Skip to main content

Human Resources for Postdocs

All postdocs are expected to read and abide by organizational policies (VU or VUMC as determined by the postdoc’s classification) on the appropriate human resources website:

Questions about benefits should be directed to either the VU or VUMC human resources postdoc representative:

A postdoctoral appointment is a full-time position. Activities are determined by the department/program. Requests to reduce from 100% FTE must be approved by the faculty advisor, dean of the school/college, and the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs. Reduction of effort could impact benefits eligibility.

Benefits Overview

Eligibility for benefits is determined by postdoctoral classification as summarized below. A listing of postdoctoral classifications can be found here.

Click on the arrow for detailed information for each category.

The benefits below are for Research Fellows (9132) and Postdoctoral Scholars, Research (9145), who are classified as employees.

Health Insurance

  • Employee Health Insurance
  • Enrollment required within 30 days of hire date
  • Coverage begins on start date of appointment
  • If your home department is VU, details located at: VU Human Resources
  • If your home department is VUMC, details located at: VUMC Human Resources

The following additional benefits are available

  • Dental Insurance
  • Vision Insurance
  • Life Insurance
  • Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D)
  • Short-term Disability
  • Long-term Disability
  • Flexible Spending Accounts
  • Health Reimbursement Account
  • Retirement Plan 403(b)

These additional benefits are provided through either VU or VUMC Human Resources Department.

Questions?  Contact the appropriate human resources department

Coverage beginning August 12, 2023

2023-2024 Plan Highlight Flyer (VUnetID Required)

2023-2024 Plan Orientation Video


Non-employee postdocs (i.e., VU Postdoctoral Scholar, Trainee) on training and fellowship grants (for whom no FICA is withheld) are eligible for the VU Postdoc Trainee Health Insurance Plan. The health insurance plan is administered by Academic Health Plans and is Affordable Care Act compliant. 

Dates of coverage areAugust 12, 2023 to August 11, 2024. 

VU Postdoctoral Scholar Trainees have access to Lyra Mental and Behavioral Health telehealth services and Virgin Pulse wellness service. VU Postdoctoral Scholar Trainees also have access to the Occupational Health Clinic and the Faculty/Staff Express Care Clinic. Additional information can be found on the Postdoc Health & Wellness Resources page. Postdocs are not eligible to use the services at the Student Health Center (SHC) or Work/Life Connections – VUMC EAP. 

Postdoc Enrollment 

  • Postdocs must enroll for health insurance within 30 days of the hire date. To enroll: Contact your department staff administrator who must submit a Benefits Action Form via RedCap. 
  • Once the BAF is completed, it is automatically routed to the appropriate parties for approval, as directed by your responses. 
  • Postdocs are not billed directly for health insurance. The department or program is billed. 
  • The BAF is required for payment of premiums. 

Enrolling Dependents 

Postdocs may enroll their eligible dependents with an additional cost. Eligible dependents include: 

  • A married spouse (husband and wife) or children (under the age of 26). 
  • Domestic partners (same sex or opposite) are not covered. 
  • Postdocs must enroll dependents within two weeks of the effective start date on the BAF that your department administrator submits to OPA. 
  • Postdocs are not billed directly for dependent health insurance coverage. Your department is billed. 

Coverage for eligible dependents must be purchased for the same time period as the postdocs’ period of coverage and cannot exceed coverage purchased by the postdoc. For example, an individual enrolled for annual coverage has to purchase annual coverage for a dependent unless a qualifying event occurs (see Qualifying Events section below) 

Benefits & Premium 

  • The VU Postdoc Trainee Health Insurance Plan will provide coverage from August 12, 2023 to August 11, 2024. 
  • Starting July 1, 2023, the AHP Web Portal will be live. Postdocs can access to review detailed information about your benefits and coverage. 

2023-2024 Postdoc Rates 

Programs/departments are billed for postdoc health insurance on a quarterly basis. The quarters and rates* are broken down as follows: 

  • Q1:  8/12/23 – 11/11/23
  • Q2:  11/12/23 – 2/11/24
  • Q3:  2/12/24 – 5/11/24
  • Q4:  5/12/24 – 8/11/24

Trainee – $994/quarter
Spouse – $994/quarter
Dependents under 18 – $1003/quarter (2x max)

To Terminate Coverage 

  • The VU Postdoc Trainee Health Insurance Plan is an annual policy with four termination dates: December 31, April 30, May 30 and August 11. 
  • Termination can be accommodated other than the end of the quarterly period by crediting a monthly rate. 
  • To terminate coverage: Department administrators must complete a Benefits Action Form (BAF). Your department will continue to be charged until a termination BAF is received. 

