Employee Benefits Center Tutorial 2019-20


Welcome to the Garland ISD Employee Benefits Center or EBC. This website is hosted by First Financial Group of America. FFGA is the district’s third party supplemental plans administrator and they also provide enrollment support.

Before we begin our tour of the EBC, let’s make sure you know how to find the website. If you don’t have one of our magnets handy with the EBC website listed, you can start at the Garland ISD internet home page. Go to the upper right corner and choose “For Staff”. Then expand “Health & Benefits” and choose “Overview”.  You can come back here later for a quick link to the Employee Assistance Program and to check out the Employee Clinic, Employee Discounts, and the Employee Wellness program. We are going to click on Visit Employee Benefits Center…and here we are, back at the EBC home page.

Starting from the top, this navigation bar will follow you throughout the website.

  • View My Coverage will allow you to log in at any time to view your current benefits. You can also come here to log if you want to change your district provided group life insurance beneficiary during the plan year.
  • Make Elections will take you to your enrollment opportunities:
    • New hire and newly eligible
    • Open enrollment
    • And Mid-year changes
    • Benefit Plans & Premiums will take you to the benefit plans. Within each plan year you will find details about the benefits offered. We will explore this section in greater detail later.
    • Contacts is where you will find phone numbers and email addresses for the GISD Benefits Department and for FFGA Benefits Advisors. There are also phone numbers and websites for each of the benefits by plan year.

Below the title bar is an announcement box for current events and the district’s welcome message.

During Open Enrollment season you’ll see a countdown to enrollment with links to new plan year information.

Underneath are links to the most utilized sections of the EBC

  • The new/newly eligible employees enrollment section
  • Current plan year benefits
  • And the enrollment section for mid-year changes

Let’s take a closer look at all three of these, starting with the enrollment page for new and newly eligible employees.

New employees, and employees who become newly eligible for benefits, such as Substitutes who become full-time teachers, have 31 days from their actively-at-work date to make benefit elections. Your actual enrollment deadline is listed on your Benefits Acknowledgement form which is part of your onboarding package.

The benefits you are eligible for can vary depending on whether your position contributes to TRS. Eligibility for Benefits will provide you with those details.

Certain benefit premiums are deducted on a pre-tax basis. Section 125 Plan Info has information regarding the qualified plans.

Here is another reminder about your election opportunities for benefits – keep in mind that each enrollment period is limited to 31 days.

At the bottom are Federal notices. If you want Garland ISD Benefits staff to speak to persons other than you about your health plan coverage, you can come here at any time to complete a HIPAA consent form and submit it to Garland ISD Benefits.

Most benefits are effective the first of the month following your actively-at-work date and premiums are deducted in arrears. The information in this center section provides you with further details. And make sure you sign in to Oracle Self Service on a regular basis to view your paystubs and confirm accurate benefits and premium deductions.

Moving to the upper left you can link to current plan year benefits. During Open Enrollment season you have quick access to both current and future plan year benefits.

Let’s choose a plan year and check out the benefits offered.

Here on the left are the plans offered.

  • You have the core medical, dental and vision plans to choose from
  • We offer a disability plan and other accident and illness related supplemental plans
  • You have some life insurance options to choose from in addition to the district provided group life insurance – make sure you designate a beneficiary for the policy when you enroll
  • The district also provides an employee assistance program that includes things such as free counseling sessions, legal assistance and financial wellness for you and your family members, available 24/7/365
  • If you want to save additional dollars for retirement, you have two retirement savings plans to choose from, a 403(b) and a 457. Enrollment in these is not limited to enrollment periods. You can set these up at any time.
  • And finally, you can contribute to a Flexible Spending Account or Health Savings Account to help manage health care costs.

In the center you have a summary of the information you can access under each plan and there are benefits booklets in both English and Spanish.

The right side menu includes

  • information regarding making beneficiary changes
  • an exit grid to inform you of your benefit options upon resignation or retirement
  • and contact information

We get a lot of questions regarding medical coverage so let’s take a quick look at the medical benefit.

The medical page is set up a little differently than the other benefit pages because medical coverage is offered through the state’s medical plan for public educators, called TRS-ActiveCare. Here in the center are your medical plan options. You can expand each plan for links to plan summaries, enrollment guides, and provider directories.

Moving to the top right, you can view premium deduction amounts by plan and coverage level. Premiums paid by Garland ISD employees for TRS-ActiveCare coverage are lower than actual TRS-ActiveCare rates because the district contributes an amount to TRS per month per eligible covered employee.

Also on the right side are links to ID card information. You can download mobile apps. You can link to websites where you can set up accounts to view your information and print temporary ID cards. Also listed are phone numbers you can call if you have questions about medical and pharmacy benefits.

The remaining benefit pages are structured similar to each other. Let’s look at Dental as an example.

In the center you’ll find general benefit descriptions and descriptive videos. Rates will either be in a grid or in a document on the right hand side under Plan Information. Plan information also includes things such as plan highlights, plan certificates, links to provider directories and ID card information.

After looking through all of these benefits I’m sure you will have some questions. Let’s use our top menu bar to navigate back to the New/Newly Eligible employees page.

You have several ways to get questions answered and obtain assistance with online enrollment.

  • During Open Enrollment season you can visit with an FFGA Benefits Advisor on select days at district locations. The schedule of dates and times is here.
  • You also have the option of scheduling an appointment to visit with a benefits advisor over the phone or in person on a date and time that works best for you. Click here to go to the appointment scheduler to view and select available dates and times.
  • And you can always go to Contacts in the top menu bar to call or email with questions.

When you’re ready to make your benefit elections you’ll click on Make Benefit Elections here in the center of the page. This will take you to information about how to log in to make your elections.

Most of the elections you make during your enrollment period cannot be changed during the plan year unless you have a qualified change event. Information about making changes to your benefits throughout the plan year can be found under Mid-Year Changes. You can navigate to the Mid-year changes page using the top navigation bar, or …from the EBC home page you can use the quick link.

General information about mid-year changes is at the top of the page, and below you will find the most common qualified change events. Each add and drop event can be expanded for additional information including documentation requirements and forms.

This concludes our overview of the EBC. Please contact us if you have questions.