This is where header code goes

Pension FAQs

Your Pension Plan Benefits

What does being vested in the Plan mean?

Being vested means that you have earned a guaranteed right to a pension. Learn more about how you become vested at our How you qualify for pension benefits page.

What does being vested in the Plan mean?

Being vested means that you have earned a guaranteed right to a pension. Learn more about how you become vested at our How you qualify for pension benefits page.

What is the normal retirement age, and when can I begin taking my pension?

The normal retirement age is 65. You may begin collecting your pension as early as age 60, but for each month you receive a pension before age 65, your pension is reduced. You may begin your pension as late as age 70 1/2. For each month after age 65 that you wait to begin your pension, the monthly amount is increased. For details, visit our When you can begin your pension page, or refer to the Pension Plan and 401(k) Plan Summary Plan Description.

How do I apply for my pension?

To apply for your pension, you must complete a pension application and return it to the Retirement Services Department, along with proof of birth. You may download application materials here.

What is the minimum pension?

With 10 years of vesting service, the minimum pension is $200 per month at age 65. For five to nine years of vesting service, there is no minimum pension; your pension amount will be determined based on your actual earnings under the Plan and your years of service.

What is the maximum pension a person can receive each year?

The IRS places a limit on the pension benefits that you may receive each year. For 2017, the limit is $215,000. For the limits for any other year, visit www.irs.gov.

Do any earnings limits affect the calculation of my pension benefit?

Most contracts limit the amount that may be accrued towards your pension. The IRS also has set an earnings limit by employer, when determining your pension benefits under the Plan.

 

Here are the limits for the following years:

1989 $200,000 2003 $200,000
1990 $209,200 2004 $205,000
1991 $222,220 2005 $210,000
1992 $228,860 2006 $220,000
1993 $235,840 2007 $225,000
1994 $150,000 2008 $230,000
1995 $150,000 2009 $245,000
1996 $150,000 2010 $245,000
1997 $160,000 2011 $245,000
1998 $160,000 2012 $250,000
1999 $160,000 2013 $255,000
2000 $170,000 2014 $260,000
2001 $170,000 2015 $265,000
2002 $200,000 2016 $265,000
2017 $270,000

Does my pension ever increase?

Your pension benefits will increase if you return to covered employment. For every year you work in covered employment, those earnings will be applied and will increase your monthly pension benefit.

What are the requirements for disability pension?

If the Social Security Administration has determined that you are totally and permanently disabled, the Equity-League Benefit Funds also considers you disabled. Learn more in the Pension Plan and 401(k) SPD.

I would like to borrow against my pension. Is that allowed?

Borrowing money against your pension benefit is not allowed.

Can I roll my pension over into another Plan, IRA, money market fund, etc?

Your pension cannot be rolled over, borrowed against, taken out, or transferred to another retirement account. This includes individual retirement accounts (IRAs), money market funds, or other pension funds.

You may receive only one Equity-League Benefit Funds pension

You may qualify for more than one Equity-League Benefit Funds pension. However, you may take only one as a pensioner. If you qualify for more than one type of Equity-League Benefit Funds pension, you will automatically receive the one with the highest benefit.

How could I qualify for more than one type of pension?

The most common types of Equity-League Benefit Funds pensions are regular and service pensions. Depending on the length of your career and your covered employment history, you may qualify for both, but can only receive one. The other types of Equity-League Benefit Funds pensions are early retirement, disability, and terminal illness pensions.

For complete details, please refer to the Equity-League Benefit Funds Pension Plan and 401(k) Summary Plan Description, which describes the different types of Equity-League Benefit Funds pensions. You may also visit our How you qualify for pension benefits page.

If I qualify for more than one, can I change the type of benefit after I've begun taking a pension

Once you start to receive one type of pension, you can only convert to another type in limited circumstances, as described below:

 

  • If you take a disability or terminal illness pension, and you recover, you may change to a regular, service, or early retirement pension if you qualify.
  • If you take a regular pension, and you subsequently qualify for a service pension, you may change to a service pension.
  • If you take a regular, service, or early retirement pension and later become ill and qualify for a terminal illness benefit, you may change.
  • If you take an early retirement pension, and you become disabled, you may convert to a disability pension as described above.

