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Answers to Frequently Asked PENSION Questions

  1. Who Administers the Pension & Individual Account Plans?

    The Plans are administered by a 36-member Board of Directors made up of an equal number of Union and Employer appointees.

    The Directors have the full and complete power and authority to administer the Plans, to construe their provisions and terms, and to establish rules and regulations for their operation. They settle all questions relating to the eligibility of Employees to participate in the Plans and develop procedures for establishing eligibility for retirement benefits and the amount of those benefits. The Directors do not receive compensation in the performance of their duties. An Executive Administrative Director is employed by the Board of Directors to assist in the administration of the Plans.


  2. When did pension benefits first begin?

    The Motion Picture Industry Pension Plan started on October 26, 1953, and the Motion Picture Industry Individual Account Plan on August 1, 1979. Pension payments from the Pension Plan began on January 1, 1960.


  3. Do I have to retire when I reach a certain age?

    No. You may continue working as long as you like. Retirement under these Plans is voluntary. There is no mandatory retirement age. However, if you were born on or after July 1, 1917, or are a 5% owner of the stock (or voting shares) of an Employer, your pension payments will automatically begin by April 1 of the calendar year following the year in which you turn 70½ years of age, even if you are still working (see Minimum Distribution Payments, Pension SPD). Even though you will be legally required to start receiving pension payments, you will not be considered retired until you submit a completed retirement application to the Pension Department.


  4. How do I apply for pension benefits?

    Retirement applications from the Pension Department must be filed at least two full calendar months before your desired retirement date. The month that you actually sign the form does not count as a Calendar month. The necessary two-month period is considered the two calendar months immediately following the month you sign the form. When you are ready to retire, simply call the West Coast Plan Office to make an appointment with a Retirement Counselor.


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  6. How much do I pay for my pension?

    On and after October 28, 1990, all contributions received by the Pension Plan (other than Unclaimed Vacation & Holiday Pay) are Employer contributions. (Prior to October 28, 1990, 16.4¢/hour was deducted from Participant paychecks each pay period and remitted to the Motion Picture Industry Pension Plan toward individual pensions.) The IAP is also 100% Employer-funded.


  7. Can I withdraw pension contributions?

    You may not withdraw pension contributions if you are vested. However, if you are not vested and have Employee Contributions (including UV & HP plus any interest accrued) in the Pension Plan, you may withdraw these contributions plus interest if you leave the Industry for a minimum of three months or if you have a Break in Service. The withdrawal requires submission of a completed Withdrawal form to the Plan Office. Under certain circumstances you may withdraw UV & HP even if you are vested. In any case, it is important to keep in mind that you will forfeit your pension benefits if you withdraw your Employee Contributions.


  8. May anyone be a Participant in the Plans?

    Plans Participation is limited to "Employees."
    (See the definition of Employee in your SPD.)


  9. Will proof of age be required to retire?

    Yes, you must furnish proof of your date of birth when you retire. If you are married, proof of your spouse’s date of birth and marriage certificate must also be furnished. In addition, you must provide all divorce and/or death certificates for all previous spouses, if applicable.


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  11. May I work until I receive my first pension check?

    You may work through the end of the month before the month in which you retire.


  12. What happens if I work after I retire?

    For the first two months commencing on the date you retire, you may not work in the Industry at all for an Industry Employer under a job classification which requires contributions be made to these Plans on your behalf. Thereafter you may work in the industry under certain circumstances, although this may result in a forfeiture of your pension benefits.
    (See Re-employment of Retired Participant in your SPD.)


  13. If I return to work after retiring, do I gain additional credit?

    It is possible to gain additional credit under certain circumstances. Please see pages 24 and 38 regarding Re-employment of Retired Participants in your Summary Plan Description.


  14. What happens if I incur a Break in Service?

    The Plans will notify you at your current address on record following a Break in Service.
    (See Break in Service rules in your SPD.)


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  16. Do the Plans provide any benefits upon the death of an Active Participant?

    Yes. See page 30 for the Pension Plan, and page 39 for the IAP in your Summary Plan Description.


  17. Are there any benefits payable after the death of a Retiree?

    There may be, depending on the type of benefit chosen and the amount of benefits already paid. See Types of Pension Payments on page 21 and Death Benefits After Retirement on page 30 in your SPD.


  18. Are pension or death benefits taxable?

    Yes. Please consult your tax advisor.


  19. Are statements for tax purposes furnished?

    Yes. Each person who receives benefits is sent a 1099R before February 1 following the year of payment.


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  21. May pension benefits be assigned?

    No. Please see Garnishment or Assignment of your Pension Benefits, page 8 of your SPD.


