Client Story: Securing Retirement Benefits for Widow

After her pension request was denied multiple times, a widow enlisted the help of TLSC to secure the money owed to her allowing her to provide for her family.


It is with heartfelt gratitude that I am writing to share my experiences in working with the South Central Pension Rights Project in conjunction with Robin, a Legal Advocate at Texas Legal Services Center, in obtaining my retirement benefits.


My husband passed away several years ago. I am also the primary caregiver of an adult daughter with an intellectual disability and serious underlying medical conditions. While I was managing working full time and transporting her to a day habilitation program, I made the difficult decision in early 2020 to resign from my teaching position when Covid impacted her programming and threatened her health. To help financially, I decided it would be beneficial to apply for an accrued pension from a former employer.


When I contacted the employee service center of the company to request an application for retirement, things became complicated quickly. Despite receiving Summary Annual Reports through the years as a participant in the company’s retirement program, locating my original letter stating vested status, and receiving communication as recent as 2018 of my accrued benefits, the employee service center denied multiple requests for a pension. My requests for further investigations into my employee records were met with continued statements of ineligibility. After months of frustration, I realized my own efforts had resulted in dead ends. That’s when I read about the South Central Pension Rights Project and its mission to help individuals with their retirement benefit issues.


My application for assistance was approved in July of 2020, and Robin began her extensive investigation into my employee records shortly thereafter. After providing her with copies of my own documentation, Robin used her authorization, expertise, and knowledge to obtain additional critical pieces of documentation, including original plan documents, summary plan descriptions, service records, and a wage history that clearly depicted my original vested status. She joined me in conference calls with the employee service center, wrote letters to the company documenting accumulating evidence, and kept detailed records and timelines. When surprisingly the company wrote that my employee records had recently been “destroyed,” Robin had the evidence to counter and relentlessly pursued continued investigation, transparency, and strong advocacy until a resolution was finally reached in January of 2022. My pension had been approved and was now being processed!


Needless to say, the representation provided to me by the South Central Pension Rights Project provided me with the guidance, tutoring, and legal advice needed to reach this successful outcome.

I am so thankful for Robin’s time and efforts on my behalf and the worthy goal of Texas Legal Services Center to help others like myself receive their rightful benefits.


With appreciation,


Leslie




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