Frequently Asked Questions
Below please find a list of the most common questions asked by Participants and Beneficiaries. For more information on any of the topics discussed below, please see your Summary Plan Description (download by clicking this link) or by contacting the Fund Office. Please note that if there are conflicts between the Plan Document and the Frequently Asked Questions below, the Plan Document prevails.
(1) How do I apply for Pension Benefits?
In order to apply for pension benefits, you must complete an Application For Retirement - Part A and B and submit it to the Fund Office. Please note that if you submit your Application to a Local Union or District Council Office, it does not mean that the Pension Application has been formally submitted to the Fund Office and there could be a delay in both the processing of your Application and your pension effective date. You can obtain an Application For Retirement - Part A in several ways: (i) by clicking on this Application link and downloading the Form, (ii) by calling the Fund Office at 630-871-7733 and requesting an Application, or (iii) by sending an email to the Fund Office at firstname.lastname@example.org requesting an Application. Forms may also be available from your Local Union or District Council but keep in mind that they are not agents of the Plan. An Application - Part B will be sent to you once the Part A is processed. Please note that only original Application forms signed by the Participant, or their Power of Attorney, will be accepted by mail or delivery service.
(2) What is the earliest age I can collect Pension Benefits?
Generally, the earliest age that a participant can begin collecting pension benefits is age 55, if otherwise eligible, after leaving Covered Employment.* You must complete an Application for Retirement and provide all the required information and documentation in order for your pension to commence.
Receiving benefits prior to age 65 is considered early retirement and your pension benefit will be reduced based on your age pursuant to the Retirement Plan rules. You can find the benefit reduction factors for early retirement in the Basic and Vested Retirement Benefit section of the Summary Plan Description. Full pension benefits are available at age 65.
* If you were a participant of the old GCIU Local 20-B Retirement Benefit Plan that merged into the GCC/IBT National Pension Fund, the earliest age you can begin collecting pension benefits earned under the old 20-B Plan is age 60. If you accrued any benefits after the merger with the National Pension Plan, you would be entitled to a split benefit, starting as early as age 55 for accruals under the National Pension Plan and starting as early as age 60 for accruals under the old 20-B Plan. Contact the Fund Office is you need more information.
(3) What documents are needed when applying for Pension Benefits?
The documents generally required when applying for pension benefits are a birth certificate for the participant and spouse (if married) and a copy of your marriage certificate, if applicable. If you are divorced, you will need to provide a copy of your divorce decree as well as any property settlement agreement entered in the divorce proceedings (with a Court stamp) that specifically addresses the disposition of the pension benefits that were earned during your marriage. If a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (“QDRO”) was entered in the divorce proceeding, that QDRO must be delivered to the Fund Office so that your former spouse’s entitlement can be recognized by the Plan. If you are widowed, you will need to provide a copy of the death certificate for your spouse. If your spouse was previously married, legal documentation substantiating each name change will also be required.
(4) Why is my spouse’s information required?
Under Federal Law and under the provisions of the Retirement Plan, if you are married on your retirement date, your pension is paid in the form of a Joint and Survivor Annuity that provides you with a reduced lifetime pension and your surviving spouse with a lifetime pension should you predecease him or her. The amount of the adjustment in your pension depends on your spouse’s age. Your spouse must give written consent if you elect any form of benefit other than a Joint and Survivor Annuity.
(5) How far in advance should I apply for Pension Benefits?
Processing an application is generally a quick process if all the necessary documentation is initially provided to the Fund Office. However, a delay can be caused by a slow response from your employer(s), other pension funds in the industry in which you have participated, the lack of required documents or lack of information. Generally, the application process should take approximately 60 days so try to submit your application and supporting documentation 90 days, but no fewer than 60 days, prior to your retirement effective date.
(6) Does the Plan provide a Lump Sum Payment?
Lump sum payments are not generally available under the Plan. However, if the actuarially determined present value of a benefit is $5,000 or less, the benefit will be paid out in one lump sum if you elect this form of payment. Eligibility for a lump sum is automatically determined at the time of the benefit calculation after an Application is received. If you are eligible and elect it, you will be paid in a one-time lump sum in lieu of monthly pension benefits. Information about your right to roll over the lump sum payment into an IRA or other retirement plan will be provided to you.
(7) Can I change my Benefit Payment Option?
Your payment option election becomes irrevocable upon the earlier of 90 days after you make your election or the commencement of your benefit. However, you will always be given at least 30 days to consider whether or not to reject the Joint and Survivor Annuity.
(8) Why will my benefits be suspended if I return to work in the printing industry but I am not working in a “union” capacity?
