When should I submit an application for my pension?
You can submit an application at any time, but preferably at least 6 months before: (1) attaining the age of 55, or (2) the month you plan to receive pension benefits. Applying late can delay your effective date and cause you to lose money.
If I complete a pension application while I’m still working in the coal industry, will that affect my employment?
Filing an application for a pension benefit will not affect your employment. Your pension will not begin until you notify your employer that you are ready to retire. After you retire and your pension has been approved, the Funds will send the employer a copy of your approval letter to notify them of your potential eligibility for retiree health benefits.
How long will it take to start receiving my pension checks after I send in the application?
It depends on how difficult it is to gather all the information needed to establish your full employment history. If the Funds needs to request an earnings statement from Social Security, that may take 60 to 90 days. Processing staff will work with you to gather all the information needed. The more information you submit with your application, the quicker it can be processed. See the Pension application checklist inside the cover of the application for a list of essential documents. After your final retirement documents have been received, it generally takes about two to three weeks to receive your first check, depending on the volume of applications in process with the Funds.
If I completed a pension application a long time ago, do I need to complete another one now?
If any of your employment or personal/family information has changed since completing a previous pension or benefit statement application, or if you are filing for a disability pension you should complete another application so we will have current information.
If you only completed a blue form to request a Pre-76 statement several years ago, you must complete a pension application before pension payments can begin. The effective date of your pension may depend, in part, on the date we receive your application.
When I start receiving my pension, will I also be eligible for health benefits?
Generally, health benefits are provided by your last signatory employer, and you must contact them regarding your health card. The Funds will send your employer a copy of your pension approval letter.
Health benefits eligibility for pensioners depends on your pension type. Pensioners who receive a Deferred Vested pension with less than 20 years of service and Pensioners who use non-classified (salaried) service to qualify for a pension are not eligible for health benefits. If you are under age 55 and receive a Special Permanent Layoff pension or a 30 and Out pension, you will not be eligible until age 55.
If your last signatory employer was determined to be no longer in business and financially unable to provide health benefits, you may file an application for benefits from the Funds.
What if I worked for a Construction Company at the coal mine?
Note: On June 30, 1985, the UMWA Construction Workers Pension Plan was spun off from the UMWA 1974 Pension Plan.
If you worked for a coal mine construction company as of June 30, 1985, all your service prior to that date is assigned to the Construction Plan, and you will need to contact the Construction Workers’ Pension Plan Administrator, HealthSmart, at (800) 624-8605 ext. 8894, to apply for your pension. If you subsequently worked in a classified job for a signatory coal employer, you should also request a pension application from the Funds.
If you worked for a coal company as of June 30, 1985, all your service prior to that date is assigned to the 1974 Pension Plan, and you should submit your pension application to the Funds.
If you are unsure of the plan to which you are assigned, you may contact the Funds’ Call Center at (800) 291-1425.
What if I return to work in the coal industry after I start my pension?
The 1974 Pension Plan requires that pension payments be suspended for any month in which a Pensioner is subsequently employed in the bituminous coal industry, regardless of whether the job is a classified job or for a signatory employer. If you are unsure whether a particular job is considered “coal industry employment,” you should contact the Funds’ Call Center and provide as much information as possible , including the name of the company, a description of the employer’s business, and a job description for review, You should contact the Funds’ Call Center before returning to work to avoid any overpayment.
What are the minimum service requirements to receive a pension from the UMWA 1974 Pension Plan?
If you last worked in a classified job on or after 12/31/75:
10 years of signatory service, or 5 years of signatory service if you last worked after 12/16/93, for a normal pension (subject to break in service rules), or 7/1/99, for a Deferred Vested pension
If you last worked before 12/31/75:
10 years of signatory service, including at least 3 years after 12/31/70, or 20 years of credited service, including a minimum of 5-10 years of signatory service.
Can I collect Unemployment Compensation while receiving my pension?
State Unemployment Compensation laws differ. You will need to contact the Administrator of your State Unemployment Benefits Program to verify your eligibility to collect Unemployment Benefits while receiving your Pension.
Can I receive my pension by Direct Deposit to my account?
Yes. An EFT (Direct Deposit) form is part of your pension application. This is the preferred, most secure and convenient way to receive your pension payment.
How much will my pension be when I retire?
You can request a pension estimate at any time by contacting the Funds’ Call Center at (800) 291-1425.
If I die before my pension starts, will my spouse receive benefits?
Your surviving spouse may receive a Surviving Spouse pension if you are eligible for a Disability, Normal, Age 55, or 30 and Out pension at the time of your death, or if at your death you are at least 55 and eligible for a pension based on 20 or more years of credited service.
Your surviving spouse may qualify for a Joint & Survivor Annuity if you are over 55 at the time of death and had ceased working in the coal industry before age 55 with less than 20 years of service.
Alternatively, your spouse may qualify for a Pre-Retirement Survivor Annuity if you had not applied, were not yet 55, but were fully vested for a pension at the time of your death.
Your eligible surviving spouse is the spouse you were married to for at least nine months before the earlier of your annuity starting date or death. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order can make an ex-spouse an eligible surviving spouse in some instances.