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Pension General Information


How to Apply for Benefits

To receive any Plan benefits, you must send a written application and a signed election form showing how you choose to receive benefit payments. You should request these forms from the Fund Administrator well before you want to begin to receive the benefits because you cannot receive any benefits until the office receives your completed forms. No payment, or choices for benefit payment, will be effective retroactively.

You may also apply for a pension directly at the Local 39 Trust Fund Office, in writing, on a form and in a manner prescribed by the Board of Trustees. Your application should be filed at least 30 days before the first month that you want to receive the benefits. Be sure to send any other documents needed, such as proof of age and marriage, to the Trust Fund Office along with your application.

For a Disability Pension, your application and proof of disability notice from the Social Security Administration must be submitted to the Fund Administrator within 60 days after the Social Security Administration confirms that you qualify for disability benefits. Your Disability Pension will begin in the seventh month following your eligible disability provided your application was filed on time. If you do not submit your application and notice of Social Security entitlement within 60 days, your Disability Pension will begin on the first of the month coinciding with, or immediately following, receipt of your application and the Social Security Administration notice by the Trust Fund Office. However, if your disability is diagnosed as a terminal illness, you will receive the Disability Pension benefit payment immediately.

Pension Application

Pre-Retirement Death Benefit Application

An application for a pre-retirement death benefit must be made in writing by your beneficiary on a form supplied by the Fund Administrator.

Claims & Appeals Procedures

Whenever administratively possible, you will receive a decision on your application for benefits and election form within 90 days—or 45 days for a Disability Pension—after the Trust Fund receives the claim for benefits unless special circumstances require an extension of time for processing. If the Trust Fund needs an extension of time, you will receive written notice of the extension within the initial 90-day period or within the initial 45-day period for a Disability Pension. The extension notice will include the reasons for the extension and the deadline for making a decision.

If the application is not for a Disability Pension, the Plan may extend the initial 90-day period up to an additional 90 days. If the application is for a Disability Pension, the Plan may extend the initial 45-day period up to an additional 60 days in 30-day increments.

If your application is for a Disability Pension, the Plan may require additional information to process and make a determination on your application. If such information is required, the Plan will notify you within 45 days of receiving your application. You then have up to 45 days to provide the additional information. If you do not provide the information within this time, your application will be processed without it and your application may be denied. If an extension is required because the necessary information was not received, the extension period for making the benefit determination will start when you have been notified of your opportunity to respond with the additional information.

If Your Application is Denied

If your application for benefits is denied, you will receive a written statement that includes the following:

  • The reason(s) for the denial.
  • Reference to all related provisions of the Plan or other documents used to make the decision.
  • A description of additional information needed to reconsider your application and why the information is needed.
  • A statement of your right to bring a civil action under ERISA Section 502(a) following an appeal.
  • A detailed explanation of the steps needed to appeal the decision.
  • A copy of any internal rule, guideline, protocol, or similar criteria that was relied on or a statement that a copy is available to you at no cost upon request for a Disability Pension application.

In many cases, disagreements about benefit eligibility or amounts can be handled informally by calling the Trust Fund Office. If a disagreement is not resolved, you have the right to have your application reconsidered.

IMPORTANT:  Failure to file a request for review of the denial of a claim within the appropriate timeframe will constitute a waiver of your right to review.

For complete Claims & Appeals information, refer to the Pension Summary Plan Description.

Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)

A QDRO is a court order or judgment that directs the Plan to pay benefits to your eligible spouse, eligible former spouse, child, or other dependent in connection with child support, alimony, or marital property rights and has been accepted by the Board of Trustees as complying with the restrictions and limitations for payment from a qualified plan.

In addition, until the Plan has complied with the terms of the QDRO, The Board of Trustees may restrict the pension benefits that are payable to you. These restrictions could also apply during any period when the Board of Trustees is determining whether a written order satisfies the QDRO requirements described in the Internal Revenue Code.

You will be notified if the Plan ever receives a proposed QDRO for your pension benefit. Contact the Fund Administrator for more information on QDROs, or to receive a free copy of a model QDRO that meets the Board of Trustees’ requirements, and the procedures the Board of Trustees follow in determining whether an order is qualified.

How to Become a Participant in the Plan

You become a Participant in the Plan on the first day of your employment in a job category covered by a collective bargaining agreement between a Contributing Employer and the IUOE Stationary Engineers Local 39.

The amount of time you work in a job covered by a collective bargaining agreement counts in several important ways in determining your eligibility for a pension and how much your pension will be.

To begin with, the time you work as a Participant in the Plan is measured in years of Credited Service. You become a Plan Participant and start to receive Credited Service as soon as you begin working for a participating Contributing Employer and your employer contributes to the Plan on your behalf. When you start earning Credited Service, your employer begins contributing to the Plan on your behalf. This period of time is referred to as "Credited Service after the Effective Date," and the credit you earn is called "Credited Future Service." The Effective Date is usually the date your employer first agreed to participate in the Plan and commence contributions to the Trust Fund.

The amount of your Credited Past Service is based on the collective bargaining agreement in effect on the Effective Date.

When seeking to start your pension from the Plan, you will be asked how you want your pension to be paid. This section describes the forms of payment available to you.

Exception: If the actuarial value of your pension is $5,000 or less, you or your Beneficiary will receive it as a lump-sum payment. You will not have the choice of an optional form of payment. At the time you can receive this lump-sum you will be given the option to have it automatically rolled over into an Individual Retirement Account or to receive your distribution as a lump-sum with or without appropriate taxes withheld.

