Frequently Asked Questions
Here is a list of frequently asked questions by benefit type. If your question is not addressed here, you can contact the Fund Office at (800) 848-2129 or (860) 571-9191.
- What Documentation is Required to Participate in the Health Fund Benefits?
- Your Fund requires a completed, signed Census Enrollment form to be on file (available online) as well as a copy of your birth certificate, your spouse’s birth certificate and marriage license if applicable, Certificates of “Live” Birth for
any dependent children as well as any information concerning other Health Care coverage for yourself or any member of your family.
- When Do My Health Insurance Benefits Begin?
- Your Health Benefits with your Fund begin the 1st of the 2nd month after you have accumulated 390 hours (example: 390 hours are accumulated by April, paid by the contractor in May, your benefits will begin June 1st). When this requirement is
satisfied you will be entitled to Medical, Prescription, Vision, Dental, Hearing, Life & Disability Benefits. A letter noting your eligibility will arrive within a few days of the 1st and your Bank of Hours will cover you for a minimum of
- Can I Bank Hours for Health Benefits?
- Yes, any hours that you work in a month over 130 will go towards your bank of hours. You can accumulate a maximum bank of 780 hours, which is the equivalent of 6 months of coverage.
- What Are My Co-pays and Responsibilities for Benefits?
- You are eligible for benefits In and Out-of-Network through your Fund. We encourage you to seek care In-Network (providers within the Anthem BCBS network) as it is more cost effective to you and the Fund:
In Network charges-
- $15 (charges under $2,000)
- $100 Emergency Room ($200 if not coded as an emergency)
- $200 (charges over $2,000)
- $400 In-Patient Hospital
- *There is a $1,500 annual out of pocket maximum in-network
Out of Network Charges-
- $200 Deductible
- 80% of Reasonable & Customary paid by Fund
- 20% participant responsibility
- *No out of pocket maximum
- Are Referrals Required with this Plan?
- Referrals are not required by this Plan. However, certification is required for any In-Patient Hospital stay through Health Link 1-877-284-0102 and any in-patient Mental Health/Substance Abuse benefits need to be pre-certified through HARRIS ROTHENBERG 1-888-545-5101 –
Always contact the Health Fund Office directly with any questions or concerns – we are happy to help!
- Can I make my own contributions to the Plan?
- No. The Plan does not accept Participant contributions.
- If my employer doesn’t remit contributions on my behalf, will I receive these contributions?
- Although the Trustees will make every effort to collect contributions due from delinquent employers, they cannot credit your Account unless contributions are received. You should keep track of your hours worked and notify the Fund Administrative
Office if you think contributions are due on your behalf.
- How often am I going to receive a statement of my Account?
- You will receive a statement of your Account each calendar quarter. In addition, you may call Putnam at 1-800-685-6401 to receive a daily valuation of your Account over the telephone.
- Can I access my Account through the Internet on my home computer?
- You can access your account information on the world wide web simply by logging on to www.myretirementplan.com Putnam Investments’ web site will request your social security number
and personal identification number (PIN) to review your account balances, Fund performance, make transfers between accounts, and/or change allocations
- How do I determine who my beneficiary is for my Account should I die?
- You should complete a Beneficiary Designation Form when you become a Participant in the Plan. If you are married, your Beneficiary is your Spouse, unless your Spouse waives her rights to your Account. If you are not married, and you have not
designated a Beneficiary, then payments are made to your next of kin according to the terms of the Plan.
- If I am eligible to withdraw my annuity Account, what do I need to do?
- You need to contact the Fund Administrative Office to receive an Application for Benefits. You should file your Application with the Fund Administrative Office at least 30 days, but no more than 90 days before you want a distribution.
- How long does it take to receive a distribution from my annuity Account?
- It generally takes a minimum of three (3) weeks to receive a distribution. If you are electing an annuity form of payment, this process may take a little longer.
- Do I need to report any interest received in a calendar year on my taxes if I am unable to withdraw my money?
- No. Interest and earnings on your Account are only reported when you receive a distribution.
- Why are mandatory federal taxes withheld?
- Although all distributions from the Fund are subject to income taxes, Federal regulations require the Fund to withhold 20% from lump sum and installment distributions.
- If I elect a distribution, can I roll my annuity Account into an IRA?
- In most instances you can roll a distribution from your Account to an IRA. However, some distributions are not eligible for rollover treatment. These are: age 70 1 /2 minimum required distributions, hardship withdrawals, payments made in the
form of an annuity.
