Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Frequently Asked Pension Questions


Q. Are there Survivor Benefits if I die before retiring?
A. Yes, there is a Lump Sum Death Benefit or a Pre-Retirement Surviving Spouse Pension .
If you die before retirement, your beneficiary is eligible for a death benefit equal to 90% of the contributions made on your behalf, provided:
  • You have at least five years of Contributions Service Pension Credits, AND
  • You are credited with at least 3/10 of a Pension Credit in a Pension Credit Year in the three year period before your death.
If you are married and die before retiring on a pension, his spouse may be eligible for a Preretirement Surviving Spouse Pension providing you:
  • Have the pension credit and vesting service required for a pension, whether immediate or deferred, and
  • You and your spouse have been married to each other for the 365 days immediately preceding your death, AND
  • You must have earned an hour of work after July 31, 1976.

The Pre-Retirement Surviving Spouse Pension will be paid on a monthly basis for the remainder of your eligible surviving spouse’s lifetime. The amount of the Pre-Retirement surviving spouse pension is equal to 50% of the Husband and Wife Pension amount that would have been payable had you retired on the day before you died. The monthly benefit will not begin for your surviving spouse until the month you would have reached your earliest retirement age had you lived.

Q. What are my Pension benefit payment options?
A. There are various payment options under the Pension Plan. The payment option available to you will depend on certain criteria at the time your benefit payments begin.
  • Lump Sum Payment - If your accumulated Share is $5,000.00 or less as of the Annuity Starting Date, the Trustees shall pay the benefit, if not more than $1,000.00 out in a single sum. If your Accumulated Share is over $1,000.00 (but not exceeding $5,000.00) as of the Annuity Starting Date, payment of a single sum shall be made upon receipt of your written election.
  • Single Life Pension – Normal form of payment if you are not married. If you are married, you may elect a Single Life pension if your spouse rejects the 50% Husband and Wife Pension. The Single Life Pension is payable for the remainder of your life with a guarantee of 36 monthly payments.
  • Husband and Wife Pension - Provides a benefit for your life and upon your passing your spouse (at the time of retirement) would receive a monthly benefit equal to the percentage your benefit elected at the time of retirement. Under the Husband and Wife Pension the amount of your monthly benefit is reduced to allow a lifetime benefit for your surviving spouse after your death.
    • 50% Husband and Wife – Normal form of payment if you are married. Under this form of benefit, your spouse, if surviving at the time of your death, will receive a benefit equal to 50% of the monthly benefit you were receiving.
    • 75% Husband and Wife – If you are married and your spouse both waive the normal form of benefit (50% Husband and Wife), an election of a 75% spousal form of payment may be made. Under this form of benefit, your spouse, if surviving at the time of the your death, will receive a benefit equal to 75% of the monthly benefit you were receiving.

Q. When will my Pension benefits begin?
A.

The "Annuity Starting Date" is the date as of which benefits are calculated and paid under the Plan and shall be the first day of the first month after or coinciding with the later of the first day of the month following your submission of a completed application; or 30 days after the Plan advises the you of the available benefit payment options.  

The Annuity Starting Date may begin before the end of the 30-day period, provided the Husband-and-Wife Pension is being paid at or after your normal Retirement Age.

The Annuity Starting Date may occur within 7-days after a written explanation of the effects of the Husband-and-Wife Pension has been provided to you, however, you and your spouse must consent in writing to waiving the 30-day period in favor of the 7-day period. 

The Annuity Starting Date shall not be later than your required beginning date, which is April 1 of the year following the year you obtain age 70 1/2. 


Q. Do I have to apply for Pension benefits?
A.If you are entitled to benefits under the Plan you must file a written claim with the Trustees on forms provide by the Trustees no more than 180 days or less than 30 days (or 7 days provided you and your spouse received written explanation of the effect of the Husband-and-Wife Pension, and both consent to waiving the 30-day period) in advance of the first month for which benefits are payable.

Q. Will I be eligible for Pension benefits if I become disabled?
A. The plan does offer disability pension benefits. The plan has two types of disability pension benefits. In order to qualify for a disability pension benefit, you must be considered totally and permanently disabled. To be considered totally and permanently disabled your disability:
  • Must prevent you from working as an Iron Worker or other type of building trades craftsman or in your former regular occupation, and
  • Must be expected to result in death or last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.
To qualify for disability pension benefit, you must:
  • have at least 10 contribution service pension credits, and
  • in the period of the two pension credit years before the date of disability you must be credited with:
    • at least 3/10 pension credit, or
    • at least 375 hours of employment for which you earned pro-rata credit under the Iron Workers International Reciprocal Agreement, or
    • at least 375 hours as an Iron Worker under collective agreements of the International Association.
    • Occupational Disability – You are totally disabled as an Iron Worker according to your physician and is not receiving Social Security Disability Benefits. Your pension will be the same amount as the Regular Pension, reduced by one-quarter of one percent (.0025) for each month you are younger than age 62 on the date your pension starts. The maximum reduction is 50%.
    • Disability Pension – You are totally disabled as an Iron Worker and receiving Social Security Disability Benefits. There is no reduction in the benefit amount because of age.

