How and When You Become a Participant

Your participation in the Central Pension Fund begins in the month that hours and contributions are first reported to the Fund on your behalf by your Participating Employer. Your employer is a Participating Employer if he is required to pay into the Central Pension Fund on the basis of:

  1. A Participating Agreement, and/or
  2. A Bargaining Agreement or Master Agreement, or
  3. A Non-Bargaining Unit Participating Agreement.

IUOE Local Unions negotiate CPF contributions into their contracts with union employers. Contributions must be made by Participating Employers. Self-contributions are not allowed. In addition, sole proprietors and partners cannot contribute on their own behalf. As newly organized employers, the members receive full vesting credit for all prior years of employment with that employer, after 1,000 hours of contributions have been made, and the Fund Office receives verification of their hire dates on company letterhead.

CPF maintains records of contributions made for every member throughout their careers.

How to Receive a Pension

To be eligible to receive a pension you must be a Participant covered by this Plan, must have worked for one or more Participating Employers for a certain number of years and must meet certain age requirements.

The amount of your pension will depend on the rate of contributions your Participating Employer(s) made on your behalf and the number of years you have been in the Plan and the benefit accrual rate.

The monthly benefit continues for life and, if a spousal benefit option is chosen, for the life of the member’s surviving spouse. However, there are exceptions to this. Please refer to the Benefit Exceptions section for details.

Benefits are insured by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, (PBGC), a federal corporation headed by the secretaries of labor, treasury and commerce with the aim of protecting the pensions of privately defined pension plans.

What Benefits Are Paid By CPF

Normal Retirement Benefit: Payable at normal retirement age (usually 65). It is a monthly benefit for life.

Early Retirement Benefit: Payable as early as age 55 with 10 years of service. It is equal to the Normal Retirement benefit reduced by 3% per year for years prior to age 65.

Special Early Retirement Benefit: Payable as early as age 55 with 25 years of credited service. It is reduced by 3% per year for years prior to age 62.

Special Retirement Benefit: Payable as early as age 62 with 25 years of credited service. It is equal to the Normal Retirement benefit without reduction.

Post-Retirement Surviving Spouse Benefit: Payable to the surviving spouse of a deceased retiree for life, at optional levels of 50%, 66-2/3%, 75%, or 100% of what the retiree was receiving. It is equal to the Normal Retirement Benefit with reductions because the benefit will be paid over two lifetimes.

Pre-Retirement Surviving Spouse Benefit: Payable at any age to the surviving spouse of a vested participant who dies before retirement. It is a lifetime benefit equal to 50% of the Normal Retirement Benefit. This does not apply if the Participant and their spouse have been married for less than one year.

Disability Benefit: Payable under age 55 with 15 years of service. It is equal to the Early Retirement Benefit at age 55.

Applying for Benefits with CPF

  • Start the application process about 90-120 days before your planned retirement date. The Application for Benefits Instructions provide guidance on how to start the process. Also, members can request an estimate of benefits at any time. If you wish to request an estimate, please complete a Estimate Request Form and return it to the Fund Office. All requests must be made in writing.
  • Documentation needed to support an application is discussed in Section 11 of the Summary Plan Description, “A Guide to Your Benefits”.
  • As a result of a change in policy after publication of the Summary Plan Description, official documents such as birth and marriage certificates must be either clear photocopies or state certified copies.
  • CPF does not accept rollover distributions from other qualified plans in which you may have also been a participant, but does have Money Follows the Man reciprocity with certain other IUOE Pension Funds.

Why is CPF Better Than a 401(k) Account

  • CPF is a real lifetime pension, with benefits calculated using a set formula—a 401(k) is simply an individual savings account subject to market fluctuations.
  • Only employers finance CPF—401(k) participants must finance their own accounts.
  • CPF pays a guaranteed monthly benefit for life—401(k) benefit levels are not known until it is time to retire and you might outlive those benefits.
  • CPF provides spouse, disability and death benefits—401(k)s do not.
  • CPF’s benefits are insured to the limits set by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation—401(k) accounts have no such protection.
  • CPF’s benefits exceed any that can reasonably be expected from a 401(k)—without the risks

CPF vs. 401(k): A 25-Year Comparison

See the presentation below to compare hypothetical CPF and 401(k) benefits that would have accrued from 1995 to 2019.

 CPF vs. 401(k): A 25-Year Comparisonpdf

Benefit Exceptions

Effective August 1, 2005, the Central Pension Fund’s Board of Trustees has adopted several amendments to the Plan of Benefits. Listed below is a description of each amendment and examples of how each will apply.

It is important to understand that these amendments will not diminish or in any way affect the benefits of active participants accrued through July 31, 2005; nor will they diminish or in any way affect the existing benefits being paid to pensioners and beneficiaries.

Elimination of 60-Payment Guarantee Feature


For all retirement benefits accrued on and after August 1, 2005, such benefits will be paid in the form of a lifetime annuity for the participant, participant and spouse, or participant and contingent annuitant, depending upon the option selected. However, there will no longer be a guarantee of at least 60 minimum monthly payments.              


  • Assume that, as of July 31, 2005, Participant A has an accrued monthly benefit of $1,000, and then accrues an additional benefit of $300 between August 1, 2005 and reaching his/her Normal Retirement Age.
  • And assume that, at retirement, Participant A chooses a benefit that, prior to August 1, 2005, had a 60-Payment Guarantee feature.
  • Because of this amendment, if Participant A dies before receiving 60 monthly benefit payment, his/her spouse, designated beneficiary, or contingent annuitant will receive the remainder of 60 payments of only that portion of the benefit that had been accrued prior to August 1, 2005.
  • Therefore, in this example, Participant A’s spouse or designated beneficiary would receive payment of the remainder of 60 payments of $1,000 a month – the portion of Participant A’s benefit accrued prior to August 1, 2005 – but would receive no payment(s) for the remainder of the $300 a month that had been accrued after August 1, 2005.

Change in Disability Benefit


For participants with a disability onset date on or after August 1, 2005, the amount of the Disability benefit will be equivalent to the participant’s accrued Early Retirement benefit, instead of the accrued Normal Retirement benefit. Furthermore, the Disability benefit will be converted to an Early Retirement benefit at age 55, instead of converting to a Normal or Special Retirement benefit at Normal Retirement Age. Finally, Disability benefits will not be paid to participants who are otherwise eligible to being receiving Early, Normal or Special Retirement benefits.


  • Assume that, Participant A becomes disabled on or after August 1, 2005, and meets all of the eligibility requirements to receive a Disability benefit from the Fund.
  • And assume that, at the time of the disability, Participant A has less than 25 years of Credited Service, meaning that his/her Normal Retirement Age is 65. (Normal Retirement Age is 62 for those with at least 25 years of Credited Service.)
  • And assume that, at the time of the disability, Participant A is younger than age 55, has an accrued Normal Retirement benefit of $1,000 payable at age 65, and an accrued Early Retirement benefit of $700 payable at age 55. (Early Retirement benefits are equal to the Normal Retirement benefit reduced by 3% per year for each year younger than Normal Retirement Age, with the earliest retirement at age 55.)
  • Because of this amendment, Participant A’s Disability benefit will be $700 a month – the amount of the Early Retirement benefit that would otherwise have been payable at age 55.
  • By further example, if Participant A is 55 years old on that date of the disability, no Disability benefit would be available, because Participant A would be eligible to begin receiving a $700 a month Early Retirement benefit.

It is important to note that all those who receive Disability benefits from the Fund, also receive disability benefits from the Social Security Administration.


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