Frequently Asked Questions
- General FAQs
- Return to Work FAQs
- Retirement FAQs
- Estimate FAQs
- Vesting FAQs
- Death Benefit FAQs
- QDRO FAQs
What type of benefit plan do we have?
This is a multi-employer, defined benefit plan.
What is the difference between a defined contribution plan and a defined benefit plan?
The basic difference between these two types of retirement plans qualified by the Internal Revenue is risk. In a defined benefit plan the fund assumes the risk and in a defined contribution plan, the individual assumes the risk.
If I want a copy of the Pension Trust Form 5500, how do I get one?
You must submit your request in writing along with a check for $3.54 payable to the Alaska Teamster-Employer Pension Trust.
How are the Trustees selected?
This plan is administered by a joint Board of Trustees. The Executive Board of General Teamster Local 959 selects the Labor (Union) Trustees. The Management (Employer) Trustees were originally selected out of the largest employers. The Management Trustees select the replacement of Management Trustees that leave the Board. As required by ERISA that there be a balanced Board, there are an equal number of Union Trustees and Management Trustees.
Can I transfer the funds from my 401(k) into my Teamster retirement fund?
No, this plan does not accept direct rollovers or transfers from other plans. You can however, rollover into the Teamsters 401(k) Plan under certain circumstances. Please call us to discuss further.
Can I make contributions to my retirement fund myself?
No, this plan is solely funded by employer contributions.
What is ERISA?
Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the federal law that governs benefit plans.
What is a Plan Year?
It is the Plan’s fiscal years and begins July 1 and ends June 30.
What is an accrual rate? How does it compare to a return on investments?
The Plan’s benefit accrual rate is 1.00% of contributions. This is the formula under which your benefit amount is determined. This is not the return on investments. The Plan is invested with an asset allocation strategy to gain a return adequate to cover the cost of benefits. The rate needed is 7.25%. When the fund has excess returns, the fund must be used to improve benefits.
What are the Federal 415 Limitations? How could it affect my retirement benefit?
Section 415 is a section in the Internal Revenue Code that limits the amount of benefit you can receive. Since few people are impacted by this legislation, please contact the Trust Office to discuss whether or not this impacts you.
Can anyone call and get information on my retirement?
No, not without written authorization from you. However, the Trust must respond to court issued subpoenas.
Why do I have to talk to voice mail instead of a real person sometimes when I call?
Unfortunately, there is a limited number of staff to handle all the requests for information. Your call is important to us and to ensure that we do not miss communicating with you – voice mail is a necessary tool. If you elect to leave a message; your call will be return as soon as possible.
How do I get the Teamster newsletter after I’m retired?
You may contact Teamsters Local 959 to get on the mailing list. There is a small annual fee of $6.00 if you are not a current dues paying member.
Can I return to work after I have retired?
Yes, you can return to work after you retire. Your benefit will be suspended if for any month you work 40 or more hours in Suspendible Employment. The benefit will resume once you terminate your employment and apply for resumption. If you work in Covered Employment, the additional accruals are paid at age 65.
Can I still receive my benefit after I return to work?
Only during those months you work less than 40 hours. If you receive a benefit payment during a month in which you worked 40 or more hours in Suspendible Employment, you will owe that benefit plus interest.
If I return to work after having been retired, do I have to notify the Pension Office?
Yes, it is your responsibility to notify the Trust Customer Service Office if you return to work. If you rereceive benefits that you are not entitled to after returning to work, you will lose the benefit amount plus interest to the trust.
How many times can I return to work under our retirement plan?
It is not limited. However, any additional accruals are payable at age 65. Your first retirement benefit will resume once you quit working in Suspendible Employment and you make application for resumption.
Do I have to keep paying my union dues if I retire?
Your dues status with the union does not interfere with your ability to receive a pension benefit. Please be sure to check with the Dues office if you wish to discuss your union membership.
When can I retire with 100% benefits (no reduction)?
That depends on how many years you worked under the Plan. It can be as early as age 63 and as late as age 65. NOTE: Under the Rule of 85 retirement program, the retirement age is age 60 provided you meet all the qualification criteria.
Once I apply for benefits, when can I get my first check?
Usually, it takes 30 to 90 days to process retirement applications. This can vary depending on when you terminated your employment and submit all the required forms and documents.
What is the earliest age (minimum retirement age) I can retire?
The earliest retirement age is age 52 under regular retirement and the Rule of 85 retirement program.
Can I provide for my spouse when I retire? Do I have to?
Yes and no. There are four different joint annuity options to choose from if you wish to provide benefits to your spouse after your death. If you elect not to provide for your spouse at retirement, spousal consent is required.
Can I have my check deposited directly into my bank account?
Yes, there are forms available to authorize electronic direct deposit. This service is not available outside the United States, however.
If I don’t have a certified copy of my birth certificate, but I have a passport, will that be sufficient for proof of my date of birth upon retirement?
Yes, but we must see the original passport. You can also submit an original expired passport.
What is a joint annuity?
A joint annuity option pays monthly retirement payments to you from your retirement date until your death. These benefit payments are actuarially adjusted to take into consideration your age and the age of your joint annuitant. After your death, a joint annuity option pays benefits to your designated joint annuitant for their lifetime. If your joint annuitant dies before you, benefit payments end at your death.
If I select a joint annuity and my spouse (annuitant) does not survive, does my benefit go up?
