Client Success Stories
Widow Denied Late Husband’s Pension, Because He’d “Remarried.” The Problem? They’d Never Gotten Divorced!
Mrs. A, a Connecticut resident, contacted the New England Pension Assistance Project (NEPAP) for help with her survivor benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board. Mrs. A’s late husband was a long-time employee of the railroad. Mrs. A and her husband lived apart for the last decade of their marriage, but never got divorced.
Before finding NEPAP, Mrs. A tried to apply for survivor benefits on her own, but the Railroad Retirement Board denied her application. They told Mrs. A that her late husband had allegedly gotten remarried and that his second wife was entitled to survivor benefits. Mrs. A was confused because she and her husband had never been legally divorced! Read More
Improper Plan Administration Almost Costs Widow Her Survivor's Benefit
The New England Pension Assistance Project recently assisted a 76-year old widow in Stamford, Connecticut. She was living on a modest income and having difficulty obtaining her survivor’s benefits from her late husband’s pension plan. Her husband had died in 2010 at the age of 79 without ever receiving his pension. The client called us in April of 2011 because she had paperwork showing that her husband was vested in a pension sponsored by the Bunker-Ramo Company, which had been acquired by Honeywell long after his employment had ended. She had contacted Honeywell on her own and had been told she was not entitled to any benefit.
When we contacted Honeywell on the client’s behalf, we were told that the client was ineligible for a survivor’s benefit because her late husband had failed to file an election form giving her a Qualified Pre-Retirement Survivor Annuity. We realized immediately that this answer was completely inconsistent with the Retirement Equity Act (Section 205 of ERISA). Read More
Leave No Stone Unturned: How an Obscure Provision in the Federal Pension Law Led to a Benefit Increase
The New England Pension Assistance Project (NEPAP) recently obtained a significant benefit increase for a 60-year old Massachusetts resident! Our client (whom we’ll call M) received a booklet from his pension plan saying that the plan was “frozen” back in 2002. When a company “freezes” its pension plan, benefits stop accruing and are calculated as of the date when the plan was frozen. M had never been officially notified of the pension freeze and was understandably concerned about the effect this would have on his pension. When he contacted his former employer, a large medical equipment company, M was told that his pension would be $346.65 per month — considerably less than he expected! M tried unsuccessfully for months to get more information from his employer. Read More
Vermont Woman Can't Find Pension After Union Office Closes
In early December, a 68 year-old woman living on a modest income in Vermont called the New England Pension Assistance Project after finding our website. She was frustrated because she thought she was entitled to a pension, but had no idea how to find it. She told us that she had belonged to the District 65 Union, and had worked as a machine operator in three union shops in New York for about 15 years ending in the mid-1980s. She only remembered the name of one of her former employers, and she had no documentation except a union card from 1980. She knew that the union office had been on Astor Place in New York City. She knew that it was no longer there, but apart from that, she could not provide us with any information about her possible pension entitlement. Read More
From Zero to Two Pensions - With Help from the New England Pension Assistance Project
David Howell of Hamden, Connecticut, had worked in many different jobs for Stop & Shop from 1964 until 1991. He started work as a parking lot attendant and ended as a manager, so he was surprised to hear from Stop & Shop that, with all those years of work, he was not eligible for a pension. Unable to pursue his claim without experienced help, he called the New England Pension Assistance Project (NEPAP) in early 2011. Read More
Tangled Webs: Finding Three Payers for One Pension
The New England Assistance Project recently helped a young widow unravel her late husband’s complicated pension situation. Suddenly widowed at the age of 52, she (we’ll call her K) contacted her husband’s past employers. Among them was a Municipal Water Pollution Control Authority, where he had worked for close to 10 years. K knew he had mentioned earning a pension from this job, so she reported his death to this municipality just a few weeks after he died. After two months of frequent trips to the municipality’s main office, she had not obtained a survivor benefit or even the promise of benefit forms. Read More