“Staff Attorney Emily Brown’s work on my behalf was the indispensable factor in reversing a prior denial of my pension appeal. Professional and courteous throughout, the Illinois Pension Assistance Project is providing an outstandingly good and needed service in defending individual pension rights. Thank you.”
A 69-year old man from Richton Park, Illinois, contacted the Pension Action Center when he was denied three years of retroactive pension payments.
He had worked for Blue Cross-Blue Shield from 1973 to 1995, was fully vested in his pension, and entitled to $435.18 monthly—commencing at age 65. Although he turned 65 in January of 2011, he did not elect to start his pension payments until April, 2014, when he had turned 68. Once the client began receiving these benefits, the plan informed him that, because he had only applied in 2014, the benefits would only be payable from the start date forward. In other words, they were not willing to pay him retroactively for the three years of benefits he should have been receiving between age 65 and 68.
By the time he contacted us, the client had already filed a claim with the pension plan pro se, arguing that he was entitled to three years of retroactive benefits. The plan had denied his claim and he had already filed a pro se appeal. After reviewing his case, Staff Attorney Emily Brown quickly filed a supplemental appeal on his behalf, laying out all the legal arguments which had been missing from the client’s original appeal.
Attorney Brown successfully argued that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) prohibited the forfeiture of the client’s retroactive benefits, since this federal law states that vested pension benefits are “non-forfeitable.” As a result, the client received a lump sum payment of $13,500, money he had earned but may not have recovered without the help of the Illinois Pension Assistance Project at the Pension Action Center.
If you would like to request assistance from the Illinois Pension Assistance Project or the New England Pension Assistance Project, please contact us directly by calling 888-425-6067.