Frequently Asked Questions about Pension Benefits


What type of Pension Plan is the Carpenters Pension Plan of Illinois?
The Carpenters Pension Plan is a “defined pension plan.” This Pension Plan is funded solely by employer contributions. Employees are not required nor are they permitted to contribute to this Pension Plan. Once a Participant is fully vested in a defined pension benefit, the benefit is guaranteed and is generally payable at the Participant’s Normal Retirement Age.
Does paying my Union dues entitle me to a Pension Benefit?
No. Being a Union member and paying Union dues will not, in itself, entitle you to a benefit. You must be a Participant in the Plan and work for a Contributing Employer, who, under a contract, participates in the Carpenters Pension Plan of Illinois.
How do I become a Participant?
An Employee who is engaged in Covered Employment during the Contribution Period shall become a Participant in the Plan on the January 1 or July 1 following the date that the Employee first has an hour of Service in Covered Employment but Pension Credits shall be earned on the date after the Employee first has an hour of Service.
What happens if I change jobs?
Once you become a Participant in the Pension Plan, as long as you work for an Employer obligated to contribute to the Plan on your behalf, you will carry your Pension Credits with you and will continue to earn more benefits. This portability of benefits is a unique feature not offered by other types of retirement plans.
What is my Normal Retirement Age?
For benefits accrued before January 1, 2010, your Normal Retirement Age is the later of:
  • The date you reach age 60; or
  • Your age on the fifth anniversary of your participation in the Plan
For Benefits accrued on or after January 1, 2010, your Normal Retirement Age is the later of:
  • The date you reach age 65; or
  • Your age on the fifth anniversary of your participation in the Plan
What is Early Retirement Age?
You can receive your Pension as Early as age 55 if you have 10 Pension Credits (including one earned during the Contribution Period). The Early Retirement Pension is calculated the same as your Normal Retirement Pension and then reduced if you retire before age 60. All benefits earned before January 1, 2010 are reduced by 2% for each full year that you retire before age 60. Benefits earned on or after January 1, 2010 are reduced by 6% for each full year that you retire before age 60.

If you retired before January 1, 2002, the reduction for Early Retirement was different. Please contact the Fund Office for more information.
What is the Special 30 Year Pension?
You can receive your Pension as early as age 55, with no reduction for Early Retirement, if you, 1) Have 30 or more Pension Credits earned under this Plan, with at least one Pension Credit earned after December 31, 1998; and 2) Retire on or after December 1, 2000 or have an approved Benefit Freeze for at least 4 months after December 31, 1998.
What if I become disabled?
The Plan provides protection if you become disabled during your Covered Employment. If you meet certain requirements, you may be entitled to a Disability Pension. You are eligible for a Disability Pension if you, 1) Are totally and permanently disabled; 2) Earned at least 10 Pension Credits; and 3) Worked in Covered Employment for at least 500 hours in one of the two Plan Years before you became disabled; and 4) Have not yet reached Normal Retirement Age. If you meet the requirements for a Disability Pension, and you earned at least one Pension Credit after December 31, 1998 and retire on or after December 31, 2000, the amount of your Disability Pension is $300.00. If you do not meet those requirements, the amount is $150.00 per month. For further information on Disability Retirement, please contact the Fund Office.
What is Vesting Service?
Vesting Service determines your eligibility for a Pension under the Plan. If you terminated employment with a Contributing Employer on or before December 31, 1998, you needed to earn 10 years of Vesting Service to be considered fully vested. If you worked for a Contributing Employer on or after January 1, 1999, you need only earn 5 years of Vesting Service to earn a non-forfeitable right to a Deferred Vested Retirement Pension, payable at your Normal Retirement Date.
How is Vesting Service Earned?
You earn a year of Vesting Service for each Plan Year (calendar year) during which you either earned a Pension Credit or worked at least 500 hours in Covered Employment.
What are Pension Credits?
You will receive one Pension Credit for each year after your Union began participating in the Plan if you are working in Covered Employment in the jurisdiction of a Participating local Union and work at least 500 hours during the Plan Year.
Can I ever lose my Vesting or Pension Credits?
Yes, if your employment is interrupted before you are vested, you may lose the Vesting Service and the Pension Credits you have accumulated and credit for contributions made by your Employer. Whether you lose Vesting Service and Pension Credits depends on whether you have a One-Year Break in Service or a Permanent Break in Service.
What is a One-Year Break in Service?
You have a One-Year Break in Service if you do not work at least 500 hours in Covered Employment during a Plan Year. A One-Year Break in Service is temporary and can be repaired by working at least 500 hours in Covered Employment in a subsequent Plan Year before incurring a Permanent Break in Service or earning a year of Vesting Service.
What is a Permanent Break in Service?
If you have five years of Vesting Service, you cannot lose the right to your pension. If you have not earned five years of Vesting Service, you can incur a Permanent Break in Service if you have five One-Year Breaks in Service. If you incur a Permanent Break in Service, you will lose any Vesting Service, Pension Credits, and Employer contributions that you previously earned under the Plan.
What happens if I die before I begin receiving my Pension?
If you die before retirement, your spouse may be eligible for a Pre-Retirement Surviving Spouse Pension. Your spouse will receive a monthly benefit if you have a vested right to a pension (five years of Service, including at least one year during the Contribution Period) and you and your spouse were married for one year before your death.