Taking a pension does not prevent you from taking a non-Equity-League Benefit Funds pension

If you earn an Equity-League Benefit Funds pension, it does not affect your rights to receive any other non-Equity-League Benefit Funds pension that you have earned. This is true whether or not you have begun taking your Equity-League Benefit Funds pension

Questions About Beneficiaries

Is there a survivor benefit payable after I die?

E It depends on the amount of service you accumulated before you die, whether you die before or after you retire, and what payment option you chose, if you began taking your pension before your death. Learn more at our survivor benefits page in the Pension Plan and 401(k) SPD.

Is there a life insurance policy? If so, what is the benefit?

At the present time, no life insurance policy is included with the Pension Plan.

Can I name anyone as a beneficiary?

If you are married, your spouse is automatically your beneficiary. If you wish to designate someone else, you and your spouse must both consent in writing on forms provided by the Retirement Services Department. If you are not married or if your spouse consents, you may designate anyone as your beneficiary. Beneficiary forms are available from our Pension Forms page.

If my spouse is automatically my beneficiary, what happens if we divorce?

Following a divorce or legal annulment, your ex-spouse will be automatically removed as your beneficiary, unless a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) stipulates otherwise.

What if I want my ex-spouse to continue as my beneficiary, even after we divorce?

If there is no QDRO preventing you from doing so, you may actively re-designate your ex-spouse as beneficiary through the following steps:

  1. Download the simplified Re-designation of Former Spouse as Beneficiary Form from our Pension Forms page.
  2. Complete, sign and date the form.
  3. Mail the completed form to:

Equity-League Trust Funds

Attention: Retirement Services Department

165 W 46th St, 14th Floor

New York, NY 10036

Can my spouse or any other beneficiary share in my pension benefit?

You will find that information in the Pension SPD Click here.

My spouse is a member of Actors' Equity. Can we both collect a pension?

Yes, if you have both earned a pension from Equity-League Benefit Funds, both you and your spouse are entitled to separate pensions.

Can my spouse continue to collect his pension, as well as my survivor pension, after my death?

Yes, a pensioner’s spouse may collect his or her Equity-League Benefit Funds pension while also collecting a survivor benefit from the Pension Plan.

Taking your pension does not prevent you from being a beneficiary

Even if you have begun taking your own Equity-League Benefit Funds pension, you may be named the beneficiary of another’s Equity-League Benefit Funds pension. If this is the case, and the pensioner dies, you will receive a benefit as a beneficiary in addition to your own pension.

Annual earnings statements

When are the annual earnings statements sent out?

Annual earnings statements, officially called Reports of Covered Earnings and Pension Accruals, are sent out each spring, with reporting data for the previous year. For example, statements for the current calendar year will be sent out in the spring of the following calendar year. However, remember, that you may view your pension earnings accruals at any time at our Self-Service Portal. If you notice any discrepancies, contact the Equity-League Benefit Funds office.

Are all of my earnings for work under Actors' Equity contracts applied towards my pension accruals?

Currently, only pensionable earnings are applied towards your pension. The weekly limit on pensionable earnings that applies to you depends on the type of contract for your covered employment. Earnings under contracts that do not require contributions to the Pension Fund are not included in your statement, nor do they increase your pension accruals.

If I am a pensioner and I continue to work, how is my increase from covered employment calculated? Also, when does it go into effect?

If you are a pensioner and you continue to work, your pension increase can be effective as early as January 1 of the following year. The annual increase is currently 3% of your pensionable earnings plus $144, if you worked at least two weeks of covered employment during the year. The increase will be reflected in your monthly pension benefit retroactive to January 1.

