No Pension Check in the Mail?

Pension plansThose lucky enough to have earned a defined-benefit pension are in a great position allowing them to retire with a steady income stream for life. However, it's no dream when the promised benefits don't appear.

An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor says that many retirees aren't getting the benefits they've earned. The plans the government has looked at thus far owe more than $500 million to retirees.  The Labor Department has investigated more than four dozen large pension plans and has found staggering results: some of them are not doing a very good job of monitoring retired participants and paying benefits when they're owed. Some plans don't even have the names or ages of many of their participants.

In addition to poor recordkeeping, corporate mergers, spinoffs, and bankruptcies make it difficult for retirees to track down and claim pensions from employers they left years ago. In light of this unfortunate reality, plan members must maintain employment records, plan documents, tax returns, and other paperwork that show they're eligible for a pension. Plus, they must be proactive in claiming their benefits when the time arrives. These plans don't have much motivation to pay benefits when they're due.

If you've earned a pension, hang on to your individual benefit statements and the summary plan description that outlines the requirements for earning benefits. Also, keep your records of employment—including W-2 forms and pay stubs—as well as all of your old tax returns. When you claim your benefits, the plan might say that it's already paid you a distribution, so you'll need your old tax returns to show if that's accurate.

In the event you leave a job before the plan's retirement age, make certain that you have a vested benefit and get the plan's most recent summary plan description. This will tell you the benefits you get in retirement. Update the plan for any changes in your contact info and marital status. If your plan is terminating, make sure you know who's going to be administering the plan. If the plan is sufficiently funded, an insurance company will take over payment of the benefits. If not, the plan will likely be turned over to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.

If you lose track of a pension, go to https://www.pensionhelp.org to find pension counseling projects funded by the U.S. Administration on Aging. Look at your old W-2 to find your former company's employer identification number (EIN)—that can help you find the company. Look for a "notice of potential private pension benefits." This is a reminder from the Social Security Administration to those who've earned a private pension. Plans turned over to the PBGC may be found at www.pbgc.gov/wr or click "find an unclaimed pension" at the site to find out if your name is on the PBGC's list of missing participants. If you've been omitted from your plan's records, you have to document your work history and eligibility for the benefit. If you lack W-2s and other employment documentation, you can get a Social Security earnings statement using Form SSA-7050 for $136.

We understand the needs of our clients; they trust us to provide them with good advice with the issues they will likely face at their stage of life. Call to schedule your complimentary consultation or request a consultation online.  Don't forget to register for one of our complimentary seminars on topics of interest to families like yours.

Reference: Kiplinger's (June 2016) "Missing Pensions Costly to Retirees"


Like this article?

Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on twitter
Share on Twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on Linkdin
Share on pinterest
Share on Pinterest

Leave a comment


We have a LOT more where that came from!

We hate spam too. We will never share or sell your information.

Call Now ButtonCall Us Now https://jsfiddle.net/7h5246b8/

Request a free consultation

We hate spam too. We will never share or sell your information.

We've been putting together as many resources as possible so that we can continue to help:

  • If you’re a current client with a signing appointment or a prospective client with a consultation and would prefer that meeting take place in your own home, we can accomplish that with a little bit of pre-planning on our part and with the addition of a laptop, smartphone, tablet or other computer in your home to facilitate this virtual meeting. For those of you that need to sign legal documents, that too can be accomplished with the use of a webcam (FaceTime etc.), so that we can witness and electronically notarize all of your important legal documents.
  • We launched the rollout of our on-demand webinar early so that new clients and our allied professionals can view the important component parts of ‘an estate plan that works’ at their convenience.  That is available on our website.
  • Live video workshops will be produced as quickly as possible and certainly ahead of our previous schedule; we will keep you posted as these events become available. Given the ‘boutique’ nature of the firm, we rarely have more than ten people in our office including team members at any one time. During this period of ‘social distancing,’ we promise to have no more than 8 people at any time.   This allows us to comply with the Governor’s directive to limit in-person gatherings.
  • The best way to communicate with us is still by phone during regular office hours of 8:30 to 5:00, Monday through Friday, or, you can email any of our team members (that is, their first name followed by @zarembalaw.com).  We will respond to these emails as quickly as possible.
  • Please continue to follow the directives of our local, state, and federal agencies. For your health and in consideration of our team who is assisting you, if you’ve scheduled an office appointment or planned to drop off paperwork and are experiencing a fever, dry cough, or shortness of breath, please contact your primary care doctor for guidance and then our office to reschedule.

Thank you, Walt and the Zaremba Team

Update to our Process

The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has taken our entire country by surprise. We understand how difficult this time is for America’s businesses and families.  However, we believe it is vitally important that we make every effort possible to continue to offer solutions that avoid disrupting our important partnership with you, your family and friends.  As you know, estate planning is not something that should wait for a more convenient time, therefore the opportunity to address your important goals both during and after this crisis should not wait.  To that end, we have added the option of a ‘virtual consultation’ to our office process.  You will now have a choice of either meeting with us in our office or in the comfort of your own home.