Monday, September 27, 2021

Frequently Asked Pension Questions


Q.

What is the Pension Plan Year?

A.

The term "Plan Year" shall mean the period of twelve consecutive months commencing on each April 1.

Example: The 2020 Pension Plan Year Starts on April 1, 2019 and ends on March 31, 2020

Q.

How do I become a Participant in the Plan?

A.

Earliest April 1 or October 1, from your date of hire, following 12 consecutive month period during which at least 500 hours of service is completed in Covered Employment or Contiguous Non-Covered Employment.  If you don't meet it in the first 12 consecutive months, then it shall be the Plan Year that contains your anniversary date of hire that you complete the 500 hour of servive requirement.

Q.

Am I automatically entitled to a Pension? 

A.

No, you must become 100% Vested (or fully vested). You need 5 years of Credit Service (Vesting Credit) or attain Normal Retirement Age. After March 31, 1976 and before April 1, 1997 the Plan  required 10 years of Vesting Service to be fully vested. Prior to April 1, 1976 the plan required at least 10 Benefit Units, without a Peranent Break in Service, and at least 2 quarters of a Benefit Unit in Covered Employment after his Contribution Date.

Q.

What is Normal Retirement Age?

A.

The term "Normal Retirement Age" shall mean the later of the Participant's 65th birthdate or the 5th anniversary of the Date of Participation, or the 10th anniversary of the Date of Participation if prior to April 1, 1997.

Q.

How many Hours of Service to earn a Year of Credited Service (Vesting Credit)?

A.

Please review the Summary Plan Booklet Pages 6 - 9 for the vesting schedules used by this Plan.

Q.

How are Benefit Units Calculated for Benefit Purposes?

A.

Please review the Summary Plan Description Booklet Pages 9-12 for the Benefit Unit schedules used by this Plan.

Q.

Generally when are Benefits Payable?

A.

Benefits are payable in the following Circumstances:

Regular Pension is available for Active(*) Participants retiring on or after age 65 for fully vested participants. See page 16 -18 of your Summary Plan Description Booklet for example of a benefit calculations in the 5 Year Certain and Life Form.

Service Pension is available for Active (*) Participants retiring on or after age 55 with at least 30 years of Credited Service (Vesting Credit). This is calculated similar to a Regular Pension but with an early retirement reduction of 1/4 of 1% for each month you are younger then age 62 but older than age 60, and 1/2 of 1% for each month you are younger than age 60. See page 19 of your Summary Plan Description Booklet for more information.

Early Retirement Benefits are available for Active (*) Participants on or after age 55 with 5 Years of Credited Service (Vesting Credit). This is calculated similar to a Regular Pension but with an early retirement reduction of 1/4 of 1% for each month you are younger then age 65 but older than age 60, and 1/2 of 1% for each month you are younger than age 60. See page 20 of your Summary Plan Description Booklet for more information.

A Deferred Pension is available for separated participants that are fully vested, subject to same rules as Regular or Early Retirement Pension, however this benefit is reduced by 1/2 of 1% for each month your are younger then age 65. See page 20 - 21 of your Summary Plan Description Booklet for more information.

Disability Benefits are available if you earned at least 5 years Credited Service (Vesting Credit), and are found to be totally and permanently disabled by Social Security Administration (Special rules apply in the case of a terminal illness or in the absence of an SSDA) with at least 500 Hours of Service in Covered Employment in either of the 2 Plan Years immediately preceding the Plan Year you became disabled. See page 21 -22 of your Summary Plan Description Booklet for more information.

Q.

How is the Basic Form of Benefit at Normal Retirement Age Calculated?

A.

Please review the Summary Plan Description Booklet pages 16-18 (Single Life Calculation) and pages 25-28 (Joint & Survivor Factors for converting Single Life benefit) for the Benefit Rate Schedules used by this Plan.

Q.

What are the Forms of Benefit Payments?

A.

For a Single Participant the Basic Form of Benefit is a Single Life Pension with a 5 Year Certain or Guaranteed Feature (60 payments are Guaranteed)

For a Married Participant the Basic Form of Benefit is a Participant and Spouse Pension (otherwise referred to as Husband and Wife Pension in the SPD or 50% Joint and Survivor Pension)(following death of participant spouse gets 50% of Participants amount).

Option Forms of Benefit available are:

75% Joint and Survivor Pension (following death of participant spouse gets 75% of Participants amount)

100% Joint and Survivor Pension (following death of participant spouse gets 100% of Participants amount)

Single Life Reversion Option (See page 28 of your SPD for the additional reductions to the Joint and Survivor options above, that would allow the Participants benefit to revert back to the Single Life Pension in the event that the surviving spouse passes first).

Q.

How far in advance should I request an application for retirement?

A.

You should request an application for retirement no less than 30 days and no more than 180 days from the date you wish to commence your benefit. The Plan Administrator shall provide each participant, within the 30 to 180-day period prior to the commencement of benefits, a written explanation of (i) the terms and conditions of the Participant and Spouse Pension; (ii) the Participant's right to make and the effect of an election to waive the Participant and Spouse Pension form of benefit; (iii) a general description of the eligibility conditions and other material features of the optional forms of benefit and sufficient additional information to explain the relative values of the optional forms of benefit available; (iv) the rights of the Participant's Spouse; and (v) the right to make and effect of a revocation of a previous election to waive the Participant and Spouse Pension. A Participant (with the consent of his Spouse) may waive the minimum 30 day notice period if benefits commence no more than 7 days after the written explanation is provided to the Participant.

