14.4 Your Rights Under ERISA
As a Participant in the Alaska Teamster-Employer Pension Plan, you are entitled to certain rights and protection under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).
14.4.1 Your Right to Receive Information About Your Plan and Benefits
ERISA provides that all Plan Participants are entitled to:
- examine, without charge, at the Trust Customer Service Office and at other specified locations, such as work sites and union halls, all documents governing the Plan, including insurance contracts and Collective Bargaining Agreements, and a copy of the latest annual report (Form 5500 Series) filed by the Plan with the U.S. Department of Labor and available at the Public Disclosure Room of the Employee Benefits Security Administration.
- obtain, upon written request to the Trust Customer Service Office, copies of documents governing the operation of the Plan, including insurance contracts and Collective Bargaining Agreements, and copies of the latest annual report (Form 5500 Series) and updated Summary Plan Description. The Trust Customer Service Office may make a reasonable charge for the copies.
- receive a summary of the Plan’s annual financial report. The Trust Customer Service Office is required by law to furnish each Participant with a copy of the Summary Annual Report.
- obtain a statement telling you whether you have a right to a pension at Normal Retirement Age (age 65) and if so, what your benefits would be at Normal Retirement Age if you stop working under the Plan now. If you do not have a right to a pension, the statement will tell you how many more years you have to work to earn a right to a pension. This statement must be requested in writing and is not required to be given more than once every 12
months. The Plan must provide the statement free of charge.
14.4.2 Your Right to Prudent Actions by Plan Fiduciaries
In addition to creating rights for Participants, ERISA imposes duties upon the people who are responsible for the operation of the employee benefit plan. The people who operate your Plan, called “fiduciaries,” have a duty to do so prudently and in the interests of you and all other Plan Participants and Beneficiaries.
No one, including your employer, your union, or any other person, may fire you or otherwise discriminate against you in any way to prevent you from obtaining a pension benefit or exercising your rights under ERISA.
14.4.3 Enforcing Your Rights
If your claim for a pension benefit is denied or ignored, in whole or in part, you have a right to know why this was done, to obtain copies of documents relating to the decision without charge, and to appeal any denial, all within certain time schedules.
Under ERISA, there are steps you can take to enforce the above rights. For instance, if you request a copy of the Plan documents or the latest annual report from the Plan and do not receive them within 30 days, you may file suit in a federal court. In such a case, the court may require the Trust Customer Service Office to provide the materials and that the Plan Administrator pay you up to $110 per day until you receive the materials, unless the materials were not sent because of reasons beyond the control of the Administrator. If your claim for a benefit is denied or ignored, in whole or in part, you may file suit in a state or federal court, but only if you have complied with the Plan’s required
administrative appeals procedures. In addition, if you disagree with the Plan’s decision or lack thereof concerning the qualified status of a domestic relations order, you may file a suit in federal court. If it should happen that the fiduciaries misuse the plan’s money, or if you are discriminated against for asserting your rights, you may seek assistance from the U.S. Department of Labor, or you may file suit in a federal court. The court will decide who should pay court costs and legal fees. If you are successful, the court may order the person you have sued to pay these costs and fees. If you lose, the court may order you to pay these costs and fees, for example, if it finds your claim is frivolous.
14.4.4 Assistance with Your Questions
If you have any questions about your Plan, you should contact the Trust Customer Service Office. If you have any questions about this document or about your rights under ERISA, or if you need assistance in obtaining documents from the Trust Customer Service Office, you should contact the nearest office of the Employee Benefits Security Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, listed in your telephone directory or the Office of Participant Assistance, Employee Benefits Security Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20210.
You may also obtain certain publications about your rights and responsibilities under ERISA by calling the publications hotline of the Employee Benefits Security Administration.