FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions - Pension | Frequently Asked Questions - Health and Welfare

Frequently Asked Questions - Pension

What is normal retirement age?
May I retire before age 65?
Who should I contact for information about my pension benefits?
How do I apply for pension benefits?
Should I apply for benefits even if I don’t think I am entitled?
Why do I need to complete a Beneficiary Data Card?
May I name someone other than my spouse as my beneficiary?
How long does it take for my benefits to begin once I retire?
How many hours must I work to get a year of credited service toward my vesting?
If I am called up for military service, do I retain my pension rights?
If I have a Deferred Vested Benefit under the Plan, must I do anything to receive these benefits?
If I take another job after I retire, will I lose my pension?
Do I need to notify the Fund Office if my spouse passes away?
What is the difference in the Joint & Survivor options and the 5 or 10 year certain options?


What is normal retirement age?
The normal retirement age is 65 years old.

May I retire before age 65?
Yes, you may retire anytime on or between the ages of 55 thru 59 years old at an actuarially reduced pension, provided you are vested. If you retire on or between ages 60 thru 65 there is no reduction in your benefit. There are some individuals who may not be able to take early retirement until age 57. These same individuals will not receive a non-reduced benefit until age 62.

Who should I contact for information about my pension benefits?
You should contact the Fund Office for questions regarding your pension benefits.

How do I apply for pension benefits?
For your convenience, an interactive Pension Benefit Application form can be completed online. This form can be printed and returned to NECA-IBEW by fax or postal mail along with all other required documentation. Please do not email the Benefit Application as it contains private information and email may not be HIPAA-compliant. You may also contact the Fund Office to request a Pension Benefit Application to be mailed to you.

Should I apply for benefits even if I don’t think I am entitled?
Yes, there are some instances in which you would qualify for a benefit even though you are not vested. Complete a Pension Benefit Application.

Why do I need to complete a Beneficiary Data Card?
In the event of your death, the individual you last named on your data card will be who your death benefits (if eligible) are paid. It is important to complete a new data card as you have changes in your life such as marriage, divorce and dependents. Please keep in mind that your spouse is automatically your beneficiary unless he/she has consented in writing otherwise.

May I name someone other than my spouse as my beneficiary?
You may name someone other than your spouse as your beneficiary; however your spouse must consent in writing to this.

How long does it take for my benefits to begin once I retire?
Sometimes there is a delay in paying your benefits until your final hours are received in the Fund Office. For example: Hours worked in May are not received in the Fund Office until mid-June.

How many hours must I work to get a year of credited service toward my vesting?
After June 1, 1976 or the Participation date if later, you must work at least 870 hours in a plan year (June 1st thru May 31st) to get a year of credited service.

If I am called up for military service, do I retain my pension rights?
Yes. Your rights are protected by U.S.E.R.R.A. You are obligated by law to notify the Fund Office of entering the military and upon returning from duty. You are also required to seek employment upon returning from duty.

If I have a Deferred Vested Benefit under the Plan, must I do anything to receive these benefits?
Yes, you must always keep the Fund informed of your address and at the time you retire, you must make application for the benefits.

If I take another job after I retire, will I lose my pension?
If you return to work in the electrical industry, in the same trade or craft and in the same geographical area of the Pension Fund, you shall forfeit one (1) monthly pension payment for each calendar month during which you are employed forty (40) or more hours. You need to notify the Fund Office upon returning to work and upon terminating your employment. The amount of your monthly benefit may be increased if you meet certain conditions.

Do I need to notify the Fund Office if my spouse passes away?
Yes, you should notify the Fund Office immediately if your spouse passes away. If you were receiving a reduced monthly benefit in the form of a Joint & Survivor Option your benefit will revert to the amount you would have received under the Single Life Option.

What is the difference in the Joint & Survivor options and the 5 or 10 year certain options?
All options are a lifetime benefit for the participant. The Joint & Survivor options give you a reduced lifetime benefit which will continue for your spouse in the event of your death.
The 5-Year Certain (Early Retirement or Normal Retirement options) gives you a lifetime benefit, but if your death occurs after you have received at least 60 monthly payments (5 full years) no benefits will be payable to your beneficiary.
The 10-Year Certain (Early Retirement or Normal Retirement options) gives you a lifetime benefit, but if your death occurs after you have received at least 120 monthly payments (10 full years) no benefits will be payable to your beneficiary.


