Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Frequently Asked Pension Questions


Q.

How do I become a Participant in the Plan?

A.

An Employee will become a Participant in one of three ways: 1) On the first day of the month following completion of 1000 hours of work in Covered Employment within the first twelve (12) months following your date of hire, 2) On the first day of the month following any Plan Year in which you complete 1000 hours of work in Covered Employment, or 3) On the first day of the month following completion of enough hours worked in Covered Employment to have had three (3) months of Employer Contributions made or due to be made on your behalf within a Plan Year.

Q.

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

A.

Any benefits accrued during your period of marriage are considered as Community Property, meaning your ex-spouse is entitled to half of any pension benefits accrued between your date of marriage and date of separation. We recommend that you clearly state the division of assets or waiver of benefits regarding your ex-spouse's interest (if any) in your pension benefits under the Plan. Doing so will help expedite the processing of your application for pension benefits upon retirement.

Q.

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

A.

This is case-by-case. If you're already receiving Social Security benefits, we recommend reaching out to Social Security prior to applying for pension benefits under the Plan to ensure there is no impact to your Social Security benefifts.

Q.

Can pensions be paid or assigned or garnered to others?

A.

No. Pensions cannot be assigned or garnered to others, however, Participants are eligible to designate Beneficiaries at their discretion. Please note, spousal consent will be required for married Participants who wish to designate someone other than their current spouse as their sole Primary Beneficiary.

Q.

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

A.

Yes. A petition for review of a denial or adverse benefit determination may be submitted in writing by the claimant. Such appeals shall state in clear and concise terms the reason or reasons for disagreement of the denial, and shall be filed with or received by the Board of Trustees within sixty (60) days (or 180 days for disability claims) after the date shown on the original notice to petitioner. All appeals are reviewed by the Board of Trustees and a letter of determination will be sent following the outcome of each appeal.

Q.

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

A.

Depending on several factors, pension applications can take up to ninety (90) days to process. Therefore, we recommend contacting the Trust Fund and requesting an applcation for retirement at least ninety (90) days prior to the effective date of your pension benefit.

Q.

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

A.

All applicants will be required to furnish valid proof of age and photo identification for themselves and their spouses (if married). Some proofs of age are considered as better proofs than others. For example, a Birth Certificiate is the preferred and most legitimate proof of age you can provide, however, there is a list of acceptable alternative proof of age documents that you may provide in lieu of a Birth Certificate. The list of acceptable proof of age documents is stated on the application. Married participants will also be asked to provide a copy of their Marriage Certificate. We also ask that you provide a copy of any and all Marriage Certificates, Divorce Decrees and/or Death Certificates in association with all prior marriages of the Participant (if applicable). Your application cannot be processed without these documents.

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.

Please contact the Plan Administrator and request a Tax Withholding Form. This form is also available on the Participant website. We recommend consulting with your tax-preparer before making any tax elections or changes to your existing tax deductions.

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.

Please contact the Plan Administrator and request a Direct Deposit Form. This form is also available on the Participant website. We recommend providing a voided check with your form to improve readability.

Q.

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

A.

Please contact the Plan Administrator if you do not receive your pension check in the mail. A stop payment will be requested and you will be issued a replacement check once the stop payment has been confirmed. To avoid any delays in payment, we recommend setting up direct deposit for your monthly pension benefit.

Q.

I recently moved, how do I change my address?

A.

All address updates need to be submitted to the Trust Fund in writing. Please contact the Plan Administrator and request an Address Change Form. This form is also available on the Participant website.

Q.

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

A.

If you're in the process of getting a divorce, we recommend speaking with your attorney and providing them with any statements regarding your pension benefits. If your ex-spouse is entitled to a portion of your pension benefits, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) may be required. A QDRO is a court-filed document that must be submitted to the Trust Fund and approved prior to any segregation of funds or payment of benefits to either party in cases where an ex-spouse is awarded a portion of your pension benefit.