Qualifying Events 

Postdoctoral Scholar Trainees can also add eligible dependent(s) if they experience one of the following qualifying events: (a) marriage, (b) birth of a child, (c) divorce, (d) if the dependent is entering the country for the first time, or (e) the dependent loses coverage under another health insurance. 

Dental & Vision Insurance 

  • The 2023-2024 SHIP includes MetLife Dental PPO. The MetLife Dental PPO plan includes coverage for diagnostic evaluations/x-rays and preventative services at 100% as well as basic dental restorative at 80% and major restorative at 50%.  
  • SHIP will now include one adult eye exam per plan year, and Aetna’s Vision Discount Plan which includes discounted rates for additional eye exams, frames, lenses, contact lenses, and LASIK.
  • Additional voluntary supplemental vision coverage is available to postdocs. Postdocs are responsible for enrolling in this optional coverage and for making payments directly. 
  • Postdocs do not need to be enrolled in AHP’s health insurance to be eligible to purchase voluntary vision coverage. 
  • Enrollment is open all year and can be canceled at any time. 
  • Coverage starts the first day of the following month after enrolling.  Payment is required on the 20th of each month. 
  • Coverage will continue and will be charged until the postdoc cancels the optional vision even if the AHP health insurance coverage is terminated. 



Coverage starts October 1, 2023


Non-employee PostDocs (VUMC Research Fellow Trainee’s) on training and fellowship grants (for whom no FICA is withheld) are eligible for the VUMC Postdoc Trainee Health Insurance Plan. The health insurance plan is administered by Gallagher. For additional information, see 2023-2024 Health Insurance Plan Design Changes below.

Dates of coverage are October 1, 2023 to September 30, 2024.

VUMC Postdoctoral Research Fellow Trainees have access to the Postdoc Wellness Program of Work/Life Connections-EAP, as well as Occupational Health.

Postdoc Enrollment

Detailed information is located at: Vanderbilt University Medical Center Postdoctoral Trainee Benefits Program

Postdoc Monthly Rates

Monthly Gallagher AETNA Medical Rates: 2023-2024
Coverage Tier Benefits Plan Cost 
Postdoc Only $834.80
Postdoc + Spouse $1,936.83
Postdoc + Child $1,711.42
Family $2,771.69


AETNA Dental Plans
Coverage Tier (HMO) Monthly Premium
Postdoc Only $19.91
Postdoc + Spouse $39.19
Postdoc + Child $50.05
Family $74.55
Coverage Tier (PPO) Monthly Premium
Postdoc Only $35.26
Postdoc + Spouse $69.38
Postdoc + Child $88.53
Family $132.00


All postdoctoral trainees enrolled in this benefits package are given the option of buying-up into the Aetna PPO 90/70 Health Insurance Plan for a small monthly premium. Many postdocs have asked if their grant/department will pay for the buy-up premiums, if the funds are available. Since the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs cannot be invoiced for postdoc buy-up premiums, you must discuss this option with your respective department. If approved, each department will determine how they wish to handle payment.

Please note: If Gallagher does not receive payment for the buy-up premium by the scheduled due dates, the trainee’s benefits will terminate, and they will not be able to re-enroll until the next open enrollment period in the fall. Reimbursement/payment of the postdoc premium on behalf of the trainee is to be negotiated between the department and the trainee.


Optional Monthly Aetna Buy-Up PPO 90/70

(Postdoc responsible for enrolling and making payments)

Coverage Tier Monthly Buy-Up Premium
Postdoc only $45.54
Postdoc + Spouse $105.63
Postdoc + Child $93.32
Family $151.12


Optional Vision

(Postdoc responsible for enrolling and making payments)

Coverage Tier Monthly Premium
Postdoc only $8.93
Postdoc + Spouse $17.86
Postdoc + Child $19.64
Family $28.57


Life, ADD Coverage $6.82
LTD Coverage $4.30



If a postdoctoral trainee chooses to participate in the optional vision plan or Aetna Buy-up plan, they are responsible for enrolling and making payments as necessary to Gallagher.


Leave and Time Off Policies

Postdocs have policies that differ from the HR policies at VU or VUMC.

You can view details and a chart based on your job code on the Leave and Time Off page.



Vanderbilt University is committed to principles of equal opportunity and affirmative action. Persons with disabilities who have requests for reasonable accommodations should contact the Office for Equal Access.