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Local Union FAQs

Who manages the National Pension Fund’s day-to-day operations?

The Board of Trustees is responsible for overseeing the Fund’s operations and performance. The Fund Administrator oversees the day-to-day operations, which includes the Fund staff responsible for processing benefits and Employer Contributions.  Learn more about the Trustees.

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How is the National Pension Fund funded?

Funding for the NPF comes entirely from contributions remitted by Contributing Employers and investment earnings.

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Do my members have an individual account with the NPF?

No, as a defined benefit plan all the assets of the NPF are held in one trust for the benefit of all Participants and Beneficiaries.  Benefits are only paid out upon retirement.  Benefits are paid out monthly, not in a lump sum except in limited circumstances and in very small amounts.

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What are the National Benefit Funds?

The National Benefit Funds are comprised of Sheet Metal Workers’ National Pension Fund (“NPF” or “Fund”), International Training Institute (“ITI”), Sheet Metal Workers’ Occupational Health Institute Trust (“SMOHIT”), Sheet Metal Workers’ National Supplemental Savings Plan (“NSSP”), Stabilization Agreement of the Sheet Metal Industry (“SASMI”, “SASMI II”), the National Energy Management Institute (“NEMI”) Committee and the SMWIA Scholarship Fund.  The NPF is the collections agent for all National Benefit Funds.

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When are the contributions due to the National Benefit Funds?

The general due date for the National Benefit Funds is no later than the 20th of the month after the month in which the work is performed; however, you should check your collective bargaining agreement as your due date may be earlier.

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Can our contractors report over the internet?

A Contributing Employer can file its monthly report and pay electronically using our Internet Payment System (“IPS”).  We encourage all of our Contributing Employers to remit their contributions electronically through the IPS to insure a timely remittance which will avoid liquidated damages and interest, but also to save the company time and money.  The IPS allows Contributing Employers to send both their monthly data and to make their monthly payment through our secure website. Learn more about our Internet Payment System (IPS) by contacting .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

If the IPS is not used, a Contributing Employer can mail their remittance on a monthly remittance report to the following address:

Sheet Metal Workers’ National Pension Fund
P.O. Box # 79321
Baltimore, MD 21279-0321

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What should I do if an employer is delinquent in paying contributions?

An Employer’s failure to pay contributions when due is a violation of the CBA, the Fund’s Trust Document, and federal law.  The SMWIA requires that the Local Union withhold labor from that Employer.  An Employer’s continued nonpayment can lead to the Fund’s termination of the Employer, in which event your members will no longer earn pension credit.  The Employer will be sued.  Federal law requires the Employer to pay interest, 20% liquidated damages and attorneys’ fees. 

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How often are the contractors audited?

The NPF Trust Document provides that an Employer will allow for an audit of the entire personnel payroll wage records of all employees.  Currently the NPF audits approximately 20% of our Employers, so that an Employer is typically audited every five years.  If an audit reveals that inaccurate reports or insufficient contributions have been remitted the Employer may be required to pay all fees, including audit fees and expenses and attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in collection. 

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Our local union just audited our contractor and everything was okay – why are the National Funds now auditing?

As indicated earlier, the NPF audits every five years and recognize that some Employers may have undergone a similar process with the local union.  It is for this reason that we are constantly seeking out local unions that may wish to enter into a joint-audit program.  If you are interested in obtaining more information contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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Can you provide any information about Withdrawal liability and Exit Contributions?

Withdrawal liability is a share of unfunded vested benefits which can be imposed upon an Employer that stops contributing to NPF.  Special rules apply for Employers in the building and construction industry.  If a building and construction industry employer ceases contributions to NPF (say it goes non union, or the local union and Employer negotiates NPF out of the collective bargaining agreement), then it will face liability.  If it simply shuts down, there is no liability.  A nonconstruction employer can face liability regardless of the reason its ceases contributing to the NPF. 

An Exit Contribution can be assessed against any Employer that stops contributing to the NPF, but for a variety of reasons does not owe withdrawal liability.  The Exit Contribution is equal to the last three years of contributions. 

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How does a salting campaign affect a Participant’s benefit with the NPF?

A salting campaign may help a local union organize and hopefully expand NPF’s contribution base.  However, before sending a member to a non-union shop, the local union should be aware of the steps necessary to preserve the member’s benefits with the Fund. 

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Where can my member get information about his work in Covered Employment?

Information about a Participant’s work in Covered Employment can be obtained from the Participant Sign In page, which includes a listing of the Employer(s), number of hour(s), and the Contribution Rate(s) remitted on his or her behalf on an annual basis.  In order to log in he/she would need their social security number and their IA# which can be obtained from their dues receipt.  Go to the Participant Sign in page.

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I have been contacted by a member concerning missing hours – who should I refer them to?

If a member contacts you about missing hours you should contact the NPF at Fund Office about the discrepancy and if possible provide evidence of hours worked.

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What does “Vested Status” mean?

Once a Participant has achieved Vested Status, he has earned a non-forfeitable right to a pension at Normal Retirement Age (65).

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How do I find out if a member is entitled to a benefit?

You should advise them to complete an application and submit it to the Fund Office. The member should indicate in the application that he/she is applying for information rather than a benefit. The Fund Office will review the member’s work history and provide a response generally within sixty (60) days of receipt. This response will advise the member of his or her eligibility for benefits. The local union should have a supply of applications on file, if not, contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and we will arrange to send some.  Download a Pension Application.

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The local union is experiencing severe unemployment and many of our members are currently unemployed. How will this affect their benefits?

