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Pension Plan

Pension FAQs

A: The Pension Plan has professional investment managers who invest the assets of the Pension Plan, including the contributions made on your behalf. The Board of Directors, through the Finance Committee, sets the investment guidelines and oversees professional investment managers to ensure that the investment of the assets meets with the objectives of the funding policy of the Pension Plan.

A: The Pension Plan sends statements at least once every three years. The law requires defined benefit plans (such as the Producer-Writers Guild of America Pension Plan) to either send once every three years an individualized benefit statement to every participant showing the total pension benefits they have accrued to date and their vesting status, or, alternatively, an annual notice to the participants indicating that such benefit statement is available upon request.

A: Benefit payments are made on the first of the month for that month. Your check will be mailed the business day prior to the first of a month. Or, if you choose to have your benefit payments electronically transferred to your account, the transfer will occur on the first business day on or after the first of the month. If the first of a month falls on a Holiday or weekend the timing of your benefit payment will be affected.

A: If the actuarial value of your retirement benefit is $5,000 or less, the benefit may be paid as a lump sum. If the actuarial value of your total payments exceeds $5,000, a lump sum payment is not permitted.

A: No. The Pension Plan does not accept contributions from individuals. The Pension Plan only accepts contributions from employers who are signatory to a WGA collective bargaining agreement or are Named EmployersSee Named Employers, Article I, Section 11(c) of the Trust Agreement in the Trust Agreement.

A: You can work as much as you want in employment covered by a WGA collective bargaining agreement and still continue to get your retirement benefits with one exception. The only exception is if you retire before age 65, you cannot work the first month beginning on your Retirement Date to be considered retired under the Pension Plan. Additional benefits from your reemployment will start adding up. You don't need to vest for this benefit, since you already vested under the Pension Plan before you started your Retirement Benefits. Benefit and Compensation limitsSee page 22 of the Summary Plan Description apply when calculating your Second Retirement and additional benefits.

You will earn a Second Retirement Benefit if you retired under the Pension Plan before age 65 and work in employment covered by a WGA collective bargaining agreement or are paid residuals for which Contributions are made to the Pension Plan after your Retirement Date. The Contributions received after your Retirement Date will build towards a Second Retirement Benefit until your Second Retirement Date.

The earliest age you can get paid a Second Retirement BenefitSee page 19 of the Summary Plan Description is age 65 if you return to work before age 65. If you first become reemployed after age 65, then the earliest you can get paid a Second Retirement Benefit is the January 1 after you return to work for the first time.

Your pension benefit will continue to grow if you return to work after your Retirement Date or Second Retirement Date if you were less than age 65 when you first retired. This additional benefit will be payable effective the January 1 following your reemployment. You don't have to apply for the benefit; it will just get added to what you have been getting. The Retirement Benefit Option on the additional benefit is the same as the one from your last retirement date.

A: You can retire at age 52 if you have accrued at least five Qualified Years (not counting Qualified Years forfeited prior to January 1, 1998 due to a Permanent Break in ServiceA Permanent Break in Service happens if you have no Covered Earnings over a specified period of time. See page 6 of the Summary Plan Description.). There is no minimum age requirement for the Terminal Illness Benefit; however, you cannot elect this benefit if you are eligible to retire.

A: In general, this money is used to provide death benefits to your Beneficiary. If you are not eligible for a death benefit, the money remains as general assets of the Pension Plan and is used to provide other benefits.

A: When you apply for benefits, you will be required to provide supporting documents with your application before any payment can be made. If the names on the various supporting documents cannot be linked or do not match the Pension Plan's records, additional documents will be required showing your legal proof of name change or a statement from the Social Security Administration confirming that all the names belong to the same Social Security Number. Confirming your identity helps the Pension Plan to uphold and protect your benefits and to prevent the Pension Plan and you from becoming identity theft victims.

A: Depending on the Retirement Benefit Option you chose when you applied for Retirement Benefits, you may be able to change your beneficiary. Under the Five-Year Certain & Life Annuity or the Ten-Year Certain & Life Annuity Options, you may change your Beneficiary before the Years-Certain period expires. (The Years Certain period starts on your Retirement Date and ends after five or ten Years, depending on which Retirement Benefit Option you chose.) You cannot change your Beneficiary (called a Joint Annuitant) if you elected any of the Joint & Survivor Annuity Options (with or without Pop-up) even if your Joint Annuitant dies or if you get divorced. There is no beneficiary on any other Retirement Benefit Option.

A: It depends on the settlement agreement from your divorce. If your ex-spouse were to be awarded a portion of your pension benefit, then it may lower the benefit you receive. In order for the Pension Plan to make direct payments to your ex-spouse, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) must be entered in court. Not every settlement agreement is a QDRO. It is a good idea to have the Administrative Office review a draft QDRO to determine whether it is qualified prior to entering it in court. If a domestic relations order is not qualified, then the Administrative Office cannot enforce the terms of the order.

You or your spouse may obtain, without charge, a copy of the Pension Plan's procedures governing QDROs by request to the Administrative Office, or may obtain a copy of sample QDROs acceptable to the Pension Plan. If you elect any of the Joint & Survivor Annuity Options (with or without Pop-up) and choose your spouse as the Joint Annuitant when you retire under the Pension Plan and subsequently get divorced, your divorce will not affect the survivor entitlement. Your Joint Annuitant will receive the survivor portion of the benefit when you die regardless of your marital status. The Retirement Benefit Option you choose when you apply for Retirement Benefits is irrevocable and therefore cannot be changed.