Frequently Asked Questions - Health and Welfare

INFORMATIONAL
How can I check my eligibility or claim status?
What is the medical deductible per year for an individual and for the family?
Who are the PPO Providers being used by the Fund and how can I contact them?
How do I know if my provider is a PPO with BlueCross/BlueShield?
Why do I have to fill out a Participant’s Data/Claim Statement and how often do I have to fill it out?
Why do I need to complete a Beneficiary Data Card?
How do I add someone to my coverage?
Does my spouse have to take his/her own insurance if it is offered by his/her employer regardless of the cost?
What is the reason for a HIPAA Customer Service Consent form?
If I lose eligibility will I be notified once I become eligible again?
Do I need to complete an accident form even though my claim wasn’t due to an accident?
Does my spouse have to meet two deductibles?

DENTAL/VISION
Is there a deductible for Dental and Vision Benefits?
What if my dentist isn’t a Guardian provider?
How often can I get glasses or contacts?
Do we have a dental card?

PRESCRIPTION
Is there a deductible on our Prescription Drug Plan with Express Scripts?
Why is my maintenance drug being rejected at the retail pharmacy?
How do I order new Prescription Cards?

COBRA
How much is the COBRA monthly premium?
If I elect COBRA, can I drop the Dental and Vision Benefits and pay the ALT plan?
Do you take COBRA payments over the phone?
How long can I stay on COBRA?

DISABILITY
When I am receiving Weekly Income Benefits due to disability, do I have to complete the weekly letter each week?
How often do I need to have a physician’s statement completed by my doctor?
Do I have to pay taxes on the Weekly Income Benefits?

RETIREMENT
I will be retiring soon, what do I need to do?
Do I have to be a certain age to Retire?
How long do I have to submit my retiree application?
Is there a deductible with Transamerica?
If I am on the Retiree Plan and return to work, what will happen?
If I return to work, will I have dental and vision coverage?
When I become eligible for Medicare, do I have to purchase Medicare Part B?
When I become eligible for Medicare, will I still have prescription coverage?
When I am eligible for Medicare, do I have to take the Transamerica coverage if I wish to continue my participation in the Retiree Plan?
How does it work when I am Medicare eligible and over age 65 but my spouse is not Medicare eligible?
Can I use my HRA to pay for my Retiree Premiums?
What happens to my spouse if I pass away after I retire?

HEALTH REIMBURSEMENT ACCOUNT (HRA)
How do I order new Benny Cards?
Why is my Benny Card suspended?


INFORMATIONAL

How can I check my eligibility or claim status?

ONLINE
1. Go to www.neca-ibew.org
2. Go to the blue login box in the upper right hand corner and log in to Member Benefits, where you can check your eligibility and claim status.

PHONE
1. Call 1-800-765-4239
2. Press 9 for eligibility status
3. Press the number 2 if you are the participant
4. Enter the participant ID number
5. Enter the birth date of the participant or dependent
6. The system will provide eligibility status information

What is the medical deductible per year for an individual and for the family?
As of February 1, 2015, the medical deductible for an individual is $600 and $1800 per family each calendar year.

Who are the PPO Providers being used by the Fund and how can I contact them?

How do I know if my provider is a PPO with BlueCross/BlueShield?
The best way is to ask the provider if they are in the BlueCross/BlueShield network, or go to provider finder on the BlueCross/BlueShield website and do a provider search.

Why do I have to fill out a Participant’s Data/Claim Statement and how often do I have to fill it out?
To receive benefits from the NECA-IBEW Health and Welfare Trust Fund, you are required to fill out a Participant’s Data/Claim Statement (Data Card). This card is sent to you on a periodic basis. The Fund uses the information on the card to update any changes on you, your spouse and your dependents that might have taken place since you last completed a card. Be sure and notify the Fund Office if your spouse changes employers or has a change in status with his/her employer in regards to being offered medical insurance.

Why do I need to complete a Beneficiary Data Card?
In the event of your death, the individual you last named on your data card will be who your death benefits (if eligible) are paid. It is important to complete a new data card as you have changes in your life such as marriage, divorce and dependents. If no beneficiary is named, benefits will be paid to the surviving spouse; if no surviving spouse, then to the decedent's estate.

How do I add someone to my coverage?
The best thing to do is to call customer service and tell us who you want to add to your coverage. We will ask for such things as marriage certificates, birth certificates, divorce decrees, proof of spousal insurance and child affidavits depending on your particular situation.

Does my spouse have to take his/her own insurance if it is offered by his/her employer regardless of the cost?
Yes, if your spouse is offered comprehensive major medical coverage through his/her employer, he/she must take the medical coverage to be eligible for secondary coverage with NECA-IBEW Welfare Trust Fund. Your spouse is only required to take medical coverage on himself/herself (not required to take dependent coverage) but should he/she take vision and/or dental coverage these benefits will be coordinated with NECA-IBEW Welfare Trust Fund.

