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John Legal
John Legal, Attorney
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Experience:  Over 15 years legal experience.
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My husband was collecting his brothers monthly pension after

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My husband was collecting his brother's monthly pension after his death. Now we have been notified that the benefit should have ended several years ago and they are now requesting that my husband reimburse the company $9,000 for overpayment. Why would it take the company so long to realize that the benefits should have stopped. We were not aware that the payments were going to end.

Welcome! Thank you for your question.


Is this pension benefit from a private company or government agency?



Customer: replied 4 years ago.

private company



Sorry for the delayed response. I typed a response and the website crashed when I tried to send it.


I have no idea why the company is just now discovering their misinterpretation of their own pension contract. However, your husband has no obligation to pay anything back so long as the information he provided to the company was accurate and he did not sign a written agreement agreeing to reimbursement at the time of the initial payout.


The company's failure to appropriately interpret their own pension contract is not the fault of your husband and he cannot be held liable for their mistake. There is little that they can legally do if he just ignores them.


In the unlikely event that they do sue to try and get the money back your husband should hire a lawyer to respond. The lawyer should be able to get the suit dismissed fairly easily and possibly get reimbursement for attorney fees if the suit is determined to be frivolous.



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Customer: replied 4 years ago.


So for now, we should just ignore the letter and not call them as suggested in their recent correspondence?

I have no idea why the company would not discover the mistake until now. However your husband has no obligation to return anything unless he specifically agreed to reimbursement in a written contract at the time the payments began. The company's improper interpretation of their own pension contract is their own fault and your husband is not liable. This is a private contract and a unilateral mistake in a private contract is not held against an innocent party.

His best bet is to just ignore their requests. In the unlikely event they try and sue to recover the money he should hire an attorney to respond but it should be something that an attorney can quickly get dismissed.

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