Adequate pensions are important for older persons
to maintain financial security and independence. The
U. S. Administration on Aging funds six regional Pension
Counseling Projects which help workers, retirees and
their families with pension problems.
Elder Law of
Michigan and Pro Seniors operate the Mid-American
Pension Rights Project (the Project) for residents of
Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and
Tennessee. Since 2001, the Ohio office has helped people
obtain more than $20 million in pension and other
retirement benefits. Any Ohio resident can contact the
Project for assistance at no charge.
The Project handles pension benefits issues such as
eligibility and vesting, military pensions, union pensions,
401(k) plans, survivor, divorce and common-law marriage
pension benefits. The Project answers pension questions
and handles cases at the administrative level. If necessary,
the Project will help find a pension attorney to bring a
case to court.
Lost pensions are a common problem. Individuals who
worked for a company prior to a merger or before it
went out of business often have no idea how to apply
for pension benefits because the company has moved,
changed names or closed down. The Project maintains
a database of pension plan administrators and plans and
also has contacts and expertise to help former employees
find their lost pensions.
Surviving and divorced spouses may not know what
pension benefits they are entitled to or how to get them.
In one case, a widow was told by her deceased husband's
employer that she would get nothing from her late
husband's pension. She contacted the Project and learned
that she was in fact entitled to survivor's benefits. The
Project requested the benefits from the company on her
behalf and she recovered what she was entitled to.
Anyone with questions about a pension or
other retirement benefit can call the Project
at 1.800.488.6070 or visit the Project's web site at
This article was written by Gail W. Webb, Esq., the
Managing Attorney for the Mid-American Pension Rights
Project, and adapted for The Alert by Jennifer Becker, Esq.,
a staff attorney with The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.
It is reprinted with permission from The Alert, a publication of The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.
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