Q.

How long does my retirement application take to process?

A.

Typically your retirement application will be processed within 90 days unless special circumstances require an extension. You may contact the Fund Office at (844) 989-2321 to check on the status of your application anytime.

Q.

In addition to the application for retirement, what other documents do I have to submit to the Fund office?

A.

You will be required to submit Two Proofs of Age and Identity to the Fund Office for yourself, and if married your spouse (Driver's License, State Identification, Pass Port, and or Birth Certificate), Social Security Cards, current Marriage License, and all Divorce Decrees, Property and Settlement Agreements, and Qualified Domestic Relation Orders.

Q.

If benefits are denied, may a retiree or beneficiary appeal?

A.

The procedure for filing benefit claims and the procedure for appealing Trustee decisions with regard to benefit claims and other matters under this Plan are stated in the Summary Plan Description booklet starting on page 34. All claims and appeals arising under the Plan shall be subject to the provisions of the Summary Plan Description.

Q.

Can I lose Credited Service (Vesting Credits) and Benefit Units (Pension Credits) prior to being Fully Vested?

A.

Yes, One-Year Breaks in Service occur when you have less than 500 Hours of Service Worked. Once you have the greater of Your full years of Credited Service or 5 consecutive One-Year Breaks in Service you lose/forfeit any previous earned Credited Service and Benefit Units. Please see the Summary Plan Description (SPD) Booklet pages 13 -15 for rules that are related to loss of benefit.

Q.

I am currently receiving a monthly pension benefit from the Plan and would like to change the tax withholding. What needs to be done?

A.

You will need to contact the Fund Office at (844) 989-2312 to request Federal W-4 P forms and applicable State Forms necessary for tax adjustments. You may also find electronic versions of these forms, available under the Documents section of this website.

Q.

I am currently receiving a monthly pension benefit from the Plan and would like to change the bank account information. How do I change this information?

A.

You will need to contact the Fund Office at (844) 989-2312 to request a Direct Deposit Agreement Form. You may also find an electronic version under the Documents section of this website.

Q.I am currently receiving a monthly pension benefit from the Plan, what happens if I do not receive my check?

A.You need to contact the Fund Office to report your check loss, however please allow for up to 10 business days from the first of the month or check mailing date for your check to arrive. A Re-issue check cannot be made prior to the Fund Office verifying the Check wasn't cashed, and that it's payment has been stopped.

Q.

I recently moved, how do I change my address?

A.

You will need to contact the Fund Office and request an Address verification form, or you may notify the Fund Office in writing with a dated signature of address changes. Forms are also available in the Documents section of this website.

Q.

Whom should I contact if I'm getting a divorce and what documents do I need to submit?

A.

You should contact the Fund Office to request any records that you may need for the divorce proceedings. You should provide a Certified Copy of the Divorce Decree as soon as possible, and request the forms necessary to update contact information, and/or beneficiary information.

Q.

I am going through a divorce, what happens to my pension?

A.

If you get a divorce (whether before or after retirement), your spouse may be entitled to receive a portion of your pension benefit in accordance with the terms of a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). A QDRO may affect the amount of pension benefit you will receive or are receiving. A copy of QDRO procedures will be provided to you, free of charge, at your request by contacting the Fund Office.

Q.

Does the Pension Plan affect Social Security benefits in any way?

A.

No, Pension payments, annuities, and the interest or dividends from your savings and investments are not earnings for Social Security purposes. Only earned income, your wages, or net income from self-employment, is covered by Social Security. You may have to pay income tax on pensions, annuities, interest, or dividends, but you do not pay Social Security Taxes. Those types of income are not on your Social Security record.

Q.

What are the benefits for my beneficiaries?

A.

Under certain circumstances, the Plan may include both pre-retirement and post-retirement benefits for your beneficiaries. Please review the Summary Plan Description Booklet pages 24-30 to see all the circumstances for which a benefit is payable.

Q.

Can pensions be paid or assigned or garnered to others?

A.

No benefit or interest available hereunder will be subject to assignment or alienation, either voluntarily or involuntarily. The preceding sentence shall also apply to the creation, assignment, or recognition of a right to any benefit payable with respect to a Participant pursuant to a domestic relation order (divorce, alimony payments, or child support), unless such order is determined to be a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), as defined in Section 414(p) of the Code, or any domestic relation order entered before January 1, 1985.

Federal tax liens are an exception to ERISA's anti-alienation rules. They can attach to ERISA pension plans.

Q.

Are there any other General Questions and Answers or Plan Information I may need to know?

A.

Yes, General Questions and Answers can be found on pages 36 - 37 of your SPD. Plan Information can be found on pages 38 - 44 of your SPD.

Q.

How do I learn more about the Plan and its rules?

A.

Contact the Fund Office at (844) 989-2321 and request a copy of the Eighth District Electrical Pension Fund’s Summary Plan Description Booklet. You may also find an electronic version of this document under the Documents section of this website.