Frequently Asked Questions

Pension Plan

You become a participant in the Pension Plan after 1,000 hours of employer Pension contributions are received on your behalf within a twelve (12) month period.

Depending on your specific work history you could retire as early as age fifty-five.

Listed directly below is a chart that lists the ages that a participant can retire, and the minimum criteria needed to be met for each of those ages. Keep in mind that the Pension Plan is specifically designed to provide a greater benefit to those participants who work longer.

55 Twenty (20) Pension credits and have attained the age of fifty-five (55) or greater.
62 Ten (10) Years of Vesting Service but less than Twenty (20) Pension credits
ANY(Disability Only)
  • Ten (10) Years of Vesting Service
  • Have earned one (1) full Pension Credit during the three (3) consecutive years immediately prior to your retirement.
  • Are totally disabled and have been awarded a Social Security Disability Award.

The exact provisions that a person can retire under are explained in detail within the Plan’s Summary Plan Description Book under the titles of Early Retirement, Vested Pension, Regular Pension, Normal Pension and Disability Pension.

A Pension credit is a term used to describe a year in which the hours worked were calculated utilizing the Pension credit schedule. Participants that do not have 20 Pension credits do not receive Pension credits in calendar years in which they were credited with less than 1000 hours but more than 200 hours.

Vesting service is a year in which a participant has been credited with a minimum of 1,000 hours.

The difference between the two will affect the amount a participant is able to receive and when they are able to retire.

Yes. Quite a few. First, the Pension Plan is specifically designed to provide a greater benefit to those participants who work longer. As a matter of fact, the rollover and Pension credit schedule of the Plan only comes into effect after you have amassed twenty Pension credits. Additionally, the factors that are utilized to determine a participant’s monthly pension benefit favor those participants who are older.

Secondly, by working longer you will be able to earn more Plan P credits. You will also have the opportunity to maximize both your SUB fund balance and Health Reimbursement Account balances. This can assist you in lessening the cost of Healthcare in your retirement.

Further, working longer also means you will have more years to contribute to your Annuity Fund. This means that your Annuity monies will have more time to compound.

So, to summarize, the later you wait to retire, the greater your Local 697 monthly Pension benefit; the greater your NEBF and I.O. Pension benefit; the more you can amass within your Annuity Fund; the greater your Plan P benefit and if elected, the larger your S.U.B. Fund benefit can be.

Simply put, your Annuity Fund monies and whatever other savings you have will have to last for more years. For example, if you retire at age fifty-five and live to eighty-five, your Annuity Fund and other savings would have to cover you for thirty (30) years. However, if you delayed your retirement to age 60, your savings would have to last for twenty-five (25) years.

Also, if you wish to retire at 55, you need to plan for that in advance. Remember, early retirement is a long-term process that involves creating a series of financial and physical strategies. Meaning: you should maintain really good physical and financial habits.

Realistically, the earlier you begin, the better your chances of retiring early. Your decision to be a member of Local 697 is a step in the right direction. Your various benefit programs can provide you with a solid base in which to build your financial future.

You become vested in your pension benefit after you have earned five (5) years of credited service.

Becoming vested means that you will not lose your right to receive a pension benefit if you stop working for a contributing employer.

The most recent improvement to the Plan allows a participant to earn more than one (1) accrual credit per calendar year whenever they work greater than 1,799 hours in any year after December 31st, 2022.
The chart below lists the hourly base levels at which more than one (1) accrual credit can be earned.

1,600 < 1,800 hours 1
1,800 < 2,000 hours 1.1
2,000 or more hours 1.2

While all these factors are based upon hours worked during any given calendar year, each have a distinct and different function. Specifically:

  1. Accrual credits are the units that are used to calculate a vested participants monthly Pension benefit. For work performed after December 31, 2022, a participant can earn more than one (1) accrual credit during any calendar year.
  2. Service years are the units that are used to determine your eligibility for a reduced, unreduced and/or disability Pension benefit from the Plan. You cannot earn more than one service credit during any calendar year.
  3. Vesting years are the units utilized to establish a participant’s right to a non-forfeitable Penson benefit from this Plan. You cannot earn more than one vesting credit during any calendar year.

No. That is not true at all. However, we salute you for checking this out yourself. Go ahead and give yourself an “Atta girl” or “Atta boy”. By the way, when you next see the individual that informed you otherwise just look at them in a serious manner and state “You broke my heart…….” (At that point just walk away shaking your head in utter disappointment.)

Ok, in a nutshell, even though the Pension Plan benefit was enhanced in 2023 to provide additional accrual credits for 1,800 and 2,000 hours of work in covered employment, that does not mean that any excess hours earned prior to January 1, 2023, will not be utilized to help a participant obtain one-full-service year in 2023 or beyond. Simply put, if those excess hours exist, then they will be automatically applied in the exact same manner as they always were so as to help “heal” a year in which you did not obtain one full-service year of 1,600 hours.

With that said, and for the reason that the Pension Plan was enhanced to provide additional credits in the year that a participant works 1,800 hours and 2,000 or more hours, excess hours can no longer be earned after December 31, 2022.

Is this a trick question? You do know that in 2023 you can earn more than one (1) full accrual credit, right?

1,600 to 1,799 10/10 (One Full Credit) $85.75
1,800 to 1,999 11/10 (Eleven-tenths) $94.33
2,000 or More 12/10 (Twelve-tenths) $102.90

If you are vested, you can simply go to the retirement calculator button on the website, click it and follow the instructions.

Provided you registered on the Electronic Reciprocal Transfer System (ERTS) and subsequently provided instruction to have the Pension contributions reciprocated back to the Local 697 Pension Plan, those hours will remain with the Pension Plan of the I.B.E.W. Local in which you worked.

Provided you and your spouse were married to each other one year prior to the start date of your Pension, upon your untimely demise your spouse will be eligible to inherit your monthly Pension benefit. The amount your spouse would be entitled to receive is the exact monthly benefit that you were receiving prior to your passing.

No. Your surviving spouse will still need to complete a spousal Pension application and return that to the Fund Office. An application will be sent to your surviving spouse upon the Fund office receiving notification of your demise.

The Plan provides credit on a sliding scale which can be found within the Plans Summary Plan Description Book. Additionally, please keep in mind that excess hours can “heal” a year in which you may have worked 400 hours but not 1,600 hours.

Provided you had attained the age of 65 and were covered under the Lake County Indiana NECA – I.B.E.W. Health and Benefit Plan at the time of your passing, the Pension Plans $5,000.00 death benefit will be payable to the beneficiary or split equally amongst the beneficiaries you have on file at the Fund Office.