UANPF Glossary of Terms
As a multi-employer defined benefit pension plan, the United Association National Pension Fund (UANPF) uses many terms throughout the website and in our official fund communications that are not common in our everyday lives. We urge you to become familiar with the list of definitions below, which will help you when you are reviewing documents from the Fund office.
If you have any questions, please contact us, as we are here to help.
The definitions in this glossary are simplified, and many are specific to the United Association National Pension Fund (“Fund”). None of the definitions here takes precedence over definitions in the Fund’s Summary Plan Description (“SPD”) or the Full Text of the Plan Rules (“Plan”) or over any applicable legislation, regulations, or specific interpretations or rulings. In the event of any conflict between a definition in this Glossary and a definition in the Plan, the terms of the Plan govern.
Accrued Monthly Benefit – The amount that a Participant has earned under the terms of the Plan, payable as a monthly benefit starting at Normal Retirement Age.
Active Participant – A person who is a Participant in the Fund who is actively working in Covered Employment. A person becomes a Participant on the earliest January 1 or July 1 following completion of a 12-month period in which he or she worked at least 870 hours of work in Covered Employment.
Actuarial Present Value – How much money a pension fund would need today to be able to pay a stream of future payments over an unknown period of time such as for the rest of a person’s life. An actuary uses certain assumptions to determine that amount such as an interest rate assumption to estimate how the money is expected to grow each year and a mortality assumption to estimate how long the recipient of the stream of payments is expected to live.
Actuary – A business professional who assesses the financial impact of risk and uncertainty on pension plans. Among other things, the pension fund’s actuary determines the amount of assets that a pension fund needs to cover its future benefit liabilities.
Administrator – The person who administers the day to day operations of the Fund through a staff working at the Fund Office located in Alexandria, Virginia.
Alternate Payee – A participant’s spouse, former spouse, child, or other dependent who has a right to receive some or all of the participant’s pension benefits under a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). Alternate payees are considered beneficiaries under the Plan.
Annual Funding Notice – An annual notice of a pension plan’s funded status. Federal law requires that all multiemployer defined benefit plans send this notice each year to participants, beneficiaries, and certain other parties. This notice is typically provided in October.
Annuity – A stream of periodic payments typically payable for the rest of a person’s life. Generally, pension benefits from the Fund are paid as annuities, though certain benefits are payable in a lump sum.
Appeal – If you receive a notification of a determination by the Fund Office that you believe to be in error, you may request that the Board of Trustees review the determination. Your appeal must be made in writing within 180 days after you are notified of the determination.
Application or Pension
Application – The form you must submit in order to be awarded a pension from the Fund. You may submit a request for an application via email through the Fund’s website, or you may call or write the Fund office to have an application form sent to you. We recommend that you complete and return this form to the Fund office at least three months in advance of your planned retirement date.
Beneficiary – A person designated by a Pensioner or Participant, or a person who becomes a Beneficiary under the Plan where the Pensioner or Participant did not designate a Beneficiary, who is entitled to receive benefit payments under the Plan after the death of the Pensioner or Participant. To designate a Beneficiary, a Participant must submit a beneficiary designation on a form provided by the Fund Office. No beneficiary designation will be effective unless it is received in the Fund Office prior to the time any payments are made.
Board of Trustees – The governing body of the Fund as set forth in the Fund’s Trust Agreement. The Board of Trustees is composed of an equal number of representatives of the Union and of Contributing Employers as required by federal law.
Break in Service – A one-year break in service occurs for any year in which a Participant completes fewer than 150 Hours of Work. If a participant has not attained Vested Status and has five consecutive one-year breaks in service, he or she will have a Permanent Break in Service. The effect of a Permanent Break in Service is that the Participant’s participation, vesting service and pension credit are all cancelled. A Participant’s most recent Permanent Break in Service will be waived if he or she returns to work in Covered Employment and thereafter accumulates five years of vesting service or five years of pension credit.
Calendar Year – The period from January 1 to December 31. The Calendar Year, rather than the Plan Year, is used for certain measurement purposes under the Plan as required by law.
Cash Out of Small Pensions – If the present value of any pension is $5,000 or less at the time it is first payable under the Plan, the Fund will automatically pay that benefit in a single sum rather than as an annuity.