Summary Annual Funding Notice

ANNUAL FUNDING NOTICE FOR THE EQUITY-LEAGUE PENSION TRUST FUND Introduction

This notice includes important information about the funding status of your multiemployer pension plan (the “Plan”). It also includes general information about the benefit payments guaranteed by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (“PBGC”), a federal insurance agency. All traditional pension plans (called “defined benefit pension plans”) must provide this notice every year regardless of their funding status. This notice does not mean that the Plan is terminating. It is provided for informational purposes and you are not required to respond in any way. This notice is required by federal law. This notice is for the plan year beginning June 1, 2016 and ending May 31, 2017 (“2016 Plan Year”).

How Well Funded Is Your Plan

The law requires the administrator of the Plan to tell you how well the Plan is funded, using a measure called the “funded percentage.” The Plan divides its assets by its liabilities on the Valuation Date for the plan year to get this percentage. In general, the higher the percentage, the better funded the plan. The Plan’s funded percentage for the Plan Year and each of the two preceding plan years is shown in the chart below. The chart also states the value of the Plan’s assets and liabilities for the same period.

Funded Percentage 
2016 Plan Year
2015 Plan Year
2014 Plan Year
Valuation Date
June 1, 2016
June 1, 2015
June 1, 2014
Funded Percentage
109.5%
120.8%
120.7%
Value of Assets
$1,671,986,518
$1,643,813,388
$1,559,685,291
Value of Liabilities
$1,526,379,422
$1,360,497,713
$1,292,190,072

Even though the 2016 funded percentage decreased from the prior plan year, the Equity-League Plan is still  considered well-funded. The June 1, 2016 funded percentage shown above also includes and takes into account the benefit improvements that went into effect on August 1, 2015, which provided a 10% increase to the monthly payments of all pensioners and beneficiaries, as well as increasing the flat dollar accrual rate from $11 to $12 for all future Plan participants that will be entitled to a monthly pension benefit.

Year-End Fair Market Value of Assets

The asset values in the chart above are measured as of the Valuation Date. They also are “actuarial values.” Actuarial values differ from market values in that they do not fluctuate daily based on changes in the stock or other markets. Actuarial values smooth out those fluctuations and can allow for more predictable levels of future contributions. Despite the fluctuations, market values tend to show a clearer picture of a plan’s funded status at a given point in time. The asset values in the chart below are market values and are measured on the last day of the Plan Year. The chart also includes the year-end market value of the Plan’s assets for each of the two preceding plan years:

May 31, 2017 May 31, 2016 May 31, 2015
Fair Market Value of Assets
$1,675,160,306* $1,547,572,486 $1,587,066,301

*Based on draft financial information.

Endangered, Critical, or Critical and Declining Status

Under federal pension law, a plan generally is in “endangered” status if its funded percentage is less than 80 percent. A plan is in “critical” status if the funded percentage is less than 65 percent (other factors may also apply). A plan is in “critical and declining” status if it is in critical status and is projected to become insolvent (run out of money to pay benefits) within 15 years (or within 20 years if a special rule applies).  If a pension plan enters endangered status, the trustees of the plan are required to adopt a funding improvement plan. Similarly, if a pension plan enters critical status or critical and declining status, the trustees of the plan are required to adopt a rehabilitation plan.  Funding improvement and rehabilitation plans establish steps and benchmarks for pension plans to improve their funding status over a specified period of time.  The plan sponsor of a plan in critical and declining status may apply for approval to amend the plan to reduce current and future payment obligations to participants and beneficiaries.

The Plan was not in endangered or critical status in the Plan Year.

Participant Information

The total number of participants and beneficiaries covered by the Plan on the valuation date was 45,069. Of this number, 25,328 were active participants, 7,640 were pensioners and beneficiaries receiving benefits, and 12,101 were retired or no longer working for the employer and have a right to future benefits.

Funding & Investment Policies

Every pension plan must have a procedure for establishing a funding policy to carry out plan objectives. A funding policy relates to the level of assets needed to pay for benefits promised under the plan currently and over the years.

The Plan is funded by contributions made by employers pursuant to collective bargaining or other written participation agreements.

