Erroneous Pension for last 20yrs Demand$360k+ returned? HELP

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Erroneous Pension for last 20yrs Demand$360k+ returned? HELP

mominnursinghome
Joined: 15 Dec 2015, 12:50

15 Dec 2015, 13:18 #1

My mom, Sue Feldbrugge, the retiree, is in a nursing home and unable to help. Mom retired as management at AT&T 1995 with 23 + years of NCS. Alcatel-Lucent is now claiming she is not entitled to her monthly pension and demands we return the last 20 years of payments, over $373,000! The letter claims due to the Mandatory Portability Act, and the fact she worked 1 month in NOV 1988 for the then USWEST and signed a document that ported her pension and benefits over to the now Centurylink. It is my understanding this document not only ports her pension and benefits, it also allows for her various years of service to follow her from company to company. In Dec 1988 she took a management position with AT&T and retired from there in 1995. I have her original AT&T pension calculation papers. In it, it tracks her years of service back to 1957. It is my understanding this would not be possible without ANOTHER signed document porting her pension and benefits back to AT&T. This document cannot be found according to Hewitt, the current servicer of the Plan. They claim Mom must not have signed the document to port her benefits back. Mom was very savvy in her day, and there is NO WAY she would not have opted to have all of years of service follow her! They just conveniently can't find the "document". Again, it is my understanding the 3rd party provider has changed multiple times over the years. After she retired in 1995, the following year, her plan was moved under the Alcatel-Lucent. This letter also canceled her life insurance. I have filed a claim with the plan administers as advised. In addition, I have filed a claim with Centurylink. No one at CenturyLink has any record of my Mom. I cannot find any live person to speak to at AT&T either. Has anyone experienced this situation? Is there anything more I can do? Is there anyone who can help us? Do I need an attorney? If so, who is recommended. Has anyone successfully fought this kind of situation? It is so very wrong for this to be happening and I am at my wits end trying to get this resolved. Her last monthly pension payment was Oct 2015. Mom is in very poor health. She is very much entitled to her pension! Please help in anyway you can. Thank you, her daughter.
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jee000
Joined: 16 Dec 2009, 16:18

15 Dec 2015, 18:33 #2

Forgive me for asking but are you sure this is not a scam?


the LRO listed this site for the plan administrator in the
" bad and perhaps fraudulent service" thread

Postby lucentretirees on Fri Nov 27 2015
The ALRIP pension plan administrator, address and phone number appear to be provided on this web site.

http://www.brightscope.com/form-5500/ba ... Plan/2014/


maybe you should start there
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Conn2005
Joined: 22 Nov 2015, 18:05

16 Dec 2015, 00:10 #3

I know how you feel. I'm being asked to return my entire lump sum payment and my last pension check. but I have this link that I think you should read......go to some of the links.......

http://www.erisapracticecenter.com/2014 ... rpayments/

What is most troubling is the tax consequences and if you were to even consider repayment your mother would have paid taxes on monies she doesn't even have anymore because you would have given it back. It's like found money for Alcatel-Lucent.

I'm also in the process of waiting for my appeal answer. The cancellation of a Life Insurance Benefit should have nothing to do with
Pension Benefits. It's there way of taking something away from your mother in their eyes they believe they are gaining.

I do know that the IRS in a recent ruling in 2015 mentions hardship and they mention the employer taking the responsibility of the loss as well as the Benefit Plan themselves. There is approximately 10 billion in the pension fund now.
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mominnursinghome
Joined: 15 Dec 2015, 12:50

16 Dec 2015, 01:21 #4

jeeooo No I don't think it's a scam, well at least not by anyone other than Alcatel-Lucent anyway. Her pension payments stopped as they said they would. I have spoke to a few good people at the call center. At first no one there knew anything about this letter. Later, I demanded a supervisor. She was able to advise me that when Hewitt took over they performed an audit of all pensions for Alcatel Lucent. However they have no control at all there. They sent a "research" ticket in numerous times. It always comes back with the same thing. We have a signed document porting her Pension to Centurylink, therefore we are not paying it anymore. Talk to Centurylink. No instructions or phone numbers to call Centurylink, no instructions on how to file a claim if we disagree with thier decision. Just an address. Centurylink has no record of her at all. In September, when I first received this letter, I was unaware she ever worked for the then USWEST. I paid to have her social security records sent to me to prove it. Unbeknownst to me she did work for them. She worked there for 1 month only. My brother then recalled she had taken a job there, but didn't like the location. She quickly accepted another job at AT&T. So it appears she did sign papers to port her previous AT&T service to Centurylink. For that one month only. However, she didn't WAIVE her pension rights by porting it. I have read the whole Mandatory Portability Act of 1984! All of it! When she was rehired by AT&T, there had to be another document signed porting her service and benefits back to AT&T. If not, the original pension calculation document I have would not have her recorded service back to 1957. The person at the call center for Lucent was able to view a document dated 2-89 that said immediate service bridge. Therefore no 5 year waiting period as can be the case sometimes. Even if there were, she worked more than 5 years after being hired, so service bridging would be a moot point. There is no live person to talk to at the "Pension Plan Administration" in New Jersey for Lucent. Just the address. And I certainly have not sent a check or money order to them for $300 some thousand dollars, nor could I! So far they haven't come collecting as yet. There is an error by someone, and it's not my Mom. They also cannot produce this so called document that she signed either. I have sent letters, and copies of her original AT&T pension documents, including Congratulations on your retirement letters she had. Thank goodness I saved them when I cleaned out her home before selling it! I have sent the same to Centurylink. I have heard nothing back from either. They have 90 days which is coming dec21. I am trying to learn as much as I can. The ERISA laws, according to my understanding states they can reply with we need more time. After 120 days I can file a lawsuit. I am hoping there is some other way to resolve this than a lawsuit! As of now, I hold Power of Attorney for my Mom. And because of that, at least I have the ability to handle this. She is of ill health however. So if the inevitable should occur before this is resolved, it will get even more difficult to resolve. In addition, no life insurance so end of life needs will be a problem as well. If you or anyone has any further direction or help I would be most grateful!
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mominnursinghome
Joined: 15 Dec 2015, 12:50

