After his previous company has been bought and sold, this retiree had given up on ever tracking down his pension.
My experience with Texas Legal Services Center was nothing short of amazing. My situation was somewhat unique and the persistence and help of my counselor Robin was invaluable. I had been a long-term employee of a small business which was sold to large corporation. About a year or two after the acquisition, I was terminated after 17 years of service. Then within four years the original acquiring company sold to another large corporation and then the business was sold a third time.
I had long considered it an unfortunate series of events and had moved on with my professional life. As I approached 62 years old (when I could have applied for early Social Security benefits), I received a letter from the government saying I had a potential benefit via a pension plan.
Although I had no real expectations of anything after all the years, I thought I should check on whether there actually was a benefit available. I am not sure why, but I had saved information from when I was terminated, so I started calling to find out how I could apply for my benefits. They did a quick check and said I did not appear in their database and gave me a few names to call. Surprise, surprise, the names they gave were either no longer working for any of the companies and one had passed away, so I was left with calling the original contact numbers.
After a few months, I finally received a letter saying I did not exist in their system. I kind of gave up, figuring I was indeed lost in the shuffle of the company sales. After a few years I thought I should once again try to see if there was an update, so I did a second attempt to get my pension benefit. I got another letter saying I did not exist and that they had already given me that information – essentially telling me to quit bothering them. Figuring I was out of luck, I just gave up. I did not think it was worth fighting, as these huge corporations sure had deeper pockets than I could ever hope to have.
Figuring I was out of luck, I just gave up. I did not think it was worth fighting, as these huge corporations sure had deeper pockets than I could ever hope to have.
BUT - I happened to see a sentence in an AARP publication which mentioned problems getting pension benefits with a reference to Texas Legal Services Center. Since I live in Texas, I thought what have I got to lose? I contacted them and was told if I would gather my information, they would assign a counselor. My counselor went over what information I needed to provide, including copies of 20-year-old tax returns (to prove I did not get a lump sump distribution at the time of my termination) as well as all the information I had previously submitted. Things went quiet for a few months and I kind of thought they too had met a dead end, but out of the blue I received a letter saying I was found, and the second acquiring company was responsible for my pension benefit. I was highly encouraged as they suddenly found my old employee number. Somehow Texas Legal Services Center had broken through the decades old paper trail logjam within the company and found my records. I not only am receiving my monthly benefits – I was also paid my back benefits, which was a very nice amount of money for the six to seven years of missing payments.
Looking back at the time I spent gathering this information, my time was worth between $1,000 to $2,000/hour in my case since they recovered not only my pension benefit but the past due accumulation of benefit payments.
I highly recommend using the Texas Legal Services Center and am so grateful for their help.
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