- Can I automatically rollover my Account balance to an IRA when I reach age 59 1 /2?
- No. You must satisfy the distribution provisions of the Plan for retirement, early retirement, disability, or termination of employment to receive a distribution, which can then be generally rolled-over to an IRA.
- Can I get a loan from my Account or use my Account balance as collateral for a loan?
- No. The Plan does not allow loans to Participants, and your Account balance in the Annuity Fund cannot be attached or assigned by creditors or used as collateral. Only in a divorce can your spouse attach your annuity Account (see QDRO provisions),
and in certain situations, the IRS can also levy your Account.
- It’s my money, why can’t I take it out whenever I want to?
- The Internal Revenue Service provides tax qualification for the Annuity Fund when certain conditions and restrictions are met by the Fund. The benefit to you of continued tax qualification is that contributions and earnings made to your Account
are not included in your annual gross income and are not subject to income tax until you receive a distribution. In return for this benefit, the IRS limits access to your Account essentially to retirement, termination of employment, disability
or death. Certain distributions prior to age 59 1 /2 are not only subject to income tax, but an additional 10% penalty for an early distribution, unless the balance is rolled over to another qualified plan or IRA.
- Is the Plan insured?
- Unlike a defined benefit pension plan, the Annuity Fund is not insured by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, or any other insurance. The Board of Trustees maintains fiduciary liability insurance and bonding coverage to protect the assets
of the Fund from a fraudulent loss.
- How are administrative fees determined?
- The actual operating expenses of the Fund (administration, accounting, etc.) are allocated to each Participant based on a flat quarterly fee, plus any investment management fees associated with the investment funds. These expenses vary between
investment options. These are described more fully in the investment prospectus given to you when you became a Participant. You can also obtain copies of the prospectus at any time by contacting Putnam Investments or the Fund Administrative
- Are there any fees associated with the Plan?
- As of the printing of this booklet, a quarterly fee of $25 is deducted from each Account for Putnam and Fund Administrative Office expenses. There are no sales charges – or loads – associated with the investment options offered in the Plan.
- What services will John Hancock provide?
- Toll free telephone service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-685-6401.
- Access to John Hancock representatives who can provide personal assistance from 9:00 a.m.
to 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time, any business day.
- Daily updating of your Account
- Eight (8) diversified investment choices
- Comprehensive quarterly account statements mailed to your home
- What are my investment options?
The current available investment funds are:
- Putnam Voyager Fund
- Putnam Investors Fund
- MFS Union Standard Equity Fund
- Putnam Asset Allocation: Growth Portfolio
- The Putnam Fund for Growth and Income
- Putnam Asset Allocation: Balanced Portfolio
- Putnam Asset Allocation: Conservative Portfolio
- Putnam Stable Value Fund
Unlike FDIC-insured bank products, mutual funds have the potential to obtain higher growth rates because they invest in securities that will fluctuate in value. Mutual funds are not insured or guaranteed and may involve loss of principal. For more information
about these funds, please read each fund’s prospectus or offering statement before you make your investment selections.
- What happens if I do not make an investment decision?
- If you do not indicate how you would like your money invested, pursuant to the Plan, it will automatically be invested in Putnam Stable Value Fund, which has been chosen as the default fund.
- Will I receive a statement from John Hancock?
- Yes, you will receive account statements approximately 10 business days after the end of each calendar quarter.
- How are benefits funded?
- All contributions to the Pension Fund are made by Contributing Employers in accordance with their Collective Bargaining Agreements with U.A. Local 777.
- What is ERISA?
- The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) is a federal law which regulates, among other things, employee pension plans. It became effective with respect to this Plan on April 1, 1976.
- Who administers the Pension Plan?
- The Plan is administered by a Board of Trustees consisting of an equal number of Local Union and Employer representatives, in accordance with the Agreement and Declaration of Trust.
- Who is covered by the Pension Plan?
- Plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters, including apprentices or permit employees, who work under the terms of a Collective Bargaining Agreement with U.A. Local 777 in Connecticut for whom contributions are made to the Pension Fund.
- Do the Pension Benefits provided by this Plan affect Social Security benefits in any way?
- No. The benefits payable under this Plan are in addition to benefits paid under Social Security.
- Can I sell, assign or pledge my rights to benefits?