You may designate anyone you wish as your BeneficiaryThis term means the person or persons whom a Participant last designates to receive benefits in the event of his or her death. However, if you have been married at least one year at the time of your death, your spouse will be your Beneficiary unless you and your spouse select a different Beneficiary. If there is no surviving designated Beneficiary, the death benefits will generally be paid to the Participant's estate. by completing a Designation of Beneficiary Form for Pre-Retirement Death Benefits. (Click here pdf for the form). However, if you are married, your spouse must consent, in writing with his/her notarized signature, to the person you select. You may designate more than one person as Beneficiary. You may also designate a trust or your estate as Beneficiary. In all cases, you should be sure to provide information as to whom to contact and, if you name more than one Beneficiary, how the benefits should be divided. If you have any questions or would like beneficiary designation forms, please contact the Administrative Office.

A: The Monthly Benefit Formula is:

Employer Contributions All Contributions made on your behalf, excluding any Contributions you have lost due to a Permanent Break in ServiceA Permanent Break in Service happens if you have no Covered Earnings over a specified period of time. See page 6 of the Summary Plan Description. prior to 1998 and any Contributions from Compensation over the limit
Multiplied by
Annual Benefit Multiplier Currently, 48.3%.  Multiplier may be lower for Contributions from Compensation that has been limited
Multiplied by
Age Factor Based on Age as of Retirement Date Age 52 to Before Age 65 - Reduction Factor 1/3% per month you are younger than age 63 down to age 55,
Plus ½% per month you are younger than age 55 down to age 52
½% per month you are younger than age 65 only for  Contributions from limited Compensation
At Age 65 or Normal Retirement Age 100%
After Normal Retirement Age - Increase Factor .8% per month for 59 months after 65
1.2% per month at age 70 and later
Multiplied by
Option Factor Depends on Retirement Benefit Option elected at Retirement Date
Divided by 12 monthly payments

Benefit and Compensation limits* apply when calculating your benefit.

A: You may authorize any person or entity to obtain information on your behalf by completing an Authorization to Release Information pdf  form and mailing the form to the Administrative Office. A Power of Attorney or any other legally binding document authorizing us to release Pension information will also suffice.

A: No. Regardless of whether you leave the industry or not, benefits are payable only when you retire (and meet the age and service requirements for a pension) or upon your death.

A: Benefits under the Pension Plan are based on contributions made to the Pension Plan by Employers for your work in Covered Employment. Benefits are not based on Guild membership or the payment of dues.

A: The Pension Plan cannot accept rollovers from other plans. However, under certain circumstances you may be able to roll over benefits from this Pension Plan to a traditional IRA, Roth IRA or qualified retirement plan.

A: Yes, the Internal Revenue Code imposes certain limitations on the annual pension benefits the Pension Plan may pay to a Participant and the compensation used to determine those benefits. The Pension Plan has further limited the amounts of the benefit and compensation. The compensation limit is applied on an "employer-by-employer" basis which means that the limits are applied separately to each Employer (along with its affiliated Employers) for whom the Participant has worked. The benefit limits were on the same basis until January 1, 2008, at which time the benefit limit was changed so that it applies on a Plan-wide basis. This means that the limit applies to the total benefit you accrue from combined contributions made on your behalf by ALL of your Employers.

A: At this time, electronic funds transfer to foreign banks is not available.

A: No. You may earn compensation that is not considered Covered Earnings. Covered earnings are generally initial compensation up to certain limits and possibly some of your residual earnings or bonus. Covered Earnings do NOT include theatrical residuals, clip payments, royalties, character payments, separated rights, interest, late fees, expenses, publication fees, and trainee salary, to name the most common ones.

Projects have a calculated ceiling, which is the maximum earnings amount on which contributions are payable. The ceiling is the maximum amount of earnings that are reportable to the Trusts on a per project basis. For television, the ceiling is calculated using the applicable minimums (other than network prime time rates) contained in Article 13B of the MBA that correspond to your hired writing services. The ceiling is 2.5 times the applicable minimum or initial compensation, whichever is greater, not to exceed certain amounts in relation to a Movie of the Week and mini-series rates.

For example, if you are hired to write a story & teleplay for a 60-minute network prime time episode with initial compensation of $50,000 in June 2013, your applicable minimum would be $24,678 (other than network rate for story & teleplay in June 2013). Multiply the $24,678 by 2.5 and your ceiling is $61,695. Subtract the reportable initial compensation of $50,000 and you are left with $11,695. Any reportable residual or bonus you receive up to the amount of $11,695 is reportable. At that point you reach the ceiling and no further earnings are reportable.

If you work on a mini-series or Movie of the Week and your initial compensation is greater than $225,000, only earnings on the first $225,000 are reportable to the Pension Plan. If you are paid less than $225,000, the applicable minimum calculation is used but the total amount reportable to the Pension Plan would not exceed $225,000. Please note there is one ceiling per mini-series, not per segment.

The Pension Plan theatrical ceiling is currently $225,000 in covered earnings. Once your employer reports up to the ceiling no further earnings are reportable.