Pension trusts - how do they work?


My husband used to work for a carpenter’s union in two states, and has two different retirement accounts. One is a “pension trust,” and the other is a “defined contribution trust.”

Are these actual pensions, or can we roll them over into a traditional IRA? I want to consolidate all our retirement accounts in Vanguard, but I’m confused how these retirement accounts work, and so far the five minutes I spent searching the Interwebz has not helped. I also cannot find any documents saying what the heck these accounts are.

Any ideas? Thanks!


They sound like pensions to me . . . Do you have any documentation on them so that you can contact someone to find out what your options are? You may not really have any, depending on his contributions vs the former employer’s contributions.

But I would start with the people that manage the accounts. :sunglasses:


Sounds like the “pension trust” might be a defined benefit plan with a pension. The “defined contribution” should be an account like an IRA or a 401k.
Without more info it’s difficult to say…

  1. Call Vanguard and ask to speak to a retirement specialist. They undoubtedly will have people who can help you. Don’t give up, they may need to transfer you to someone who can help you.

2, Call the unions directly and ask them to send you the “plan documents.” These are the details about the retirement accounts. (I maybe be wrong but…) I believe they are obligated to send them to you idf you request it. The documents will help you (or a trusted advisor) to understand what these accounts really are. And these documents may even have details about the portability of accounts in those plans.

Good luck!


Will do! Thanks for the advice. I’ll figure out what the heck these things are (or at least if they’re portable) and report back.