A club of retired bankers in Connecticut said it is well on the way to recovering $1.4 million in long lost pensions for people since the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters first reported on the issue back in May.
Most members of the club are former employees or surviving family members from Connecticut Bank and Trust (CBT), a well-known Connecticut bank purchased in the 1980s by The Bank of New England.
Janet Hever could not believe it when the CBT Alumni Club told her that her aging mother had more pension money coming. She said it was a welcomed surprise since Hever worries about the cost of taking care of her in her advanced years.
“My mom's been pretty healthy but it doesn't take much for that to change at the drop of a hat,” Hever told the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters.
The CBT Alumni Club received a steep increase in calls since May. For 11 years, Noreen Cullen and other retired bankers have quietly found pensions for former co-workers after CBT’s parent failed in 1991. The pensions were spread out among a number of financial firms and a government agency.
The CBT Alumni Club also helped West Hartford pastor and former bank teller Delores Black find a small pension worth $37 a month for the rest of her life. Black is among several other people from different banks and companies who need help and the club was more than willing to assist.
“Not a huge amount, but still, it belonged to me,” Black said.
In many cases the CBT Alumni Club must work with the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) to get these long lost pensions. When CBT’s parent failed, the PBGC was one of the ones that ended up holding millions in its pension money. Cullen said processing claims with the federal agency can take over a year, even though some people claiming lost pensions have shared tax forms and paystubs going back decades, to make their case.
The PBGC gave NBC Connecticut a statement:
“PBGC is committed to its mission of promoting retirement security for the nation’s workers and retirees. For over 20 years, PBGC's Missing Participants Program has connected over 13,000 people, missing when their pension plans terminated, to their retirement benefits. We want to connect people with their retirement money as soon as possible but at the same time, we must ensure that we’re paying the right benefits to the right people. In processing claims for benefits from individuals, we need various official documents such as birth and death certificates, marriage certificates, and other information. PBGC appreciates the efforts of the CBT Alumni Club to help former CBT employees locate benefits they’ve earned, whether those benefits are held by PBGC or by other financial institutions. We look forward to working together with them to help connect CBT participants with their retirement money.”
U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, who sits on a panel overseeing the PBGC, said, “It shouldn’t be up to workers to have to turn over every stone just to find their own hard-earned money. People deserve their retirement benefits, and they shouldn’t have to wait for a year or longer to get them, I’m joining Senator Warren to support her bipartisan Retirement Savings Lost and Found Act so that there’s a much more efficient online database where all Connecticut residents can check to see if they’re owed any money and access it more easily.”
At this time the act does not address how long the PBGC takes to process a claim.
Meanwhile, the CBT Alumni Club is working on another unique case: a Connecticut man bought $30,000 worth of CDs in the 1980s and never cashed them in. The bank changed hands so many times it's tough to verify his claim. The club estimates the CDs may now be worth more than a quarter-million dollars.
The club has set up a special number for questions about pension money (860)788-5900 or you can reach the club on its website.
If you worked for CBT, its parent, or any other company that you believe might be holding some of your pension money, you can look on the PBGC website.