It’s the beginning of a new year, and Husband has run out his time on his training grant. So for the first time in five years he’ll be paid by his PI.
The change in funding source shouldn’t bring dramatic changes to ones income, but it always does. The most obvious example is going onto a private fellowship. These often pay slightly above NIH scale, and can provide a little bump to your paycheck. But there are much trickier ways in which the funding source can affect your net pay.
For example, the last two years Husband was on a NIH training grant. For some reason, getting paid on a training grant (at least at Husband’s institution) isn’t treated like regular income. Taxes, Social Security, Medicare weren’t taken out of his paycheck. But it’s still taxable income. So Husband dutifully paid his estimated taxes each year, but got to pocket money that might otherwise have been taken out for SS and Medicare.
Moving onto his boss’ grant, those things will now be taken out of his paycheck, to the tune of something like 8% of his income. That’s a huge net loss for us. A couple hundred dollars a month.
The bright side, we thought, was that Husband would finally be allowed to participate in the institution’s retirement plan (with associated fund matching). So yesterday Husband marched in to the benefits office to sign himself up.
No dice they told him. He is considered a new employee and won’t qualify to participate in the retirement plan until he had been at the institution for a full year.
Um, he’s been there for almost 6 years.
Crap like this happens all the time and it’s complete bullsh*t. I don’t understand the principle of penalizing your grad students and postdocs for successfully acquiring their own funding. At both of our institutions your position is classified according to who’s paying you, and it changes the number and types of benefits that you qualify for.
No good deed goes unpunished, I guess.