Understanding Your Pension

Let’s start with the basics. You have questions about your pension — and we have answers! Read the following FAQs to find out how you earn and collect your pension:

Earning Your Pension

Q: How do I earn a pension?

A: For every month you work in an 1199SEIU bargaining unit position for an employer that contributes to the Pension Fund (a “contributing employer”), you earn one month of credit toward your pension. This is called “Credited Future Service.”

In addition, you may have worked for your employer before your employer started contributing to the Pension Fund. In this case, you may have earned “Credited Past Service”* for every month you worked before your employer started making payments to the Fund.

*Credited Past Service is not provided after July 31, 2009, except under limited circumstances.

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 Pension 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 worked for a contributing employer before they began contributing to the Fund, and have five years of service from that job.

**You need 10 years of credited service and/or vesting service if you stopped working for a contributing employer from January 1, 1975, through June 30, 1989.

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 credits as long as you work in an 1199SEIU bargaining unit position covered by the Pension Fund.

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

A: If you have worked fewer than five years and stop working for a contributing employer, you are not vested and 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 at (646) 473-8666 (if you live outside New York City, call [800] 892-2557) for more information on “Breaks in Service,” or refer to your Summary Plan Description (SPD).

If you have worked five years as of June 30, 1989, you are vested. 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 my pension?

A: Your spouse is automatically protected in case you die before you retire, if you:

  • Are vested; and
  • Are still married at the time of your death.