Fermilab at Work

U.S. Department of Energy

Self-Select Voluntary Separation Program (SSVSP) - May 2012

Summary Plan Description

Fermi Research Alliance, LLC / Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
Self-Select Voluntary Separation Program (SSVSP)
Summary Plan Description


Fermi Research Alliance, LLC (“FRA”), the management and operating (M&O) contractor for Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (“Fermilab”) has established the Self-Select Voluntary Separation Program (“SSVSP”), effective as of May 3, 2012.

The SSVSP is an unfunded welfare benefit plan under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended (“ERISA”), and a severance pay plan within the meaning of United States Department of Labor Regulation Section 2510.3-2(b). The SSVSP supersedes any prior severance plans, programs or policies covering eligible employees, both formal and informal, for employees terminating employment as part of the SSVSP. This document serves as both the plan document and SPD of the SSVSP for all purposes under ERISA.

Eligible Employees

The SSVSP is being offered to each “eligible employee.” An “eligible employee” is each active (defined below), regular, full-time and part-time (regularly scheduled to work at least 50% of the hours of a full-time employee) employee, who has agreed to the terms and conditions of the SSVSP application and whose application to participate in the SSVSP has been accepted by FRA as being in the best interests of Fermilab. Employees who are inactive, temporary, term, or currently in phased retirement are not “eligible employees” and are not eligible to participate.

Each eligible employee may become a participant in the SSVSP by signing the SSVSP application (Attachment A) during the election period (described below) and agreeing to voluntarily separate from FRA. Due to FRA business needs, the number of eligible employees whose applications shall be approved and who shall thereby become participants will be limited. All employees whose SSVSP applications are accepted (and not later revoked) and who separate from employment as part of the SSVSP will be provided SSVSP benefits as described below. All employees whose SSVSP applications are accepted (and not later revoked) and who sign (and do not later rescind) a SSVSP General Release and Waiver (Attachment D) are entitled to receive severance pay as described below.

For purposes of the SSVSP, an “active” employee is an employee who, as of his/her voluntary separation date, is actively working for FRA and not otherwise on any type of leave, paid or unpaid. An individual shall only be treated as an employee for purposes of the SSVSP if he or she is reported on the payroll records of FRA as an employee. The term “active” employee excludes any leased employees or independent contractors. In particular, individuals not treated as employees by FRA on its payroll records are excluded from participation, even if a court or administrative agency determines that such individuals are employees.

In no event will any employee who participates in the SSVSP be eligible for any other FRA-sponsored severance plan, policy or program whether offered before, during or after the SSVSP. In no event will an employee or former employee who is receiving or who has elected or has been designated to receive benefits under another FRA-sponsored severance plan, policy or program (whether offered on an individual or group basis) be eligible to participate in or receive benefits under the SSVSP. However, employees who are accepted for the SSVSP and are eligible for retirement under the normal FRA policies may also retire from FRA.

Conditions of Ineligibility

An otherwise eligible employee shall not be eligible for severance pay or benefits under the SSVSP if, as determined in the sole discretion of the Plan Administrator:

  1. the employee ceases to be an “eligible employee,” as defined above;
  2. the employee’s application for the SSVSP was not accepted;
  3. the employee is in a temporary, term, phased retirement, retired guest, or any other irregular appointment;
  4. the employee is terminated by reason of unacceptable performance under FRA’s performance evaluation process, FRA’s progressive discipline procedure or because of a violation of any of FRA’s policies;
  5. the employee is entitled to benefits from any long-term disability plan, policy or arrangement sponsored by FRA;
  6. the employee retires or otherwise voluntarily separates from employment before FRA begins the SSVSP election period (described below);
  7. the employee is a “Key Personnel” as defined by the FRA Prime Contract;
  8. the employee leaves employment with FRA before a date authorized by FRA;
  9. the employee fails to submit a SSVSP Application during the election period;
  10. the employee revokes his/her application to participate and does not terminate employment as part of the SSVSP; or
  11. the employee fails to sign the SSVSP General Release and Waiver (severance pay only)
  12. the employee revokes or rescinds the SSVSP General Release and Waiver (severance pay only)
  13. the SSVSP is terminated before the employee separates from employment under the SSVSP.

Election Period

To become a participant, an eligible employee must submit an application during the election period. The election period begins May 3, 2012, and ends May 24, 2012, at 5:30 p.m. (local time).

Voluntary Separation Date

If FRA accepts an eligible employee’s application, FRA will notify the participant of his or her “Voluntary Separation Date.” The Voluntary Separation Date shall be between June 26, 2012 and July 13, 2012. FRA reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to choose the Voluntary Separation Date.

