What benefits does a Postdoctoral Associate receive?
Postdoctoral Associates are paid by MIT and are considered employees of the Institute. They are eligible for all MIT employee benefits as described by MIT's Benefits Office. (Note the specific requirements related to length and percent effort of the appointment.)
What benefits does a Postdoctoral Fellow receive?
Because of their funding source and appointment type, Postdoctoral Fellows are not considered employees of MIT. This status impacts eligibility for various benefits and programs. The Vice President for Research strives to mitigate the effect of these differences. MIT offers health and dental insurance to Postdoctoral Fellows, as well many of the “discounts and perks” available to employees, often with subsidy by the Vice President for Research. For further information, see the following documents:
- Benefits Office description of Postdoctoral Fellow Benefits.
- The Vice President for Research Statement - includes important information regarding salary, stipend minimums and equalization of health insurance payments.
- Summary chart Postdoctoral Associates and Fellows: Benefits and Provisions. (September 2016)
- Documents referenced below, which include: Impact of switching from a Postdoctoral Associate to a Postdoctoral Fellow appointment (or vice versa); Resources and Information for Postdocs; and summary of postdoc time off benefits
What are other differences and considerations?
For those who may change appointment types during their stay at MIT, an important resource is Impact of switching from a Postdoctoral Associate to a Postdoctoral Fellow appointment (or vice versa), available from the Office of the Vice President for Finance. The key administrative contact for postdocs is a very important source of information and guidance for postdocs considering, or going through, this transition. To find the name of your administrative contact, see the list.
MIT is engaged in on-going efforts to equalize provisions for Postdoc Associates and Postdoctoral Fellows wherever possible. A variety of resources are in place for all postdoctoral scholars; see for example Resources and Information for Postdocs and Athletics membership information.
Federal and state laws, tax regulations, and the way MIT benefits are funded create distinctions between Associates and Fellows. An MIT salary is a payment for services paid through MIT’s payroll system, typically with sponsored funds awarded to MIT. Every salary is subject to withholding taxes and Social Security deductions. In addition, for each MIT salary paid to the employee, a “fringe benefit rate” (currently 26% for benefits, plus 9% for vacation) is charged to the same source of funds as the salary. This rate is negotiated annually with the federal government. The funds collected through this mechanism are used to support the costs of employee benefits. In contrast, a Postdoctoral Fellow’s stipend is considered non-salary support, and is not subject to the fringe benefit rate. Different tax regulations also apply. Because fellows do not contribute to the benefits pool and are therefore not eligible for employee benefits, other arrangements are made for comparable provisions whenever possible.
Because Postdoctoral Fellows are not salaried employees, MIT is unable to sponsor postdocs in that category on the H-1B visa.
What provisions are in place for time off for Postdocs?
See the summary of postdoc time off benefits for information on topics such as holidays, vacation, and sick time.