Carpenters Retirement Plan

Your Rights Under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) 

As a participant in the Carpenters Retirement Plan of Western Washington you are entitled to certain rights and protections under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). ERISA provides that all plan participants are entitled to:

Receive Information About Your Plan and Plan Benefits

  • Examine, without charge, at Carpenters Trusts and at other specified locations, such as worksites 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 Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration.
  • Obtain, upon written request to the plan administrator, copies of documents governing the operation of the plan, including collective bargaining agreements, and copies of the latest annual report (Form 5500 Series) and an updated summary plan description. The plan administrator may make a reasonable charge for the copies.
  • Receive a summary of the plan's annual financial report. The plan administrator is required by law to furnish each participant with a copy of this summary annual report.
  • Obtain a statement telling you whether you have a right to receive 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 get a right to a pension. This statement must be requested in writing and is not required to be given more than once every twelve (12) months. The plan must provide the statement free of charge.

Prudent Actions by Plan Fiduciaries

In addition to creating rights for plan participants, ERISA imposes duties upon the people who are responsible for the operation of the plan. The people who operate your plan, called "fiduciaries" of the plan, have a duty to do so prudently and in the interest of all 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.

Enforce 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 these rights. For instance:

  • If you request materials 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 plan administrator to provide the materials and pay up to $110 a day until you receive the materials, unless the materials were not sent because of reasons beyond the control of the plan administrator.
  • If you have a claim for benefits which is denied or ignored, in whole or in part, you may request a hearing before the Board of Trustees. If you are dissatisfied with the Trustees' determination and the claim does not involve disability retirement benefits, you may request arbitration. In the alternative, you may file suit, but the court may dismiss the action in favor of the Trust's hearing and appeal procedures. In addition, if you disagree with the plan's decision or lack thereof concerning the qualified status of a domestic relations order or a medical child support order, you may file suit in federal court.
  • If it should happen that plan 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 sued to pay these costs and fees. If you lose, the court may order you to pay these costs and fees, for example, if the court finds your claim is frivolous.

Assistance with Your Questions

If you have any questions about your plan, you should contact the plan administrator. If you have any questions about this statement or about your rights under ERISA, or if you need assistance in obtaining documents from the plan administrator, you should contact the nearest office of the Employee Benefits Security Administration, U.S. Department of Labor which is listed below, or you should contact the Division of Technical Assistance and Inquiries which is also listed below:

Employee Benefits Security Administration,
U.S. Department of Labor,
Seattle District Office
1111 Third Avenue, Suite 860
Seattle, WA 98101-3212
Phone (206) 553-4244; or

Division of Technical Assistance and Inquiries,
Employee Benefits Security Administration
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
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 ("EBSA"). For single copies of publications, contact the EBSA Brochure Request Line at (800) 998-1542 or contact the EBSA filed office nearest you. You may also find answers to your plan questions at the website of the EBSA at

Last Updated: 01/09/2018