SSVSP Application Procedure

SSVSP Application Forms and information packets will be available on the web and in hard copy at various Lab locations. To voluntarily elect to participate in the SSVSP, an eligible employee must sign and return the Application Form to the Head, Workforce Development and Resources Section. Each eligible employee must return the completed Application Form by May 24, 2012, at 5:30 p.m. (local time).

  • Returning an Application Form does not guarantee that an eligible employee will become a participant under the SSVSP. To meet continuing staffing requirements or for other business reasons, FRA may, in its sole discretion, limit the number of applications it will accept. All SSVSP applications are subject to FRA’s approval (see, e.g., Attachment B). FRA shall notify in writing each eligible employee whether his/her application has been accepted or rejected.
  • An eligible employee may revoke his or her election to voluntarily separate from FRA within seven (7) calendar days of the end of the election period by submitting the revocation form (see Attachment C).

    SSVSP Benefits

    Severance Pay

    Each eligible employee who executes and does not later revoke a SSVSP Application and signs but does not later revoke (rescind) a SSVSP General Release and Waiver, shall be entitled to receive severance pay for a number of weeks/months (the “severance period”) based on an employee’s years of service with FRA on his or her Voluntary Separation Date. The following table sets forth a participant’s total severance in terms of weeks/months of pay based upon the employee’s years of service with FRA:

    Non-Exempt (Weekly) Employees
    Years of Service Severance Pay
    Less than 1 year 2 weeks
    1 year to 5years 3 weeks
    5years to 10 years 5 weeks
    10 years to 15 years 7 weeks
    15 years to 20 years 9 weeks
    20 years to 25 years 11 weeks
    25 years plus 13 weeks
    Exempt (Monthly) Employees
    Years of Service Severance Pay
    Less than 1 year 1 month
    1 year to 5 years 2 months
    5 years to 10 years 3 months
    10 years to 15 years 4 months
    15 years to 20 years 5 months
    20 years to 30 years 6 months
    30 years and up 7 months

    For purposes of the SSVSP, severance is based on regular base pay excluding overtime, shift premium and bonuses. The severance payment will be paid in a lump sum.

    An eligible employee’s “years of service” for purposes of the SSVSP shall be determined in accordance with FRA’s personnel records by the most current date of hire.


    All applicable taxes and other required withholdings shall be deducted from all SSVSP payouts, including from severance pay and from the accrued but unused vacation pay.

    Health and Dental Care Coverage

    If an eligible employee timely elects to participate in the SSVSP and executes (and does not later revoke) a SSVSP Application, then he/she will be eligible to continue to participate in the medical plan pursuant to the DOE Displaced Workers Medical Benefit Program which is described in detail in the following paragraph.

    Employees participating in the SSVSP who are currently enrolled in a company-sponsored health plan, and who are not eligible for coverage under another employer’s group health plan, contractor's retiree medical plan, or Medicare are eligible for the DOE Displaced Workers Medical Benefits Program (DWMBP). If an employee is eligible for coverage from another employer or a spouse's employer, but that employer's coverage contains a pre-existing condition limitation, the employee will be allowed to continue to receive benefits under the DWMBP for the pre-existing condition until the limitation period with the new employer is satisfied. Similarly, the employee may continue coverage under the DWMBP during any waiting period before coverage under a new plan is effective. Employee premiums for this program are:

    • First Year:  Current active employee rate
    • Second Year:  50% of the appropriate COBRA rate
    • Third Year and beyond:  100% of the appropriate COBRA rate

    Alternatively, terminated employees may elect to continue medical coverage under COBRA. Employees will be provided a separate notice of COBRA benefits.

    Eligible employees will also be entitled to dental insurance pursuant to COBRA.

    Employees Eligible for Retiree Medical

    If an employee timely elects to participate in the SSVSP and executes (and does not later revoke) a SSVSP Application and meets the eligibility conditions described in the Medical Benefits Summary Plan Description, then he/she will be entitled to Retiree Medical Insurance as described in the Medical Benefits Summary Plan Description starting on the day following the Voluntary Separation Date. The participant shall be entitled to continue dental coverage from the same date pursuant to COBRA. FRA reserves the right to amend, modify or terminate the Retiree Medical Insurance in accordance with its terms.

    Other Fermilab Benefits

    All other FRA benefits for a participant (including Supplemental Retirement Account (SRA), life insurance, disability coverage, etc.) will cease as of the Voluntary Separation Date. Accrued but unused vacation pay will be paid out in a lump sum. All pay and other benefits (except SSVSP benefits) under any such plan, policy or procedure of FRA that is payable on account of the employee’s voluntary separation will be paid according to the terms of those established policies, plans and procedures.

