Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I would first like to say, “Tough times never last. But tough people do.” Pipeliners are some of the toughest and most resilient folks, but we are definitely being tested. We already had many enemies to battle, such as cheap nonunion contractors, biased judges, and extreme environmental protesters.
Virtual Medical Visit option available May 1st
PIBF will be launching the MDLIVE program on May 1, 2020. This is a virtual medical visit program offered by BlueCross BlueShield for active and COBRA participants and for participants where PIBF is the primary coverage.
This program will give 24/7/365 access to speak to a doctor from any location. Co-payment for this service will be $15 per visit. This co-payment will not count toward your annual medical benefits deductible or out-of-pocket expense limit. It will be eligible for reimbursement under the Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) by submitting your Explanation of Benefits (EOB) with a completed HRA Claim Form. Details about the program and instructions on how to participate have been mailed to the membership. In addition, a new Medical ID card listing the MDLIVE information will be mailed to you soon. Please know that MDLIVE is experiencing high visit volumes due to COVID-19 and the cold and flu season and wait times may be longer than normal.
Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA)
The HRA filing deadline for the 2019 plan year has been extended on a one-time basis from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020.
Pipeline Industry 401(k) Plan Changes
- Effective April 1, 2020, the six-month separation distribution option has been reduced to a three-month separation distribution. As of April 1, 2020, if you have not worked in three months or more, you are eligible to take a distribution upon completion of applicable documentation. Distributions under this provision are still limited to 2 per lifetime. The requirement to withhold Federal and State taxes remains in effect and distributions continue to be subject to the 10% early withdrawal penalty if you are under age 59½.
- Effective January 1, 2020, the age to commence Required Minimum Distributions has increased from age 70½ to 72.
- Effective January 1, 2020, the age for an In-Service Distribution is reduced from age 62 to 59½. This distribution is available for participants who are working and not yet retired. The requirement to withhold Federal and State taxes remains in effect. Distributions under this provision are still limited to 1 per year.
- Effective April 1, 2020, through March 31, 2021, the amount available to a participant for a Hardship Distribution shall be expanded from Employee contributions only to include QNEC/Employer Contributions and earnings on Employee and QNEC/Employer contributions. Beginning April 1, 2021, the amount available for a Hardship Distribution will be from Employee contributions only.
- Effective January 1, 2020, an additional Hardship Distribution option has been added under The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES). This option provides that payments qualifying as a “coronavirus-related distribution” (CRD) are exempt from the 10% excise tax for early distributions. This is available for up to $100,000 in aggregate across all retirement accounts, limited to the amount available for a Hardship Distribution (see Item 4 above), and must be made during the period January 1, 2020, to before December 31, 2020, to the following “qualified individuals”:
- Individuals diagnosed with SARS-COV-2 or Coronavirus 2019 ("COVID-19") by a test approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
- Individuals whose spouse or dependent (as defined by IRC §152) is so diagnosed, or
- Individuals who experience adverse financial consequences as a result of being quarantined, furloughed or laid off or having work hours reduced due to COVID-19, being unable to work due to lack of child care due to COVID-19, closing or reducing hours of a business owned or operated by the individual due to COVID-19, or other factors as may be determined by the Secretary of the Treasury (or the Secretary’s delegate).
If you apply for a distribution under this option, you will be required to certify in writing that you satisfy the requirements for a CRD. The CRD may be repaid in one or more payments at any time during the three-year period beginning on the day after the date the distribution was made, to any eligible retirement plan to which you could make a rollover contribution. The repayments will be limited to the amount of the CRD.
As previously mentioned, the CRD will not be subject to the 10% early distribution tax and may be included in income ratably over a three-year period, unless you elect otherwise. The CRD is not eligible for direct rollover and would not be subject to automatic 20% tax withholding.
- Plan participants who otherwise would be required to take a minimum required distribution in calendar year 2020 can elect to suspend that distribution for 2020.
- Effective January 1, 2020, an additional Hardship Distribution option has been added to allow a distribution for expenses and losses (including loss of income) incurred by the participant on account of a disaster declared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, Public Law 100-707, provided that the participant's principal residence or principal place of employment at the time of the disaster was located in an area designated by FEMA for individual assistance with respect to the disaster.
