ALL FAQs

APPLYING FOR BENEFITS

Breaks in Service

  • What is a Break in Service?
    A Break in Service occurs when you stop working and contributions from your employer end on your behalf. This may affect your pension and the benefits you qualify for. You can find more information in your Summary Plan Description.

Disability

  • How do I apply for Disability Benefits?

    You will need to complete an application for Disability Benefits which can be found here. You should submit a complete copy of your Social Insurance Award from the Social Security Administration along with any other required documents listed in the application packet. For more information, click here.

  • Can I work while receiving Disability Benefits?

    No. You may not accept any kind of work while on disability. If you return to work for any period of time, your benefits will be suspended. To avoid any overpayment, you should contact the Fund immediately.

  • How long can I receive my Disability Benefits?

    You will receive monthly Disability Benefits as long as you remain totally and permanently disabled. Failing to inform the Fund about the end of a disability will result in the Fund pursuing any overpayment. If you are receiving a monthly benefit and are Vested, you can switch to Retirement Benefits at age 65. The Fund will contact you about 90 days before that time and give you detailed information about your options. 

Divorce/QDRO

  • How much is my pension worth? Can I get a lump sum?

    Upon your request, we will advise you of your accrued benefit as of your normal retirement age (age 65) or any other age you request. The amount provided is your monthly accrued benefit payable per month. We are not able to provide a lump sum. If you need to know a lump sum amount to value property, you will need to provide our information to an independent actuary or accountant.

  • I am getting divorced. Does that affect my pension?

    Under the law your pension may or may not be assigned in a divorce settlement. If any part of your pension is assigned, you will need to submit a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) which gives the alternate payee their assigned share of your pension.

    We do not write the QDRO, however, you or your attorney must comply with our procedures and the QDRO must be entered with a court. To ensure the order complies with our procedures, it is recommended the parties use the applicable model form below.e 

    We have provided pre-approved sample model language which can be found below. The language differs depending on whether or not you are currently receiving Retirement Benefits. Please choose the form that applies to your divorce or separation circumstance.

    In addition, please see the Procedures for Administering a Qualified Domestic Relations Order 

    QDRO Language for members who are not retired:

    QDRO Language for members who are retired:
  • If I elected JSO coverage at retirement and then I got divorced, is my JSO cancelled?

    Divorce after retirement does not cancel the Joint and Surviving Spouse Option (JSO) election. To do this your spouse must execute a written waiver of any right to and interest in the JSO. This waiver must be incorporated into a court approved property settlement agreement that is part of a judgment or order entered by a court. Upon approving the judgment or order, we will restore your benefit to the amount you would have received if JSO coverage had not been elected. The restoration will go into effect on the first of the month following the month in which the judgment or order is entered by the court.

  • Can my attorney subpoena for the value of my spouse's pension?
    Yes. If your attorney would like to get the value of your spouse’s pension, they can send a subpoena to the Fund.
  • Who writes the QDRO?

    The Fund does not write the QDRO. To assist you or your attorney, we created QDRO procedures and pre-approved sample model language which we recommend for easy approval. The language differs depending on whether or not you are currently receiving a retirement benefit. Click here to view the samples.

  • My ex-spouse was awarded a portion of my pension in our divorce settlement. What do I need to do to start my pension?

    Since a divorce decree, separation agreement, or income withholding order, is generally not sufficient to meet requirements, the assignment of any portion of your pension must be done through a separate court order known as a QDRO. A QDRO can be incorporated into a decree or judgment, but usually it is a separate order entered after the divorce/separation is final. We recommend using our pre-approved sample model language since the QDRO assignment to an alternate payee (spouse, ex-spouse, child or other dependent) must comply with the Fund's procedures and Federal requirements.

  • How do I contact the Fund with QDRO questions?

    The Fund is Here to Help

    Read more about QDRO here

    To contact us about QDRO related issues, you can call, write, fax or email as follows:

    MAIL: Any QDRO related inquiries may be mailed to:

    Central States Pension Fund
    Attn: Domestic Relations Orders
    P.O. Box 5109 
    Des Plaines, IL 60017-5109

    EMAIL: The QDRO department at QDROmail@centralstates.org

    QDRO FAX: 1-847-518-9752

    PHONE: The QDRO department at 1-800-323-2152 x3876.

EARNING CREDITS

GUARDIANSHIP AND POWER OF ATTORNEY

  • Does the Fund recognize legal guardian, conservator, or power of attorney?

    Yes. Please provide us with the proper legal documents. These changes cannot be made over the phone and must be handled in writing. 

    The fastest way to send in your documents is through the secure Message Center. Registered users can log in to upload forms and attach all required documentation. If your form requires a signature, you must print, sign, and then upload the signed page.

    Mail:
    Central States, Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Fund
    PO Box 5109
    Des Plaines, IL 60017-5109

    Fax:
    847-518-9752

  • If I have a guardian or power of attorney, whose name will be on my checks?

    Your name will still appear on your benefit checks, even if you have a guardian or have given someone power of attorney. The powers granted by these types of documents vary depending on the specific language they contain and state laws where you live. In most states, a guardian or conservator who is appointed by a court will be able deposit a check in your name.