In order to earn Pension Credit and increase a benefit a Participant has to work in Covered Employment.  If he has attained Vested Status then unemployment will not affect his Normal Retirement Benefit which is payable at age 65, but could affect his ability to retire before this age.  If he has not attained Vested Status he could incur a Permanent Break in Service.  Also, some members may be tempted to work non union in times of high unemployment.  If they do, their benefits will be adversely affected.  Learn more about Unemployment and Your NPF Benefit.

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Are there other documents that explain the Plan of benefits?

The 2008 Summary Plan Description (“SPD”) is a summary of the full Plan Document.  Both can be viewed online or printed.  If your local union does not have a supply of SPDs on hand to distribute to the membership contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and we will arrange to send a shipment.

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Is there a waiting period before a member can receive his or her pension?

Plan Rules require that Participants notify the Fund office, in writing, in advance of his/her retirement date. For example, if a Participant wants to receive benefits effective January 1, the Fund Office must receive written notice on or before December 31. However, we ask that you strongly encourage your members to notify the Fund Office three to six months in advance of their retirement.

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Can a Retiree work after he retires?

Generally, a Retiree cannot work in Disqualifying Employment, which includes work in the Sheet Metal Industry, because the NPF is a retirement plan which provides benefits to Participants working in sheet metal.  The Sheet Metal Industry encompasses many different positions including almost any kind of construction work.  Learn more about Work after Retirement.

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Can a Retiree work in Disqualifying Employment and receive a pension if he is not being paid?

Disqualifying Employment includes both paid and non-paid work. However, in certain limited cases the Plan Rules allow for continued work under certain limited circumstances. If a Retiree is considering working while collecting a pension we strongly encourage the Retiree to seek approval in writing from the Fund Office in advance of accepting the employment in order to avoid any loss of benefits. All requests should include the name and address of the employer along with a detailed job description. 

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Does the NPF offer any health coverage?

No; however, the NPF will pay part of the cost on behalf of each eligible Retiree (and, if applicable, their spouse) toward eligible Medicare supplemental coverage obtained by the Retiree. In order to qualify for this subsidy the Retiree has to meet each of the following requirements:

  • The Retiree must be receiving a pension from the NPF.
  • The Retiree must be a continuous Union member in good standing the later of his or her Effective Date of pension, or January 1, 2002.  If the subsidy recipient is a Beneficiary, the Retiree must have been a Union member in good standing at the time of his or her death.
  • For any applications after January 1, 2002, the Retiree must have worked a minimum of 435-hours of Work in Covered Employment within the 24 months prior to his or her Effective Date of pension.
  • The Retiree’s last Employer (or last position in Covered Employment) continues to have a Contribution Rate at least $1.80, increasing to $1.85 per hour effective September 1, 2011 (Construction Work) or $0.90, increasing to $0.95 per hour effective September 1, 2011 (Non-Construction Work) on the Retiree’s former classification.
  • The Medicare Supplement provider must be the Sheet Metal Workers’ Health Plan or any multiemployer health plan that is maintained under a collective bargaining agreement between the Union and the employer, which offers Medicare supplemental coverage under federal law to the Payee and has provided to the Plan any certification, acknowledgement or information as the Plan may require.

Assuming the Retiree is eligible for coverage, the NPF will pay up to $31 per month toward the cost of coverage for you and up to $31 per month for a spouse, if applicable. The balance of the cost, whatever the amount, must be paid by the Retiree or Spouse. It is important to note that this is not a protected benefit and may be discontinued at any time.  Apply for this benefit. 

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My member received a determination that he does not agree with.  How does the member file an appeal?

If a Participant disagrees with a determination, he/she must submit an appeal. In order to do so, the Participant must write the Fund Office within 180 days of receipt of the determination and request that the appeal be considered at the next quarterly Appeals Committee Meeting. An appeal must be received within 30 days of the meeting; otherwise, it will be considered at the following meeting.  The appeal must state the reasons in writing and include any documentation that may support the appeal. In the event the appeal is denied, and the member wants to file a lawsuit, he/she must do so within 90 days after receiving the notice of denial; otherwise, the claim will be barred. If the member chooses not to appeal but wants to file a lawsuit, he/she must do so within 270 days of receipt of the determination, or their claim will be barred. Note also that failure to seek an appeal may foreclose any further challenge to the Fund’s determination.  Learn more about
appeal rights.

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How often does the Appeals Committee meet?

The Appeals Committee meets quarterly. To allow for processing, the Fund Office must receive any submission 30 days in advance of the meeting. If an appeal does not meet this requirement, it will be presented at the following meeting. In special circumstances, the Appeals Committee may elect to defer a decision to the following meeting.

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How does a member change beneficiary designations?

When a Participant retired with the NPF he was offered an opportunity to designate a Beneficiary.  If he later wishes to change this earlier designation, please advise him to contact the Fund office. If it is possible for him to change his beneficiary, we will send him the necessary paperwork.

If a Participant is not receiving a pension, and was not married at the time of his death, the Plan provides that a Lump Sum Death Benefit may be payable provided certain service requirements are met.  There is no beneficiary designation for this benefit.  If a Lump Sum Death Benefit is due it will be paid out as follows: 

  • Equally to his/her children, if no children,
  • Equally to his/her parents, if no parents,
  • Equally to his/her siblings, if no siblings,
  • No benefits are payable.

Learn more about Pre-Retirement Death Benefits.

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I have a member in the process of obtaining a divorce will his/her NPF benefits be affected?

They can be.  Federal law provides that an NPF benefit may be divided by a duly qualified domestic relations order (commonly referred to as a “QDRO”). When the NPF receives a domestic relations order, it forwards to the Participant and spouse an acknowledgement and a copy of QDRO Procedures and other material that may be helpful. To be qualified, a domestic relations order has to meet certain legal requirements.  Learn more about the NPF’s QDRO Procedures and review Model QDRO’s, or you can contact the Fund Office.

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