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John, Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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Experience:  Exclusively practice labor and employment law.
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I am a member of LU3 IBEW for 22 years. I was declared disabled

Resolved Question:

I am a member of LU3 IBEW for 22 years. I was declared disabled in 2012. The local is refusing my right to collect my pension.
What can I do?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  John replied 1 year ago.
Hi, thanks for submitting your question today, and I'm sorry to hear about the issue you are having with your pension. It appears that the pension plan has not properly provided you plan documents to even apply for the pension benefits. In a scenario like this the law does provide you a remedy.

Your claim to benefits is covered under a law known as the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The law provides that at a minimum, the plan must provide that you will start receiving benefits within 60 days after the end of the plan year in which you satisfy the conditions for retirement. Most plans however provide that benefits are to be paid within 90 days of application. You have a right to all plan documents within 30 days of request under the law.

One option you have is you could try contacting the Department of Labor - Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) to file a complaint against the plan. EBSA will try to resolve the issue with the plan and possibly issue a fine against them for non-compliance. EBSA is a federal agency and does not charge you anything. If that sounds like something you're interested in, then you can contact EBSA or file an on-line complaint with them at this link here.

Another course of action would be to mail (return receipt requested) the plan under Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). State that you are demanding the pension application documents pursuant to ERISA and if they refuse you will be pursuing all available remedies under ERISA. If they then fail to do this within 30 days, that refusal is a violation of ERISA and a $100 a day penalty. You could then file an action to force them to get you your pension documents and for payment of the penalty.

I believe this answers your question. However, if you need clarification or have follow-up questions regarding this matter, I will be happy to continue our conversation – select the Reply to Expert or Continue Conversation button. If you are otherwise satisfied with my response, please leave a positive rating as it is the only way I am able to get credit for my answers. Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX wish you all the best with this matter.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX will be sending another letter. Just one more thing. They said on the phone that I am not entitled to any pension because I haven't worked in 2 years, so to them, I left the industry.

Expert:  John replied 1 year ago.
My response to that is, you still have the right to apply to the pension and if the the plan administrators believe you do not qualify for the plan, you can appeal their denial. But the proper way to deny you benefits is certainly not through a phone call with whoever picks up the phone that day. You may ultimately have to sue them if they deny benefits, but the first step is to either be granted or denied benefits. And to do that you first have to file an application for benefits...botXXXXX XXXXXne you as a plan participant you have the right to the application documents and to officially apply for benefits at the very least. Whether you are owed benefits under the terms of the plan is a different story and is controlled by the terms of the plan, but you have to at least be given the documents to apply...it's not resolved through a phone call!
John, Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 2969
Experience: Exclusively practice labor and employment law.
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