  • Can my checks be sent to a nursing home?

    Yes. However, the check will still be payable to you.

LOSING CREDITS

Reemployment

Rehabilitation Plan Withdrawal

  • What is a Rehabilitation Plan Withdrawal?

    A Rehabilitation Plan Withdrawal is essentially any situation in which contributions are no longer required to be made on behalf of a bargaining unit but the covered work continues to be performed, either by the employer or another party. Particularly, a Rehabilitation Plan

    Withdrawal occurs under any of the following circumstances:

    • Your employer and local union bargain out of the Central States Pension Fund after expiration of the agreement.
    • Termination of the union’s representative status (for example, a decertification or a disclaimer of interest).
    • Terminations by the Pension Fund due to a violation of a Central States Pension Fund rule (for example, violation of the Central States Pension Fund rule against adverse selection.
    • Any transaction (for example, mergers, consolidations, divisions, asset sales — other than asset sales complying with ERISA § 4204 — liquidations, dissolutions, joint ventures, outsourcing, subcontracting) whereby all or part of the operations for which the employer has an obligation to contribute are continued (whether by the employer or by another party) in whole or in part without the maintenance of the obligation to contribute to the Central States Pension Fund under the same or better terms (both as to the number of participants and the contribution rate) to the Pension Fund as existed prior to the transaction.

  • Is it a Rehabilitation Plan Withdrawal if my employer files for bankruptcy protection or ceases covered operations?
    Generally, the mere fact that your employer files for bankruptcy or ceases covered operations is not a Rehabilitation Plan Withdrawal.
  • Are my benefits impacted when a Rehabilitation Plan Withdrawal occurs?
    It depends; benefits can be reduced or eliminated when a Rehabilitation Plan Withdrawal occurs. If you are impacted, you will receive a Notice of Benefit Reduction from the Fund. Most members who are retired and receiving benefits when the Rehabilitation Plan Withdrawal occurs will not have their benefits impacted but some will. It depends on the benefit commencement date, the date the last collective bargaining agreement expired, and the date the contributing employer incurs a Rehabilitation Plan Withdrawal. Please see the Rehabilitation Plan section of your Summary Plan Description (SPD) (Forms and Documents) for additional information.

Social Security Benefits

Taxes

Vesting

  • What is Vesting?

    Vesting refers to the amount of Vesting Service you must earn before establishing the right to a benefit from the Fund. When you are fully vested, your benefit belongs to you, even if you leave your job before reaching retirement age.

  • How do you become Vested?

    You become vested once you have:

    • 5 years of Vesting Service if you have any employer contributions after Dec. 31, 1998; or
    • 10 years of Vesting Service if you do not have any employer contributions after December 31, 1998
  • How is Vesting Service earned?

    You earn one year of Vesting Service for each calendar year during which you have at least 20 weeks, 75 days (90 days before 1985), or 600 hours of contributions paid on your behalf.

  • How do Vesting Service and Contributory Credit differ?

    Vesting Service determines whether you can receive a benefit. Contributory Credit affects the type of benefit and amount you may be eligible to receive. 

1099-R

  • When will I receive a Form 1099-R for filing taxes?

    Forms 1099-R are mailed by January 31st for benefits paid during the previous year.

  • Why did I receive a Form 1099-R?

    Central States is required by federal law to provide a Form 1099-R to anyone who received benefits during the tax year. This information is also provided to the IRS.

  • Why have I not received my Form 1099-R?

    Central States mails Form 1099-R to the home address we have on file. If you moved or changed your address and did not inform Central States of the change you may not receive your Form 1099-R. Contact Us to update your address.

  • How do I get another copy of my Form 1099-R?

    You can print your own 1099-R from our secure website. To view or print your 1099-R form, log in with your username and password then navigate to the My Documents section on your dashboard; there's also a quick link to the form located on the right of your dashboard.

    If you haven't received your 1099-R by February 15 or are unable to print one, you can request a duplicate copy be mailed to you by sending a message through the Message Center. Be sure to include "Duplicate 1099-R" in the subject line, and provide the following information in the body of the message:

    • Your social security number
    • Your current address
    • Your daytime telephone number
    • Tax years needed

    You may also call one of our Benefits Specialists at 800-323-5000 to request a copy. 

  • Why is the amount on Box 1 of Form 1099-R different than the total amount of benefit checks I have received?

    The amount shown on Box 1 is the gross amount of your benefit payments. It includes amounts withheld from your benefit checks for federal taxes and retiree health insurance premiums. It also includes some amounts paid on your behalf directly to alternate payees such as IRS levies and child support payments.

  • Why did I receive more than one Form 1099-R?