- No. Benefits cannot be sold, assigned or pledged as a security for a loan or for any other purpose. Furthermore, they are not subject to attachment or execution under any judgment decree of a court or otherwise, except for a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, which is explained in Section 16, and certain IRS actions.
- Are plan documents available to me?
- Yes. Copies of the Trust Agreement, Plan document and amendments, Summary Annual Reports, Collective Bargaining Agreements and a full annual report are available for inspection at the Fund Office during regular business hours. Upon request, these documents will be furnished by mail upon payment of reasonable photocopy charges. You should, therefore, call ahead and find out what the charge will be before writing and asking for copies of these documents.
- After I apply for benefits, when is my pension payable?
- Generally, benefits become effective the first of the month following thirty (30) days or a one (1) month period to process your application from the date it is received at the Fund Office, unless you elect a later date. However, the latest your pension benefit can start is the April 1st after the calendar year in which you reach age 70 1 /2.
- When may I obtain a statement of my Pension Credit and the benefits I have earned?
- You should receive each year a statement of your work history reflecting your accumulated pension benefits and Vesting Service. If you wish to obtain an estimate of your accrued pension benefits, a written request should be sent to the Fund Office, which will prepare an estimate of your current accrued benefit.
- What happens if I am unable to manage my own affairs?
- The Trustees may forward any benefits due you to your legal guardian, committee or legal representative based on the proper submission of documentation that such individual has proper authority over your affairs. While you are still competent, you can also execute a court recognized Power of Attorney, naming a person you wish to handle your affairs to act on your behalf.
- What happens if I do not receive my pension check?
- If you do not receive your pension check by the tenth (10 th ) business day of the month, you should contact the Fund Office so that the Fund Office can advise you of the required information to commence the process for the issuance of a replacement check.
- Can I change my beneficiary after I retire?
- You may change your beneficiary after you retire if you have elected to receive payment of your pension in the form of a Ten-Year Certain and Life Benefit. You may obtain a Designation of Beneficiary Card from the Fund Office. If you were married at the time benefit payments commenced, your spouse’s notarized consent to the change in beneficiary is required by law.
- Can I designate more than one (1) person as beneficiary?
- Only with the consent of the Board of Trustees can you designate more than one (1) person as beneficiary. You will be required to indicate whether any benefits which may become payable should be paid in equal shares to several individuals (co-beneficiaries) or in a certain order (contingent beneficiaries). You must indicate whether the beneficiaries are co-beneficiaries or contingent beneficiaries, and if contingent beneficiaries, the order of succession. However, if you are married, your spouse’s consent will be required.
- When am I eligible for a Vested Pension?
- You become entitled to a Vested Pension if you have become vested prior to leaving Covered Employment. If you were working in Covered Employment and participating in the Plan on or after January 1, 1999, you are vested after five (5) years of Vesting Service. Different rules apply prior to January 1, 1999, when the Plan required ten (10) Pension Credits or years of Vesting Service to become vested. Refer to Section 5 for more details. You are also eligible for a Vested Pension when you reach Normal Retirement Age.
- When would I become eligible to retire on a Disability Pension?
- You may retire on a Disability Pension upon filing an Application for Benefits with the Board of Trustees, provided:
* you have accrued at least ten (10) Pension Credits for an Occupational Disability Pension or at least one (1) Pension Credit for a Total and Permanent Disability Pension; and
* you worked in Covered Employment (work for which contributions are paid to the Fund) and earned at least one-twelfth of a Pension Credit (100 hours) in the calendar year immediately preceding the calendar year in which you became disabled; and
* the Board of Trustees deems you to be totally and permanently disabled or occupationally disabled.
If you apply for a Disability Pension, you may be required to submit to an examination by a competent physician or physicians selected by the Board of Trustees and may be required to submit to reexamination as deemed necessary by the Trustees, in order to make a determination concerning your physician or mental condition.
- How is total and permanent disability and occupational disability defined?
- Generally, you are considered Totally and Permanently Disabled if you are entitled to or are receiving Social Security Disability Benefits and you are completely prevented from engaging in any further gainful employment whatsoever. An Occupational Disability occurs if you can no longer work in the trade (i.e., as a plumber, steamfitter, pipefitter or other building tradesman.) There are certain restrictions and requirements so you should refer to Section 6 for more information and contact the Fund Office.
- What are “Years of Vesting Service?”