If your dependent child is due to terminate coverage at age 26 and is disabled, you can request to have their coverage extended. If the child is both (a) incapable of self-sustaining employment by reason of mental deficiency or physical handicap, and (b) primarily dependent on you for support and maintenance, you must provide proof of such incapacity and dependency within 31 days of the child’s attainment of age 26. The coverage will continue as long as the incapacity and dependency continue. The Board of Trustees may require proof of the child’s continuing disability and dependency as often as it deems necessary. Existing plan eligibility rules apply.
Weekly Disability Benefits
The short-term disability benefit is payable as described in the PIBF Health and Welfare Plan Benefits Summary Plan Description (SPD) if you become Totally Disabled because of an accident or illness which occurs while actively covered by the Plan. To receive benefits, written notice of Total Disability must be submitted to PIBF within 180 days of the first day of disability. Continuation of benefits is not automatic. At a minimum, you must submit bi-weekly disability forms, which your Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.) has completed. You are “Totally Disabled” when you are unable to perform any type of work because of injury or illness. However, the plan has exclusions listed in the SPD which can be found on our website at www.pibf.org or you may also contact the Fund office for this information. If you qualify, you may receive a weekly $250 disability benefit for a maximum period of 26 weeks per disability. You can receive this benefit in addition to any workman’s compensation benefits you may be receiving; however, you cannot receive these benefits if you are retired under PIPF or covered under the PIBF COBRA program. You also cannot receive weekly disability benefits and unemployment benefits at the same time.
Divorce Decrees and related documents must be sent to PIBF
PIBF requires a copy of your Divorce Decree when it is finalized. This must be received so that your ex-spouse can be removed as a dependent. Members must reimburse PIBF for any claims incurred after the date of your divorce. In addition, you should submit copies of any Separation Agreement, Settlement Agreement or other related documents to the PIBF for review. All documents submitted should be signed by all parties and show proof of filing with the court. These must be reviewed prior to a 401(k) distribution or retirement from PIPF. Submitting these documents as soon as possible saves the trouble of having to locate these documents later.
Candice is the Records Analyst and has worked with PIBF for 11 years. Candice enjoys spending time with her family, and she has lots of people to love! She is the proud mother and grandmother of four children (Celeste, Jeff, Kelsey, and Mickaela), 2 grandchildren (Jocelynne and Kristyn), and one great-grandchild (Alana). Candice is expecting a new granddaughter in May 2020. She loves being active and taking her grand pup, Grover, on walks and babysitting whenever possible. She considers herself a lifelong learner and enjoys reading about a variety of topics. During her time at PIBF, she has greatly enjoyed getting to know the members and their families. The PIBF family has provided a great support as she cares for her parents and overall created a very supportive environment. She wants to say, "Thank you to our members for the opportunity to serve and be a part of such a great organization. Without them, it would be just another job!".
Blake C. Davis works as a Maintenance Helper for the PIBF, helping manage the care of the lawn and buildings. Blake joined PIBF six years ago in 2014. He enjoys everything outdoors, especially hunting and fishing. “Working in the maintenance department has been a wonderful six years. I have gotten to know the PIBF staff, and they have become like a second family to me. I’m very blessed to work for an organization like the PIBF and to work with all the wonderful people I do.”
MORE 798 STORIES
Dear Brothers and Sisters, I would first like to say, “Tough times never last. But tough people do.” Pipeliners are some of the toughest and most resilient folks, but we are definitely being tested. We already had many enemies to battle, such as cheap nonunion contractors, biased judges, and extreme environmental protesters.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, I hope this report finds our Local 798 family safe and healthy. By now, the COVID-19 pandemic has reached almost every county and parish in the United States. I don’t know that anyone could have forecasted that this virus would sweep through our country with such intensity.
There is no way to describe the times in which we are living. We are walking through a situation that no one has dealt with before us. However, we do have work starting. Gas companies and contractors are proceeding with extreme caution.
Virtual Medical Visit option available May 1st PIBF will be launching the MDLIVE program on May 1, 2020. This is a virtual medical visit program offered by BlueCross BlueShield for active and COBRA participants and for participants where PIBF is the primary coverage.