South Central Pension Rights Project helps widow claim survivor benefit from Monsanto
Naomi Francisco’s husband worked as an engineer for Monsanto for 35 years and began receiving his pension in 1985. When her husband passed away, the payments suddenly stopped. Wondering why, Naomi contacted Monsanto’s benefit center and was told that her husband had elected a single-life annuity with no survivor benefit. Naomi was shocked because she knew that her husband had chosen to receive a joint-and-survivor annuity, which would continue paying her benefits after his death. After receiving Monsanto's response, Naomi contacted her financial advisor. The financial advisor wrote several letters to the plan administrator and was told the same thing – Naomi was not entitled to a benefit.
Stumped, Naomi's financial advisor contacted the South Central Pension Rights Project and provided them with several documents. One of these documents, a “Statement of Estimated Benefits”, had been provided to Naomi's husband when he reached retirement age and confirmed that he had chosen a joint-and-survivor annuity, not a single-life annuity. After reviewing the documents, the South Central Pension Rights Project contacted the plan administrator on Naomi's behalf, claiming a right to a survivor benefit.
After being contacted by the South Central Pension Rights Project, the plan administrator admitted to misfiling plan documents and providing Naomi with inaccurate information. As a result, the plan administrator told Naomi that she was entitled to a survivor benefit. In December 2010, less than three months after Naomi's financial advisor first contacted the South Central Pension Rights Project, Mrs. Francisco received a retroactive payment of more than $5,500 and began receiving monthly payments of $801.70, nearly doubling her monthly income.
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Did You Know?
A joint-and-survivor annuity is an annuity that pays a monthly benefit over the lives of the participant and his or her surviving spouse. This is the default form of benefit for married participants in most defined benefit pension plans. Because it lasts for the life of both the worker and the spouse, a joint-and-survivor annuity typically results in a lower monthly benefit payment than a single-life annuity.