By Sandra Wisnewski, Director of the Mid-America Pension Rights Project at Elder Law of Michigan
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 services. The Pension Project works to find answers and solutions to your pension-related problem.
Sometimes retirees are notified after retirement that the monthly benefit they are receiving is too high; therefore, the plan must recoup the benefit overpayment. There can be many reasons for an overpayment. Most of the time, it is not due to any actions of the retiree. When a retiree receives one of these overpayment notices it is usually a total surprise and the amount owed is devastating. The retiree has no idea how they are going to pay the money back.
One reason for an overpayment is that a supplemental benefit was not stopped when the retiree reached a specific age. This was the case with Ms. A. Ms. A was notified in 2018 that the supplement that she was receiving with her pension benefit should have been discontinued in 2004. After 14 years, Ms. A owed over $30,000 in overpayments and interest to the plan. The plan threatened to recoup the money by cutting 100% of Ms. A’s pension benefit for the rest of her life. Ms. A depended on the income and had no idea how she would pay back the money.
When Ms. A called the Mid-America Pension Rights Project she did not know what to do. She was devastated by the news and didn’t know how she would live without the monthly income. Ms. A was not in good health and recently returned home after a 10-month stay in a nursing home. She was finally home but was still having trouble walking by herself. When Ms. A called MAPRP she had received the overpayment notice and a letter explaining her appeal rights. The MAPRP attorney started writing an appeal letter on Ms. A’s behalf right away.
After many months, the plan responded to MAPRP’s appeal. Although Ms. A still owed the plan money, the amount owed now was $1,800, a $28,000 difference! Ms. A was thrilled that MAPRP was able to get a reduction and that her full monthly pension benefit would continue for the rest of her life.
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 organization.
Since the program began in 1998, the Pension Project has assisted over 14,000 clients and recovered over 69 million dollars in pension benefits. The Pension Project 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.
The information in this article is general and not intended to be a substitute for legal advice. In any legal matter you should always consider consulting with an attorney for specific advice.
Sandra Wisnewski is an Attorney and the Director of Client Assistance with Elder Law of Michigan. Sandra has been a staff member of the Elder Law of Michigan team since 2010. As Director of Client Assistance, Sandra manages the day to day operations of the hotline and the pension department and helps clients who call for legal assistance.