What is the reason for a HIPAA Customer Service Consent form?
The HIPAA Customer Service Consent Form allows designated family members and/or designated representatives to talk with and receive information from the fund office about you and other family members regarding their medical benefits, eligibility etc.. Natural parents of dependents under age 18 will be granted access to their medical information.

If I lose eligibility will I be notified once I become eligible again?
No, it is your responsibility to keep track of your eligibility. You can check your eligibility by calling the automated system at (800) 765-4239, then press 9, and then answer the prompts you are given.

Do I need to complete an accident form even though my claim wasn’t due to an accident?
Yes, we need for you to verify the claim was not due to an accident. In lieu of sending in the accident form you can verify your claim was not an accident by calling Customer Service.

Does my spouse have to meet two deductibles?
Yes, however the deductible from both plans would be met simultaneously. If your spouse has a higher deductible, we would pay as secondary once our deductible is met.


DENTAL/VISION

Is there a deductible for Dental and Vision Benefits?
No deductible has to be met prior to receiving Vision and Dental Benefits. Please keep in mind there is a dental maximum benefit per calendar year of $1500.

What if my dentist isn’t a Guardian provider?
You can go anywhere you’d like. The only difference being that if you use a Guardian provider for dental, there may be discounts & that would stretch your benefit dollars.

How often can I get glasses or contacts?
The calendar year maximum is $300 for covered vision services on participants and dependents age 18 and older. For dependent children up to age 18, there is no calendar year maximum, but the following limitation applies: Coverage includes eye exams, one set of lenses and one pair of frames per year. Contact lenses count as lenses, meaning one set of lenses or a one-year supply of contact lenses will be covered each year.

Do we have a dental card?
An informational dental card is included in new member packets which instructs you as to how to find an in-network provider. However, you are not required to present a dental card to receive dental benefits.


PRESCRIPTION

Is there a deductible on our Prescription Drug Plan with Express Scripts?
Yes, a $60 deductible has to be met each calendar year. Inquiries about RX deductibles should be referred to Express Scripts at 1-800-711-0917.

Why is my maintenance drug being rejected at the retail pharmacy?
Our plan only allows one (1) fill and two (2) refills at the retail pharmacy when using maintenance type drugs. Then the prescriptions will have to be filled by using the mail order provisions with Express Scripts. You will receive a 90-day supply and the co-pay is $25 dollars for generic and $35 for brand. If a generic is available and you choose the brand then you will have a $35 co-pay plus the difference in cost between generic and brand.

How do I order new Prescription Cards?
We have a new protocol for ordering prescription cards - you can contact Express Scripts directly, there is no need to call the Fund office.

1. Call 1-800-711-0917 and use the automated system to order new cards.
2. Register online at www.express-scripts.com. You can use the Health & Information tab to print a card instantly.
3. Register on the Express Scripts mobile app to access your prescription card electronically.


COBRA

How much is the COBRA monthly premium?
$959.00 Base Plan (Effective 6/01/16-5/31/17)
$763.00 Alternate Plan (Effective 6/01/16-5/31/17)

If I elect COBRA, can I drop the Dental and Vision Benefits and pay the ALT plan?
No-if you have Base Plan coverage you have to continue under Cobra for that same coverage. Base Plan COBRA is for Base Plan members, and ALT Plan COBRA is for ALT Plan members.

Do you take COBRA payments over the phone?
We do not take any payments over the phone or credit cards at this time. You will need to send a check or money order.

How long can I stay on COBRA?
Up to 36 months, however, in certain circumstances your COBRA continuation coverage could be terminated prior to 36 months, such as once you become entitled to Medicare.

DISABILITY

When I am receiving Weekly Income Benefits due to disability, do I have to complete the weekly letter each week?
Yes. Benefits will not be paid unless you fill out the weekly letter. This letter is used to determine if you are still disabled and to show when you have recovered.

How often do I need to have a physician’s statement completed by my doctor?
Every six to eight weeks unless your physician states on the form that you are “permanently and totally disabled”.

Do I have to pay taxes on the Weekly Income Benefits?
Yes, Weekly Income Benefits are considered income. Tax statements will be mailed out at the beginning of each year showing the total amount of benefits you received the previous year.


RETIREMENT

I will be retiring soon, what do I need to do?
The Retiree Plan is NOT automatic, so you will need to submit an application to our office. YOU MAY WANT TO VERIFY YOUR WORK HISTORY PRIOR TO APPLYING TO SEE IF YOU QUALIFY UNDER THE 45 OF 60 RULE BECAUSE ONCE AN APPLICATION HAS BEEN RECEIVED, IT CANNOT BE WITHDRAWN. There are several other requirements that have to be met to qualify for the Retiree Plan; please contact the Fund Office for a complete listing.