“Prohibited Employment” under the provisions of the Retirement Plan is employment that results in a suspension of your pension benefit and it is not limited to employment in a “union” capacity. Rather, before you reach age 65, it includes employment for an employer in the graphic arts industry in any type of work in the geographic areas covered by the Retirement Plan and over which the Union has jurisdiction. After you reach age 65, the Prohibited Employment rules are less restrictive but can still result in suspension of your pension. Please refer to the Working After Retirement provisions of the Summary Plan Description for a more detailed explanation. Or, contact the Fund Office for more information about returning to work after the commencement of your pension benefits.
(9) When will my benefits be effective and when will they start?
If you apply for benefits prior to age 65, benefits generally become effective the first of the month following the month in which an application is received in the Fund Office assuming you are otherwise eligible and have ceased work in the industry. If you continue to work in the industry, then your effective date will be the first of the month following the month in which you cease work in the industry. If you apply for benefits after age 65, you are entitled to benefits retroactive to age 65 unless you continued to work in Prohibited Employment as defined by the Plan after attaining age 65.
(10) When must I start receiving pension benefits?
You are encouraged to retire under the Plan after you reach retirement age (between ages 55 and 65) once you cease working in Covered Employment. The Plan requires you to commence your benefit no later than age 65 provided you are not working in Prohibited Employment (see your Summary Plan Description for information about “Prohibited Employment”). In any event, your benefit must commence no later than the April 1 of the calendar year following the year you attain age 72.** Failure to commence benefits by that date could result in an imposition of excise taxes.
** If you attained age 70 ½ before January 1, 2020, your pension was required to commence no later than April 1, 2020. If this applies to you, you must contact the Fund Office immediately.
(12) How do I sign up for Direct Deposit?
To sign up for Direct Deposit, you need to complete and return the Direct Deposit Authorization Form which is the last page of the Application For Retirement - Part A. If your Application For Retirement - Part A does not contain a Direct Deposit Authorization Form, you have an outdated Form or you wish to make changes to your Direct Deposit information, click on this Direct Deposit Form link and download the form or you can request a form from the Fund Office. Please note that for security reasons, only original Direct Deposit Forms signed by the Retiree/Beneficiary, or their Power of Attorney, will be accepted by mail or delivery service. Once the Fund Office has received the properly completed Form, processing will commence. Keep in mind that this process could take one to two pay cycles depending on what time of the month we receive your completed Form. In the meantime, your pension check will be mailed directly to your home.
(11) What should I do if I disagree with a decision that has been rendered, such as a denial of Pension Benefits, the effective date, the amount of my pension, etc.?
If you disagree with a decision that has been rendered on your Application, you have a right to appeal the decision to the Board of Trustees. To do so, follow the Appeals Procedures in the Applying for Benefits section of the Summary Plan Description.
(13) What do I do if I change my address?
You are required to inform the Fund Office of any address change so that the Fund Office has your current address and telephone number in order to send you required mailings, etc. Click on this Change of Address Form link, download the Form, complete it and send it to the Fund Office. Please note that for security purposes, only original Change of Address forms signed by the Participant/Beneficiary, or their Power of Attorney, will be accepted by mail or delivery service.
(14) If I am on Direct Deposit, do I need to notify you if I should move?
Yes, the Fund Office will still need a way to get in touch with you for various reasons such as required mailings and especially for the mailing of Retiree/Beneficiary 1099R tax forms after the end of every calendar year. For security purposes, any changes of address must be sent in writing, signed by the member or be accompanied by a Power of Attorney.
(15) How do I change the amount of taxes being withheld on my pension check?
To change your withholding, you must complete the IRS Form W-4P which you can download by clicking on this W4P link. Fully complete the W4P and then return it to the Fund Office. Please note that for security purposes, only original W4P forms signed by the Retiree/Beneficiary, or their Power of Attorney, will be accepted by mail or delivery service.
(16) What should my family do in the event of my death?
Your family must contact the Fund Office as soon as possible after your death (or the death of your spouse if he or she is collecting pension benefits) in order to determine whether any further benefits are payable on your behalf after your death. Failure to do so may result in the unlawful receipt of benefits and subject your family to legal action to recover any benefit overpayments.
(17) If I die as a single participant are any death benefits payable on my behalf?
Only surviving spouses of Plan participants are entitled to survivor benefits under the Plan. There are no death benefits payable to single participants. If you are married and die prior to retirement, your surviving spouse may be entitled to survivor benefits. If you are single prior to retirement, no death benefits are payable on your behalf.