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JD 1992
JD 1992, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 32591
Experience:  Began practicing Family Law in 1992
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Apparently while my husband and I were married, but legally

Customer Question

Apparently while my husband and I were married, but legally separated, he was able to sign away my survivor benefits from his pension from NYC transit. I never signed anything. He passed away April 17 2015. Do I have any rights?
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  JD 1992 replied 9 months ago.
Hello and thank you for contacting us. This is Dwayne B. and I’m an expert here and looking forward to assisting you today. If at any point any of my answers aren’t clear please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. Also, I can only answer the questions you specifically ask and based on the facts that you give so please be sure that you ask the questions you want to ask and provide all necessary facts. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms. I need you to be more specific in your question(s) if you could. When we answer general ones like "do I have any or what are my rights" or "what are my options" we have to give general answers and, invariably, the customer responds with "I already knew that". This type of forum works better if you ask specific questions so we know exactly what you are looking for.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
NYC provided me with 17 days worth of his pension for April 2015. For all intents and purposes we reconciled before his retirement and stayed married until his passing. If he had chosen right of survivor I would be receiving half his pension now. Do I have any legal recourse to receive his pension
Expert:  JD 1992 replied 9 months ago.
Do you know if you are not getting the plan payments because 1) your husband forged your name on something or 2) the plan doesn't allow payments to you?
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Apparently he didn't sign my name and neither did I. But NYC pension people state I wouldn't have had to sign away the pension.
Expert:  JD 1992 replied 9 months ago.
Without reading through all of the plan documents I can't be sure of the procedures you use but all of them work basically the same.You're going to want to hire a lawyer to help you on this because it will involve elements of both state law and ERISA (a very confusing federal law). The lawyer will first file a formal appeal of the case. The formal appeal is really not very formal, it's a matter of submitting paperwork and then following through. Very, very few plans actually have hearings, etc. at this stage. However, you want a lawyer to file the paperwork because if the plan denies the pension the lawyer will then have to file a lawsuit in federal court and all of the documents that have been submitted to that point will become evidence and it is very possible that if you try and fill them out yourself you will say something in there that will affect your case. The lawyer may take the case on a % although most of them charge by the hour for this. You may also be able to sue for your attorney's fees if you actually file the lawsuit.