Article 2 of the Pension Plan provides that an Employee becomes a Participant on August 1 or February 1 next following a 12-consecutive month period during which at least 435 hours in Covered Employment or Continuous Non-Covered Employment with a Contributing Employer were worked.
An easy example is that of an Employee who first starts working in Covered Employment on February 1, 1998. If a total of 800 work hours are accrued by January 31, 1999 (a full 12 months later), the employee would then become a Participant on February 1, 1999.
Once an Employee becomes a Participant, Credited Service and Benefit Units are received for those hours worked before becoming a Participant.
If you do not work at least 435 hours during a Plan Credit Year, which is August 1 through July 31 of the following year, you will incur a One-Year Break in Service and will cease being a Participant on the last day of that Plan Credit Year. Of course, by working at least 435 hours during a Plan Credit Year, you will again become a Participant on the August 1 following.
Besides Active Employees, Pensioners and former Employees who have attained “Vested” status are also Participants in the Plan.
One of the most commonly asked questions of the Pension Department is “How much is my pension worth?” If you are a Plan Participant, the Pension Plan is required to provide you with an estimate of what your pension benefit would be at Normal Retirement Age, defined as age 65. Your request for an estimate must be in writing and is not required to be given more than once a year.
Unlike a “defined contribution plan”, benefits under a “defined benefit plan” do not accrue a cash value. As you work in covered employment, you earn Years of Credited Service and Benefits Units. Credited Service and Benefit Units translate into a monthly benefit once you meet all the conditions of entitlement to a pension. These conditions include filing an application and stopping work as a laborer.
When you do request an estimate of your pension benefit, we advise that it is only an estimate with certain conditions attached to it. The pension estimate most commonly provided is the Normal Retirement Age (age 65) benefit or “Regular Pension”. This estimated benefit is calculated only for those Laborers who have attained vested status in the Plan. If you are not yet vested, we cannot calculate an estimated benefit, however, we will inform you of how many more years you have to work to become vested (for rules on vesting, see Section 3.16 in your Pension Plan booklet).
If you are vested with less than 10 Years of Credited Service, only the Normal Retirement Age benefit applies, as you do not qualify for any other type of pension. If you are vested with 10 or more Years of Credited Service, we can provide an estimate of an Early Retirement Age (age 55) benefit. If you have accumulated 25 or more Benefit Units, we can calculate a Service Pension benefit, which is the same as the “Regular”, (Normal Retirement Age) benefit. To learn more about the different types of pensions available, refer to Article 3 in your Plan booklet.
Vesting Status, Years of Credited Service, Benefit Units and your age are all factors to keep in mind when requesting an estimate of your pension benefit. Also keep in mind that benefits have improved steadily over the life of the Pension Plan. What may be a reasonable estimate today, may not apply on the date you retire.
The Plan booklet can also guide you in estimating your own benefit. Start with the example of the “Regular Pension” shown on pages 13 and 14 of your Plan booklet and plug in your own work history. In calculating your benefit, be sure to use the most current benefit unit factors. You can also estimate a benefit for an Early Retirement Pension using the example on page 15.
The staff in the Pension department is ready to assist you in estimating your benefit. The Fund Office also has a Field Benefit Representative who visits Local Union Offices and can provide assistance. Keep in mind, though, until you actually retire, that is, establish entitlement, file an application, and stop working as a Laborer, any figures quoted are only estimates.
The Pension Plan does not allow you to transfer hours from one Plan Credit Year to another. Your Pension Plan defines a “Plan Credit Year” as the period from August 1 of any year through July 31 of the following year. It is the 12-month period used to determine Credited Service, Benefit Units and benefit accruals. Only hours worked during that 12-month period can be used to determine Credited Service, Benefit Units and accruals.
You are entitled to receive the money in your Individual Account when any of the following occurs:
- At Retirement.
You are age 65 and no contributions have been required for at least three consecutive months. Receipt of a benefit from the Laborers Pension Trust Fund also establishes your retirement status.
- When You Stop Working as a Laborer.
Regardless of age, you have worked less than 500 hours in each of two consecutive calendar years preceding your application for withdrawal.
- If You are Entitled to a Social Security Disability Benefit.
Regardless of age, if you are totally and permanently disabled and entitled to a Social Security Disability Benefit, you may apply for your money.
- If You Die.
If you die, any money in your Individual Account will be paid to your beneficiary.
For the actual text of the Plan document, refer to Section 3.02 of the Rules and Regulations in your printed Annuity Plan booklet.