Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the Co-op Retirement Plan. The answers given are general and illustrative, and if any misunderstanding arises between the information contained in this Q&A section and the official Plan document, the language of the Plan document will prevail. If you don’t find your particular question here, please contact United Benefits Group by clicking "Contact" above.
A: Federal pension law requires broad, non-discriminatory participation in a pension plan. All pension plans must pass certain tests to demonstrate their compliance. In a multiple employer plan like the Co-op Retirement Plan these tests are conducted on an employer-by-employer basis, and if any employer fails the test the entire plan could be disqualified. In reality, it’s more than likely that some of the Plan’s smaller employers would fail the test in any given year. The only way for the Co-op Retirement Plan to guarantee compliance with the law without complex and costly testing is to require the participation of all eligible employees.
A: Plan participants can update their address information through their personal online accounts. Simply log in, click on Profile + Beneficiaries on the left-hand side of the screen. Under "Personal Information" click on the "Edit" button at the bottom of the section. This is a link to the Profile Update form. You can also send a written, signed address change to United Benefits Group, P.O. Box 169005, Kansas City, Mo 64116, or fax it to 816-459-8750.
A: Plan participants can change their beneficiary information through their personal online accounts. Like the process for changing your address, you will log in, click on Profile + Beneficiaries on the left-hand side of the screen. Under "Beneficiary Information" click on "Change or Edit Beneficiaries" button. This is a link to the Beneficiary Designation Form. Fill out the form and submit. You may also call the Plan office toll-free at 800-816-5535 and we’ll send you a 'Beneficiary Designation' form. This form is designed to help you select a beneficiary within the requirements of federal pension regulations.
A: Monthly retirement checks are mailed from our trustee bank at the same time each month. If you do not receive your check by the 10th day of the month we can stop payment on the check and have it re-issued. If the 10th of the month arrives and you still do not have your check, please call our office toll-free at 800-816-5535. As always, we recommend that you have your check directly deposited to your bank account to avoid the irregularities of ground mail service.
A: Your first retirement check is an “off-system” check that will arrive in your mailbox (or your bank account if you selected Direct Deposit) 3 to 10 days after the first of the month corresponding to your retirement date if your application was received on a timely basis. After that, your bank account should be credited on the first working day of each month if you selected Direct Deposit. If your check is being mailed to your home it should arrive around the first day of the month, although mail service in some parts of the country might be slower. To enroll in direct deposit, click on "Electronic Funds Transfer" under Resrouces on the left-hand side of the page. This is a link to the Electronic Funds Transfer form. Fill out athe form and submit.
A defined benefit plan like the Co-op Retirement Plan is a traditional type of pension plan that pays benefits according to a formula based on wages and service. To see some major ways that it differs from a 401(k) plan,
A: Your employer makes a promise to pay you the benefit you have earned under the Plan’s formulas and provisions. Because of the multiple employer nature of the Plan it is unlikely that the Plan will experience an inability to fulfill this promise due to a Plan-wide termination. However, if for any reason the Plan were to terminate without sufficient funds to pay the benefits owed to all participants, the Plan would be taken over by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), the federal agency that insures defined benefit pension plans. The PBGC insures the benefits of plan participants within certain rules and limits. For more information about the PBGC, please visit their website at
A: The Co-op Retirement Plan was originally known as “Farmland’s Employee Retirement Plan,” and included both the employees of Farmland Industries and local cooperatives.In 1986 Farmland Industries spun its employees into a new plan, at which time the original plan was re-named the “Co-op Retirement Plan.” Farmland Industries continued to be the sponsor of the Co-op Retirement Plan until it filed for bankruptcy in 2002. At that time the Retirement Committee and the Farmland Board of Directors moved the sponsorship of the Plan to a new not-for-profit corporation called United Benefits Group.Consequently, the Co-op Retirement Plan no longer has any association with the former Farmland Industries or any of its subsidiaries.
A: The Co-op Retirement Plan was originally known as “Farmland’s Employee Retirement Plan,” and included both the employees of Farmland Industries and local cooperatives.
In 1986 Farmland Industries spun its employees into a new plan, at which time the original plan was re-named the “Co-op Retirement Plan.” Farmland Industries continued to be the sponsor of the Co-op Retirement Plan until it filed for bankruptcy in 2002. At that time the Retirement Committee and the Farmland Board of Directors moved the sponsorship of the Plan to a new not-for-profit corporation called United Benefits Group.
Consequently, the Co-op Retirement Plan no longer has any association with the former Farmland Industries or any of its subsidiaries.
A: This is a complex issue. Without going into great detail, you should not terminate and elect a benefit if you have intentions of returning to work. If the facts and circumstances of your case suggest that your retirement was not valid, the Retirement Committee will be obligated to stop your benefits and demand repayment of amounts already received. However, if you retired with no intention to return to work, and a subsequent change in circumstances makes it desirable or necessary for you to return to work with a Participating Employer, it can be permissible. There are, however, special exemptions for those who have reached the Plan’s Normal Retirement Age. Normal Retirement Age for most participants is either age 65 or age 67 depending on your hire date.
A: No, and increased employee contributions would not increase your Accrued Benefit. Your Accrued Benefit is based solely on your wages and service, and not on the amount you contribute to the Plan.
A: In reality, your employer does not make contributions specifically for you. Rather, all Participating Employers contribute an amount necessary to keep the Plan well-funded, and those contributions are made on behalf of all participants. In other words, the employer contributions go into a giant pot for everyone. Benefits are based solely on wages and service, not on amounts contributed. It is the responsibility of the Participating Employers to make sure that the Plan has adequate funds to pay the promised benefits of all participants when they reach retirement age.
A: United Benefits Group is the not-for-profit corporation established to administer retirement plans and to sponsor the Co-op Retirement Plan. It is governed by a five-person Board of Directors whose members are elected to rotating five-year terms.
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