Audit Flags Teacher Pension Problem

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    NEWSLETTERS

    An audit of the state agency that oversees teacher pensions discovered problems in locating and paying beneficiaries. (Published Friday, May 30, 2014)

    A report is raising questions about the state agency in charge of teacher pensions.

    Auditors found several cases of beneficiaries not receiving money owed them, including one case in which a beneficiary hadn't been notified of a $200,000 benefit she was entitled to, five years after her companion, a former teacher, had died.

    The NBC Connecticut Chief Investigator Len Besthoff was able to find the woman in Upstate New York in just 20 minutes and told her that her longtime companion had named her his beneficiary, and she was entitled to the remainder of his pension.

    NBC Connecticut is not identifying the woman.

    “I’m pretty shocked. I know I called someone in the state of Connecticut to see if I was the beneficiary. I had a feeling something was designated for me, but no one contacted me, so they aren't doing a very good job," she said.

    An auditor's report, that is still being written, found that the Teachers Retirement Board does not have a valid address on file for many of the beneficiaries, and does not make any attempts to locate them. Darlene Perez, the administrator for the Teachers' Retirement Board, told the Troubleshooters that her understaffed agency does an outstanding job serving more than 100,000 members.

    According to Perez, the Board has six unsettled accounts from 2009 to 2012 and nine unsettled accounts for 2013.

    “We have written to people where we have addresses on file and not been successful either,” Perez said.

    Perez said the Teachers Retirement Board will update its forms to include an address of a teacher's beneficiary and will sign up for online services that will help locate them as well.

    The American Federation of Teachers of Connecticut, one of the unions representing teachers in the state, said it applauds the effort by state auditors to bring the issue to light.