If you are an active participant of the AT&T Legacy MANAGEMENT Program of the AT&T Pension Benefit Plan, there are recent changes you should be aware of.
AT&T recently mailed one of those ugly, grey, SMM (summary of material modification) documents which are legally required to send. If you get ugly mail like this, be sure you always read it thoroughly and carefully because it’s ALWAYS important. It’s ugly because they’re not going to spend money to pay an agency to make it beautiful, print it on expensive paper and go out of their way to make it simple (as they would a marketing piece) because they’re not trying to sell you anything. They are just legally required to inform plan participants of changes.
So what’s changing?
Well, for starters this seems to apply to only those in the AT&T Legacy Management portion of the overall Pension plan. So it sounds like bargained-for folks and non-management folks are not included in this particular update.
The change is on the payments made to a sub-segment of the management pension plan participants:
AT&T Pension Change Qualifications – Who’s Affected?
- You are a participant of the AT&T Legacy Management Program of the AT&T Pension Benefit Plan.
- You are currently receiving monthly pension checks or will begin at some point in the future
- You have (or will) choose to have the “survivor payment” option, where “Spouse” includes a legal spouse or a legally recognized partner.
- This change EXCLUDES those whose pension monthly payments began before July 1, 1999 (meaning, if you started your pension anytime before 7/1/99, this change DOES NOT APPLY TO YOU.
What’s Changing With The Payments of the AT&T Pension?
If you fall into the affected group, the pension payment rule is changing FOR THE BETTER! Imagine that.
So here’s how it goes.
If you start your monthly pension and you choose one of the “survivor payment” continuance options … meaning if you (the plan participant/ex-employee) die before your spouse, the pension plan will continue to pay your living spouse a portion of your pension until they die.
- For this “survivor” option, you can choose 50%, 75% or 100% as the amount of your pension payment your spouse/legally recognized partner would receive.
The NEW/CHANGE part of this is that there’s now what they call a “pop-up” associated with the survivor selection that can increase your pension payment:
If you are the retiree with the pension and you choose to take the monthly annuity at the 50% (or 75% 9or 100%) survivor option so your spouse receives half of your pension payment (for the rest of THEIR life) after you die, IF YOUR SPOUSE DIES BEFORE YOU, your pension payment “pops” back up to what it would have been if you didn’t choose the survivor option.
What this means is – if you chose a lower monthly payout to protect your spouse in case you die, but they die first, your pension payment amount goes up (for the rest of your life) to the single life annuity amount.
This is actually good news…… probably part of the potential class-action lawsuit involving a calculation of pension payment amounts…..
AT&T Pension Benefits Denial & How to Sue
If you receive a notice of benefit denial (meaning they won’t pay you what you think you are owed…) you have 1 year from the date of final determination to sue. Be sure to follow all the legal rules for filing suit through the ERISA claim and appeal process.
Contact Fidelity for Questions about the AT&T Pension
As always, for any questions, contact the FIDELITY SERVICE CENTER at or via phone at 800-416-2363