by Sandra Wisnewski, J.D., Director of the Mid-America Pension Rights Project
The Mid-America Pension Rights Project (MAPRP) assists clients with pension and 401(k) issues. There are no age or income restrictions and there is never a charge for our services. MAPRP works to find answers and solutions to your pension-related problems. Just ask Ms. R.
Ms. R had been physically separated from her husband for many years, but they were never legally divorced. Ms. R’s husband passed away in 2005. At that time, Ms. R contacted the pension plan about her surviving spouse benefit. Ms. R was told that she was not eligible to receive the benefit. Ms. R’s late husband, upon retirement, told the plan that he was not married.
That’s when Ms. R contacted MAPRP. Immediately, an intern was assigned to Ms. R’s case. The intern wrote to the plan on Ms. R’s behalf, but got the same result. Ms. R’s burden was to prove that she was married to her husband at the time of his death. The intern assisted Ms. R in obtaining the necessary documentation to prove the marriage. As you can imagine, this took quite sometime to complete.
By the time these proofs were obtained, the intern had graduated law school and had left the MAPRP. Ms. R’s case was transferred to one of MAPRP attorneys. The attorney wrote a letter to the plan. The letter contained documentation proving the marriage, applicable regulations, case law, and a request a for payment. After numerous follow up letters and many phone calls, a determination from the plan was finally received.
The plan denied MAPRP’s request for payment of Ms. R’s surviving spouse benefit. The denial was based on a state law. The attorney responded by submitting an appeal letter refuting the application of the law.
Within a few months, MAPRP received a response from the plan. Ms. R was going to receive her benefit. Ms. R received, over $86,000.00 in a retroactive payment and $850.00 a month for the rest of her life. Ms. R was thrilled that she finally was going to get her money! Ms. R told MAPRP that she was planning a trip, one that she was unable to take until now.
The Mid-America Pension Rights 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.
Since the program began in 1998, MAPRP has assisted over 12,000 clients and has recovered over 56 million dollars in pension benefits. MAPRP assists clients that either worked in or are currently living 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.