News Release - May 22, 2009
PUBLIC EMPLOYEES BENEFITS AGENCY SUSPENDS PENSIONS
After a lengthy search, the Public Employees Benefits Agency (PEBA) has announced that it has had no choice but to suspend the pensions of 15 individuals with their May payments.
Over the past six months, PEBA has been conducting a "proof of existence" project to ensure that it is making the appropriate payments to eligible retirees.
There were 12,157 members of seven different pension plans notified by letter, warning that a failure to respond could result in a suspension of benefits. There was a response rate of 99.8 per cent and ultimately, only 15 people could not be located. The total value of their pensions is about $149,000 annually.
Two more follow-up letters were sent to those who failed to respond, and agency staff also conducted searches through telephone directories and the Internet as well as asking the banks to forward letters to pensioners on behalf of the agency.
"There are some pensioners for whom we do not have current addresses. We have tried to contact them, but have simply run out of options," PEBA Assistant Deputy Minister Brian Smith said. "It is this group of people whose pensions will be suspended in May 2009.
"We want to make sure that we continue to pay the correct pensions to the right people. For example, if a pensioner has passed away and we were not previously advised, collecting overpayments can be difficult on the remaining family members. We want to avoid putting family members into this situation, which is why we completed this project."
Having pensioners sign and return "proof of existence" letters also represents "best practices" in the pension industry.
The pension plans involved include:
• the Anti-Tuberculosis League Superannuation Plan;
Smith said that in future, PEBA will be sending letters out on a routine basis, so pensioners can expect to see them again.
"We ask that members of our plans notify us about address changes or changes in their personal situation that can affect their pensions," Smith said.
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