    Return of Fermilab Property

    In order to receive payment of SSVSP benefits, all FRA property (i.e., uniforms, keys, credit cards, documents and records, identification cards, office equipment, portable computers, beepers, parking cards, etc.) must be returned by a participant as of his or her Voluntary Separation Date. No SSVSP benefits shall be paid until the Human Resources Department is satisfied that all FRA property has been returned.


    An employee whose SSVSP application is accepted by FRA agrees to the conditions listed on the SSVSP Application, which include but are not limited to repayment of a portion or all SSVSP severance pay if the SSVSP participant is re-employed by a DOE or NNSA contractor within one year of separation from employment at FRA. The only exception to the repayment requirement is Retired Guests, who return to FRA with no pay and whose Retired Guest status is approved by the Laboratory Director.

    Plan Administration

    FRA’s Head, Workforce Development and Resources Section shall serve as the “Plan Administrator” of the SSVSP and the “named fiduciary” within the meaning of such terms as defined in ERISA. The Plan Administrator shall have the discretionary authority to determine eligibility for SSVSP benefits and to construe the terms of the SSVSP, including the making of factual determinations. Benefits under the SSVSP shall be payable only if the Plan Administrator determines, in his/her sole discretion, that an eligible employee is entitled to them. The decisions of the Plan Administrator shall be final and conclusive with respect to all questions relating to the SSVSP.

    The Plan Administrator may delegate to other persons responsibilities for performing certain duties of the Plan Administrator under the terms of the SSVSP and may seek expert advice as the Plan Administrator deems reasonably necessary with respect to the SSVSP. The Plan Administrator shall be entitled to rely upon the information and advice furnished by such persons and experts, unless actually knowing such information and advice to be inaccurate or unlawful.

    Maximum Payment

    The severance pay available under the SSVSP is the maximum made available by FRA in the event of termination of employment. To the extent FRA makes any other payment to a participant because of a termination of employment, plant closing or a reduction in force on account of any federal, state or local law, including the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, the severance pay available under the SSVSP shall be coordinated with and reduced by the amount of such other payment.

    Claims Procedure for SSVSP Benefits

    If an employee who is accepted for the SSVSP believes he or she is entitled to greater benefits under the SSVSP than are provided, the employee may file a written claim for benefits with the Plan Administrator. (An employee’s offer to voluntarily separate from FRA does not constitute an initial claim for SSVSP benefits.) The Plan Administrator will either accept or deny the written claim, and will notify the claimant of acceptance or denial of the claim.

    However, questions concerning the denial of a SSVSP application are committed to the sole discretion of FRA, acting through the Plan Administrator or his or her delegate, and are not subject to appeal under the SSVSP. Moreover, since FRA, in its sole discretion, determines whether to accept an application for the SSVSP, FRA’s determination is final and binding, and not subject to court review.

    If the claim is denied, the Plan Administrator will furnish a written notice to the claimant containing the following information:

    • the specific reasons for the denial of benefits;
    • specific references to the SSVSP provisions on which any denial is based;
    • a description of any additional material or information that must be provided by the claimant in order to support the claim; and
    • an explanation of the SSVSP’s appeal procedures.

    A claimant may appeal the denial of his or her claim and have the Plan Administrator reconsider the decision. The claimant or the claimant’s authorized representative has the right to:

    • request an appeal by written request to the Plan Administrator no later than sixty (60) days after receipt of notice from the Plan Administrator denying the employee’s claim. If the claim is not timely, the Plan Administrator can deny the claim.
    • review pertinent SSVSP documents; and
    • submit issues and comments regarding the claim in writing to the Plan Administrator.

    The claimant will be advised in writing of the Plan Administrator’s decision on the appeal. The notice will set forth the specific reasons for the decision and make specific reference to SSVSP provisions upon which the decision is based.

    In no event shall a claimant or any other persons be entitled to challenge a decision of the Plan Administrator in court or in any other administrative proceeding unless and until the claim and appeal procedures described above have been complied with and exhausted.

    No Assignment of SSVSP Benefits

    Under no circumstances may SSVSP benefits be subject to anticipation, alienation, pledge, sale, transfer, assignment, garnishment, attachment, execution or encumbrance of any kind, and any attempt to do so shall be void, except as is required by law.

    Amendment and Termination of the SSVSP

    The SSVSP may be amended in any respect at any time, retroactively or otherwise, by the Plan Administrator, in writing. Notwithstanding the foregoing, no amendment of the SSVSP may reduce benefits previously granted to a participant under the SSVSP. In addition, FRA’s employee benefit plans, whether maintained in connection with the SSVSP or otherwise, may be amended or terminated at any time and in any manner by FRA, in accordance with their terms. While FRA intends to continue these plans, it reserves the right to change, suspend or cancel all or part of these plans at any time and for any or all employees, including active, disabled and retired employees, and to change such persons’ applicable contribution rates.

