PA House passes legislation to protect retirees
referred to Judiciary committee in the State Senate
A bill protecting the assets of Pennsylvania retirees whose pensions have been sold off passed the State House overwhelmingly, and advocates are calling on the State Senate to follow suit.
The legislation, House Bill 324, would prevent creditors from garnishing the retirement assets of retirees whose pensions have been converted into annuities.
Pensions are protected from creditors under the federal ERISA law, but once a pension is converted to a pension replacing group annuity, or “de-risked,” it loses all those legal protections. This Pennsylvania legislation would provide that protection at the state level.
The legislation was introduced by State Representative Warren Kampf (R-PA) and has now been referred to the Judiciary Committee in the Senate.
“This legislation will give back the protections retirees lost when their pensions were de-risked,” said James Casey, President of ProtectSeniors.Org, a national non-profit, advocacy group that fought for the bill. “Retirees across Pennsylvania are currently vulnerable to losing their nest eggs when they need it most. It is essential that the Pennsylvania State Senate shows itself to be an ally of older residents and pass this crucial legislation.”
ProtectSeniors.Org has over 5,800 retiree members in Pennsylvania, many of whom were among the 41,000 Verizon retirees whose pensions were sold off to Prudential in January 2013.
Don Kaufmann, a Gettysburg, Pennsylvania resident and director of the Association of BellTel Retirees, a retiree advocacy group, was one of the 41,000 who were de-risked said, “I dedicated 30 years to Bell of PA and Bell Atlantic, now Verizon, and to have the company strip my pension payments from the protections built into ERISA is unacceptable and breaks a fiduciary commitment Verizon made upon my retirement. I am asking elected officials in the Pennsylvania Senate to protect retirees, now and in the future, by passing this legislation.”
ProtectSeniors.Org is a non-profit retiree advocacy organization fighting to protect the benefits of millions of retirees across the United States. Its membership includes retirees from 392 companies, 45 labor unions, 98 municipal, state and federal retiree groups, and 16 retiree associations.