by Sandra Wisnewski, Director of the Mid-America Pension Rights Project
The Mid-America Pension Rights Project assists clients with pension and 401(k) issues. There are no age or income restrictions, and there is never a charge for our services. The Pension Project works to find answers and solutions to your pension-related problems. Like those of Mr. W.
Mr. W worked at a company for over twenty years. The company had an employee pension plan; however, sometime in 1984 Mr. W received notice that the pension plan had been frozen. The notice indicated that he was vested in the plan and would receive a benefit, at retirement, of approximately $400.00 a month for his lifetime.
When Mr. W was ready to retire, he had to track down the current administrator of the pension plan. The company had been bought and sold so many times throughout the years, that he wasn’t sure who to contact. After some research, Mr. W was eventually able to track down the plan’s current administrator.
When he contacted the administrator, he was told that he was not eligible to receive a benefit. While on the phone with the representative. Mr. W requested the pension plan documents. The representative told Mr. W that he would forward the documents to him, but Mr. W never received them.
At this point, Mr. W realized that he could not continue this battle on his own, he needed some experienced assistance. Fortunately, he had just read an article, in a magazine, about the Pension Project.
Mr. W’s case was assigned to an attorney. The attorney sent out an inquiry on Mr. W’s behalf requesting the relevant plan documents. The company responded to both the attorney and Mr. W. The attorney received the plan documents while Mr. W received the initiation packet to start his benefit. To his surprise, the documents indicated that he was eligible to receive a paltry $15.00 a month, for more than 20 years of service.
The attorney called the administrator and requested a detailed calculation of Mr. W’s benefit. The representative informed the attorney that they did not provide detailed calculations, and it was up to Mr. W to provide the plan with a calculation of his benefit. The attorney had never encountered a company that refused to provide a detailed calculation.
The attorney’s next step, was to prove the amount of Mr. W’s monthly benefit. By using the plan document as a guide, the attorney was able to determine the amount owed to Mr. W. Mr. W was actually entitled to $500.00 a month. The attorney sent a letter to the plan with the calculations. The plan responded that they did not agree with the attorney’s calculations.
After many phone calls and months of negotiating, Mr. W settled for a monthly benefit of $485.00. The value of this lifetime benefit plus the retroactive payment he received, dating back to the time of retirement, was valued at over $115,000.00! Mr. W was thrilled with the work the attorney had done on his case.
The Pension Project is funded by the Federal government through a grant provided by the Administration for Community Living, and is a program of Elder Law of Michigan, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit. This document was produced through grant funds, but does not represent the view of the Administration for Community Living.
Since the program began in 1998, the Pension Project has assisted over 11,000 clients and has recovered over fifty million dollars in pension benefits. The Pension Project assists clients in Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. For more information, visit www.mid-americapensions.org.
If you need help with or information about your pension or 401(k) benefit, please call the Mid-America Pension Rights Project at 866-735-7737 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced attorneys.