    Recovery of SSVSP Benefits Paid By Mistake

    A person shall be required to return to FRA any SSVSP benefit payments made by a mistake of fact or law, and FRA shall have all remedies available at law for the recovery of such amounts.

    No Representations Contrary to the SSVSP

    No employee, officer, director or agent of FRA has the authority to alter, vary or modify the terms of the SSVSP, other than the Plan Administrator by means of an authorized written amendment to the SSVSP. No verbal or written representations contrary to the terms of the SSVSP and its written amendments shall be binding upon any person or entity.

    No Employment Rights

    The SSVSP does not confer employment rights upon any person. No person shall be entitled, by virtue of the SSVSP, to remain in the employ of FRA, and nothing in the SSVSP shall restrict the right of FRA to alter or terminate the employment of any person.


    No person shall acquire by reason of the SSVSP any right in or title to any assets, funds or property of FRA. Any SSVSP benefits that become payable under the SSVSP are unfunded obligations of FRA and shall be paid from its general assets. No employee, officer, director or agent of FRA personally guarantees in any manner the payment of SSVSP benefits.

    Applicable Law

    The SSVSP shall be governed and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of Illinois, except where preempted by ERISA.


    If any provision of the SSVSP is found, held or deemed by the Plan Administrator or a court of competent jurisdiction to be void, unlawful or unenforceable under any applicable statute or other controlling law, the Plan Administrator or the court may sever such provision from the SSVSP, and the remainder of the SSVSP shall continue in full force and effect.

    Plan Year

    The ERISA plan year of the SSVSP shall be the calendar year.

    Your ERISA Rights

    As an eligible employee under the SSVSP, you are entitled to certain rights and protections under ERISA. ERISA provides that eligible employees under the SSVSP shall be entitled to:

    • Examine without charge at the Plan Administrator’s office (and at other specified locations) all SSVSP documents and copies of all documents filed by the Plan Administrator with the U.S. Department of Labor, such as detailed annual reports and descriptions.
    • Obtain copies of all SSVSP documents and other SSVSP information upon written requests to the Plan Administrator. The Plan Administrator may make a reasonable charge for the copies.

    In addition to creating rights for eligible employees, ERISA imposes duties upon the people who are responsible for the operation of the SSVSP. The people who operate the SSVSP, called “fiduciaries” of the SSVSP, have a duty to do so prudently and in the interest of you and other eligible employees. No one, including FRA or any other person, may fire you or otherwise discriminate against you in any way to prevent you from obtaining a benefit or exercising your rights under ERISA. If your claim for a SSVSP benefit is denied, you must receive a written explanation of the reason for the denial. You have the right to have the Plan Administrator review and reconsider your claim.

    Under ERISA, there are steps you can take to enforce the above rights. For instance, if you request materials from the Plan Administrator and you do not receive them within thirty (30) days, you may file suit in a federal court. In such a case, the court may require the Plan Administrator to provide the materials and to pay you up to $110.00 per day until you receive the materials, unless the materials were not sent because of reasons beyond the control of the Plan Administrator. If you have a claim for benefits which is denied or ignored, you may file suit in a state or federal court.

    If it should happen that fiduciaries misuse the SSVSP’s money, or if you are discriminated against for asserting your rights, you may seek assistance from the U.S. Department of Labor or you may file suit in federal court. The court will decide who should pay court costs and legal fees. If you are successful, the court may order the person you have sued to pay these costs and fees. If you lose, the court may order you to pay these costs and fees, for instance, if it finds your claim to be frivolous.

    If you have any questions about the SSVSP, you should contact the Plan Administrator. If you have questions about this statement or about your rights under ERISA, or if you need assistance in obtaining documents from the Plan Administrator, you should contact the nearest office of the Employee Benefits Security Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, listed in your telephone directory, or the Division of Technical Assistance and Inquiries, Employee Benefits Security Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington D.C. 20210. You may also obtain certain publications about your rights and responsibilities under ERISA by calling the publications hotline of the Employee Benefits Security Administration.

    General Information

    Plan Name: Fermi Research Alliance, LLC / Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Self-Select Voluntary Separation Program (SSVSP)
    Type of Plan: The SSVSP is an unfunded severance pay plan, which is a welfare benefit plan under ERISA.
    Plan Number: 537
    Plan Sponsor: Fermi Research Alliance, LLC
    Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
    P.O. Box 500
    Batavia, IL 60510-5011
    Plan Sponsor’s Employer
    Identification Number:
    Plan Administrator: Head, Workforce Development and Resources Section
    Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
    P.O. Box 500
    Batavia, Illinois 60510-5011
    Agent for Service
    of Legal Process:
    Plan Administrator

    Sample Forms

    Last modified: 05/02/2012 |