Do I have to be a certain age to Retire?
If you are disabled with a Social Security Award, there is no minimum age requirement.
If you are NOT disabled, you must be at least 55 years of age AND have an award of retirement from Social Security, NEBF or any other pension fund in which Union Trustees are selected by one or more Local Unions affiliated with the IBEW.

How long do I have to submit my retiree application?
The application must be submitted to our office within 90 days of your retirement but will not be accepted more than 90 days prior to your retirement date. However, the application MUST be received in the Fund Office within 90 days of the last day worked, 90 days from the run out of bank hours or 90 days from the date you receive your first proof of award. If you are applying due to disability, we recommend that you make application to the Retiree Plan at the same time you make application for Social Security Disability.
There are several other requirements that have to be met to qualify for the Retiree Plan. Please contact the Fund Office for a complete listing.

Is there a deductible with Transamerica?
No. Any inquiries about benefits received from Transamerica should be made by contacting the Transamerica Benefit Line at 1-800-854-0816.

If I am on the Retiree Plan and return to work, what will happen?
It is very important that you notify the Fund Office when you return to work and when you cease working. Please keep in mind that when you return to work you will need to continue your retiree payments until you have worked 420 hours within a 6 month period and when you work less than the required 140 per month after you have regained initial eligibility.

If I return to work, will I have dental and vision coverage?
If you were previously on the Base plan, you will have dental and vision coverage ONLY the months that you are eligible due to hours worked. The Alternate Plan does not provide dental and vision coverage.

When I become eligible for Medicare, do I have to purchase Medicare Part B?
Yes, you need to enroll in BOTH Medicare Part A and Part B. Transamerica requires you to have both Part A and Part B.

When I become eligible for Medicare, will I still have prescription coverage?
Yes, your prescription coverage through the Fund with Express Scripts does not change unless you enroll in a Medicare D Plan.

When I am eligible for Medicare, do I have to take the Transamerica coverage if I wish to continue my participation in the Retiree Plan?

  • Yes, if you are Medicare eligible AND are age 65 or older.
  • No, if you are Medicare eligible AND less than age 65.

How does it work when I am Medicare eligible and over age 65 but my spouse is not Medicare eligible?
Your benefits will be with Transamerica and your spouse will still receive his/her benefits through the regular plan of benefits till such time that he/she becomes Medicare eligible and 65 or older.
Just the opposite is true when the spouse is Medicare eligible and over age 65 and the participant is less than age 65 and not eligible for Medicare. If you are Medicare eligible due to disability and less than age 65, Medicare will be your primary insurance and you will send your bills and EOBs directly to the Fund Office. If your spouse is less than 65 and not Medicare eligible, he/she will receive benefits under the regular plan of benefits.

Can I use my HRA to pay for my Retiree Premiums?
You cannot transfer money directly from the HRA Fund to pay your Retiree Premiums. The only method of payment accepted for the Retiree Plan is direct withdrawal (ACH) from your bank account. However, you can submit a claim to the HRA department for reimbursement after your premium has been deducted from your bank account.

What happens to my spouse if I pass away after I retire?
There is a Surviving Spouse option available under the Retiree Plan of Benefits.

 

HEALTH REIMBURSEMENT ACCOUNT (HRA)

How do I order new Benny Cards?
HRA Participant Portal: Login to your account, go to the Profile tab, and then click the Banking/Cards option.
You have two options:
Report Lost/Stolen - you will get 2 Benny Cards with a new number
Order Replacement - you will get 2 Benny Cards with the same number as your current Benny Card
Please note:
-Your address will be displayed for verification. If your address has changed, please call the Fund Office before you order your new cards.
-There is a $10 fee for new Benny Cards which is deducted from your HRA account.

Mobile App: go to Me, Manage Debit Cards, then Report Lost/Stolen.
Please note:
-You can only report Lost/Stolen on the mobile app (which will send you 2 cards with a new number). For replacement cards with the same number, visit the HRA Participant Portal

Why is my Benny Card suspended?
Your Benny Card is suspended when the card is used for an ineligible expense. This can occur in two ways:

  • You used the Benny Card to pay for an ineligible HRA expense. Please review the HRA Eligible Expenses list. The ineligible amount must be repaid to your HRA account; you can mail a check in the exact amount of the repayment due (shown on the Suspension Notice that you received) to the Fund Office.
  • You used the Benny Card and we did not receive documentation to validate the transaction. The quickest way to get your card  unsuspended is to upload the documentation on the consumer portal or mobile app. After the documentation is uploaded, your card will automatically be unsuspended overnight.

Note: not all Benny Card transactions require documentation to be submitted. For more info, see How To Use Your Benny Card.