(Mid-America Pension Rights Project): A Working-Class Program that Works to Solve Your Pension Problems

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 the services. The Pension Project works to find answers and solutions to your pension-related problem. Just ask Mr. S.

Mr. S called because he was having issues starting his pension. Mr. S worked for a company for approximately 9 years, leaving in the early ‘90s. Mr. S called the former employer and was told that the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) was responsible for paying the benefit. The original company was bought out by another company. When Mr. S spoke with the PBGC he was told that the company was still responsible for paying his pension benefit.

At first, the company told Mr. S that he didn’t have a pension benefit owed. The second time he called the company they told him that he was not vested, he only worked 9 years, from 1981 to 1990. At the time Mr. S left employment, pursuant to Federal law, only 5 years was required to vest in a pension plan.

The MAPRP Attorney called the company to verify the company address. It was very difficult to get ahold of a live person because of the extensive phone prompts. Finally, the attorney was able to speak with a representative. The representative checked Mr. S’s file and stated once again that he was not owed a pension benefit. The Attorney asked the representative for the mailing address to legal counsel.

The Attorney sent an inquiry to the address provided. After a month of no contact, the Attorney called the company and asked the status of her inquiry. The representative said that Mr. S was not owed a pension benefit; however, a letter would be sent to Mr. S soon indicating the company’s determination. 

After another month, Mr. S received a benefit packet from the company. The packet indicated that Mr. S would receive half of what he was expecting. The attorney reviewed the packet and determined that Mr. S’ entire time of employment had not been counted.  The attorney called the company representative assigned to the case and left 6 voicemails during a 2-month period. The company representative finally called the attorney back indicating that the case was transferred to legal counsel and legal counsel would get back to the attorney. 

Some more time passed without any correspondence from the company. The attorney sent another letter to the company but this time it was sent to the attention of legal counsel and the CEO. Within less than a week, the General Legal Counsel contacted the attorney and indicated that a company attorney had been assigned to Mr. S’ case. 

The next day Mr. S received a benefit packet counting his entire time of employment with the company. 

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. 

Since the program began in 1998, the Pension Project has assisted over 16,000 clients and has recovered over 83 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 Mid-America Pension Rights Project.

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 the Director of Legal Services at Elder Law of Michigan. Sandra has been a staff member of the Elder Law of Michigan team since 2010. As Director of Legal Services, Sandra manages the day-to-day operations of the pension department and helps clients who call for pension assistance.