Collecting Your Pension

A Step-by-Step Guide to Retirement

The path to retirement will run more smoothly if you plan ahead. We’ve put together this step-by-step timeline to help you through the process:


Apply for Social Security and Medicare

Your 1199SEIU pension will supplement another important source of income available to you at age 65 — Social Security. And, if you are eligible for retiree health benefits through the 1199SEIU National Benefit Fund, your health benefits will be coordinated with Medicare. It’s important to apply for both of these benefits when you become eligible, and consider them in your retirement planning.

You can apply online at or contact Social Security/Medicare by calling (800) MEDICARE (633-4227).


Request and File a Pension Application

The first step toward retirement is filling out your pension application. This application, along with the required documentation, is the only document that can set your retirement in motion.

Application Form

Required Documentation
There’s no getting around the fact that the retirement process has its share of paperwork. This planner can make it easier for you to gather the documentation you will need. Use this checklist to keep track of the information you have and the information you may need to track down.

  • Citizenship/Proof of Age. Proof of citizenship for you and your spouse/beneficiary: birth certificate, naturalization papers, passport, resident alien card or enhanced driver license
  • Government-issued marriage certificate, if married
  • Death certificate for spouse, if applicable
  • Divorce judgment, if divorced
  • Unlocatable Spouse Affidavit (available from the Pension Fund), if you are separated from your spouse and are unaware of his or her whereabouts and address
  • Recent pay stub
  • Social Security cards for you and your spouse/beneficiary


An application is considered incomplete if required documentation is missing or if the application is not signed. The Pension Fund cannot process your application if it is incomplete.

Your pension will be processed as soon as administratively possible, once the Pension Fund has your completed pension application. Keep in mind that this will take time. The Pension Fund must collect information from different sources, such as your employer(s) and the Social Security Administration (if applicable), so processing depends on how quickly we receive that information. You can do your part to speed up the process by submitting all required documentation when we ask for it.

Notify Your Employer

You should advise your employer of your retirement date as soon as possible. You may do this by submitting a Notice of Retirement.

Receive an Explanation of Benefits Letter and Retirement Information from the Pension Fund

When we’ve received your signed application or request for an application, you will then receive an Explanation of Benefits letter, along with retirement and supplemental health benefit information. Your Explanation of Benefits letter will contain different monthly pension amounts. This is because there are several pension payment options for you to choose from. We have Pension Counselors on staff to help you make the choice that’s right for you.


Make an Appointment with a Pension Counselor

To help members make the most informed pension benefit choices, we strongly encourage you and your spouse to meet with a Pension Counselor. You should make your appointment at least three months before you retire, and up to six months in advance, if possible. Our pension experts can guide you and your spouse through the process and answer any questions. Your Pension Counselor will also help you fill out all your pension paperwork.

Pension Counseling Hours
Appointments are scheduled for approximately one hour, with priority given to those members who are closest to retirement. Call the Pension Fund at (646) 473-8666 to schedule an appointment. If you live outside New York City, please call (800) 892-2557. You can also visit a walk-in Pension Member Services Department; centers are located in all five boroughs of New York City, Hicksville and White Plains.

Choose Your Pension Option and Beneficiary

You will receive an Election of Payment Option & Beneficiary Designation Form when you receive your Explanation of Benefits letter. Your Pension Counselor will explain your options and help you fill out the form at your appointment. On this form, you will make three very important retirement decisions about:

  • Your pension option, which will affect the estimated amount you and your spouse/beneficiary will receive each month;
  • The person who will receive your pension benefits upon your death (known as your “beneficiary” or “beneficiaries” if there is more than one person); and
  • How you would like to receive retroactive payment if the Pension Fund is delayed in starting your pension

Choose Actuarial or Lump-sum Payment for Retroactive Payments

Under certain circumstances, the Pension Fund may not be able to begin your pension payments on the date you choose; for example, if we are still collecting information. If this happens, you have two choices for receiving the money owed to you retroactively from your desired pension start date. You must choose one of the following:

  • Actuarial Pension Payment: Receive a part of the reimbursement in each of your regular monthly pension payments over the life of your pension.
  • Retroactive Lump-sum Payment: Receive the reimbursement in one full payment. In addition to your monthly payment, you will receive one make-up check for the money owed to you.

If you are married, your spouse must consent to your payment choice where it is indicated on the Election of Payment Option & Beneficiary Designation Form. This represents the notarized consent of your spouse.

File a Tax Form W-4P

Tax Withholding
Your 1199SEIU Health Care Employees Pension Fund benefit is taxable by the federal and state government as ordinary income. Pension payments are subject to federal income tax withholding, unless the pensioner elects not to have withholding apply. The W-4P federal withholding form, along with the Fund’s Notice of Withholding on Periodic Pension Payment, are included in this packet.
The W-4P federal withholding form must be completed and either submitted with your pension application, or mailed or faxed to the Pension Fund.

Pension Fund fax: (646) 473-8746

Pension Fund address:
1199SEIU Health Care Employees Pension Fund
330 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036-6977

Filing Your Tax Return
Each year you will receive a Form 1099-R from the Pension Fund to file with your tax return, as required by law; a copy is also sent to the IRS. If you wish to change your federal withholding amount, you must send the Fund a new W-4P withholding form. You may change your withholding amount at any time.


File a Direct Electronic Deposit Authorization Form

You can have your pension check automatically credited to your savings or checking account on the first day of every month, so you don’t have to worry about lost or stolen mail or long lines at the bank.

Direct Electronic Deposit Authorization Form

Because your account number, account type and routing number must be accurately entered, we encourage you to take the form to your bank to verify the information or provide us with a voided check. It takes approximately four weeks for direct electronic deposit to be put into effect.

You may move your account to another bank at any time. All you have to do is notify the Pension Fund and complete a new Direct Electronic Deposit Authorization Form.

Understanding Your Pension

Let’s start with the basics

Collecting Your Pension

A Step-by-Step Guide

Spousal Benefits

Understand Your Rights

After You Retire

Other Retiree Benefits