Margaret and Michael Lyons: Married 46 years
A widow who lost her husband in the spring has struggled for nearly half a year to persuade pension company Buck to pay out, which will be her main source of income.
Margaret Lyons, 70, has now inherited the substantial pension from her husband Michael, who built up his pension fund during a 45-year career with Otis Elevator Company, which he joined at the age of 15.
Ms. Lyons reported her husband’s death at the age of 75 to Otis’s pension provider, Buck, the following day in early June.
But despite sending all the necessary papers, she remained unpaid for months.
In July, she was falsely told by Buck that her payments were “all sorted” and were simply waiting to be signed off by a director.
And then in September she received a letter from the firm saying it would be “much appreciated” if she didn’t contact the team for an update.
Survivors who owe a pension after their spouse’s death are normally dealt with quickly and begin to receive payouts within a few months – below, a financial expert explains how the process usually works.
A frustrated Mrs. Lyons eventually contacted This is Money and said she realized the coronavirus was causing significant delays in processing paperwork, but other than a month’s overpayment to her husband, she had no pension since his death. receive.
She added that she was hesitant to touch that money until she knew where she stood.
“Could you please advise me if you know a way to get them up, or maybe this is normal and you think I unreasonably expect a faster response,” she asked us.
Have you been delayed in inheriting a pension?
Buck said in his letter to Ms. Lyons that it has seen “ an increase in requests in recent months, ” suggesting an increase in deaths this year has slowed payment processing.
If you’ve been waiting a long time to inherit a pension, write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Put RETIREMENT DELAY in the subject line.
In Buck’s letter to Ms. Lyons in September, he apologized for the delay, but said it was “ handling an increase in requests ” – presumably deaths, although this was not mentioned – before asking her not to contact contact the staff while they were dealing with outstanding questions.
She described this as ‘acknowledging my question, but basically saying it’s in a queue, don’t call them, they’re dealing with a backlog’.
The day after This is Money contacted Buck on her behalf, Ms. Lyons received a letter with the name of his pension plan and ‘Mr MH Lyons (deceased)’ as a reference, confirming that she was going to receive her pension plus an overdue payment on 1. December.
Although it arrived the day after This is Money contacted Buck, the letter was dated nine days earlier.
Buck initially declined to comment on Ms. Lyons’s retirement.
But after we raised the matter with Otis, Buck sent a statement saying, “ We acknowledge that we are not up to our usual standards and apologize to Ms. Lyons for the inconvenience and distress caused. We can confirm that all benefits have been settled. ‘
It also sent Ms Lyons flowers and a personal apology.
A spokesman for Otis, a global company based in Connecticut, USA, said: “Our condolences go to Ms. Lyons for the loss of her husband.
Mr. Lyons was a long-serving and well-respected member of our team who retired several years ago.
Margaret says, “I’ve got enough to make ends meet. But there will be people who will count on this money, or who will have debts’
‘Until recently, we were not aware of the delay. We are working with Buck to understand what happened and to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. ‘
Ms. Lyons said her husband has worked at Otis his entire career, starting at the age of 15 as an apprentice, and that he was a senior technical advisor who traveled the world to solve technical problems before retiring 15 years ago.
‘He was well known. I’ve had emails from all over the world. He was well respected and many people knew him. ‘
Ms. Lyons, from Kent, and married to Michael for 46 years, added of the delay in her retirement benefits: “I’m not advocating poverty. I have enough to make ends meet.
‘But there will be people who rely on this money or who have debts. It doesn’t seem like a good service to me. During my working life I was in administration. ‘
Without the pension she inherits, Mrs. Lyons said, “I wouldn’t have much more to spend than my bills. I wouldn’t claim a retirement credit, but I wouldn’t have much to live on.
“I wouldn’t be able to buy grandchildren presents without first checking my bank account.”
How long does it normally take to inherit a pension and what should you do if you are delayed?
Dealing with finances while dealing with a death is a challenge in itself. In general, pension plans will try to make things run as smoothly as possible, ”said Jon Greer, head of pension policy at asset manager Quilter.
It is normal for such payments to be set up fairly quickly unless something more complex is involved.
For example, if the deceased had an ex-spouse who may have an interest in part of the dependent pension.
The scheme should keep a beneficiary informed of what’s going on and when they can expect to hear.
“Given that many people will rely on such payments and are likely to be more vulnerable after a loved one succeeds, some schemes may offer prepayments to help you out in the short term.”
Greer says that if your partner received a ‘fixed benefit’ (also known as final pay), the plan states which benefits are due and who are considered survivors or beneficiaries.
The amount to be paid is usually based on a percentage of the holder’s pension entitlement.
If someone dies, you should first contact the pension provider or employer, and Greer says the money advisory service has letter templates to help with this here.
He adds that if you can’t find a trace of the retirement records, but think or know the deceased had one, you can use the government’s free pension tracking service. here.
And if it takes a long time for you to inherit a pension, you can file a formal complaint through a scheme’s ‘internal dispute resolution’.
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