The Board of Trustees is pleased to announce that all current pensioners and those individuals whose pension effective date is on or before December 1, 1998 will receive a 7.5% increase to their monthly benefit amount. Your pension effective date is the first of the month following the date your application for pension is received at the Plan Office. This is the second significant pension benefit increase in two years. Over the last ten year period, Pension benefit increases for pensioners have exceeded the inflation rate.
This increase is retroactive to January 1, 1998, or your pension effective date, if later. The new benefit amount will not be reflected in your monthly check until January 1, 1999. At that time you will also receive a second check, in a lump sum, representing the increased amount for each month of 1998 that you were retired.
For example: If you retired prior to January 1, 1998 your retroactive check will include the 7.5% increase amount for all 12 months of 1998. If you retired on June 1, 1998 your retroactive check will include seven months of increased benefit.
In addition to the 7.5% pension increase (which only impacts individuals whose pension effective date is on or before December 1, 1998), the Trustees raised the monthly maximum pension benefit from $4,400 to $5,000 for all current and future pensioners. If your pension is currently limited by the maximum pension benefit, your new pension amount will include the 7.5% increase or, if greater, your pension amount will be increased to reflect the new maximum pension benefit. However, you will not receive more than your accrued benefit that is, the amount of pension you would have received if the plan had no maximum.
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The Trustees are pleased to announce a number of enhancements to the Health Plan. There are new benefits and improvements on existing benefits in both Plan I and Plan II. The following is a summary of the broad-ranging Health Plan improvements all of which become effective January 1, 1999. A more detailed explanation will be mailed to you in the late fall.
New Orthodontia Benefit
Orthodontia coverage is provided to children up to but not including age 18. Benefits are payable at 50% up to a lifetime maximum of $1,000 per child.
New Hearing Aid Benefit
Benefits are payable at 80% up to a maximum of $1,200 per device. Devices are limited to one per ear per lifetime.
Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Benefits
The three-year eligibility requirement is waived.
Improvements to Plan II
New Dental Benefit
Participants who meet a three-year eligibility requirement and their eligible dependents will now have access to dental services. These services include diagnostic and preventive benefits payable at 100% when a network provider is used. There is an annual deductible of $100 per person with no family maximum deductible and a maximum annual benefit of $500 per person.
New Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Benefit
Participants who meet a three-year eligibility requirement and their eligible dependents will now have access to mental health and chemical dependency benefits. Outpatient mental health benefits are payable at 50% and limited to 20 visits per year. Inpatient mental health benefits are limited to 30 days per year. Chemical dependency benefits are limited to $7,500 for the first course of treatment and $10,000 for a lifetime. All benefits must be authorized through United Behavioral Health (UBH).
Improvements to Both
Plan I and Plan II
Extended Spousal Benefit
Health Plan coverage is extended to spouses and other eligible dependents of deceased Participants age 60 or older, whose age plus years of Health Plan coverage equals 85. Coverage begins when the Participant would have reached age 65 had he or she lived.
Extended Coverage for Dependent Students
Coverage for dependent full-time students is extended up to age 25.
Major Medical Lifetime Maximum Increased
The Major Medical lifetime maximum is increased from $750,000 to $1,000,000.
New Nutritional Counseling Benefit
Nutritional counseling is covered for individuals with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, coronary artery disease and malabsorption syndrome. Benefits are limited to one initial and two follow-up visits per lifetime per person. The provider must be a Registered Dietitian (RD).
Hospice charges are considered a covered medical expense when an individual is terminally ill with a life expectancy of less than six months. Hospice benefits must be provided by a Medicare certified program.
When allocating resources within the Health Plan the emphasis is first on covering the Participant against the financially ruinous possibility of major illness or injury which is why the Plan offers all Participants hospital and major medical benefits. When new benefits are added the Trustees must consider, among other things, how many Participants will benefit from a new program, what the program will cost the Plan and what share of the costs the Participant has to assume.
