SMPPP Announces Changes

 

July 2013

 

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The Seafarers Money Purchase Pension Plan (SMPPP) recently announced a few modifications designed to improve benefits and expedite payments.

 

In mid-June, a letter was mailed to participants (it’s also posted on the SIU website) alerting them that as of July 1, administrative functions of the SMPPP will be performed by the Seafarers Plans’ office in Camp Springs, Md. Previously, a third-party administrator handled them. Participants now may direct SMPPP inquiries through the Plan’s toll-free number: 1-800- 252-4674 (prompt number six on the menu choices).

 

Another modification allows participants over the age of 70 to withdraw their full account balances in the form of a lump-sum distribution even if they continue to work in covered employment. Married employees with account balances greater than $5,000 must obtain spousal consent for the distribution.

 

Also, a less-restrictive one-year waiting period has been adopted when it comes to eligibility for withdrawing money. Specifically, a participant is now eligible for a withdrawal benefit if he or she intends to leave the industry and has not worked for a signatory employer for at least the past 12 months. (This change essentially negates the need for hardship distributions, and with that in mind, the hardship pilot program has been discontinued.)

 

In the letter to participants, Seafarers Plans Administrator Maggie Bowen noted, “In considering these new benefit options, please be mindful that there may be tax consequences. You should discuss these potential tax implications with your tax advisor.”

 

Based on these changes, updated forms and a revised summary plan description booklet have been posted in the Member Benefits section of the SIU website, www.seafarers.org. The guide, participant letter and enrollment form are located under the Seafarers Money Purchase Pension Plan tab, while the enrollment form and three separate application forms may be found under the Applications tab.

 

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