life events

Active Military Service

Entering or leaving active military service can impact your fringe benefits. Please review the items on this page to see if they pertain to your service.


  1. Notify Northwest Carpenters Trusts. Let us know when your service begins and ends so we can preserve your benefits. (Contact)
  2. Review the health plan eligibility rules. If your service will be for 31 days or less, and you are eligible, the Northwest Carpenters Health and Security Plan will continue your coverage at no expense to you. However, if your active military service will be longer than 31 days, you have two options:
    1. Elect to continue using dollar-bank eligibility under this plan until it is exhausted, at which time you may elect Self-Contribution Coverage for up to 24 months at a reduced rate; or
    2. Elect to "freeze" your eligibility so it can be used upon release from military duty.
    To learn more, read about the Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA).
  3. Avoid a break in service. Unless you are vested in the two pension plans, you need to avoid a potential break in service. Under normal circumstances, you will incur a one-year break in service if you work less than 500 covered hours in a calendar year. However, military service might qualify for a Leave of Absence, which means you could receive credited service and benefits.
  4. Review your beneficiary designations. Complete an enrollment application if you need to update beneficiaries.

Other Considerations

  1. Household Income – Many reservists find that their income decreases significantly when called to active duty. Quantify your current financial situation. Fill out a net worth statement listing all assets and liabilities. If the reduction in household income undermines your current budget, consider a combination of increasing household income and reducing household expenses. Your household expenses will already be reduced for food, clothing and transportation for the person going on active duty. You can also consider additional employment for the non-military member of the household. As a last resort, you may be forced to liquidate some assets to obtain needed living expenses.
  2. Debt – Before entering service, document all credit debts including home mortgages, automobile loans, credit cards and home equity credit lines. Why? Because service members can reduce pre-service consumer debt and mortgage interest rates to 6% under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act of 2003, a federal law that gives all military members important rights as they enter active duty. It covers such issues as rental agreements, security deposits, prepaid rent, eviction, installment contracts, credit card interest rates, mortgage interest rates, mortgage foreclosure, civil judicial proceedings, and income tax payments. It also provides many important protections to military members while on active duty. (Learn more.) Notify a creditor in writing with documentation of your call to active duty and request the interest rate reduction for the period of your active service. The creditor must either honor the request or go to court to demonstrate that you do not financially need the interest rate reduction.
  3. Auto Insurance – If your vehicle will not be used while you are on active duty, notify the insurance company to get a reduction in premium and refund for any advance payments.
  4. Federal Income Tax – All active military personnel stationed overseas get an automatic two-month extension of the April 15 deadline to file federal income taxes. If money is owed, collection can be suspended for 180 days after the taxpayer has left the combat zone. IRS Publication 3, the Armed Forces' Tax Guide, contains information on various tax issues affecting members of the U.S. Armed Forces. Look for it on the Internal Revenue Service website.
  5. Book Keeping – If you are the one who usually handles the financial affairs of the household, be sure someone else (a spouse or other trusted individual) knows where important documents and account information are kept, knows when bills are due, knows how to balance the checking account, and is up to the task of managing your financial affairs while you are away.
  6. Plans and Legal Documents – If you don't already have these prepared, try to get them done before you leave for active duty.