The Pension Rights Center (PRC) is a non-profit national consumer organization. The initiative of the Pension Rights Center is to provide individuals with assistance related to their pension and retirement plans. This is a valuable service given today’s challenging pension environment. They are a free resource that does not get a lot of publicity.
Retirement plans are a critical component to fund retirements in addition to social security and any other non-retirement plan savings. Although pension plans are much less common than they were decades ago, a substantial number of people still have pension plans. Confusing changes to these and other retirement plans, a denial of benefits, or losing track of benefits are just a few of the pension issues that the PRC can help resolve.
You can visit the Pension Rights Center website at PensionRights.org. On this home page you can also read about the National Pension Lawyers Network (refers you to lawyers) and PensionHelp America (an information and referral resource).
Examples of Questions often handled by the PRC:
- What happens to my pension when I change employers?
- What if my pension is miscalculated or denied?
- How do I claim my pension if my company merged with another company or went bankrupt?
- Am I entitled to a pension?
- What happens to my pension when I pass away?
- Can you help me find an old pension benefit?
- My Pension is offering me a lump sum. Should I take it instead of the monthly benefit?
- I found out that my Pension calculation was wrong and they overpaid me. Can they demand repayment?
A full list of FAQs can be found on this website page.
Free Legal Help
The PRC currently provides free legal assistance in 31 states. If you have a question or an outstanding problem with your pension, 401(K) or other retirement plan (defined benefit or defined contribution plans) and you have a connection to one of these 31 states, you can call the number for assistance. They provide free assistance, regardless of your income level. If you are not in one of the 31 states, you can reach out and the PRC can often provide a referral to contact with your questions.
The 31 states (subject to change) are broken down into “regional pension counseling projects.” You can contact the region that meets one of these criteria:
- The state where you live or work
- The state where you lived or worked while earning the pension
- The state where the company or pension plan is based
Note that the word “pension” is used here as a general term for most types of private and government retirement benefits.
List of 31 states and contact information:
- Mid-America region (Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee); Toll Free: (866) 735-7737
- Mid-Atlantic region (New York and New Jersey); Toll Free: (800) 355-7714
- New England & Illinois region (Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont): Toll Free: (888) 425-6067
- South Central region (Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas): Toll Free: (800) 443-2528
- Trellis region (Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin): Toll Free: (866) 783-5021
- Western States region (Arizona, California, Hawaii, and Nevada): Toll Free Toll Free: (866) 413-4911
As mentioned previously, if your state is not one of the 31 states in the free regional coverage zones above, you can still reach out to the PRC to get a referral for advice in your state. They recommended that you go to their Pension Help America website in order to get the free referral service.
Success Stories of people helped
Since 1976, thousands of people have taken advantage of the services offered by the PRC. They have a web page that showcases individual success stories where the PRC played a crucial role in helping to resolve pension issues.
In one story, a man contacted the PRC because he knew he worked for an employer quite a while ago and had earned some type of pension benefit. This is often referred to as a “lost” pension, which can happen if a company disappears due to corporate mergers, goes out of business, or changes names. The PRC was able to track down the pension worth $75,000, or $320 per month. In this case they also recovered the pensions for 70 employees in total who worked for that company.
In another success story, The Midwest regional project counselors helped a widow who received a notice that she was overpaid by $9,300 over the years due to a calculation error and that her future payments would be reduced dramatically to pay it back. The PRC regional group was able to get the company to waive the recoupment demand.
You can read some of their client stories for yourself on the PRC success stories page of their website.
Companies de-risking their pension plans by going to insurance annuities
It’s understandable that the executive leadership at companies want to eliminate the company risk of having a guaranteed pension plan obligation to fund. The fluctuating market values of investments can often require companies to pay in substantial sums to keep the plans funded.
One way they do this is to purchase insurance annuities instead. This transfers the payment obligations to an insurance company instead of it staying with the employer.
As an employee or former employee, it is important that you stay informed so that you can ensure that your benefit stays intact. This is where the PRC can help. They have an informational page on their website titled “What happens when a pension is transferred to an insurance company” that has some helpful information and links for further review.
For example, you want to make sure that the updated benefit calculation of the insurance company is not different than what you understand it should be, as mistakes can be made in the transition process. Having your most recent benefit statement in hand will be helpful to confirm your accrued benefits.
Should I take a lump sum?
This is a common question that many pensioners may be faced with at one time or another. This is a significant decision.
It is important to take your time and weigh the pros and cons. The PRC can help you with this question as well.
See their website page titled “Should you take your pension as a lump sum?”
The PRC website is also a very helpful resource to keep up with the pension laws. Part of their mission is to make you aware of your retirement plan rights.
Their news bulletins provide the latest information related to benefit plans such as a new law changes. Be sure to check out their Blog and News Room pages.
The retired and elderly are often a target of criminals who attempt to steal their retirement savings. The PRC issues and passes along government warnings of the latest scams targeting owners of retirement plans.
For example, you can read about money mule scams on their website by reviewing the article “avoid being a money mule.“
The bottom line is that the Pension Rights Center is a free resource with great information. If you have a retirement plan issue or question, give them a try!
Executive Summary: The Pension Rights Center offers retirement assistance
- The Pension Rights Center (PRC) is a nonprofit consumer organization whose mission is to help individuals with issues regarding their retirement savings plans
- The PRC regional groups provide critical legal assistance in 31 states for people having issues with their retirement accounts
- Those not in the 31 states can get referrals for the help needed
- The PRC can answer many questions as well as help people find “lost” pension benefits from past employers
- The PRC provides warnings of current scams to help people avoid being a scam victim of retirement plan fraud
- Check out their website of success stories and information sources