16 Dec 2015, 01:26 #5

Conn2005 Thank you. I will read the links. This situation is a bit different than the lump sum payout. I got that letter as well. Mom was not eligible as her age at retirement didn't fit the criteria. However, what I have been reading on this site makes my blood boil. Looks to me like a Alcatel is trying to ruin every loyal employee it ever had! Oh! How I hate what became of good ol Ma Bell!
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lucentretirees
Site Admin
Joined: 27 Dec 2006, 23:00

16 Dec 2015, 17:57 #6

Here are two links that might be of help, sponsored by the Federal government. One cautionary note: there may be sub links and if any ask for a fee, that would be wrong.

Pension help centers by locale with sponsorship by the Administration for the Aging:

http://www.pensionrights.org/sites/defa ... _sheet.pdf

The Department of Labor (EBSA) has a participant assistance web site:

https://www.askebsa.dol.gov/WebIntake/Home.aspx
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jee000
Joined: 16 Dec 2009, 16:18

16 Dec 2015, 19:19 #7

Gosh, I am so sorry about this. I wish I could help but you are probably taking all the right steps and probably will need an attorney.
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Conn2005
Joined: 22 Nov 2015, 18:05

16 Dec 2015, 21:03 #8

I hope that when you mailed your Appeal you sent it registered mail return receipt requested or priority mail so you were able to trace it. I contacted the Department of Labor and a letter is going to the Plan Administrator to provide all guidelines and amendments to the plan regarding specific guidelines about requesting/demanding return of pension benefits. The Benefit Advisor said this is happening quite often......sometimes companies are reaching out 5,10,15 years later demanding
return of monies and most of the time it has been spent. When my situation happened I requested a copy of the Pension Plan
Documents with any and all restrictions. By law they are required to provide these documents according to ERISA. And, of course, they never sent them. Obviously if they had the right or a provision to recoup it would be provided immediately. But now that I don't have it, obviously it contains something that would work for my benefit. What is important to remember - the call center is an outside contractor and out-sourced. The Corporate headquarters on Mountain Avenue, Murray Hill, NJ
is where the Plan Administrator and the Legal Department is located. But, even the legal department is outsourced to non-company lawyers.
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mendomann
Joined: 09 Jun 2008, 21:40

17 Dec 2015, 00:50 #9

This is quite disturbing. After 20 years of paying a pension, all of a sudden it is determined that a retiree is not eligible? What happened during the buyout? Why was it not determined then? It sounds like Hewitt is not doing a very good job of managing our pension plan. It seems to me that if a mistake was made then ALU should seek recourse from Centurylink and have them correct the problem. What is the LRO doing with cases like this?
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lucentretirees
Site Admin
Joined: 27 Dec 2006, 23:00

19 Dec 2015, 15:13 #10

There's a very readable white paper from the Pension Rights organization on the topic of unfair pension take backs. It mentions the US Administration on Aging support for plan participants in a footnote and in a Wall Street Journal article.

http://www.pensionrights.org/sites/defa ... ebacks.pdf
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info2
Joined: 24 Jul 2008, 14:09

19 Dec 2015, 19:44 #11

If all pension calculations sent at time of retirement looked correct,the Company and/or third party pension calculators,auditors should be responsible for payback,not the retiree. And further,they should be sued for providing the retiree with erroneous info affecting his/her entire future. Great previous post by Lucent Retirees Org!
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Hampstead
Joined: 18 Jul 2015, 13:53

20 Dec 2015, 15:35 #12

Obviously this is unfair and not the retirees fault. Pension retirement amounts are presented to employees prior to retiring and from those numbers and other financial factors they then choose to retire or not retire. Now after 10,15, 20 years the “HR pension calculators” come back with an “oops” and want the money back ASAP ... get real!!! A signed contract made should be a contract kept and claiming years limited.

What considerations would any law governing body permit this to happen and wouldn’t there be a limit (years) to when a company could file for recoup? How would one know if the recoup request/recalculations are done correct this time? We trusted them the first time … do we trust them again now? Consider the massive back tracking one would have to do if funds were returned. The Federal and state income taxes filed and paid over those years would have to be amended. That’s a huge problem!! From what I’ve found- refiling is limited to 3-7 years and is based on various circumstances .. and I always thought and heard that you should keep your tax records for 10 years.

A signed contract made should be a contract kept and be limited to how far back a company can go to file from the initialization of a pension for recoup.

I guess this links to those involved with the lump sum request to return their funds because of miscalculations ... boy, talk about incompetence!! I read some of the reports regarding return of the lump sum money .. “all funds” .. if I recall. If there was an error in the calculation I would have expected … you got $XXX,XXX dollars and you were overpaid by $X,XXX dollars. The previous calculations were based on this and the new calculations are corrected based on this and attached is a copy of the formal letter sent to the IRS explaining our error .. all penalties will be paid by us for this error. Ah, what might have been.
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