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Frequently Asked Questions – Pension

Earning Your Pension

Collecting Your Pension

Earning Your Pension

Q: When do I have a right to a pension?

A: Generally, after you have worked five years* for an employer that contributes to the Fund, you have the right to a pension whenever you choose to retire after age 55. This is called ”vesting.” You may also be ”vested” if you have five years of Past Service Credit if you worked for a Contributing Employer before they began contributing to the Fund. *You need 10 years of credited service if you stopped working for a contributing employer between 12/31/74 and 6/30/89.

Q: How do I earn a pension?

A: Every month you earn credit toward your pension. You earn one month of credit toward your pension for every month you work for a contributing employer. This is called “credited future service.”In addition, you may have worked for your employer before your employer started contributing to the Fund. In this case, you earned “credited past service” for every month you worked before your employer started making payments to the Fund.

Q: If I change jobs to another contributing employer, what happens to my pension?

A: If you leave your job and go to work for another 1199SEIU contributing employer, your pension plan is “portable.” You keep earning pension credit as long as you work for another contributing employer in an 1199SEIU bargaining unit position covered by the Fund.

Q: If I stop working for a contributing employer, what happens to my pension?

A: If you’ve worked less than five years and stop working for a contributing employer, you are not vested and you may lose your pension credits. To keep your pension credits, you have to go back to work for a contributing employer within a certain period of time. Call the Pension Fund for more information on “Breaks-in-Service,” or refer to the Summary Plan Description (SPD).If you have worked more than five years, you are vested in the plan. That means you have a guaranteed right to a pension when you retire, no matter where you work after you become vested.

Q: What happens if I die before I begin collecting a pension benefit?

A: Your spouse is automatically protected in case you die before you retire if you:are vested in the Plan, and are still married at the time of your death.

Note: Other rules may apply if you left work before August 23, 1984.

Collecting Your Pension

Q: When can I start collecting my pension?

Collecting a Full (“Normal”) Pension

If you are 65 or older, you can retire and receive a full (“Normal”) Retirement Pension, as long as you have at least five years of credited service.

If you are 62 and have 20 years of credited service or vesting service at the time you leave covered employment, you can retire and receive an Unreduced Early Retirement Pension, at the same amount you would have received retiring at age 65.

If you are between the ages of 55 through 64, but wait until you are 65 to start receiving your pension, you can still receive a full (“Normal”) Pension because you delayed collecting it.

Collecting a Reduced (“Early Retirement”) Pension

If you are between the ages of 55 through 64, you can receive an Early Retirement pension, as long as you have at least five years credited service. However, your pension amount will be lower since age 65 is considered the normal retirement age. Your benefits will be reduced 6% for each full year (0.5% for each month) that you are younger than 65.

Q: Can I receive benefits if I become disabled?

A: You qualify for a Disability Pension Benefit if you:
Are totally and permanently disabled as a result of a condition which arose while you were still in covered employment and your employment terminated as a result of that condition;
Have at least five years credited service;
Are approved for a Social Security Disability. At age 65 your Disability Pension Benefit stops and you will receive an application for a Normal Retirement Pension.

Q: What is my pension based on?

1) An average of your wages

The five consecutive years in which you earned the highest wages are selected from the last 10 years you worked. These wages are used to determine your “Average Final Pay” for your pension based on future service.

2) How long you worked

The number of months and years you worked for contributing employers in a bargaining unit position are added together to determine your “Credited Future Service.”

3) A percentage for calculating your pension

A percentage is used for calculating your pension based on future service.

4) Credit for past service

If you worked for your employer before your employer started contributing to the Fund, you may have earned “Credited Past Service.” The Fund will add an additional pension payment based on this service. It is determined at a lower rate of 1.5% since your employer never made contributions to the Fund for these payments.

5) Age when you retire

If you retire early, your pension may be reduced because it is expected that you will get your pension for a longer period of time.

Q: How long does it take to process my pension?

A: You should advise the Fund of your retirement date as soon as possible. Your pension will be processed as soon as administratively possible when the Fund has a completed pension application. The Fund must collect information from your contributing employer(s) and/or the Social Security Administration, so processing depends on how quickly the Fund receives this information.

Q: When do I begin receiving my monthly pension payments?

A: Your pension will begin on the first of the month following your actual retirement, or the filing of the completed pension application with the Fund, whichever is later.

Q: When are pension checks mailed?

A: Pension checks are mailed two to three days before the end of the month for the following month’s check. If you have direct electronic deposit, your check will be credited to your account on the first business day of each month.

Q: Can I continue to work part-time after I retire?

A: It depends. You cannot legally collect your retirement benefit while you are still working in “Related Employment.” Work is considered related employment if you:

  • work for more than 40 hours per month, and
  • work in the health care or human service industry or a related industry (including hospitals, nursing and convalescent homes, drug stores, laboratories, medical schools, and universities), and
  • work while utilizing skills applicable to your previous employment in the health care or human service or related industry, and
  • work in a state in which contributions to the Fund were made or required to be made.

If you work in related employment beyond your 65th birthday, you will not receive your pension benefit until your related employment stops. If you leave related employment, you should contact the Fund for your benefits to start.

Whether or not you are working in related employment, you will start receiving your pension benefit on April 1 of the calendar year following the calendar year in which you reach age 70 1/2.

Please Note: This document is not the official Summary Plan Description (SPD) of the 1199SEIU Health Care Employees Pension Fund. Please consult the SPD for a full description of your Fund benefits. In case of conflict between this document and the SPD, the terms of the SPD shall govern.