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Article / Retirement 101

Retirement 101.

“I’m a retired union carpenter.”

Understanding what it means to “retire” can make all the difference when it’s your turn to hang up your toolbelt, begin drawing your pension, or even pay your union dues. In fact, there are some important things to remember as you consider the next chapter of your life.

Stopping trade work
For some members, “retiring” means to stop working in the trade. Usually, but not always, a member will choose to begin drawing his pension at the same time he stops working. Alternatively, “retiring” can mean that a member signs up for and begins to collect his pension benefits but continues to work as allowed by the pension plan in which they participate.

Drawing your pension
The St. Louis – Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council includes members who participate in four separate pension plans. In the past year, retirement numbers remained steady; 630 members began to draw their pension benefits from the Carpenters Pension Trust Fund of St. Louis, 155 from the Carpenters Pension Fund of Kansas City, 25 commenced pension benefits from the Kansas Open-End Pension Fund and 96 members from the Carpenters Pension Fund of Illinois.

When it comes to working in the trade, each pension plan has its own plan rules that dictate whether a member is eligible to continue working in the trade or not, and if those work hours are limited. If your pension is earned under the Carpenters’ Pension Trust Fund of St. Louis, members who were active prior to 2013 are eligible to continue working even after they begin to draw on their early, normal or supplemental pension benefits. For all other pension plans, it’s best to contact your pension fund office directly to determine if you are able to continue working under union covered employment after you begin drawing your benefits.

Union status
While our Benefit Office and Regional Council team members do their best to guide you through a seamless retirement process, it’s best for each member to contact Central Dues to determine next steps for maintaining union status. Your union status needs to be considered at the time that you stop working and/or begin drawing pension benefits. If you stop working, your Window Dues could be reduced. If you are drawing a pension from the Carpenters’ Pension Trust Fund of St. Louis, these dues could be taken out of your pension each month. It’s worth a conversation to make sure we can assist you in maintaining your union status.

Paying for health benefits
The final piece of retirement to consider is whether to continue your health coverage with Carpenters. As a member stops or significantly reduces his work hours, his health insurance will eventually run out. At that time, a member can purchase his own health coverage through Carpenters if his union card is in good standing. But if you choose to leave the union – you withdraw or drop your union card – health benefits will not be available to you later. Talk to a Member Service representative about your options for when your active coverage runs out.

Are you ready or thinking about retirement? Get the Retirement Checklist.