Our client, a 70-year-old man from Central Massachusetts, told us that he had worked as a tool and die setter for a manufacturing company called North & Judd in New Britain, Connecticut, from about 1969 to 1980 or 1981, but had never received his pension and did not know who to contact about it. We opened a case and began to investigate in May of 2011. We very quickly determined that the North & Judd plan had been terminated and was trusteed by the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC). We helped the client to file a claim with the PBGC, which asked him to provide Social Security Detailed Earnings in support of his claim, since it had no information regarding client’s benefit status.
In May of 2012, the PBGC denied the client’s benefit claim because the Social Security Earnings listed his earnings under four different employers with four different Employer Identification Numbers (EINs), and all these were different from the number of the trusteed plan. The employer’s name was variously listed as North & Judd Manufacturing, North & Judd, Inc., Gulf & Western Manufacturing, and Gulf and Western Precision Engineering. The PBGC therefore concluded that he was not vested in the North & Judd Inc. UAW Pension Plan, which it trusteed.
Refusing to let this retiree be denied the benefits he had clearly earned, we appealed the PBGC’s decision to its Appeals Board, after obtaining PBGC premium payment history records through two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, compiling corporate records from the State of Connecticut, and other corporate information sources. We argued that detailed analysis of the premium payment history tied Mr. Moore’s earnings information to the records of the trusteed plan’s payments, and that evidence in the PBGC’s records showed the merger from one EIN to another, and the change to the third number. This appeal was filed in July of 2012.
In July of 2013, we received a favorable decision from the Appeals Board. It concluded that North & Judd had been a subsidiary of Gulf & Western and that the employer had sometimes filed reports such as SSA earnings, PBGC premiums, or Form 5500s under the parent corporation or the subsidiary, but that all of our client’s years of employment should have been counted under the trusteed plan.
The client was found eligible for a monthly benefit of $134.21 retroactive to 2006, when he had reached Normal Retirement Age. The present value of this pension is over $29,000! This is money that can help pay for basic living expenses, like groceries and heating bills. It is unlikely that the client would have received his retirement benefits without the help of project staff.