Sunday, February 26, 2006

Building a Three-Legged Pension

Kevin has mentioned that a number of people have failed to apply for retirement benefits when they become eligible.  He's also mentioned that a number of guild artists who've worked here (Los Angeles) but hail from somewhere else believe they can't take their earned pension with them.  Actually, they can.  Here -- in super succinct form -- is what that Guild Pension Plan consists of:
1)  The Defined Benefit Plan -- this is the oldest part of the Motion Picture Industry Pension Plan.  It's a monthly annuity for which the Plan will send you a check each month.  The SIZE of that check depends on the number of qualified years that you work (you need at least 400 hours worked in a year - and a minimum of five years to get the DFP). 
2)  The Individual Account Plan -- this is an account created for you into which your guild employer contributes money each week.  If you work all or most of the year, you'll end up with several thousand dollars annually in this plan. It vest in just one year.
Both of these plans are yours automatically if you work at an Animation Guild signator studio.  I haven't gone into any windy details about either of them.  For those you can go to and mouse-click on "retiree plans." (left side of the screen.)
The last (and optional) leg of the Guild's pension plan is
3) The Animation Guild 401(k) Pension Savings Plan.  This is a no-match 401(k) plan into which you can deduct up to $15,000* per year in pre-tax dollars (that's state and federal income taxes.  You'll still be on the hook for FICA tax.)  The Plan offers twenty-four different bond and stock mutual funds, offered through Mass Mutual.
*under age fifty; it's $20,000 per year if you're fifty or above.


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