Collective Bargaining Agreement or CBA – A written labor contract between a Contributing Employer (or an employer association that an employer has designated as its representative for bargaining) and the Union which provides for contributions to the Fund in a manner acceptable to the Board of Trustees.
Continuous Employment – A period of employment that is not interrupted by a quit, discharge, or other termination.
Contribution Date – The date that an Employee’s first Contributing Employer, in the jurisdiction of his or her home local union, was first obligated to make contributions to the Fund.
Contribution Rate – The amount set forth in the Collective Bargaining Agreement as the amount that a Contributing Employer is obligated to pay to the Fund on behalf of an Employee for each hour of work.
Contributing Employer or Employer – Any person, company, business organization, or public or quasi-public agency that has agreed in a Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Union to make contributions to the Fund (either by virtue of having signed the CBA, by virtue of agreeing to be bound to the CBA, or by virtue of delegating its bargaining authority to an employer association that has signed the CBA on its behalf). An employer shall be deemed a Contributing Employer only with respect to employment performed in a jurisdiction where the Local Union’s CBA provides for contributions to this Fund. The Union (or a participating Local Union or District Council, or a Local Union’s pension, welfare, or apprentice training fund, or another Union-affiliated organization) may also be a Contributing Employer if it is accepted by the Trustees and if it is contractually obligated by a signed participation agreement to make contributions on behalf of its employees.
Covered Employment – Work in a job category covered by a collective bargaining agreement, or other written agreement, for which your employer is required to make contributions to the Fund.
Deferred Vested Participant – A Participant who worked long enough to earn vested status in the Fund, but who is no longer accruing pension benefits and who is not yet receiving a retirement benefit. (Also see Terminated Vested Participant.) Such a participant can receive benefit payments from the Fund at age 55 or later if the participant has at least 15 years of Pension Credit and at least 5 years of Future Service Credit.
Defined Benefit Plan – A pension plan that provides Participants who have attained vested status a specified benefit, usually a monthly amount, at retirement. The Fund administers a defined benefit plan. The defined benefit amount payable by the Fund is based on a combination of the participant’s years of pension credit, contribution rate, age, and marital status.
Defined Contribution Plan – An individual account plan in which the employee and/or the employer makes contributions that are credited to the employee’s individual account in the plan. Each participant’s retirement benefit is based on the amount in that person’s individual account, including contributions, investment gains and losses and plan expenses. The Fund is not a defined contribution plan. Many local unions have such plans, which are sometimes referred to as annuity plans.
Direct Deposit – The electronic transfer of a benefit payment directly from the Fund’s account to the Pensioner’s or Beneficiary’s bank account. This avoids the costs associated with sending a check and gets the money to the payee faster and more securely. If you are not doing so already, you are strongly encouraged to consider having your monthly benefit check electronically deposited into your bank account. The direct deposit form is available on the Fund’s website at directdeposit.ppnpf.org/. The form may also be obtained by contacting the Fund office.
Disability Pension – A pension paid by the Fund to participants who become totally and permanently disabled while employed in Covered Employment or shortly thereafter. A Participant will only be found to be totally and permanently disabled for purposes of eligibility for a Disability Pension if he or she has been found eligible by the Social Security Administration for Social Security Disability benefits.
Disqualifying Employment – Employment after retirement of a type that causes a Participant’s benefits to be suspended.
- Before Age 65: Disqualifying employment before age 65 is employment with any Contributing Employer, or employment or self-employment in the same or related business as any Contributing Employer or in any business which is under the jurisdiction of the Union. If, after a Participant retires, he or she returns to work in disqualifying employment before he or she turns 65, his or her monthly benefits will be suspended for any month in which he or she works in disqualifying employment, regardless of the number of hours worked. In addition, his or her benefit will be suspended for the six months following the month in which he or she stops working.
- After Age 65: Disqualifying employment after a Participant turns 65 means employment or self-employment in an industry covered by the Plan and in any occupation that was covered by the Plan at the time his or her pension payments began. If, after a Participant retires, he or she returns to work in disqualifying employment after turning 65, his or her monthly benefits will only be suspended if he or she works 40 or more hours in a month.
Domestic Relations Order – A judgment, decree, or order entered by a state court or agency which requires the Fund to pay a portion of a participant’s pension benefit to a spouse, former spouse, child, or other dependent of a participant. A domestic relations order must be reviewed by the Fund and found qualified before it can require the Fund to make payments pursuant to its terms. See Qualified Domestic Relations Order.
