Restarting a pension becomes a family matter
When Emma, a widow living in a nursing home, suddenly stopped receiving her monthly pension payments in May 2013, she turned to Lily, her granddaughter, for help. Emma had been receiving a survivor pension since her husband’s death in 1959 and didn’t know why her monthly pension payments had stopped. Because Lily’s grandfather had worked for more than 20 years at the post office, Lily contacted the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the pension plan administrator. Unfortunately, Lily’s grandfather didn’t have a Social Security Number, which prevented OPM from finding a record for him in its database.
Not knowing what to do next, Lily heard a radio public service announcement promoting the free services of the Mid-America Pension Rights Project. Hoping the counseling project would have better results, Lily called the counseling project and was connected with Jean Spring, a pension attorney for the counseling project. Jean was able to reach an attorney in OPM’s Customer Information Branch and eventually learned that Emma’s pension had stopped because OPM needed Emma to complete a form. Apparently, OPM had mailed the form to Emma’s home address, not knowing she had moved to a nursing home. Because OPM never received the form, it stopped Emma’s pension payments pending a response from Emma. Jean was able to get OPM to send Emma another form and, after Emma completed and returned the form to OPM, Emma’s pension was restarted in May 2014. Emma also received a retroactive payment of more than $7,100 to compensate for the more than a year of pension payments she hadn't received.
The Mid-America Pension Rights Project provides free legal services in Indiana, Kentucky Michigan, Ohio and, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. To date, the Mid-America Pension Rights Project has recovered more than $50 million in benefits for more than 11,000 clients.
Looking for help with your retirement plan?
If you have a problem with your retirement plan, free help may be available from the U.S. Administration on Aging's network of Pension Counseling and Information Projects. Find help now.
What's your story?
We're hearing from people around the country who are worried about cuts to their pensions. These are their stories.
PensionHelp America connects people who need help with their pension, 401(k), and other retirement plans with the pension counseling projects, legal services providers, and government agencies that can help answer their questions. Visit www.pensionhelp.org.
Roadmap to retirement
Let our roadmap to helpful information about retirement plans for private-sector workers put you on the path toward a secure retirement. Get started.
Get E-mail Updates
Did You Know?
NAFI Retirement Plans are retirement plans sponsored by government entities known as Non-Appropriated Fund Instrumentalities (NAFIs). NAFIs are part of the federal government but they do not receive funding from Congress. Instead, NAFIs fund themselves with revenue they earn through the services and products that they provide. Because NAFI employees are not eligible to participate in the retirement plans available to most civilian federal government employees, NAFIs sponsor their own plans. Learn more.