    Central States must report different types of benefit payments on different Forms 1099-R. If you received more than one type of benefit payment, Central States must print a separate Form 1099-R for each type. The distribution code on Box 7 of your Form 1099-R identifies the type of benefit payment you received. For example, you may have received multiple Forms 1099-R if you:

    • Received your own Central States Retirement or Disability Benefit and a Survivor or Beneficiary Benefit from a former Central States Plan Participant. 
    • Received a Disability Benefit at the beginning of the year and then switched to a Retirement Benefit later in the year.
    • Received a Survivor Benefit from a former Central States Plan Participant and rolled over a portion of the benefit payments into an IRA.
    • Received a Survivor Benefit and a Lump Sum Death Benefit from a former Central States Plan Participant. 
  • What do the different Distribution Codes mean (Box 7)?
    • Distribution Code 2—You received retirement benefit payments before the age of 59½.
    • Distribution Code 3—You received disability benefit payments.
    • Distribution Code 4—You received a survivor benefit from a former Central States plan participant.
    • Distribution Code 4A—You received a lump sum death benefit from a former Central States plan participant. 
    • Distribution Code 4G—You received a survivor benefit from a former Central States plan participant and rolled over a portion or all of the distribution into an IRA.
    • Distribution Code 7—You received retirement benefit payments after the age of 59½. 
  • On my Form 1099-R, does Box 5 indicate the amounts withheld from my pension benefit checks for retiree health insurance premiums?

    No. Box 5 is not used to indicate amounts paid for health insurance premiums. See FAQ below.

  • Where are my health insurance premiums shown on my Form 1099-R?

    Central States is not required to report the retiree health insurance premiums you paid on Form 1099-R. However, the amount of retiree health insurance premiums deducted from your pension checks during the tax year is shown on your Form 1099-R for your convenience. See below Copy C For Recipient’s Records under the heading Health & Welfare Deduction at the bottom of the form (Forms and Documents or Your Participant Dashboard).

  • What are Employee Contributions (Box 5)?

    There will typically be an amount shown on Box 5 if you or your spouse made pension self-contributions to the Fund in order to earn additional pension contributory credit or vesting service. The amount in Box 1 is reduced by the amount in Box 5 and shown as the taxable amount in Box 2a. Only the amount in Box 2a is considered taxable.

    The reason your taxable amount is lowered is that the funds used to make the self-payments originated from income that was already assessed for tax when you or your spouse first earned it. Because you are receiving a lifetime benefit the IRS does not allow the taxable amount on Box 2a to be lowered by the entire amount of the pension self-contributions at once or in the first year of receiving benefits. Instead, you may recapture as non-taxable the pension self-contributions in equal monthly installments over the number of months determined by the IRS. The number of months can vary between 120 and 410 months depending on your age at retirement, your spouse's age, the joint and survivor option elected, and the date you began receiving benefits.

  • What is the Percentage of Total Distribution (Box 9a)?

    If a beneficiary benefit was paid to more than one beneficiary, the percentage you received is shown in Box 9a. This amount represents the percentage of the beneficiary benefit you received of a former Central States plan participant.

  • What are the Total Employee Contributions (Box 9b)?

    This amount represents the total pension self-contributions you made to the Plan. The amount you contributed toward your pension will only appear in this box the first time you receive a Form 1099-R from Central States.

  • What do I do if I receive a corrected Form 1099-R?

    You may be required to re-file your income tax returns for prior tax years if you used the original Form 1099-R from Central States. The IRS generally allows taxpayers to file amended tax returns for up to three years after the original due date of the return. If you have questions, you should contact the IRS by calling 1-800-829-1040 or going online to www.irs.gov.

  • If my address is incorrect on my Form 1099-R can I get a corrected form?

    No. An incorrect address does not require a corrected Form 1099-R. However, please contact us at 1-800-323-5000 to advise us of your correct address.

  • I believe that the amounts reported on my Central States issued Form 1099-R are incorrect. What should I do?

    Please contact Central States by mail :

    Central States Pension Fund
    Benefit Disbursements Department
    PO Box 5113, Des Plaines IL 60017-5113

    or use the secure Message Center; be sure to include your daytime telephone number, a copy of your Form 1099-R and indicate the information you believe to be incorrect.

    We will review your Form 1099-R and issue a corrected Form 1099-R if it's necessary. If we determine that the original form was correct we will contact you and provide an explanation.

  • Does Central States provide tax advice, such as the amount of taxes to withhold from my monthly benefit?

    No. You should seek advice from a professional tax advisor or contact the IRS by calling 1-800-829-1040 or going online to irs.gov.

  • How do I change my federal tax withholding?

    You may change your federal tax withholding election as often as you like, provided you do so in writing by completing Form W-4P. Your election will stay in effect until you change it or revoke it. You may use the Pension Benefit Tax Withholding calculator to assist you in determining the amount of federal tax withheld from your monthly benefit based on your tax withholding election.

  • Does Central States withhold state or local taxes?

    No. Central States is not required to withhold state or local taxes. If your state or local tax authority requires that you pay taxes on your Central States benefits, you may need to make payments to them directly.  If you have questions regarding state or local taxes contact your state or local tax authorities.

  • Is Central States a qualified retirement plan?

    Yes. The Fund provides retirement and related benefits for eligible employees of contributing employers. It is therefore a qualified retirement plan as defined in Section 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Tax Code.