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Author: Brooklyn1948 Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 19257  
Subject: Collecting a pension Date: 10/3/2012 7:15 AM
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My husband turned 65 recently. He has been in contact with a former employer for the past several months and so far he has received no information regarding the small pension that is owed to him.
He was told that the company's actuaries were working on this.
Is this standard procedure? Is there a time limit as to how long before they have to give him an answer?
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Author: alstroemeria Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Recommended Fools Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 17883 of 19257
Subject: Re: Collecting a pension Date: 10/3/2012 10:14 AM
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so far he has received no information regarding the small pension that is owed to him

Does former employer agree that your husband worked there between the dates specified at his correct starting and ending salaries? Do they acknowledge that he earned a pension? Has he applied for his pension but not received it yet, or did he just call for information? Did they roll the pension monies over to a 401k plan at some point? Is the company still in business? Many (most? all?) employers outsource their pension plans to professional management. My husband's from a private company is managed by Fidelity. I believe his state pension is managed by the state.

About 10 years ago, at age 53 and many years after leaving their employ, my husband contacted the former company that owed him a pension (actually, he called the company that bought out the company that his company merged with~). They acknowledged him as being owed a pension immediately and had the correct dates and salaries for his employment history, even though the original company no longer exists. Customer service was quick, responsive, friendly, and knowledgeable, providing details such as the amount of pension if started at different ages, the lump sum equivalent that he could take instead, how long it takes to start receiving the pension after you apply (you apply about 3 months before a birthday and payments begin the month following your birthday). He checked back recently as he now has his retirement date set for this spring, and all remains as they said 10 years ago and last year.

So it seems odd to me that your husband's former employer is dragging their feet. I wonder if the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp is now or may soon be involved--is DH's old company bankrupt or the pension plan underfunded? I would try googling for that information. You can also look for his company on the PBGC list:

http://www.pbgc.gov/wr/trusteed/plans.html

Also, is there a state agency that monitors pensions in your (former?) state? If you can't find one, perhaps there's a consumer hot line in your phone book or at a local newspaper that can point you in the right direction.

I would make another call to the company to at least find out who manages the pension. Maybe they are in the process of changing managers? Or to find out if they ever morphed the pension into a defined contribution plan, maybe after your husband left the company. Or maybe your husband missed the window of opportunity to apply before his 65th birthday and now has to wait for his 66th??

Good luck. Maybe someone here has more specific info. Let us know what happens.

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Author: Brooklyn1948 Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 17885 of 19257
Subject: Re: Collecting a pension Date: 10/3/2012 10:53 AM
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Thank you so much for all the info. My DH left the company about 13 years ago. He was told at that time how much of a pension he could expect at the age of 65. I should mention that the company is a foreign bank with offices here in the US and that this company has merged several times since DH left their employ. The same person he spoke to 13 years ago is the very same person he contacted when he turned 65.
I googled this company many times and they are not doing well financially but DH says that the pension plans here in the US are protected. We can only hope.

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Author: pauleckler Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 17893 of 19257
Subject: Re: Collecting a pension Date: 10/3/2012 2:59 PM
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I had a similar situation with my employer. I left the company taking a buyout package that included extended severance pay. At the end of the severance period, I was old enough to collect pension and get their retirees health insurance.

But the employee benefits office that handled pensions seemed over extended. They always up me off when I asked for information. "Wait until . . . " Then they almost missed the end date, and had to hurry up to get the papers done.

When companies go through changes and multiple downsizings, many ask for information on their pensions, but that specialized staff seems not to get expanded to handle the load.

Yes, your pension is protected by federal law, and you can always threaten to sue if they screw it up. Meanwhile, keep on it and hopefully they will make it right.

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Author: Brooklyn1948 Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 17894 of 19257
Subject: Re: Collecting a pension Date: 10/3/2012 4:06 PM
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Thanks for the information. Most likely since the company has merged twice in the past 13 years, it may take awhile to get things straightened out. If we don't hear something in the next few weeks we can make a complaint to the government agency that handles this sort of thing. I think it's ERISA.
Although we have never sued anyone, this would be the first time and we would definitely pursue this. This small pensionis enough to cover our monthly Medicare payments and that's a big deal for us.
What bothers us most is the total lack of regard for people like us who just want some answers.

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Author: pauleckler Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 17895 of 19257
Subject: Re: Collecting a pension Date: 10/4/2012 4:33 AM
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<I think it's ERISA.>

Let's hope it does not go that far, but if it was me if it comes time to get the feds involved, I'd call my Congressman's office for advice on who to call.

A law suit could be costly. So that is you last choice, but a threat of a lawsuit or a letter from your lawyer can sometimes work wonders.

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Author: Brooklyn1948 Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 17896 of 19257
Subject: Re: Collecting a pension Date: 10/4/2012 6:15 AM
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Thanks for the tip on calling our congressman's office. I hadn't thought of doing that.

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Author: Brooklyn1948 Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 17899 of 19257
Subject: Re: Collecting a pension Date: 10/5/2012 3:33 PM
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Things are looking up with the pension. My husband called the woman in charge and although she was out of the office (surprise, surprise) the person covering for her actually remembered his name. They will be getting in touch sometime next week to go over details.
I am keeping my fingers crossed.

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