If you die before retirement and you have a vested right to a pension, a Lump-Sum Pre-Retirement Death Benefit is available as a choice for your spouse. It is also the form of payment made to your non-spouse beneficiary or to your spouse if you were married less than one year before your death.
What happens if I die after I begin receiving my Pension?
If you die after you begin receiving your benefits and retired with a Normal, Early or Deferred Retirement Pension as a Single-Life Pension, your beneficiary may be entitled to a Post-Retirement Lump-Sum Death Benefit. No Post-Retirement Lump-Sum Death Benefit is payable if you elected the 50%, 75% or 100% (with or without the pop-up option) or the Ten-Year Certain and Life Pension.

The amount of the Post-Retirement Lump-Sum Death Benefit is equal to the Pre-Retirement Lump-Sum Death Benefit as of your Retirement date less the amount of pension payments that were paid to you before your death.
What Payment Options are available to me?
The normal form of payment if you are not married is a Single-Life Pension. If you are married, the normal form of payment is a 50% Joint and Survivor Pension. Whether you are married or not, you may choose other payment options. However, if you are married, your spouse must consent in writing to another form of payment.

The Payment Options available for a married participant are as follows:
  • 50%, 75% and 100% Joint and Survivor Pension
  • 50%, 75% and 100% Joint and Survivor Pension with a Pop-Up (With the Pop-Up option if your spouse predeceases you, your benefit will increase to the amount it was before the reduction for this option.)
  • Ten-Year Certain and Life Pension
  • Single-Life Pension
The Payment Options available for a single participant are as follows:
  • Single-Life Pension
  • Ten-Year Certain and Life Pension
How do I apply for my Pension?
You must apply for your Pension benefits before they can be paid to you. Forms are available from your local Union or the Fund Office. You must complete the application and submit all documents that support your application at least 60 days before you want your Pension payments to begin. To apply for your benefits, you will need: 1) Application for Benefits form; 2) Marriage Certificate, if married, or Divorce Decree, if divorced; 3) Proof of age for you and proof of age for your spouse or beneficiaries; 4) Copy of your Social Security Card and a copy of your spouse or beneficiaries Social Security Card; and 5) Advance Determination of Effect of Employment form. Your benefit will be effective the first of the month following receipt of your completed application.
What if I return to work after my Pension begins?
If you are reemployed after you begin receiving pension benefits, your benefits may be suspended, regardless of whether you are working for a participating or nonparticipating Employer. If you are receiving your pension and you are reemployed for 40 hours in a month in disqualifying employment, your benefits will end until you work less than 40 hours a month and notify the Fund Office.
What if my application is denied?
If the Board of Trustees denies your application, either in whole or in part, you have the right to have your application reconsidered. If your application is denied, you will receive a written statement of the specific reason(s) for that denial. When your application for benefits is denied, you (or your authorized representative), have the right to submit additional proof of entitlement to benefits and examine any Plan Documents that are related to your application.

You or your authorized representative may file a written appeal within 90 days (180 days for a Disability Pension) after you receive notice that your application for benefits has been denied. If you decide to appeal the denial of your application, you must submit a written request to the Board of Trustees, 28 North First Street, Suite 1, Geneva, IL 60134. You should send your request by certified mail to ensure your appeal is received.
What if I have credits in another Fund Office?
You may be eligible for a pro-rata pension if you have earned years of service with various Carpenters Pension Funds. To be eligible for pro-rata pension you must have earned at least one year of credited service with two or more funds signatory to the International Brotherhood of Carpenters Pro-Rata Reciprocity Agreement. If you believe you are eligible for a pro-rata pension, please submit information to the Fund Office indicating the years and the Funds that you were participating in.
What hours should be on my recent quarterly status report?
Please note that the quarterly status report lists hours received / posted during the quarter - not worked during the quarter. Contributions are due from your employer by the 15th of the following work month. Therefore, hours worked in October are not due until November 15. If you worked out of our jurisdiction, the hours should be forwarded from the away fund one additional month later. Therefore, hours worked in October should be received in December.
What if my quarterly status report doesn’t accurately reflect the hours worked?
You should report discrepancies to the Fund Office, your Business Agent, and even your employer. The Collections Department will investigate the discrepancy and attempt to collect unpaid contributions from the employer. Save your check stubs! This is your proof of the hours worked. Please contact the Fund Representative at (630) 845-3547 for assistance.
I will be working outside of my local jurisdiction; how can I be sure my hours are credited to my home fund?
You will need to complete a Transfer Request and Consent Form (found on this website) and send it to the Fund Office of the away fund. This will authorize your contributions to be forwarded to your home fund. Your employer should be able to direct you where the form is to be sent.