Joint and Survivor Pension Payment

If you are married, your pension benefit will automatically be paid in the form of a Joint and Survivor Pension, unless both you and your Spouse reject this form of payment in writing before a Notary Public. The amount you receive under this form of payment will be reduced to consider the combined life expectancies of you and your Spouse. On your death, your Spouse will receive 50% of the amount you were receiving under the Joint and Survivor Pension for his/her lifetime.

75% Qualified Optional Survivor Annuity Payment

If you are married, another option you may elect is the 75% Qualified Optional Survivor Annuity payment to have 75% of your pension payable to your surviving Spouse on your death. This option would require you and your Spouse to make the election. Much like the Joint and Survivor Pension, the initial benefit payable would be reduced to consider the combined life expectancies of you and your Spouse.

Pop-Up 75% Joint and Survivor Pension Payment

This option is similar to the Joint and Survivor Pension described above. However, under this option your monthly benefit will "pop-up" or increase your monthly benefit to a full Regular Pension amount if your Spouse dies before you. The initial reduction in your Regular Pension is slightly more with this pop-up option because of the possibility that your spouse could die first. Your monthly pension will increase on your spouse's death.

Payment of Benefits

Payment of your benefit will begin on your Annuity Starting Date or the first day of the month following the date the Participant has fulfilled all the conditions to receive benefits, and after the later of:

  • The month you provide an application for benefits and signed election form.
  • 30 days after the Plan advises you of your available payment options.

You will receive a written explanation of the forms of payment available under the Plan within 30 to 90 days before payments begin. The Plan is required by law to give you at least 30 days to change your mind after you make your decision. You will not receive payment before the end of those 30 days. However, you may decide to start receiving payments before the end of the 30-day period if you and your Spouse, if you are married, waive the 30-day period.

If you or your Beneficiary are eligible for more than one type of benefit under the Plan, you or your Beneficiary may choose the type of benefit to receive, but neither you nor your Beneficiary may receive more than one pension from the Plan.

Overpayment Recovery

If you or your Beneficiary are overpaid or otherwise paid in error, you must return the overpayment. The Board of Trustees have the right to recover any benefit payments made based on false or fraudulent statements, information, or proof submitted, as well as any benefit payments made in error.  Amounts recovered may include interest and costs.

If you are overpaid, the Fund Administrator will request a refund. If the Fund Administrator does not receive the refund, the amount of the overpayment will be deducted from future benefits, or a lawsuit may be initiated to recover the overpayment. If any Participant or Beneficiary is ordered by a court or the Department of Labor to repay any amount to the Plan, the Plan may recover that amount by reducing benefits payable to that person in the future.

For complete Pension payment information, refer to section 4 of the Pension Summary Plan Description.

Prohibited Employment in Retirement

To keep receiving pension benefits, you must remain retired and not work in Prohibited Employment.

When you work in Prohibited Employment your pension benefits are suspended for each calendar month of work performed. Prohibited Employment is any work in the industry, in the geographic area covered by the Plan (including the State of California) and work in business activities or the type of work you were employed in previously, or work considered as part of the same trade or craft, even if that work is in a supervisory or self-employed capacity.

If you are not sure whether you are working in Prohibited Employment, contact the Trust Fund Office for assistance. Below is a brief explanation of circumstances:

Retirement - Before Normal Retirement Age

Your normal retirement age is 65 or, if later, your age on the fifth anniversary of your participation in the Plan. When retired, you must not work more than 499 Hours of Work in Covered Employment during a Plan Year; any Hours of Work above that amount are considered "Prohibited Employment."

Retirement - After Normal Retirement Age, but Before Your Required Beginning Date

To be considered retired, you may not work in Prohibited Employment for more than 39 Hours of Work per month during the Plan Year. However, the first 500 Hours of Work in Prohibited Employment in a Plan Year is disregarded.

Retirement - After Reaching Your Required Beginning Date

After you reach your Required Beginning Date, you may work in any capacity and still be deemed retired and entitled to a pension under the Plan.

Suspension of Benefits

If you work more than the permitted Hours of Work in Covered Employment after you retire, it is considered working in Prohibited Employment. Plan rules state that you will not receive pension benefits for any calendar month of work in Prohibited Employment. This is called suspension of benefits.

When you stop working in Prohibited Employment, you must notify the Trust Fund Office and your benefits will resume, beginning with the first calendar month after the date you cease Prohibited Employment.

If you take a job performing work of the type that is or may be Prohibited Employment, you must notify the Trust Fund Office within 21 days of starting work, no matter how many hours you plan to work.  If you do not notify the Trust Fund Office or the Board of Trustees, when they are made aware, will presume that you are working in Prohibited Employment and will suspend your benefits automatically.

You can overcome this action by establishing to the Board of Trustees’ satisfaction that your work was not, in fact, prohibited under the Plan.  Any overpayment of benefits made during a period of Prohibited Employment rules will be subject to return through deductions made to your pension benefits when they are no longer suspended.

Your pension will be adjusted upon resumption of retirement benefit payments to reflect any additional benefit credits earned during the period of reemployment while your benefits were suspended.  If you have worked in Prohibited Employment and received benefits you will be required to pay back the benefits that should have been suspended, or they will be deducted from your benefit payment when you start again.  If you work additional hours but less than those described under the Prohibited Employment rules such that your benefits are not suspended, you will not earn additional benefit credits for such service hours.