The PBGC and Omitted Participants
The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation is an agency which guarantees the benefits payable by defined benefit pension plans when those plans fail or are terminated. When the plan has insufficient assets to pay all the benefits it owes, the PBGC actually steps in and directly pays those benefits to the retirees. In cases where the plan is deemed to have sufficient assets, the PBGC plays a much smaller role. In these cases, called “standard terminations”, it allows the plan to either pay out immediate lump sums or to buy an annuity with an insurance company to pay the retirees’ benefits when those retirees reach retirement age. In most of these cases, the PBGC relies on the employer’s records that it has paid out, or bought an annuity for, everyone who is vested under the plan.
What happens if the pension plan has made mistakes, if its records are incomplete, and fail to take into account everyone who is due a benefit under the terminating plan? Two of our recent cases illustrate just that point. Read More
Connecticut Woman Receives Lifetime Benefit Valued at Over $44,000
The New England Pension Assistance Project recently helped a Connecticut woman with an unusual pension problem. She came to us a few months after she had retired from a manufacturing company at the age of 71, after having worked there for 46 years. The pension plan had been frozen in 1999, when she had 33 years of service. Her concern was that she was being told that her monthly benefit at age 71 wages the same benefit that would have been payable to her at age 65, and the client did not think this was fair. Read More
Rhode Island Man Receives Retroactive Lump Sum of $17,000
A 71-year-old Rhode Island man with limited English proficiency contacted us with a problem involving the insurance company responsible for his pension. The client had only applied for his pension recently due to the language barrier and other issues, but the plan's Normal Retirement Age for benefit eligibility was 65. Read More
Low-income Rhode Island Widow Finally Gets Her Survivor’s Benefit Thanks to Years of Help From Center Staff and Volunteers
Our client, a 75-year-old Rhode Island widow living on an annual income of less than $20,000, contacted us in 2010 about a Notice of Potential Private Pension Benefit which she had received regarding a pension her late husband had earned from a small manufacturing company called P & C Quality Turned Components, Inc. Her late husband had died at the age of 56 without receiving the pension. Read More
Union Pension Fund Demands That Retiree Pay $2,000 (Plus Nearly $8,000 Interest!) For a Supposed Overpayment
Many clients contact us when, out of the blue, they receive a letter from the pension fund telling them that their monthly benefits will be cut so that the plan can recover the overpaid amount, and sometimes also demanding that the retiree pay back a large lump sum as well. Many retirees from Illinois received letters like this from their union pension fund, Sheet Metal Workers Local 73, this past summer, and contacted the Illinois Pension Assistance Project for help. We worked on many of these cases throughout the summer and fall of 2013.
Just a few months ago, a 75-year old retired mechanic who was in Local 73 called us because he had recently received a similar letter. Read More
Massachusetts Man Denied His Retirement Benefits Due to Frequent Changes in His Employer’s Name and ID Number
Our client, a 70-year-old man from Central Massachusetts, told us that he had worked as a tool and die setter for a manufacturing company called North & Judd in New Britain, Connecticut, from about 1969 to 1980 or 1981, but had never received his pension and did not know who to contact about it. We opened a case and began to investigate in May of 2011.
We very quickly determined that the North & Judd plan had been terminated and was trusteed by the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC). We helped the client to file a claim with the PBGC, which asked him to provide Social Security Detailed Earnings in support of his claim, since it had no information regarding client’s benefit status. Read More
Illinois Pension Assistance Project Helps to Find Lost Pensions for Clients
The Illinois Pension Assistance Project (IPAP) has recovered nearly half a million dollars in pension benefits for clients since its inception in July of 2012. One of the project’s areas of expertise is finding lost pensions. Workers and retirees can lose track of their pension benefits since, over time, companies may have gone bankrupt or changed ownership through mergers and acquisitions. Therefore, it is not uncommon for these companies’ retirement benefits to become lost.
For example, a 52-year old Illinois resident recently contacted IPAP asking for help locating his pension. The company he worked for from 1984 – 1999 had gone out of business and he did not know who to contact regarding his retirement benefits. Read More
Union Misinterprets ERISA Provision and Improperly Denies an Illinois Retiree’s Pension
A 58-year old Teamster contacted the Illinois Pension Assistance Project because the union pension fund had denied him benefits. The individual had been a member of Teamsters Local 734 and had worked in union covered employment at Hostess from 1987 through 1994. Hostess was a contributing employer to the Local 734 Pension Fund. In June 1994, the man transferred from his union job to a management position with Hostess and remained in that position through 1997. When he inquired into his pension, Local 734 told him he was not vested because he left union covered employment before earning 10 years of service.
Upon reviewing the client’s documents, we realized that Local 734 was misinterpreting the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)’s provision for “contiguous non-covered service” and had improperly denied our client’s pension. Read More
Illinois Man Couldn't Find the Pension He Earned 29 Years Ago
A 64-year old former employee of Caterpillar contacted the Illinois Pension Assistance Project for help finding a lost pension. A pension becomes lost because a company, has moved, been acquired, merged, or gone out of business. When this happens, former employees approaching retirement age don’t always know how to collect the retirement benefits they earned.
The client worked for Caterpillar from 1972 through 1984 and was told when he left service that he was vested in a pension. However, 29 years later, as he approached age 65, the client was not sure whom to call for information about his benefit. Read More
Need help now?
Call the Pension Action Center toll-free at 888.425.6067.
Request help online from the New England Pension Assistance Project or the Illinois Pension Assistance Project.
Giving to the Pension Action Center
Help people understand their retirement benefits through a gift to the center.
Pension Action Center
University of Massachusetts Boston
100 Morrissey Blvd.
Giving to UMass Boston
Help people understand pension benefits through a gift to the Pension Action Center.