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Questions about Private Pension Rules

A pension is a regular, fixed sum of money an individual receives, usually after retirement. Companies have different pension plans for their employees. Listed below are a few questions answered by Experts on private pension plans.

If my husband and I divorced a year before he passed away, am I still eligible to receive his private pension benefits?

It is unlikely you would be able eligible to receive the benefits unless this was explicitly mentioned in the divorce judgment.

My mother worked as a retail clerk and retired with a pension. Now she feels that she will stand to lose her pension if she takes another job in retail or if she uses another credit union.

Pensions are governed by the company’s rules. Unless the company has set certain rules and conditions that she is not following, it should have no effect on her receiving her pension.

After working at a company for ten years and nine months, I was fired. When I called them about collecting my pension they stated they had no record of me. I was given to believe that if you had 7 years in, you were vested and the pension could not be lost. My pension was contracted through the union. I would like to know now what kind of proof I would need to get my pension back.

What you could do is contact the union representative and give him/her your pay stubs or even copies of old tax returns that would prove that you were working for the union. Unless you have solid proof or evidence that you were employed there, the union will not be able to help you find your pension. With regard to how fast your pension would have vested, it all depends on the pension itself. Some pensions could vest immediately while others could be reabsorbed by the company after a period of time.

I was sent my ex-husband’s pension plan by Social Security (SS) suggesting I check if I can receive it. Since he is my ex-husband, legally what are my chances of getting the pension?

You should be eligible to collect your ex-husband’s pension for SS if it is larger than your benefit, as long as you do not remarry. In case you do get remarried, you would probably not collect the benefit unless your spouse passes away or you get divorced. You can contact the Social Security office for more information.

I am getting a disability pension and not Supplemental Security Income (SSI). I would like to know if my former employer can prevent me from working and try and punish me by not releasing my check if I do.

Your pension falls under the Employees Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). But according to ERISA, the plan description is the law/contract of the retirement plan. Very often, retirement plans do not allow individuals to work while receiving benefits under the plan. Every plan is different and you would have to read through yours to understand what the legal clauses are. If the plan does state that you cannot work and get your pension at the same time, then you may not be able to legally do so.

A private pension plan can provide you with a huge sense of financial support and relief once you retire. Even with this security, it is important to understand how pension plans works and what they entitle you to.
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