  22. Are pension benefits available in a lump sum payment?

    Pension Plan benefits must normally be taken in the form of an annuity. However, if the present value of your monthly benefits is more than $5,000 but not more than $10,000, the entire value may be taken as a single lump sum (with spousal consent, if you are married). If the present value of your monthly benefits is $5,000 or less, the entire value will automatically be paid to you in a single lump sum.

    Individual Account Plan benefits may be selected in a lump sum or as an annuity. If your account balance is $5,000 or less, it will automatically be paid in a lump sum.


  23. Do Pensioners and beneficiaries receive benefit increases?

    Although there have been a number of pension increases for Retirees in the past, the Directors are under no legal obligation to increase the retirement benefit of Pensioners and beneficiaries.


  24. Do Pensioners who retire before age 65 have their early retirement factor increased as they get older?

    No. The calculations are based on your age at the selected retirement date. Your monthly pension benefit will not change because you get older.


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  26. May I withdraw the Pension or Individual Account Plan contributions made by my Employer if I am not vested?

    No. (See pages 28 and 34 of your Summary Plan Description)


  27. When are pensions paid?

    Your pension check will be mailed to you at the end of each month for the following month. If you have direct deposit, your pension payments will be electronically transferred to your bank account by the first of each month. (See page 37 for Individual Account Plan benefit payment options in your SPD.)


  28. Are pension benefits retroactive?

    Benefits are not paid retroactively. The only exception is a Disability Retirement Pension and when appropriate, monthly benefits in the Individual Account Plan.


  29. Can my pension checks be sent directly to my bank account?

    Yes. As an alternative to the U.S. Postal Service, you may wish to have your monthly pension payments directly deposited to your bank account. The Plans use a method called an Electronic Fund Transfer. Simply call the Plan Office for a Direct Deposit Authorization Form. Submit your completed form with a voided check of the checking account desired. (If you directly deposit to a savings account, you will need a routing number from your bank and your account number.) Processing your direct deposit takes approximately one month. You’ll enjoy your direct deposit starting the following month.


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  31. Why doesn't the Plan Office change my address when I send a change of address to the Union or my Employer?

    The Plan Office is a separate entity from any Local or Studio. When you move, please remember to provide the Plan Office with your change of address.


  32. What do I do if I'm getting a divorce?

    Have your legal representative contact the Plan Office in regard to filing a joinder and to obtain a copy of the Plans’ Qualified Domestic Relations Order Procedures and a sample Qualified Domestic Relations Order, which may be obtained without charge. Contact the Pension Department, 818 or 310.769.0007, Ext. 627. Outside Southern California, call toll-free 888.369.2007, Ext. 627.


  33. What should one do when an Active Participant dies?

    A family member or other person responsible for the active Participant’s affairs should promptly notify the Pension Department at the West Coast Office by calling 818 or 310.769.0007, Ext. 627. Outside Southern California, call toll-free 888.369.2007, Ext. 627.


  34. How can I find out what my health benefits will be after retirement?

    Contact either the West or East Coast Plan Offices for a copy of the Retiree Health SPD. Retirement Counselors can help you run different retirement scenarios to help you in your decisions.


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  36. What should one do when a retiree or beneficiary dies?

    A family member or other person responsible for the retiree or beneficiary’s affairs should do the following:

    • Promptly notify the Pension Department at the West Coast Plan Office by calling 818 or 310.769.0007, Ext. 627. Outside Southern California, call toll-free 888.369.2007, Ext. 627.


    • If monthly benefits were being paid via direct deposit, the Plan will recover any overpayment (i.e., payments made for any month after the retiree or beneficiary died)


    • If the benefits were being paid by check, you must return any checks received for any month after the retiree or beneficiary died, to the Pension Department as soon as possible. Please do not send cash.


  37. I’m nearing retirement but I don’t know how much I can expect to receive under the Pension and Individual Account Plans. Will the Plans send me a periodic statement showing how much I can expect to receive when I retire?

    Each year the Plans will send you a statement showing your monthly accrued benefit, and an out­line of the Credited Hours received on your behalf. This annual statement also shows your Individual Account Plan balance as of the end of the prior year.

    If you are vested, you may call the West Coast Plan Office Pension Department, Ext. 627, and request a Benefit Estimate statement, which will show your potential monthly benefit from the Pension Plan under the options available at retirement. Please keep in mind that these are estimates of your benefits, and they will be verified upon retirement.


  38. Do any special rules apply to me because my plans merged with the MPI Plans?

    If you participated in Pension Funds prior to their merger into these Plans, certain additional special rules apply to you. A notice was previously sent to you explaining these rules. Please call the Plan Office if you have questions regarding these special rules. Please check the back pocket of your copy of the Summary Plan Description for an Appendix containing additional rules pertaining to your group of merger Participants.



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