- This is a special test used to determine your vested status. You are credited with one Year of Vesting Service for each calendar year in which you worked in Covered Employment or are credited with hours for periods of disability (refer to Section 3) for 1,000 hours or more, or for each Pension Credit you earn (maximum one per year).
- Can credit for a pension be lost or canceled?
- Yes, through a Break-in-Service. If you fail to earn at least 1/12 of a Pension Credit (100 hours) in any calendar year before earning at least five (5) Years of Vesting Service or (5) Pension Credits, you will incur a Temporary Break-in-Service and all of your Pension Credits and Years of Vesting Service accumulated prior to the break may be canceled. However, a Temporary Break-in-Service may be repaired by a timely return to Covered Employment and the accumulation of a sufficient amount of subsequent service. In any case, you cannot lose Pension Credit once you are vested.
- Can a Break-in-Service be repaired?
- Yes. If a Participant, after incurring a Temporary Break-in-Service, returns to work in Covered Employment and in a calendar year earns one (1) year of Vesting Service (1,000 Hours of Service in a calendar year) before the number of calendar years of his Temporary Breaks-in-Service equals or exceeds the total number of years of Vesting Service or Pension Credits, whichever is greater, immediately prior to the Temporary Break-in-Service, he will repair the Temporary Break-in-Service. An example begins on page 4–1.
- Suppose I die before retirement, is there a benefit payable to my spouse or beneficiary?
- There are two pre-retirement death benefits: (1) If you do not have a qualified surviving spouse or dependent child(ren), a Lump Sum Death Benefit equal to $1,000 multiplied by the number of full Pension Credits earned, subject to a maximum of 25 Pension Credits, or $25,000, is payable to your named beneficiary, provided you have earned at least one twelfth ( 1 /12) of a Pension Credit (100 hours) in one (1) of the three (3) calendar years including the year of your death, regardless of your Vested Status; or (2) If you die after earning at least five (5) Pension Credits and before actual receipt of any retirement benefits and you leave a surviving spouse or dependant child, a monthly death benefit equal to the monthly pension you would have received if you had retired the first day of the month of your death will be paid upon filing an Application for Benefits. A further description is provided in Section 7 of this booklet.
- What is a Husband and Wife/Five-Year Certain and Life Benefit?
- Under a Husband and Wife/Five-Year Certain and Life Benefit, a lifetime benefit is provided for your spouse as well as yourself, provided you and your spouse did not choose to waive this benefit for the Ten-Year Certain and Life form of payment. Under this arrangement, the amount of the monthly benefit payable to you after your retirement is reduced during your lifetime from what it would be if the pension were paid in the form of a Ten-Year Certain and Life Benefit. Then, upon your death, your spouse would be entitled to 50% of your monthly benefit for her lifetime instead of a continuation of the monthly pension for the balance of ten (10) years under a Ten-Year Certain and Life Benefit. The amount of the reduction in your benefit depends on your age and your spouse’s age. Since the reduction will vary from one case to another, the Fund Office will furnish to you the actual figures when you apply for a pension, and an opportunity to choose or reject the Husband and Wife/Five-Year Certain and Life Benefit. You can also elect an alternative 100% Five-Year Certain and Life Husband and Wife Benefit. This is similar to a 50% Husband and Wife/Five-Year Certain and Life Benefit, except that there is a larger reduction in your original retirement benefit than under the 50% Husband and Wife/Five-Year Certain and Life Benefit. However, after your death your spouse’s benefit will be 100% of your benefit. Sixty payments are guaranteed under the Husband and Wife Benefit/Five-Year Certain and Life. If you and your spouse die before 60 payments have been made, a beneficiary will receive the remaining benefits.
- What happens to the Husband and Wife Benefit if my spouse dies or we become divorced?
- The Husband and Wife Benefit is nullified if your spouse dies before you do. Your pension will be increased or will “pop-up” and you will begin to receive your benefits at a higher rate. Please refer to the pop-up provision on page 8-3. If you become divorced or if you die before your spouse, the Husband and Wife Benefit is irrevocable.
- Are there any restrictions on the type of work I can take on after retirement?
- Yes. It is most important for you to keep in mind that generally, once you retire on a pension from this Fund, you must cease being employed or working as a plumber, pipefitter or steamfitter in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and/or Rhode Island. A further explanation is described in Section 11.
- What happens if I break these rules on working after retirement?
- Your monthly benefits will be suspended until you stop working and your pension benefit may be suspended for an additional period of time. Different rules apply depending on your age. Refer to Section 11 for more details.