Q. Is my Pension benefit reduced if I retire before attaining age 62?
A. Yes, your pension benefit will be reduced by one-eighth of one percent (0.00125) for each full month that you are younger than age 62 (age 65 for participants who do not have 1500 or more hours of work for which contributions of $1.05 or more are required to be paid).

Q. Can I begin receiving Pension benefits before age 62?
A. Yes, you may retire on Early Retirement Pension if you are at least age 55 and has at least 10 contribution service pension credits or 15 pension credits, including 5 contribution service pension credits.

Q.When will I be eligible to begin receiving In-Reduced Pension Benefits?
A.

 A Regular Pension will be paid to you if you retire at age 65 and:

You have at least 15 years of Pension Credit and have at least 1,500 hours of work for which Contributions were due to the Trust,

OR 

The Pension is effective on or after January 1, 1985 and you have at least 10 years of Contributions Service Pension Credit with at least 375 hours of Work for which Contributions were due to the Trust on your behalf in a Plan Year ending on or after July 31, 1984. 

The Regular Pension will be paid to you if you retire at age 62 or older if (1) you meet one of the requirements above and (2) have at least 1,500 hours of work for which Contributions of at least $1.05 per hour were due to the Trust.  


Q. What is Vesting Service?
A. Years of Vesting Service are used to determine when you can no longer lose eligibility for a benefit from the Plan. You shall be credited with one Year of Vesting Service for each Pension Credit Year during the Contribution Period in which you worked in Covered Employment for 870 hours or more. Years of vesting service are earned only after the Contribution Date. Vesting service is earned in full years only. You acquire Vested Status if you:
  • Complete at least five (ten Years of vesting prior to November 1, 1998) Years of Vesting Service
  • Have at least ten Contribution Service Pension Credits for which contributions were received on your behalf, including 3/10 of a Pension Credit earned in a Pension Credit Year after June 30, 1991; or
  • Complete five years of vesting service based on non-bargained work. Including one hour of work after October 31, 1988.

Q.Do I lose hours worked if they are not enough to earn a full Pension Credit?
A. It is possible for you to lose your pension credits and years of vesting service if you have a break in service prior to meeting the requirements for a pension. A break in service occurs if you fail to earn any credit during certain specified periods of time. In general, if you have a break in service, you will lose your status as a Participant under the Plan and your accumulated years of pension credit and years of vesting service are cancelled. The break in service rules differ depending upon whether the break occurred before or after August 1, 1976. Before August 1, 1976, a break in service was permanent. On or After August 1, 1976 there are one-year breaks that are temporary as well as permanent breaks.
  • Break in service before August 1, 1976 = You have a permanent break if you did not earn at least two quarters of contribution service pension credit in three consecutive Pension Credit Years, unless you had 10 or more contribution service pension credits. All pension credits and vesting credits prior to the break in service are cancelled.
  • One-Year Break in service on or after August 1, 1976 = One-year breaks are temporary and can be repaired. You have a break in service in any Plan Year that you did not have contributions of at least 375 hours in Covered Employment. A One-year break can be repaired by having 375 hours in Covered Employment for which contributions are required to be paid in a subsequent Pension Credit Year, provided that you do not yet have a permanent break.
  • Permanent Break in service on or after August 1, 1976 = You have a permanent break in service once your consecutive one-year breaks equal or exceeds the number of years of vesting service. ---After August 1, 1986, you will not have a permanent break until your consecutive one-year breaks equal the greater of five or the number of years of vesting service.

Q. What is Covered Employment?
A. Covered Employment is the period of time that your Employer is required to make payments to the Pension Fund as required under a written agreement with Iron Workers St. Louis District Council.

Q. What is a Pension Credit?
A.

Pension Credits means the years, quarters of years, or tenths of years of credit which are needed for entitlement of a pension under this Pension Plan. Pension Credits are commonly referred to as Contribution Service Credits.

For periods prior to August 1, 1976, credits were accrued and accumulated in quarters of year starting with 375 hours and increasing by quarter of a year every 375 hours with a maximum of 1 Full year.

For periods between July 31, 1976 and July 31, 1988, credits were accrued in tenths of a year starting at 375 to 599 being 3/10 of a year, 600 being 4/10 of a year, and increasing 1/10 of a year for every 150 hours with a maximum of 1 Full Year.

For periods after July 31, 1988, credits were accrued in tenths of a year starting at 375 to 599 being 3/10 of a year, 600 being 4/10 of a year, and increasing 1/10 of a year for every 150 hours but with a maximum of 1 2/10 (1.2) years.

Pension Credits are used to determine your eligibility and amount due for monthly pension benefit at retirement.