Frequently Asked Questions About Pension Claims

Pension issues are notoriously difficult to navigate. As a plan participant, your rights depend not only on the terms of the plan itself, but also on a complex federal law called the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Not many lawyers are familiar with this niche area of practice.

At Hertz Schram PC, we have a strong record of success standing up for the pension rights of everyday Americans. Our attorneys are extremely well-versed in this complicated field of law. In fact, our lead pension attorney Eva Cantarella has earned a nationwide reputation for her work in this field.

We often encounter questions from employees and retirees about their pension rights. Below, you will find general information regarding these common questions. Please keep in mind that every situation is different. We encourage you to contact Ms. Cantarella at 248-335-5000 to discuss the specifics of your situation during a free consultation.

How do I know if my pension rights have been violated?

Some violations are clear-cut, while others are far more difficult to identify. Watch out for these warning signs:

  • Your pension benefit is much less than expected.
  • Your benefits are reduced after your company is sold or merged.
  • You lose your benefits after large-scale layoffs or plant closings.
  • There is a merger or acquisition of the company sponsoring your pension plan, and you don't receive any enhanced benefits.
  • You're told you must pay back benefits that were mistakenly overpaid.
  • Your pension plan cuts benefits on the ground that the plan is underfunded.
  • You find out that pension funds were mismanaged (for example, through overly risky investments, excessive fees, or deals involving a conflict of interest), and the fund has suffered losses as a result.

Generally, you'll have a much stronger claim if these actions impacted other plan participants, not just you. At Hertz Schram, we focus on large-scale violations that take a toll on a significant number of people.

What's the difference between an individual claim versus a class action?

Class action claims are powerful tools for enforcing the rights of numerous plan participants and their families. To bring a class action claim, you must show that multiple people in your same situation have been affected in generally the same way by pension violations.

The following are examples of potential class action claims:

  • Your plan administrator applied the wrong vesting schedules or miscalculated payouts for a large group of people (not just you).
  • Your plan cuts benefits for many participants on the ground that the plan is underfunded.
  • Your plan is terminated, "frozen," or changes hands, resulting in reduced benefits for a large number of participants.
  • The plan administrators mismanaged funds, resulting in significant losses for everyone.

By contrast, individual claims might involve situations where:

  • You received reduced benefits or payouts because of a one-time mistake that didn't affect others.
  • Your plan administrator miscalculated your individual years of service.
  • Your pension claim was denied for reasons specific to you only.

What are the advantages of a class action claim?

Class action claims are one of the most powerful tools available for holding plan administrators accountable. They help a broader segment of people who keep suffering the same (or similar) injustice.

Because the violations affect so many people, much is at stake. These cases frequently involve millions of dollars in benefits. As a result, they send a strong message to all plan administrators that pension rights matter.

What's more, because these cases are so much bigger than individual claims, they allow us to provide top-notch representation for an entire group of people without charging out-of-pocket fees. We handle these claims on a contingency fee basis, which means we're compensated only if you are.

I think I may have a class-action pension claim. Now what?

Please contact us to discuss your situation. We offer free, no-obligation consultations for people across the country (including Michigan, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio). By speaking with our lead pension attorney, Eva Cantarella, you can learn more about your options for seeking compensation and justice.