Medicare Reimbursement

Joined: April 20th, 2016, 4:37 pm

April 20th, 2016, 4:55 pm #1

I am an AT&T Bell Laboratories retiree who retired under the Special Retirement Option dated 12/30/1989. A critical part of the Special Retirement Option incentive stated that I would be entitled to receive health care for life for me and my spouse.
Subsequent to my retirement AT&T split up and Bell Laboratories became Lucent Technologies and ultimately Alcatel-Lucent. So by default, my pension is now serviced by Alcatel-Lucent. At the present time I am not being reimbursed for my Medicare Part B costs and as I read through my “Official Retirement Plan Documents” I feel that I should be entitled to this benefit. Alcatel-Lucent continues to reimburse former AT&T Occupational retirees but no longer reimburses former management employees for their Medicare Part B costs.
Do you know or have any experience with how Alcatel-Lucent handles “Grandfathering”. Should they be required to reimburse Medicare costs for former AT&T Management employees who retired in December of 1989 under the Special Retirement Option?
I have friends who retired from other AT&T entities at the same time as me and they have been told that they are now considered “Legacy” retirees and they continue to be reimbursed for their Medicare Costs.

Joined: June 11th, 2008, 2:45 pm

April 20th, 2016, 7:01 pm #2

Good question. I'm also a 1989 AT&T Management retiree and have asked the same question several times but never received an answer. Lets see what happens with your attempt.

Site Admin
Joined: December 27th, 2006, 11:00 pm

April 22nd, 2016, 4:57 pm #3

This question is very complicated and requires expertise to answer. You can contact the LRO at:
To help with the background, there is a written record on the question, which was raised directly with Lucent by the LRO in 2004 through an in person Q&A. The record shows:
"Q4: I have it in writing that AT&T promised me healthcare for a lifetime if I took a
package. How can you go back on those promises made before Lucent was
A: This was a very difficult decision and was not made lightly.Under federal law, obligations relating to retiree healthcare benefits are notgenerally protected or guaranteed the way your pensions are. Both AT&T and Lucent
have stated in our communications over the years that the company "reserves the right
to change future retiree health and life insurance benefits," and we have found ourselves
in a situation where we must take these actions now."

There also is a public record. Lucent filed a 10-K with SEC Sep. 8, 2003 with the following content
"For management retirees, in 2004, we will lower our costs for retiree healthcare by:
• no longer reimbursing management retirees and their dependents for the cost of Medicare Part B premiums;
• no longer providing subsidies for dependents of management retirees who retired on or after March 1, 1990, and whose base salary at retirement was $87,000 or more. We will continue to provide access to comparable coverage at group rates for management retirees’ dependents if they wish to pay for it. "
Note the Medicare reimbursement change had no retirement date qualification.