Only if your joint annuitant dies within the first year of your retirement date. After that, your only option would be to substitute a new spouse if you were to ever remarry.
What is Suspendible Employment?
You are considered working in Suspendible Employment when the employment meets all three of the following criteria:
- the employment is in the geographical area of the Plan (e.g., state of Alaska),
- in an industry covered by the Plan,
- in a trade or craft in which you were employed at any time in Covered Employment
Self-employment or supervisory employment meeting the above conditions is also considered Suspendible Employment.
Why are some retirees affected by Suspendible Employment and others are not?
Suspendible Employment affects all retirees. Covered employment is Suspendible Employment. The Board of Trustees adopted the current Suspendible Employment provision in July 1990 expanding the definition to include non-Covered Employment. Prior to July 1990, the Suspendible Employment provision was triggered solely by Covered Employment. Individuals who retired before July 1, 1990, are held to the standard in place before July 1, 1990.
What documents do I need to bring in or send when I retire?
Your certified birth certificate; your spouses’ certified birth certificate (if married and elected a joint survivor option), marriage certificate; divorce decree, if applicable. All the required forms are provided with your retirement package.
How do I request pension information that will show me my retirement hours and contributions?
Call, write or visit the Trust Customer Service Office.
How do I request information on my retirement benefit amount?
You need to make a request for a retirement estimate by calling or writing the Trust Customer Service Office. These requests for estimates are handled in the order in which they are received.
How soon can I expect an estimate of benefits, once I request one?
It depends on the volume of requests received. However, if you are actually retiring within the next three months, your request will be addressed sooner. In that case, a retirement package, complete with an estimate of benefits, will be mailed to you so you can make an informed retirement decision.
What does it take to be eligible for retirement benefits?
Five (5) years of Vesting Service is required to earn a non-forfeitable right to retirement benefits.
How many hours do I need to get vested?
It can vary. One vestment credit is earned by working between 250 and 2,000 hours in a Plan Year. Your vestment credits are prorated if you work less than 250 hours or more than 2000 hours in a Plan Year.
What is a Break-in-Service?
A Break-in-Service occurs when you are not yet vested and you work less than 250 hours in a Plan Year. This means you lose your participation status until you again work 250 hours in a Plan Year. You have five years from the end of the Plan Year in which the Break-in-Service occurred before you forfeit your previous years of service.
Why doesn’t my past service show on my work history?
Your work history detail reflects only the hours and contributions reported by your Contributing Employer. Past Service is non-contributory time will not show on the work history. It is, however, retained on the system.
What is the difference between Vesting Service and Contributory Vesting Service?
Vesting Service is service that determines “vesting” status (i.e., a non-forfeitable right to a retirement benefit). Contributory Vesting Service is vesting service for which an employer is obligated to make contributions into the Plan on your behalf and which count towards your Contributory Years of Service.
What are Contributory Years of Service?
Contributory Years of Service are service years that count towards the qualifications for early, unreduced retirements at age 63 or Rule of 85 Retirement at age 60. Please refer to the SPD for the full definition.
What does it mean to “recapture” forfeited hours and contributions? How do I start the process?
If you work a minimum of 500 hours in one of the Plan Years beginning July 1, 2001 or after, you will trigger the recapture provision. Your previously forfeited time will then be earned back on an “hour for hour” and “dollar for dollar” basis. Please refer to the SPD for further details.
I haven’t worked as a Teamster for a while, why hasn’t my benefit grown since the last time I checked on it?
Your benefit is computed to your normal retirement age. The value of your lifetime monthly benefit will grow over time if you defer your retirement beyond your normal retirement age and are not working in Suspendible Employment.
If I designate a beneficiary with the Welfare Trust for my life insurance, does that take care of my beneficiary with the Pension Trust also?
No. Your beneficiary under the pension plan is a separate designation.
If I’m married, can I designate a beneficiary other than my spouse?
No, you cannot designate someone other than your spouse prior to retirement. You may do so at the time of retirement but only if your spouse consents in writing.
If I die before retiring, what will happen to my retirement?
If you are vested, married and die before retirement, your surviving spouse will receive a pre-retirement death benefit calculated as if you had retired the day before your death and elected the 66-2/3% Joint Annuity Option. Two-thirds of your benefit under that form of payment continues to your surviving spouse for his/her lifetime provided you have been married at least 12-months preceding your date of death. Your spouse can also elect to receive the value of the lifetime monthly payments over a period of 5 years (60 payments), after which the benefit stops.
If you are vested, not married and die before retirement, your surviving beneficiaries are eligible to receive a pre-retirement death benefit equal to 60 monthly benefit payments valued as a Five Year Certain Life Annuity.
If my divorce decree says that my ex-spouse is entitled to a portion of my retirement benefit, when can they get it?
In order for retirement benefits to be attached through a divorce action, the Plan must receive a signed Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). For benefits earned before July 1990, the earliest payment is when you attain age 50 or, if earlier, terminate your employment. For benefits accrued after July 1990, the earliest payment is when you attain age 52. If you are retired, benefits assigned to your former spouse can commence once a signed, qualified order is submitted to the Trust.
What is a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)?
It is a court order signed by a judge that assigns a portion or all of your benefit to your spouse, former spouse or children of the marriage. These orders can be submitted to the Plan before or after you have retired.