You can count on PRC. All of us are dealing with how to stay safe as the deadly Coronavirus, COVID-19, quickly spreads across America and much of the globe. But while we all are hunkering down, trying to adjust to this new strange and scary reality, we want you to know that the Pension Rights Center is here for you. Read our response to the current crisis here.
PRC files comments opposing the American Federation of Musicians and Employers Pension Fund’s (AFM-EPF) application to cut retirees’ benefits. The Pension Rights Center filed comments with the Treasury Department on behalf of a group of retired musicians who are facing harsh 40% benefit cuts if an application submitted by the AFM-EPF under the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 (MPRA) is approved. PRC urged the Treasury Department to “deny the Application or allow the Trustees to withdraw the Application, giving them a chance to remedy the flaws affecting this group of retirees.” Read our press release. The Treasury Department has announced that it is reopening the comment period on the Fund’s application through April 20, 2020. You can comment here.
Congress saves pensions of 92,000 retired coal miners. Congressional leaders included the Bipartisan American Miners Act of 2019 in a year-end federal government spending bill that was signed into law by President Trump. The new law provides funds to allow the largest UMWA pension fund to continue to pay the pensions of 92,000 retired and active miners. Yesterday, UMWA International President Cecil Roberts wrote a letterto the President and Senator Mitch McConnell asking them to provide similar relief to save the pensions of the more than one million workers and retirees in other financially troubled multiemployer pension funds who face, or have already experienced, benefit cuts. Read our blog post about the coal miners’ success.
Supreme Court sides with plan participants in electronic disclosure case. In February, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Christopher Sulyma, a former Intel employee, had the right to sue Intel’s retirement plan for putting his retirement money in risky investments. The issue in the case, Intel Corp. Investment Policy Comm. v. Sulyma, was whether Christopher Sulyma had “actual knowledge” of the plan’s investment decisions. If he did, he would have been required to bring a lawsuit within three years. Sulyma, supported by a PRC friend-of-the-court brief, said that merely sending him an e-mail letting him know that information about the plan’s investments was available on an Intel website did not provide him with actual knowledge of the information. The Court agreed and said that his lawsuit could proceed.
The Intel decision relates directly to a regulation proposed by the Labor Department. This regulation would allow retirement plans to deliver all retirement plan information electronically through the “notice and access” method used by Intel, unless individuals affirmatively notify plans that they prefer to receive paper copies by mail. This proposal would reverse current Labor Department rules that say that, unless people regularly work with computers or request to receive retirement plan information electronically, plans must mail them paper copies. As noted in our last PRC News, the Pension Rights Center filed comments strongly opposing the proposed regulation and wrote a blog entry. Here is a summary of our concerns.
PRC’s Legal Program Director, Emily Spreiser, speaks at National Institute on Retirement Security Annual Conference. Emily was part of a panel covering challenges to women’s retirement security under the current retirement system. Emily discussed the Center’s findings regarding women and retirement at divorce, the disproportionate negative impact divorce can have on women’s retirement security, the difficult hurdles former spouses of benefit earners must overcome to obtain a fair share of the retirement benefit, and the Center’s new Initiative on divorce that is seeking to find solutions to some of the most common challenges. Read our blog post on dividing benefits at divorce.
New England Pension Assistance Project opens its 10,000th case. The New England Pension Assistance Project was established in 1993 as one of the first pension counseling projects in the country. It now serves residents of Illinois as well as all New England states and is part of the Pension Action Center at UMass Boston. In a recent blog post celebrating one of its many victories, the project noted that it has opened its 10,000th case. NEPAP one of six regional counseling projects funded by the Administration for Community Living/Administration of Aging that help people understand and enforce their rights to retirement benefits. The projects have recovered over $254 million for more than 60,000 individuals who would have had nowhere else to turn. The Pension Rights Center provides legal and programmatic support to the projects. Learn more about the Pension Counseling and Information Program here.
|PRC in the News
– Coronavirus May Disproportionately Hurt the Poor—And That’s Bad for Everyone
– Group argues musicians union MPRA application should be denied
– 5 Ways to Stop Divorce from Wrecking Your Retirement
– 35 Retirement Planning Mistakes That Waste Your Money