|QUESTION: What type of Pension Plan is this?
ANSWER: The Pension Plan is a multi-employer defined benefit plan. It is different than many corporate plans because you are promised a monthly benefit, not an accumulating dollar balance.
QUESTION: What is the earnings requirement to earn a Pension Credit (also referred to as Vesting Service)?
ANSWER: For pension credit earned after 2003, participants with fewer than 3 years of pension credit on January 1, 2004, will need $750 of Covered Earnings during a calendar year to receive a ¼ year of pension credit, or $3,000 during a calendar year to receive a full year of pension credit. See Participation and Vesting for the earnings requirement before January 1, 2004.
QUESTION: How do I become vested?
ANSWER: You become vested when you either:
- complete five years of Vesting Service including at least ¼ year of Vesting Service after 1986, or
- reach Normal Retirement Age while you are an Active Participant. Normal Retirement Age is your 65th birthday or, if later, the date on which you complete five years of participation on or after April 1, 1988.
If you have no Vesting Service after 1986, different rules apply. See the Summary Plan Description for details.
QUESTION: Why are my years of Pension Credit in the Plan different from the number of years for which I have paid dues to the American Federation of Muscians (AFM)?
ANSWER: Your dues are for membership in the AFM and are not paid to the Pension Plan. You earn Pension Credit in the Plan based on your earnings in work under a Collective Bargaining Agreement that provides for contributions to the Pension Plan.
QUESTION: When are pension checks mailed?
ANSWER: Pension checks are always mailed three business days before the first of the month.
QUESTION: Do you have electronic deposit?
ANSWER: Yes. You can arrange for this when you apply for pension or at any time in the future. Just call the Fund Office to request this feature.
QUESTION: Can I assign my pension benefits?
ANSWER: No. This is prohibited under federal law.
QUESTION: Do Social Security benefits affect my pension from the Plan?
ANSWER: No. Benefits under the Plan are in addition to your Social Security benefits.
QUESTION: Will my pension from the Plan affect Unemployment Compensation benefits?
ANSWER: It is possible that your pension from this Plan may affect your eligibility for and amount of Unemployment Compensation benefits. Please check with the Fund Office and your local Employment Development Department Office.
QUESTION: What is a Qualified Domestic Relation Order (QDRO)?
ANSWER: A QDRO is a special court order which is generally part of a divorce agreement. It permits the Fund to assign benefits from a vested plan participant to another person who is usually the participant's former spouse or child.
To assist in the preparation of a QDRO that is acceptable to the Fund, refer to the Fund's procedure and model QDRO language by clicking here. The correct model to use depends on whether the participant is currently receiving a pension benefit or not.
Annual Covered Earnings Report Questions and Answers
QUESTION: I am a participant in the Fund but I have not received my 2005 Annual Covered Earnings Report ("Annual Report"). Why is that?
ANSWER: The Annual Covered Earnings Report is sent to:
- All vested participants, and
- All participants who have had at least a 1/4 year of vesting credit during one of the last 5 calendar years.
If you are in one of these two categories and did not receive an Annual Report, it is most likely because the Fund Office does not have a current address on file for you. To verify your address, please call or write the Fund Office as soon as possible.
The Fund is a separate legal entity from the American Federation of Musicians (the Union), the Sound Recording Special Payments Fund, the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund and the Music Performance Fund. Therefore, if you should relocate or move, you must notify the Fund separately: it is not sufficient for you to notify one or more of the other organizations.
QUESTION: I received my 2005 Annual Covered Earnings Report and I noticed that a 2005 engagement was not listed. Why is that?
ANSWER: There could be a number of reasons, but the most likely one is that the scale wage information and contributions for that engagement were received by the Fund after the cutoff date of March 31, 2006.
Like any other organization, the Fund needs to close its books at year end. The Fund's year end or closing is March 31. Therefore, if contributions are received after March 31, 2006 for a 2005 engagement date, the contribution will not appear on the 2005 Annual Report. Instead, the scale wage information and contributions will appear on your next Annual Report.
QUESTION: How do these "late" contributions affect my vesting status?
ANSWER: Vesting is based on the covered scale wage information reported to the Fund Office on your behalf for each calendar year. $3,000 in covered scale wages in one calendar year equals one vesting year. Scale wage information is allocated to the year in which the engagement took place, not the year in which the Fund received the scale wage information and contributions.
Therefore, even if contributions are remitted late, the scale wage information and contributions are counted in the year in which the engagement occurred for purposes of vesting.
For example, if contributions were received in November 2006 for a December 2005 engagement, the scale wages associated with the contributions are counted towards vesting for 2005.
QUESTION: What should I do if the information reported on the Annual Covered Earnings Report is inaccurate or incomplete?
ANSWER: If you believe that your 2005 Annual Covered Earnings Report does not accurately reflect all of your covered scale wages or pension contributions made for engagements prior to December 31, 2005 that were reported to the Fund by March 31, 2006, you may use the check box on Part I of the Annual Report to request a "Covered Employment Correction Claim Form". You may also call or write the Fund Office to request a form. This form contains the procedures and requirements to request corrections to your Annual Report.