Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Frequently Asked Pension Questions

Q. How can I find out what my benefit will be at retirement? 
A. Once per year, you will receive a Benefit Estimate Statement. These Statements are prepared and mailed shortly after the end of the Plan Year. The Statement will show your total Credit Years and your estimated normal monthly Accrued Benefit.
Q.What is a Plan Year?
A. A Plan Year is the time period during which your service and vesting credits are calculated. The Plan Year spans the period from May 1st to the next following April 30th.
Q. How many hours per Plan Year constitutes a Credit Year?
A. For each Plan Year in which you work 870 or more hours for one or more employers under a collective bargaining agreement which requires contributions to this Pension Fund, you will earn one (1) Credit Year. Once you have earned 15 Credit Years the amount of hours required to earn a Credit Year changes to 435.
Q. How do I become vested in my benefit and what does it mean to be vested?
A. When you have earned five (5) vesting credits, you will become vested in your accrued monthly benefit. What this means is that you would then have a non-forfeitable right to that money, even if you leave the bargaining unit and never return. Your accrued benefit would never be lost or forfeited.
Q. What happens if I leave covered employment or work less than the minimum hours required before I am vested in my accrued benefit? 
A. You may forfeit any accrued benefit you had earned up to that point. If you work less than 870 hours per Plan Year, that is called a Break in Service year. If you have five consecutive Break in Service years you will suffer a Permanent Break in Service and therefore lose all previously accrued benefit. There are ways you can reinstate these benefits if you return to covered employment - please refer to the Summary Plan Description for specific rules regarding reinstatement of your accrued benefit.
Q. When I am ready to retire, what procedures should I follow?
A. Contact the Fund office approximately 60 - 90 days prior to your retirement date for an estimate of your benefit and the appropriate application. You will be required to submit with your application a copy of your and your spouse's birth certificates, driver's license (or state issued ID), your marriage certificate and, if you have ever been divorced or widowed, a complete copy of your divorce decree or spouse's death certificate.
Q. What benefits does the Plan provide?
A. The Plan provides six (6) kinds of benefits: normal retirement, early retirement (reduced or unreduced), deferred vested, deferred vested early, disability and death.
Q. Will my spouse be entitled to any part of my pension upon my death?
A. Yes, if you choose one of the optional Joint and Survivor forms of benefit upon your retirement. If you are legally married before the date your benefits begin, your benefits may be paid in one of the Joint and Survivor benefit forms (50%, 75% or 100%). This Joint and Survivor option allows for you to receive a reduced benefit and, upon your death, your spouse would be entitled to a portion of your reduced benefit based upon the option chosen at retirement.
Q. If I die before retirement, are any benefits payable? 

Yes, if you have earned a vested benefit. The kind of benefit, the beneficiary who receives it and when it is paid varies depending on whether or not you are married, and whether or not you are receiving benefits at the time of your death. Please refer to the Summary Plan Description for a detailed explanation of the benefits available.