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The following is a synopsis of the inquiries we receive and they are answered on a general basis. Due to privacy rules, no names or specifics will ever be included here. Questions of a truly personal nature should be addressed with the Funds’ staff directly.

1. Who we are and how to reach us.  ( <— click here)

2. Where can I get the information regarding all the Funds and related benefits?

All Summary Plan Descriptions (SPD’s) are available at the Fund office. A binder, designed to maintain these SPD’s will be provided to you. In addition, hardcopies of the current benefit applications, the disability and life insurance as provided under the Health & Benefit Fund, a copy of the NEBF Pension Plan, and other pertinent benefit information are also included.

3. What are the duties and compensation of the various professionals employed by the Funds?

  • Actuary – The Actuary assists and advises the Trustees in determining and interpreting eligibility rules, Plan design, Plan amendments, and applicable legislative and regulatory updates. As part of that responsibility, they prepare calculations regarding the necessary contribution levels and investment returns that are required to support the Pension Fund, as well as yearly calculations of Fund valuations, accrued benefits (P and H&B), and Pension benefits (Plan and individual) and the various costs associatred with these items. Fees are set on a retainer basis for normal services and additional fees are determined on an as needed basis for “special projects” (i.e.- Pension mergers).
  • Accountants/Auditors – In the past, the auditors would perform not only a complete audit of the financial and procedural aspects of the Funds, but would also provide bookkeeping and financial recordkeeping services. With the issuance of SOX-99 (Sarbanes Oxley), auditors are no longer allowed to perform both; therefore, the auditors perform the audit and issue their opinions on those annual financial statements. They also provide advice and assist in the preparation and filing of required tax documents (990’s; 5500’s), and review of year-end tax filings (i.e. 1099’s). In addition, cyclical payroll audits of all participating contractors (a 3 year period for 1/3 each year) are performed using an independent payroll auditor.
  • Advisors – Fund assets (investments) are invested, monitored, managed, and custodied by two distinct professionals. The custodians (in our case Victory Capital Management) receive the employer contributions from the Funds’ office, maintain and monitior the existence of the assets, and tender their management and guidance to the advisor. The advisor(s), operating within the investment guidelines and disciplines as set by the Trustees, directs the purchase and sale of the investment vehicles chosen. In our case, SEI Investments, employing a unique “Manager of Manager” approach, steamlines the process of investing.  The Funds do not invest in any specific stocks or bonds. Instead, the monies are invested in “funds” (similar to mutual funds) of such investment classes (stocks and bonds), By investing in multiple sub-Advisors and funds to maintain the specified investment mix, we can achieve the necessary returns while exposing our assets to the least downside risk possible while still retaining a liquidity necessary to react to changes in today’s fast-paced domestic and international marketplaces.  SEI fees cover all aspects and levels of this consolidated process, and because of this, their fees remain about 75% or less of their predecessors. Generally, their fees are calculated based upon basis points which encompass the total assets invested. Our investment advisors, SEI Investments, are paid a percent of the money they manage. Their fee is 50 basis points per year.  A basis point is 1/100th of 1% so 50 basis points is  0.50% (1/2 of 1%).  The better the Fund investments do (grow), the more income for them (SEI), which gives them an incentive to do well. Finally, they assume a fiduciary stance alongside the Trustees which is unlike traditional advisors who accept no fiduciary responsibility for the investments. The services provided include advice regarding asset allocation, performance measurements, proxy voting, and related tasks.
  • Attorney – Fund Counsel represents the Trustees in any legal matters. Generally, the attorney will be on retainer, and is required to attend all Trust meetings, interpret sensitive legal matters within the operation of the Funds, file court documents regarding collections and any litigation, assist members’ legal representation to develop acceptible QDRO’s (for property allocation in marital issues), and advise the Trustees on legal matters of consequence.
  • Administrator – Represents the Trustees in their fiduciary capacity to oversee the daily operations of the Funds and staff. Gathers, prepares, correalates, and interprets information pertinent to the Funds and membership, safeguards those records and information, prepares for presentation to the Trustees and the membership. Ensures required filings, collection of employer contributions, benefit payments, and payment of general Fund operating expenses are timely and correct.  Acts as the Trustees’ agent in dealing with vendors, government agencies, financial institutions, and the membership.The administrative staff as a whole has assumed the responsibility for many of the duties formerly performed by the Plan Professionals listed above, but at a fraction of their cost. The administrator and assistant administrator are salaried positions, while staff positions are hourly.

4.  What makes up the “administrative fees” we see in the Summary Annual Reports (SARs) the Funds send to membership each year?

  • The “Administrative fees” actually are any items not directly attributable to “benefit payments” and include the following components:
    1. All operational costs – rents, supplies, postage, utilities, printing;
    2. payroll – salaries, employer taxes and benefits (health insurance, Pension, Annuity);
    3. Professional fees – actuarial, auditing, attorney;
    4. Insurance – liability and the required fiduciary insurance for each Fund;
    5. And investment fees – custodial, advisory, and bank fees. The majority (approx. 60%) of the “Administrative fee” is attributable to the investment fees.

5. (H&B) Are research and future costs (such as storage of the umbilical cord for future stem cell recovery) reimbursable under the HRA Plan?

  • Yes & No. Deductible medical expenses include expenses incurred for the diagnosis, treatment, cure, prevention, or mitigation of a disease or illness. For example, cord preservation has not been determined to be deductible because it may never be used for any purpose. However, it can be reimbursed if there is a specific medical condition that the cord blood is intended to treat.  Indefinite storage “just in case” is not an eligible expense.

6.   Why do I need to provide so many more personal records than I did in the past?

  • As our lives become more and more complicated by laws, regulations, and governmental restrictions, verifiable proof of identity and existence are a necessary evil to comply with those demands. Birth cerificates, social security cards, driver & marriage  licenses, separation and divorce documents (see QDRO’s below), spousal approval (Pension and Annuity), school enrollment verification, power of attorney (POA), current dependent and benficiary information – all these items determine rights – yours, your spouse’s, dependents’, beneficiaries’, estate’s – to the benefits and balances within your Fund accounts. Not only can you be delayed or denied 236 Funds’ benefits due to lack of or incorrect information – but you may also be denied or delayed any benefits under the International or NEBF Pensions which you worked so hard to earn. Any information obtained by the Funds office will not be given to any outside parties unless proper authorization from you is present and on file (i.e. – HIPAA). In the case of spouses or dependents, these documents must be on file in order for any benefits or information to be obtained. These include: coverage under the Fund’s health insurance; reimbursements for uninsured health costs; educational costs incurred to be reimbursed under the Annuity Plan; inheritance and successor rights to the Funds after your death; the ability to obtain information about your/their accounts or coverages.
  • In the instance of separation and/or divorce, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) must be in place in order for either party to exercise their rights over the existing Funds, including the International and NEBF Pensions. To make matters simple and cost effective, these QDRO’s should be in place (as part of your court issued documents) prior to the final execution of the Divorce decree. Contact the Fund office to obtain documentation regarding the International and NEBF Pension QDRO formats, and please have your attorney contact us so that we may arrange for them to contact the Funds’ attorney regarding the “236” requirements. We have developed a general format to incorporate all these documents, which will save you both time and expense – and ensures that what you get is sufficient under existing laws, and meets all the standards set by all the entities.  The lack of proper documentation can severely delay your application for any Pensions – in particular the International and NEBF Pensions – and re-opening such documents years later can be difficult, compromising, and costly.
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