Early Retirement Pension – A Participant is eligible for an Early Retirement Pension if the Participant has attained age 55, has at least 5 years of Pension Credit, and has at least 1,500 Hours of Work in Covered Employment after his Contribution Date. An Early Retirement Pension is reduced to reflect that the Participant is anticipated to receive payments for a longer period of time. An Early Retirement Pension is subsidized between ages 60 and 62 (meaning the amount by which it is reduced is less than the amount by which it is reduced for Participants between 55 and 60) and the Early Retirement Pension is unreduced between ages 62 and 65.
Effective Date of Benefits – The effective date of a pension from the Fund; it is the date specified by the Participant on the application or, if later, the first of the month after the Participant has fulfilled all of the conditions for entitlement to a benefit including receipt by the Fund Office of a written application for benefits. The Participant (and Spouse if applicable) may have to elect a Retroactive Annuity Starting Date to retain the original Effective Date of Benefits.
Eligible Rollover Distribution – Any distribution of all or any portion of the benefit of the payee other than one in a series of equal periodic payments such as a monthly benefit or a benefit that is a mandatory distribution. If you receive a lump sum payment from the Fund, it may be an Eligible Rollover Distribution that you can transfer (“roll over”) directly from the Fund to an IRA or other eligible retirement plan so as to defer payment of taxes on the money until you withdraw it from the IRA at a later time (such as after you have reached age 59.5 and will therefore no longer owe an additional tax penalty for early withdrawal of retirement savings).
Employee – A person who is performing work under a Collective Bargaining Agreement between a Contributing Employer and the Union and for whom the Employer is obligated to make contributions to the Fund under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Also a person who is performing work under the terms of a participation agreement requiring contributions to the Fund.
Employer – See Contributing Employer.
Employer Contributions – Payments made to the Fund by a Contributing Employer under the provisions of, and in accordance with, a Collective Bargaining Agreement (or participation agreement) and the Trust Agreement.
Endangered – Under the Internal Revenue Code, a pension plan is in “Endangered” status if the funded status is under 80%. This type of plan is sometimes referred to, using a traffic light analogy, as being in the “yellow zone.” An Endangered Plan is required to adopt a Funding Improvement Plan to increase its funding percentage over time The Fund entered “Endangered” status as a result of the “Great Recession” in 2008-09. As required by the Internal Revenue Code, the Fund adopted a Funding Improvement Plan (FIP) on April 5, 2010. The FIP was designed to improve the Fund’s funded status primarily by requiring initial contribution increases which could not be reduced during the period of the FIP. The original period of the FIP was the 15 year period beginning July 1, 2012. The Fund has been certified by its actuary each year to be making scheduled progress under the FIP, and the Fund is ahead of schedule to attain a funded status that takes it out of the “Endangered” category before the end of the Funding Improvement Period.
ERISA – The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 – the federal law that establishes the legal requirements for employee benefit plans. The authority for administering and enforcing ERISA is divided among three federal agencies – the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Employee Benefits Security Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC).
Fiduciary – A person or organization with control over a pension plan or its assets who is entrusted with prudent management of the plan’s assets. Plan fiduciaries typically include plan trustees and plan administrators.
Form 5500 – The annual return/report that a pension plan must file with the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration to provide information about the plan’s financial condition, investments, and operations.
401(k) Plan – A “cash or deferred arrangement” in which employees may elect to defer a portion of their compensation to a retirement plan, which allows them to defer taxes on the money deferred until they withdraw it. There may or may not also be employer matching contributions to a 401(k) Plan. The Fund is not a 401(k) plan. Some local unions have such plans to provide supplemental retirement savings, and for many non-union employers, a 401(k) Plan is the only retirement plan that the employer offers to its employees.
Fund or Pension Fund – This pension fund which is called the United Association National Pension Fund and was known, prior to July 1, 2021, as the Plumbers and Pipefitters National Pension Fund.
Funded Status – The extent to which a pension plan’s liabilities are funded by the plan’s assets as of a measurement date. In general, it measures the value of the plan’s assets as a percentage of the plan’s liabilities. If the funded status is 100 percent, then the two figures are equal. If it is less than 100 percent, the plan is “underfunded” (meaning the value of the plan’s assets is less than the present value of the plan’s liabilities) and if it is more than 100 percent, the plan is “overfunded.”
