It sounds like a plot straight out of an old movie: lawyers andinvestigators hired to seek a beneficiary to deliver a long-overduebequest.

|

But it’s one of today’s headlines, the firm doing the hiring ofthose lawyers and investigators is MetLife Inc., and they reallyare seeking thousands of beneficiaries of long-overdue pension funds after MetLife failed to paythem.

|

A Wall Street Journal report says that the law firm, RobinsonMcDonald & Canna LLP, was hired to “investigate how [MetLife’s]retirement business failed to aggressively search for possibly tensof thousands of people owed pension benefits” and the specialtyfirm’s mission is to track down the missing beneficiaries.

|

ThinkAdvisor previously reported that Massachusetts securitiesregulators are beginning an investigation into how the companyfailed to pay so many pensioners within its retirement unit.

|

In a filing, MetLife stated that those pensioners “have movedjobs, relocated, or otherwise can no longer be reached.” MetLifedid not disclose in the filing how many people were involved, howlong it’s been going on, how the company found out about theproblem or what efforts it’s made to find the correctaddresses.

|

All of that and more is information that the MassachusettsSecurities Division is attempting to learn. “MetLife acquired thepension payment obligation from the retirees’ former employer andnow bears the responsibility of making sure that retirees receivetheir pension checks,” Massachusetts’ top securities regulator,William Galvin, said in a statement. “Retirees cannot afford tohave glitches with their pension checks. I want to uncover why thisoccurred and how MetLife is going to rectify the problem for theretirees.”

|

A Reuters report says that MetLife believes “the groupmissing out on the payments represented less than 5 percent ofabout 600,000 people who receive benefits from the company via itsretirement business. Those affected generally have average benefitsof less than $150 a month, it said.”

|

The company also said the addressing the issue “may be materialto our results of operations.”

|

The company is trying to pin a price tag on making good on theunpaid pensions by February 1, when it details its fourth-quarterearnings. That means tracking down all the beneficiaries and totingup the cost for all those unmade payments back to when pensionerswere first eligible to receive them.

|

All this—the disclosure and the “ramped-up effort,” says theWSJ, “stems from a pilot project that it launched in August 2016partly because the U.S. Department of Labor was stepping uppressure on private-sector pension plans to do a better job findingso-called missing participants,” citing company executives.

Complete your profile to continue reading and get FREE access to BenefitsPRO, part of your ALM digital membership.

  • Critical BenefitsPRO information including cutting edge post-reform success strategies, access to educational webcasts and videos, resources from industry leaders, and informative Newsletters.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM, BenefitsPRO magazine and BenefitsPRO.com events
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including ThinkAdvisor.com and Law.com
NOT FOR REPRINT

© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from www.copyright.com. All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.