In Post #84 on my Pension Justice 4 You Facebook Page, www.facebook.com/PensionJustice4You, I explained the pension risks of signing a separation agreement that includes a broad release of claims against the employer or related persons or entities. A recent case involving $1.3 million in vested pension benefits illustrates the problem. Buster v. Comp. Comm. of Bd. Of Dirs. Of Mechs. Bank, No. C 16-101146 WHA (N.D. Ca. July 14, 2017).
I have been a pension lawyer for well over 20 years, and typically receive 5-10 calls a day from people who believe they have a pension claim and want my help. What information do I typically need in order to properly evaluate their claim?
I frequently receive calls from pensioners who have received a notice from the pension plan administrator that they were overpaid and that they must repay the overage; otherwise, the plan will withhold all or a portion of their future pension checks until the overage has been repaid. The callers want to know whether the plan can lawfully do this. My answer? It depends. But if (i) the plan administrator did not mislead the pensioner, (ii) the over payments continued for a short period of time, and (iii) the monthly amount to be withheld will not present a hardship to the pensioner, most courts will say "yes." Key v. Unicare, No. 3:15-cv-00851, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS (W.D. Ky May 15, 2017), is illustrative of the considerations a court may apply in deciding whether a pension overpayment must be repaid.