The intent of these improvements is to introduce some new benefits, such as orthodontia and hearing aids, offer some additional basic benefits to Plan II Participants, such as dental and mental health, and expand on some of the benefits already in place, such as coverage for dependent students. Although these improvements cover a broad range of benefits, they are not intended to provide 100% reimbursement. Rather, they are designed to assist Participants and their families with the cost of important and meaningful benefits.
If you have questions about the new benefits, call the Plan Office and speak with a Participant Services Representative.
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Commencing January 1, 1999 the minimum earnings required to earn a Pension Credit will increase from the current $7,500 to $10,000 in a calendar year. The new minimum earnings amount will apply to all Participants with the following exception:
Participants with three or more Pension Credits as of January 1, 1999
will be grandfathered
at the $7,500 annual minimum earnings requirement until they have earned 10 Pension Credits.
After this, they will have to earn $10,000 in a calendar year to receive a Pension Credit.
The increase in earnings required to earn a Pension Credit does not impact the Health Plan earnings requirements for Plan I or Plan II.
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TRUSTEES ESTABLISH NEW ALTERNATIVE ELIGIBILITY PROGRAM EFFECTIVE
JANUARY 1, 1999
The Trustees have established an Alternative Eligibility Program that will allow you to earn a year of Plan II Health Plan coverage and a year of Pension Credit based on 60 days of employment if you do not meet the earnings-based eligibility requirements.
Alternative Eligibility Under The Health Plan
Currently, you must have minimum earnings of $7,500 in a consecutive four quarter period to be eligible for Plan II health coverage. This eligibility test, based on earnings, will continue and a new Alternative Eligibility Program based of days of employment will be added for eligibilities beginning on or after January 1, 1999.
The new Alternative Eligibility Program allows an individual who does not meet the minimum earnings requirement of $7,500, but who has worked 60 or more days in a consecutive four quarter period under SAG Collective Bargaining Agreements, to earn one year of Plan II Health Plan coverage. See the chart below.
In addition to the full Plan II benefit package, which includes
coverage for your qualified dependents, a year of Health Plan
eligibility earned under the Alternative Eligibility Program will be
used to qualify for the Self-Pay Extended Coverage Program and to
qualify a Participant for Plan I who has between $7,500 and $15,000
of earnings with at least 10 years of earned Health Plan eligibility.
BASE EARNING PERIOD
BENEFIT ELIGIBILITY PERIOD
If you earn a minimum of $7,500 or work 60 or more days during:
You will be covered for this period:
October 1, 1997 thru September 30, 1998
January 1, 1999 thru December 31, 1999
January 1, 1998 thru December 31, 1998
April 1, 1999 thru March 31, 2000
April 1, 1998 thru March 31, 1999
July 1, 1999 thru June 30, 2000
July 1, 1998 thru June 30, 1999
October 1, 1999 thru September 30, 2000
Currently, you must have a minimum amount of earnings in a calendar year to earn a Pension Credit. This eligibility test for a Pension Credit, based on earnings, will continue and the new Alternative Eligibility Program based on 60 days of employment in a calendar year will be added effective January 1, 1999.
Pension Credits earned under the Alternative Eligibility Program offer similar benefit options to Pension Credits earned by meeting the minimum earnings requirement with some important exceptions. Pension Credits earned under the Alternative Eligibility Plan will not count toward eligibility for:
Early Retirement Pension
Disability Pensions (either Occupational or Non-Occupational)
Terminal Illness Benefit
Senior Performers Health Plan coverage (including the Extended Spousal Program)
The amount of a Regular Pension earned with Pension Credits from Alternative Eligibility years is calculated as usual except that the minimum monthly pension amount does not apply.
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Connie Lee Egan
1934 - 1998
It is with great sorrow that we announce the passing of Connie Lee Egan on June 29, 1998, from cancer. Connie retired in 1996 after 30 years of employment with the Pension and Health Plans. She served in many positions with the Plans throughout her tenure but will be most remembered for her work as the Director of Case Management, where she provided personal assistance and guidance to Participants and their families during very difficult and trying times in their lives. Her compassion, loyalty and dedication to the Plans and the Participants they serve will be long remembered.
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