Once money is contributed to the Plan, the money is invested by Plan officials called fiduciaries. Specific investments are made in accordance with the Plan’s investment policy. Generally speaking, an investment policy is a written statement that provides the fiduciaries who are responsible for Plan investments with guidelines or general instructions concerning various types or categories of investment management decisions. The investment policy of the Plan is to invest in a diversified group of asset classes with target allocations as follows:

Asset Class

Interim Investment Policy Targets

Long-Term Investment Policy Targets

Global Equities 52.5% 40.0%
Hedge Funds 20.0% 15.0%
Fixed Income 17.5% 10.0%
Private Equity 10.0% 20.0%
Private Credit 0.0% 15.0%

Investment Objectives:

Assets of the Plan are invested in a manner consistent with the fiduciary standards of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”) and supporting regulations. Through its investment portfolio, the Plan desires to preserve its capital base while generating income necessary to meet the costs of providing pension benefits to the Plan’s participants and beneficiaries in a timely fashion.  Consistent with the provisions of the Plan and applicable law, the Plan’s intent is to obtain a favorable net rate of return on investments at a prudent level of risk and protect assets that will be used for the payment of pension benefits.  Sufficient liquidity is maintained to meet benefit payment obligations and other Plan expenses.

Investment Guidelines:

To assist the Trustees in their responsibility to invest the Plan’s assets, the Trustees have the authority to appoint and delegate responsibility for the investment of all or any portion of the Plan’s assets to Investment Managers.  Full discretion is granted to each Investment Manager with regard to the sector and security selection and the timing of any transactions.

Standards of Investment Performance:

Investment Managers are reviewed regularly regarding performance, personnel, strategy, research capabilities, organizational and business matters and other qualitative factors that may affect their ability to achieve the desired investment results. Consideration will be given to the extent to which performance results are consistent with the goals and objectives set forth in the Investment Policy and/or individual guidelines provided to an Investment Manager. No investment may be made which violates the provisions of ERISA.

The Trustees review the Plan’s investment policy on a regular basis and make periodic changes when, based on all available information, it is prudent to do so.

Under the Plan’s investment policy, the Plan’s assets were allocated among the following categories of investments, as of the end of the Plan Year. These allocations are percentages of total assets:

Asset Allocations

Percentage

1. Cash (Interest bearing and non-interest bearing) 0.49%
2. U.S. Government securities 8.50%
3. Corporate debt instruments (other than employer securities):
Preferred 0.91%
All other 1.83%
4. Corporate stocks (other than employer securities):
Preferred 0.00%
Common 10.08%
5. Partnership/joint venture interests 57.16%
6. Real estate (other than employer real property) 0.00%
7. Loans (other than to participants) 0.00%
8. Participant loans 0.00%
9. Value of interest in common/collective trusts 6.10%
10. Value of interest in pooled separate accounts 0.00%
11. Value of interest in master trust investment accounts 0.00%
12. Value of interest in 103-12 investment entities 10.43%
13. Value of interest in registered investment companies

(e.g., mutual funds)

3.57%
14. Value of funds held in insurance co. general account

(unallocated contracts)

0.00%
15. Employer-related investments: 0.00%
Employer Securities
Employer real property
16. Buildings and other property used in plan operation 0.00%
17. Other  – Receivables 0.93%

 

For information about the Plan’s investment in any of the following types of investments­- common/ collective trusts, or 103-12 investment entities – contact Mr. Arthur Drechsler, Executive Director, Equity-League Pension Trust Fund, 165 West 46th St, 14th Floor, New York, NY 10036, (212) 869-9380, or (800) 344-5220 toll free outside NYC, or pension@equityleague.org.

Right to Request a Copy of the Annual Report

Pension plans must file annual reports with the US Department of Labor.  The report is called the “Form 5500.”  These reports contain financial and other information.  You may obtain an electronic copy of your Plan’s annual report by going to www.efast.dol.gov and using the search tool.  Annual reports also are available from the US Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration’s Public Disclosure Room at 200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Room N-1513, Washington, DC 20210, or by calling 202.693.8673. Or you may obtain a copy of the Plan’s annual report by making a written request to the plan administrator. Annual reports do not contain personal information, such as the amount of your accrued benefit. You may contact your plan administrator if you want information about your accrued benefits.  Your plan administrator is identified below under “Where To Get More Information.”

