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Category: General

Fascinating Longevity Calculator Estimates Your Life Expectancy

Fascinating Longevity Calculator Estimates Your Life Expectancy

We are often told to save for retirement and, to determine how much money we will need to retire comfortably, estimate our retirement expenditures. However, any estimate of retirement expenditures must take into account our anticipated life expectancy–something that varies from individual-to-individual, depending on our genes, diet, lifestyle, and attitude. To take some of the guesswork out of estimating one’s life expectancy, Dr. Thomas Perls, a leading expert on longevity and aging at the University of Boston School of Medicine,…

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How Well Funded Is Your Pension Plan? And Why Should You Care?

How Well Funded Is Your Pension Plan? And Why Should You Care?

Once a year, pension plan administrators are required to furnish participants with an “annual funding notice” regarding the funded status of the plan. For both single-employer and multiemployer plans, the annual funding notice MUST include (i) the plan’s funded percentage for the most recent plan year and the two preceding plan years, (ii) a statement of the value of the plan’s assets and liabilities, (iii) a description of how the plan’s assets are invested, (iv) a statement of the total…

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Just How Accurate Is Your Social Security Benefit Estimate?

Just How Accurate Is Your Social Security Benefit Estimate?

Each year the Social Security Administration (SSA) mails about 15 million benefit estimate Statements to persons age 60 or older who are not receiving Social Security benefits and do not have an online Social Security account. The Statement is also available online to individuals age 18 or older. Among other things, the Statement provides workers with their earnings record and a personalized estimate of their future Social Security retirement benefits. But just how accurate are those benefit estimates? A recent…

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Million Dollar Pension Dispute Highlights Importance of Designating a Beneficiary

Million Dollar Pension Dispute Highlights Importance of Designating a Beneficiary

When a vested pension plan participant dies without having named a beneficiary, there is bound to be litigation as to who is entitled to the participant’s pension benefits. Kinder Morgan, Inc. v Crout, No. 19-20037 (5th Cir. May 18, 2020) is just such a case. In Kinder, Danny Lee Crout was an employee of Kinder Morgan Inc. and participated in its retirement Savings Plan until his death in 2016. As of his passing, Danny’s account balance under the Plan totaled…

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Employers Must INDEFINITELY Maintain Records Sufficient to Determine Their Employees’ Pension Eligibility

Employers Must INDEFINITELY Maintain Records Sufficient to Determine Their Employees’ Pension Eligibility

I cannot tell you how many times over the years pension plan participants have called me to complain that their employer or pension plan administrator has told them they cannot find documents needed to determine whether they are eligible for a pension and, if so, the amount. That is ridiculous! Under §209 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), employers must maintain records with respect to each of their employees sufficient to determine any benefits which are, or may…

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Are Your Contributions to Your 401(k) Plan Protected From Creditors in a Bankruptcy Proceeding?

Are Your Contributions to Your 401(k) Plan Protected From Creditors in a Bankruptcy Proceeding?

The answer depends. But, here’s how the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals answered that question in Davis v. Helbling (In re Davis), No. 19-3117, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 17223 (6th Cir. June 1, 2020). In 2017, Camille Davis filed a bankruptcy petition under Chapter 13 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Chapter 13 gives individuals with a regular source of income the opportunity to propose a plan of repayment to their creditors while under the bankruptcy court’s protection. When Davis filed…

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Beware Before You Sign a Separation Agreement: It Could Impact Your Pension Benefits

Beware Before You Sign a Separation Agreement: It Could Impact Your Pension Benefits

In conjunction with an employee’s separation of employment, employers frequently ask the employee to sign a separation agreement in exchange for a sum of money, assistance in finding another job, or some other consideration. For many employees, the lure of the money motivates them to sign the separation agreement. However, most separation agreements include a broad release of claims against the employer and its agents, affiliates, representatives, employees and other related individuals and entities. If you later discover that your…

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An Idea Whose Time Has Come: A National “Lost and Found” for Retirement Accounts

An Idea Whose Time Has Come: A National “Lost and Found” for Retirement Accounts

As explained in my prior Post, each year millions of Americans lose thousands of dollars in retirement savings in the process of changing jobs. The problem largely results from employers shifting from defined benefit plans that pay an annuity for life to defined contribution plans, like 401(k) plans, that pay a lump sum upon separation from employment or at a later date when the participant elects to take his/her lump sum. If a separated participant chooses to leave the lump…

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Commit a Crime? Risk Having Your Retirement Account Garnished

Commit a Crime? Risk Having Your Retirement Account Garnished

If you are in a private-sector pension plan covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), you may have been told that your pension benefits cannot be “alienated.” That is, creditors cannot touch your employer-provided pension or retirement funds while those funds are in the plan. However, ERISA’s anti-alienation rule only goes so far, as one criminal recently learned. United States v. Frank, No. 1:17-cr-114 (E.D. Va. May 6, 2020). In 2017, Lawrence Frank pled guilty to one count…

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Oh Where Oh Where Is My Pension?

Oh Where Oh Where Is My Pension?

It just might be in a state “unclaimed” property fund. A recent research paper issued by the Center for Financial Security of the University of Wisconsin-Madison puts a spotlight on these funds and the many unclaimed retirement accounts in them: “Frictions in Saving and Claiming: An Analysis of Unclaimed Retirement Accounts” by Corina Mommaerts and Anita Mukherjee. In the paper, the authors use data collected from state unclaimed property databases to estimate that nationally in 2016 there were 70,000 unclaimed…

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