Funding Improvement Plan – In April 2010, after the Fund was certified in “Endangered” status, the Board of Trustees adopted a Funding Improvement Plan (“FIP”) as required by federal law. Your benefits under the FIP are based on whether the parties to the Collective Bargaining Agreement made sufficient, timely increases in the hourly contribution rate to the Fund, which almost all employers did.
Future Service Credit – Pension credit earned for periods of Covered Employment subsequent to the Participant’s Contribution Date.
Hour of Work – Each hour for which an Employee is paid or is entitled to be paid for the performance of duties for a Contributing Employer, plus any other hours for which an Employer is required to contribute to the Fund on the Employee’s behalf.
IRA or Individual Retirement Account – An individual retirement savings account that you may choose to set up for yourself with a financial institution, such as a bank or mutual fund company. If you receive a lump sum payment from the Fund, it may be an Eligible Rollover Distribution that you can transfer (“roll over”) directly from the Fund to an IRA so as to defer payment of taxes on the money until you withdraw it from the IRA.
Local Union – See Union.
Lump-Sum (or Single-Sum) Payments – Payment of a person’s plan benefit in a single payment, rather than a monthly distribution.
Normal Forms of Pension – The normal form of pension for a married Participant is the 50 percent Joint and Surviving Spouse Pension. The pension will be paid to a married Participant in that form unless the Participant and Spouse timely elect another form of benefit in the manner required by the Plan. The normal form of pension for an unmarried Participant is the Single Life Pension with 5-Years Certain Payments.
Normal Pension – A Participant is eligible to retire on a Normal Pension if he or she has attained age 65, has at least 5 years of pension credit, and has at least 1,500 Hours of Work in Covered Employment after his or her Contribution Date. The amount of the Normal Pension is determined based on the Schedules set forth in the Plan and the SPD, which depend on the Contribution Rate and the number of years of pension credit.
Normal Retirement Age (NRA) – age 65 or the fifth anniversary of the Participant’s participation in the Fund, whichever is later.
Participant – An Employee, Pensioner, or Beneficiary who meets the requirement for participation in the Plan, or a former Employee who has acquired a right to a pension under this Plan.
Participation – An Employee establishes participation in the Fund on January 1 or July 1 after he or she worked in Covered Employment for at least 870 hours within 12 consecutive months. Once the Employee becomes a Participant, the initial 870 hours will count toward eligibility for a benefit under the Plan.
Past Service Credit – Pension credit earned for work before a Participant’s contribution date. It is credited for work performed in a job classification before contributions were required to be made to the Fund for that same work in that Local Union.
Pension Credit – A Participant receives one full year of pension credit for each year in which he or she performs 1,500 hours of work in a job category covered by a collective bargaining agreement or other participation agreement for an employer who is obligated to make contributions to the Fund on the Participant’s behalf. A Participant can also earn partial credits for years in which he or she works less or more than 1,500 hours.
Pension Plan – Generally, any plan, fund, or program that one or more employers and/or employee organization establishes or maintains to provide retirement income to employees.
Pensioner – A former Employee who is Retired and who is receiving pension benefits under this Plan.
Permanent Break in Service – See Break in Service.
Plan or Plan Document – A written document that establishes a pension plan and governs its operations. The Fund’s Plan is called the Full Text of the Plan Rules, and a copy of it is available on the Fund’s website. See also Summary Plan Description.
Plan Year – The fiscal year of the Plan, which is the period from July 1 to June 30.
‘Pop-Up’ Benefit – If the Spouse predeceases the Pensioner, the monthly amount payable to the Pensioner under a Joint and Surviving Spouse form of benefit will be increased to the full monthly amount that would have been payable if the Participant had elected a single life annuity at retirement. The increased monthly amount shall be paid as of the first of the month following the month in which the Spouse died. In no event will the Pensioner’s benefit be increased because of a divorce after the Effective Date of Benefits.
Power of Attorney (POA) – A document used by a person to authorize one or more other persons to represent him or her in taking specified actions.
Present Value – The value as of a specific date of an amount or series of amounts payable in the future. See also Actuarial Present Value.
