It’s important to remember that the union is not the pension fund. We can’t just tell the pension fund what to do. The pension fund is a separate, legal entity made up of trustees that represent both employees and employers. These trustees vote on how to operate the fund, including whether to raise or lower the multiplier, for instance.
Between 2003 and 2010, the multiplier was reduced four times, from a high of $4.65 to the current low of $1. The pension you earn at any given time is paid at the multiplier that is currently active.
So, if you earned $10,000 in union work in 2003, and $20,000 from union work in 2007, you’ll earn pension based on a multiplier of $4.65 for the work in 2003 and $3.25 for the work in 2007.
The best way to understand this is to request a pension statement from the pension fund. (You’re also mailed one every year.) You’ll see that it breaks down your earnings from various time periods when there were different multipliers in effect.
When you receive your annual statement from the pension fund, it will not tell you what your pension would be when you retire. But you can request such a forecast and the pension fund will crunch the numbers for you.
And it is complex. If you’re married, you automatically receive a lower monthly pension (unless your spouse opts out) because if you die first, then your spouse gets a payment equal to 50 percent of your own pension.
Request your pension statement by writing to the American Federation of Musicians and Employers’ Pension Fund at One Penn Plaza, Suite 3115, New York, NY 10119. You can also call the fund at (800) 833-8065, ext. 1311 or see the fund’s Web site at www.afm-epf.org.
Helpful hint: the fund will most likely request your pension identification number. If you save your annual pension statements, you’ll find this number there. Otherwise, you’ll have to tell the fund that you don’t know your pension ID number and ask if they’ll use your social security number instead. (For privacy reasons, the fund prefers not to work with social security numbers.)