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November 9, 2015

Retirees facing severe pension cuts turn to PRC for help

Hundreds of retirees from around the country are turning to the Pension Rights Center for legal and strategic advice. Most have been told that their pensions will be cut in half – some stand to lose more than two-thirds of their hard-earned benefits. Their pension plan, the Central States Pension Fund (CSPF), is the first to use a new law, the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 (MPRA), to take the unprecedented step of cutting retiree pensions. In response to the phone calls, e-mails, and letters that we have received, we have developed a web page to serve as a hub for resources and information about the proposed cuts. Retirees have used our story bank to tell us how news of the potential cuts is affecting them and that the information that the plan is giving to retirees is inadequate, confusing, and possibly incorrect. We will be communicating these problems to the Treasury Department, which must approve the CSPF cuts.

More: Resources for Central States Pension Fund retirees | Story Bank

A day of action to “stop the clock” on pension cuts

New fact sheet and calculator help certain retirees predict possible pension loss

Earlier this fall the Center organized a “Day of Action” in Washington, D.C., to help the retirees protest the cuts. During the day, retirees told a panel of government officials how the cuts would devastate their lives; participated in a Capitol Hill press conference to call for congressional action to stop the cuts; and met privately with Kenneth Feinberg, the Special Master who has been appointed by the Department of the Treasury to oversee the implementation of MPRA. Many of the more than 200 retirees also lobbied their members of Congress to support the Keep Our Pension Promises Act, which would ensure that plans will have enough money to continue to pay promised pensions.

More: An amazing day of action

PRC pilots legal clinic for D.C., Maryland and Virginia residents

The Pension Rights Center recently piloted a new model for providing legal assistance to individuals with retirement plan questions and problems. Residents of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia attending the evening “Retirement Security Clinic” were able to have face-to-face meetings with volunteer pension attorneys who advised them on actions to take to obtain their earned benefits. Because the D.C. metro area is not served by one of the U.S. Administration on Aging’s-supported regional pension counseling projects, the Center hopes to obtain funding for future clinics. In the meantime, clients can continue to contact the Center or a Pension Counseling and Information Project for help with their pension problems.

PRC provides legal training for D.C. Superior Court family law mediators

Emily Spreiser, the Center’s legal program director, led a day-long training on pension and retirement savings plans for family law mediators at the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Emily’s training covered information on the differences between defined benefit and defined contribution plans, the types of employers that can sponsor pension plans, how one becomes entitled to receive a pension, and the many complex issues that may arise during divorce. For more information or to request a Pension Rights Center training for your organization, send us an e-mail.

Other recent happenings

–  The Center filed friend-of-the-court briefs in two cases. The first case, Spokeo v. Robins, heard by the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this month, addresses the rights of individuals to sue under federal statutes. The second brief was filed in support of the plaintiff in Rollins v. Dignity Health, a church plan case pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. We also posted a chart summarizing the status of 13 pending church plan cases.

–  PRC Senior Policy Advisor Maria Freese testified before the Labor Department on a proposed rule that would protect investors from conflicts of interest in in advice they receive from financial advisors. Read our summary of the proposed regulations and our blog entry about the status of the proposed rule.

–  The Center also filed comments on proposed and temporary MPRA regulations with the Department of the Treasury and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, and testified at a Treasury Department hearing.

Pension Rights Center in the news

Below are just a few of the articles we’ve been quoted in. Check out the PRC in the News section of our website for more.

–  Pensioners fight back when fund demands overpayments be returned
–  Impassioned voices ring loudly at benefits suspension hearing
–  With union pensions in jeopardy, Ohio members plead with Congress and the feds
–  Labor Department’s fiduciary proposal: Key provisions to watch
–  Controversial pension advance industry flourishes with little federal, state scrutiny

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  Pension Rights Center
1350 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 206 | Washington, DC 20036 | (202) 296-3776