checks will be sent to the employee's home address.
  9. Will the VDI Plan benefits be reduced for any reason?
    The CA VDI Plan benefit will be reduced by any of the following income sources that are available to the employee for the same period for which the disability benefit is payable:
    • Social Security disability for the employee and family, or employee Social Security retirement benefits
    • Workers' Compensation
    • Work earnings from working part time, or from second employment
    However, in no event will the benefit be less than what would be received from CA SDI plan.
  10. If the employee works for more than one company during the year or leaves the employer for employment elsewhere before the end of the year, what happens to the contributions to the CA VDI plan?
    If, at the end of the year, the employee has paid more than the maximum required by the state because they worked for more than one employer during the year, they may be entitled to a refund of the excess from the California Franchise Tax Board. They would claim this refund on their state income tax return. While employees are participating in the CA VDI plan, the employer continues to report the employee's quarterly earnings to the State of California and the employee continues to build up wage credits for CA SDI benefits. If the employee terminates from the employer and the employee subsequently experiences a disability, they will be eligible to receive CA SDI benefits at the same weekly benefit level and duration that they would have received if they had never participated in the CA VDI plan. The CA VDI plan pays an assessment to CA SDI to provide this coverage to the employee.
  11. Does the employee have to pay taxes on the disability benefits received under the CA VDI plan?
    No. All disability benefits are tax-free. However, Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits are taxable.
  12. What is Paid Family Leave (PFL)?
    Paid Family Leave (PFL) was mandated by California law for claims commencing on or after July 1, 2004. Paid Family Leave is unemployment compensation disability insurance paid to workers who suffer a wage loss when they take time to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a new child. Paid Family Leave contributions are part of the same deduction taken from the wages of employees who are covered by CA SDI or a CA VDI plan. Benefits received under Paid Family Leave are taxable.
  13. Are Paid Family Leave benefits the same as disability benefits?
    No. The Paid Family Leave benefit amount and length of payment are different from disability.
  14. When should the employee file a claim for Paid Family Leave?
    The employee may file a claim for Paid Family Leave benefits for the following reasons:
    • To care for a seriously ill minor or adult child, spouse, parent or state-registered domestic partner
    • To bond with a new child or the new child of a spouse or state-registered domestic partner
    • To bond with a child in connection with the adoption or foster care placement of the child with the employee, their spouse or state-registered domestic partner.
  15. Are Paid Family Leave benefits taxable?
    Yes. Paid Family Leave benefits are subject to federal income tax, but are exempt from California state income tax.