Reciprocity – Allows Employees to maintain their vested pension benefits and continue to earn additional benefits when they work for employers that are signatory to United Association collective bargaining agreements in areas outside the jurisdiction of their home Local Union.
Required Beginning Date – See Mandatory Distribution.
Required Minimum Distribution – See Mandatory Distribution.
Retired – To be considered “Retired,” a Participant must have separated from service from any and all Contributing Employers, and from all employment that would be considered Disqualifying Employment under the terms of the Plan, with the intent to retire. The intent to retire is required to be shown by not working for a period of six months.
Separation – A Participant will have a separation from Covered Employment on the last day he or she works that is followed by five consecutive calendar years in which he or she does not earn at least one-tenth (.1) of a year of future service credit. Unlike a permanent break in service, when an Employee has a separation, he or she retains the credit he or she earned, but the benefit he or she earned before and after the separation are valued separately. Benefits before the separation will be determined under the terms of the Plan at the time the separation began.
Spousal Consent – A spouse’s written and notarized agreement, which is required to allow a married Participant to elect a form of benefit other than the normal form of benefit and/or to designate a beneficiary other than the Spouse.
Spouse – The person to whom a Participant is married. Whether two people are married will be determined pursuant to the law of the state in which the marriage occurred. To be eligible to receive a surviving spouse pension, the Spouse must be a Qualified Spouse, which means the Participant and Spouse were married for at least twelve months before the Participant’s date of death. A former Spouse may be required to be treated as a Spouse or Surviving Spouse under a Qualified Domestic Relations Order.
Summary Plan Description (SPD) – A document that the Fund is required to provide to plan participants (and beneficiaries receiving benefits). It describes important features of the pension plan in plain language. The SPD includes information on when employees begin to participate in the plan, how service and benefits are calculated, when benefits become vested, when and in what form participants may receive benefit payments, and how to file a claim for benefits. The SPD is not the same as the plan document. If the features of the plan as described in the SPD differ from those in the plan document, the plan document language is controlling.
Surviving Spouse – The living spouse of a deceased participant. Usually the surviving spouse for purposes of a pension plan is the individual to whom the participant was married when benefit payments began.
Survivor Benefit – The benefit payable to a surviving spouse or designated beneficiary upon the participant’s death.
Suspension of Benefits – When the Fund stops paying your pension benefits for a period of time because a Pensioner has returned to work in disqualifying employment. Also see Disqualifying Employment.
Terminated Vested Participant – A former Employee who worked in Covered Employment long enough to earn vested status, but who separated from service and is not yet receiving a retirement benefit. Also see Deferred Vested Participant. Such participants can receive a pension once they reach normal retirement age.
Trust – For pension plan purposes, a fund established to hold and invest the assets of a pension plan.
Trust Agreement – The Agreement and Declaration of Trust establishing the United Association National Pension Fund (formerly known as the Plumbers and Pipefitters National Pension Fund), dated as of July 23, 1968, including any amendments to or restatements of same.
Vested Pension – A Participant is eligible to retire on a Vested Pension if he or she has attained vested status. The Vested Pension shall be payable at Normal Retirement Age.
Vested Status – The point at which a Participant’s benefits are no longer subject to being forfeited because the Participant did not have sufficient time in Covered Employment. Vested status is earned upon attainment of at least five years of vesting service, none of which has been cancelled by a Permanent Break in Service, or upon attainment of Normal Retirement Age with any Future Service Credit which has not been cancelled by a Permanent Break in Service.
Vesting Service – Used to determine a Participant’s nonforfeitable right to a benefit and eligibility for a vested pension. An Employee earns a year of vesting service for any calendar year during which he or she performs at least 870 hours of work in covered employment. Vesting service can only be earned after an Employee’s contribution date. If an Employee works for a Contributing Employer in a job classification not covered by the Plan and such work is Continuous Employment with his or her Covered Employment for that Employer, his or her Hours of Work in such a non-covered job will be counted toward a Year of Vesting Service.
Withdrawal Liability – The liability assessed by a multiemployer defined benefit plan that has unfunded vested benefit liability against an employer that (1) permanently stops contributing to the plan, and, for construction industry employers, (2) continues performing (or resumes within five years performing) work in the jurisdiction of the collective bargaining agreement of the type for which contributions were formerly owed to the Fund.