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Participants FAQs

Can you explain the International Reciprocal Agreement?

Learn more about the International Reciprocal Agreement.  Further questions can be directed to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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What is the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Reciprocity Listing?

View the Sheet Metal Workers International Reciprocal Listing.  If you have any further questions, please contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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Who manages the 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 (“NPF or “Fund”) funded?

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

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Is there an individual account in my name?

No, as a defined benefit plan all the assets of 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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How can I check to see if my employers are reporting all of my hours to the NPF?

You can obtain detailed information about your work in Covered Employment from this site, which includes a listing of the Employer(s), number of hour(s), and the Contribution Rate(s) remitted on your behalf on an annual basis.  If, after reviewing this information you find that you are missing hours, you should contact the NPF at the Fund Office about the discrepancy and, if possible, provide evidence of hours worked.  Learn more about your work in Covered Employment. 

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How do I obtain a Pension Credit Statement?

Pension Credit Statements are mailed every three years.  We will be mailing our next statement in 2012; however, you can obtain detailed information about your work in Covered Employment from the Plan Participant Sign-In area of our website.

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What does “Vested Status” mean?

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

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If I do not achieve Vested Status, can I receive a refund of the contributions made on my behalf?

No. Technically, only Employer contributions are made. The Plan is designed to pay monthly benefits to Retirees who were career sheet metal workers working under Union Sheet Metal Collective Bargaining Agreements. This can only be done if the NPF is devoted to paying monthly benefits. Cashing out contributions to employees who are going to work in other industries after spending only a few months or years working with the Union make the Fund unsustainable.

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How do I find out if I am entitled to an NPF benefit?

You will need to complete an application and submit it to our office. Indicate in the application that you are applying for information rather than a benefit. Our Pension Department will review your work history and provide you with a response generally within sixty (60) days of receipt. This response will advise you of your eligibility to benefits.  You may print out a Pension Application. Please complete the application and mail it to the Fund office.

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How can I obtain a copy of the Rehabilitation Plan?

Learn more about the Rehabilitation Plan and to review previous notices.  You can also contact us at the Fund Office or write us to obtain a copy. Please make sure you include your name and current mailing address in all requests.

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Are there other documents that explain the Plan of benefits?

The 2008 Summary Plan Description is a summary of the full Plan Document. This and other plan documents can be viewed online or printed. Printing the document online may take some time because it is lengthy. You may also e-mail the Fund office or write us to obtain a copy. Please make sure you include your current mailing address. 

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Is there a waiting period before receiving a pension?

Plan Rules require that participants notify the Fund office, in writing, in advance of your retirement date. For example, if you want to receive benefits effective January 1, your written notice must be received by the Fund Office on or before December 31. However, we strongly encourage you to notify the Fund office three to six months in advance of retirement.

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Am I allowed to work after I retire?

Generally, you may not 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 the sheet metal industry.  The Sheet Metal Industry encompasses many different positions.  If you are retired do not jeopardize your benefit; contact the NPF in writing before accepting any employment to insure that it will not in result a suspension of benefits.  Learn more about Work After Retirement.

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Can I work in Disqualifying Employment and receive a pension if I am 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 circumstances. If you are considering working while collecting a pension we strongly encourage you 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 brief job description. 

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Am I required to notify the Fund if I return to work?

Whether you are under or over age 65, you are required to report to the Fund Office, in writing, within 21 days of starting any work in Disqualifying Employment.

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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 you have to meet each of the following requirements:

  • You 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.
  • Your 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 you are 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 your spouse, if applicable. The balance of the cost, whatever the amount, must be paid by you. 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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I have received a determination that I do not agree with. What are my appeal rights?

If you disagree with a determination, you must submit an appeal. In order to do so, you must write the Fund office within 180 days of receipt of the determination and request that your case be considered at the next quarterly Appeals Committee Meeting. If you wish to appeal a determination, it must be received within 30 days of the meeting; otherwise, your appeal will be considered at the following meeting.  You must state the reasons for your appeal in your letter and include any documentation you may have to support your claim. In the event your appeal is denied, but you wish to file a lawsuit, you must do so within 90 days of receiving the notice of denial; otherwise, your claim will be barred. If you choose not to appeal but want to file a lawsuit, you must do so within 270 days of receipt of your determination, or your 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 your 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 your appeal does not meet this requirement, your appeal 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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On what day of the month will I receive my pension check or direct deposit?

Your check or direct deposit should arrive by the first of each month. We strongly recommend that you complete our Direct Deposit Form to avoid postal delays.  In the event that you are unable to set up your benefit payment for direct deposit, be advised that we make every effort to make sure that your benefit payment arrives on time. Allowing for postal delays, if you have not received your payment by the 7th of the month, you should call the Fund at (800) 231-4622. 

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How do I change beneficiary designations?

When you elected your pension option you were offered an opportunity to designate a Beneficiary.  If you wish to change this earlier designation, you should contact the Fund Office. If it is possible for you to change your beneficiary, we will send you the necessary paperwork.

If you are not receiving a pension, and are not married at the time of your death, the Plan provides that a Lump Sum Death Benefit may be payable provided you have met certain service requirements.  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.

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Are there any penalties for Sheet Metal Industry work not covered by a Union CBA?

Yes. If you work in the Sheet Metal Industry after 9/1/1988 and the company is not signatory to a Union collective bargaining agreement, the Fund imposes the following conditions for this non-signatory employment:

  • Loss of disability benefits.
  • Loss of a pre-retirement Lump Sum death benefit.
  • A suspension of Early Retirement benefits on any accrual earned after 9/1/1988. This suspension is dependent on the number of calendar quarters you are employed in non-signatory employment after 9/1/1988.

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Do I have an opportunity to repair the penalties imposed for non-signatory employment?

Yes. These penalties will be waived if the Participant returns to Covered Employment and earns the same amount of months of Pension Credit that he/she worked in non-signatory employment. It should be noted that this waiver is only applicable once. If the Participant again returns to non-signatory employment, he/she will be unable to repair any penalties.

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I am in the process of obtaining a divorce, will my 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 qualified domestic relations order, it forwards to the Participant and “Alternate Payee” an acknowledgement and a copy of QDRO Procedures and other material that may be helpful. Learn more about the NPF’s QDRO Procedures, and review Model QDRO’s, or you can contact the Fund Office.

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