Summary Plan Description

Rights Under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)

As a participant in the Carpenters Health and Security Plan of Western Washington, you are entitled to certain rights and protection under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). ERISA provides that all plan participants are entitled to:

Receive Information About the Plan and Plan Benefits

  • Examine, without charge, at Carpenters Trusts and at other specified locations, such as worksites and union halls, all plan documents governing the plan including insurance contracts and collective bargaining agreements, and a copy of the latest annual report (Form 5500 Series) filed by the plan with the U.S. Department of Labor and available at the Public Disclosure Room of the Employee Benefits Security Administration.
  • Obtain, upon written request to the plan administrator, copies of documents governing the operation of the plan, including insurance contracts and collective bargaining agreements, and copies of the latest annual report (Form 5500 Series) and an updated summary plan description. The plan administrator may make a reasonable charge for the copies.
  • Receive a summary of the plan's annual financial report. The plan administrator is required by law to furnish each participant with a copy of this summary annual report.

Continue Group Health Plan Coverage

  • Continue health care coverage for yourself, spouse or a dependent if there is a loss of coverage under the plan as a result of a qualifying event. A dependent may have to pay for such coverage. Review this plan booklet and the documents governing the plan on the rules governing COBRA Coverage rights.

Prudent Actions By Plan Fiduciaries

In addition to creating rights for plan participants, ERISA imposes duties upon the people who are responsible for the operation of the plan. These people who operate the plan, called "fiduciaries" of the plan, have a duty to do so prudently and in the interest of all plan participants and beneficiaries. No one, including your employer, your union or any other person, may fire you or otherwise discriminate against you in any way to prevent you from obtaining a benefit or exercising your rights under ERISA.

ERISA Rights

If your claim for a benefit is denied or ignored, in whole or in part, you have the right to know why this was done, to obtain copies of documents relating to the decision without charge, and to appeal any denial, all within certain time schedules.

Under ERISA, there are steps you can take to enforce the above rights. For instance:

  • If you request plan documents or the latest annual report from the plan and do not receive them within 30 days, you may file suit in a federal court. In such a case, the court may require the plan administrator to provide the materials and pay up to $110 a day until you receive the materials, unless the materials were not sent because of reasons beyond the control of the administrator.
  • If you have a claim for benefits which is denied or ignored, in whole or in part, you may file suit in a state or federal court after exhausting the plan's appeal procedures. In addition, if you disagree with the plan's decision or lack thereof concerning the qualified status of a medical child support order, you may file suit in federal court.
  • If it should happen that plan fiduciaries misuse the plan's money, or if you are discriminated against for asserting your rights, you may seek assistance from the U.S. Department of Labor, or you may file suit in a federal court. The court will decide who should pay court costs and legal fees. If you are successful, the court may order the person you have sued to pay these costs and fees. If you lose, the court may order you to pay these costs and fees, for example, if it finds your claim is frivolous.

If you have any questions about the plan, you should contact the plan administrator. If you have any questions about this statement or about your rights under ERISA, you should contact the Department of Labor at one of the following addresses, for assistance and information:

Employee Benefits Security Administration,
U.S. Department of Labor,
Seattle District Office
300 Fifth Avenue, Suite 110
Seattle, WA 98104
Phone (206) 757-6781; or

Division of Technical Assistance and Inquiries,
Employee Benefits Security Administration
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20210

You may also obtain certain publications about your rights and responsibilities under ERISA by calling the publications hotline of the Employee Benefits Security Administration.