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Making Sure You Get Your Earned Employee Benefits

The Upper Midwest Pension Rights Project is helping Iowans with questions about their pensions. Credit:
The Upper Midwest Pension Rights Project is helping Iowans with questions about their pensions. Credit:
June 22, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa – More than 50 percent of working Americans have some kind of retirement plan through their employer, whether a 401k or another type, that will help them pay for their later years.

But many people don't completely understand how their plan and any associated benefits work.

David Bonello, project director for the Upper Midwest Pension Rights Project, says people have lots of questions.

"They want to know how their pension is calculated, and if it is calculated correctly,” he says. “Whether they can retire early, or if they have to wait until age 65. If they become disabled they may have questions about whether or not there is a disability benefit. "

The project serves residents in Iowa, along with Minnesota, Wisconsin and North and South Dakota.

Bonello says that the services provided by the Pension Rights Project are free – services that help ensure that employees receive everything their pension plan is supposed to deliver.

"If they have spoken to a pension plan and the pension plan has told them they're not entitled to a benefit or if they have gotten a written letter, and then we would investigate that, and if we think there's merit, we would file a claim for benefits, and if the claim is denied, we would file an appeal," he explains.

Bonello says that last year, the Upper Midwest Pension Rights Project helped residents collect about $2 million in payments and benefits. He says his organization is persistent.

"And if the appeal is denied, then the client generally has a right to sue the pension plan, and although our project doesn't actually go into court and sue, we do have relationships with attorneys, so we would help that person," he states.

The Upper Midwest Pension Rights Project is one of six regional pension-counseling projects funded by the U.S. Administration on Aging.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA