Counseling Project Success Stories

A $500 pension after 15 years of hard work? Not so fast: Western States Pension Assistance Project recovers pension for retiree

Bill was surprised when he retired in 2002 and his employer handed him a check for $500 telling him that this was the retirement benefit he had earned after 15 years of work. Bill had worked for more than 15 years in sales at an auto parts distribution center and knew that he had earned a pension worth much more than $500. After repeatedly trying to contact the pension plan and not receiving a response, Bill gave up.

Fortunately, Bill had read a newspaper article about the Western States Pension Assistance Project and had saved the clipping in his desk – just in case. More than 10 years after he had retired, Bill found the article as he was cleaning out his desk, and decided to give the counseling project a call.

After learning the details, it became clear to Jennifer Anders-Gable, the Western States Pension Assistance Project attorney handling Bill’s case, that Bill was entitled to a pension. Bill had kept the check, benefit statements, and a notice that he had received from the Social Security Administration indicating that he was entitled to a pension. Employers are required to notify the government if an employee leaves work before collecting a pension. This notice, the Social Security Administration Potential Private Benefit Information Notice, showed that Bill had indeed earned a pension from his former employer. Armed with this information, Jennifer contacted Bill’s former employer with proof that Bill had vested in, or earned a right to receive, a pension.

After a few short months, the plan agreed to pay Bill’s pension. Thanks to Jennifer’s knowledge of the law Bill will receive a pension worth nearly $400 a month for the rest of his life.

The Western States Pension Assistance Project covers Arizona, California, Nevada and Hawaii. The counseling project may be reached online at or (866) 413-4911.

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