Summary of Rules Governing Insolvent Plans

Federal law has a number of special rules that apply to financially troubled multiemployer plans that become insolvent, either as ongoing plans or plans terminated by mass withdrawal. The plan administrator is required by law to include a summary of these rules in the annual funding notice. A plan is insolvent for a plan year if its available financial resources are not sufficient to pay benefits when due for that plan year. An insolvent plan must reduce benefit payments to the highest level that can be paid from the plan’s available resources. If such resources are not enough to pay benefits at the level specified by law (see “Benefit Payments Guaranteed by the PBGC,” below), the plan must apply to the PBGC for financial assistance. The PBGC will loan the plan the amount necessary to pay benefits at the guaranteed level. Reduced benefits may be restored if the plan’s financial condition improves.

A plan that becomes insolvent must provide prompt notice of its status to participants and beneficiaries, contributing employers, labor unions representing participants, and PBGC. In addition, participants and beneficiaries also must receive information regarding whether, and how, their benefits will be reduced or affected, including loss of a lump sum option.

Benefit Payments Guaranteed by the PBGC

The maximum benefit that the PBGC guarantees is set by law. Only benefits that you have earned a right to receive and that cannot be forfeited (called vested benefits) are guaranteed. There are separate insurance programs with different benefit guarantees and other provisions for single-employer plans and multiemployer plans. Your Plan is covered by PBGC’s multiemployer program. Specifically, the PBGC guarantees a monthly benefit payment equal to 100 percent of the first $11 of the Plan’s monthly benefit accrual rate, plus 75 percent of the next $33 of the accrual rate, times each year of credited service. The PBGC’s maximum guarantee, therefore, is $35.75 per month times a participant’s years of credited service.

Example 1:  If a participant with 10 years of credited service has an accrued monthly benefit of $600, the accrual rate for purposes of determining the PBGC guarantee would be determined by dividing the monthly benefit by the participant’s years of service ($600/10), which equals $60. The guaranteed amount for a $60 monthly accrual rate is equal to the sum of $11 plus $24.75 (.75 x $33), or $35.75. Thus, the participant’s guaranteed monthly benefit is $357.50 ($35.75 x 10).

Example 2: If the participant in Example 1 has an accrued monthly benefit of $200, the accrual rate for purposes of determining the guarantee would be $20 (or $200/10). The guaranteed amount for a $20 monthly accrual rate is equal to the sum of $11 plus $6.75 (.75 x $9), or $17.75. Thus, the participant’s guaranteed monthly benefit would be $177.50 ($17.75 x 10).

The PBGC guarantees pension benefits payable at normal retirement age and some early retirement benefits. In addition, the PBGC guarantees qualified preretirement survivor benefits (which are preretirement death benefits payable to the surviving spouse of a participant who dies before starting to receive benefit payments).  In calculating a person’s monthly payment, the PBGC will disregard any benefit increases that were made under a plan within 60 months before the earlier of the plan’s termination or insolvency (or benefits that were in effect for less than 60 months at the time of termination or insolvency).  Similarly, the PBGC does not guarantee benefits above the normal retirement benefit, disability benefits not in pay status, or non-pension benefits, such as health insurance, life insurance, death benefits, vacation pay, or severance pay.

For additional information about the PBGC and the pension insurance program guarantees, go to the Multiemployer Page on PBGC’s website at www.pbgc.gov/multiemployer.  Please contact your employer or plan administrator for specific information about your pension plan or pension benefit.  PBGC does not have that information.  See “Where to Get More Information About Your Plan,” below.

Where to Get More Information

For more information about this notice, you may contact Mr. Arthur Drechsler, Executive Director, Equity-League Pension Trust Fund, 165 West 46th St, 14th Floor, New York, NY 10036, (212) 869-9380 or (800) 344-5220 toll free outside NYC, or pension@equityleague.org. For identification purposes, the official plan number is 001, the Plan sponsor’s employer identification number or “EIN” is 13-6696817, and the Plan sponsor’s name is the Board of Trustees of the Equity-League Pension Trust Fund.