The retiree finally retained counsel, who a filed a class action. It wasn't too late and the retiree had a right to review the plan documents that supposedly guided the calculation of his pension benefit. The case is now poised for settlement, more than seven years after the retiree first inquired about his benefit calculation.
Tips for Retirees
- Retirees who have a question about their benefit but face an unresponsive pension bureaucracy, may not want to wait five years to consult an attorney. Consider consulting an attorney with ERISA experience early in the process if your pension plan is ignoring your inquiries.
- Consider contacting the local office of the Employee Benefits Security Administration of U.S. Department of Labor. The DOL has responsibility for enforcing ERISA requirements. While the DOL typically does not file lawsuits on behalf of individuals with benefit claims, the EBSA offices have staffers who can contact the plan on your behalf to help obtain the requested documents and an explanation of the benefit payment. A phone call or letter from the DOL may bring more urgency to your inquiry.
- If you have received a response to your inquiry about the benefit calculation, and you are not satisfied with the response, you may have to start or continue with the administrative appeals process. If you do not complete the administrative process, or if you wait too long, you may lose your right to pursue your claim. Again, consider consulting with an attorney, if you have not done so previously.