State pension fund expects widow to pay up for its mistake
March 6, 2014
A pension director with the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority sent a letter to a 79-year-old widow of a train engineer telling her that she’s sorry for the death of her husband but she needs to repay almost $27,000 in excess benefits due to a clerical error made by the agency in 1995.
Shirley Findel, whose husband Harry died in September, received the letter after the MTA checked its books and realized that the public railroad’s pension fund had been overpaying Harry for nearly two decades.
“Dear Mrs. Findel,” the letter began. “Please accept my condolences for the loss of your husband Harry Findel.”
“When reviewing Mr. Findel’s file to determine what benefits are payable to you under the plan, it came to our attention that Mr. Findel’s monthly pension was processed incorrectly.”
The letter then stated that the overpayment to Mr. Fidel from 1995 to his death last September totaled almost $27,000 and that the MTA is “obligated” to recover the overpayment.
“If you do not dispute this overpayment, you can repay the $26,707.20 in full or through a repayment schedule,” the letter added.
Mrs. Findel was later informed that she could pay the money back with a $240 monthly payment over nine years, according to Long Island Newsday.
“I don’t think I should have to pay for their mistake,” she said. “It took them 18 1/2 years to find out?”
“We didn’t know — I have the paper Harry signed, we gave them the paper and we figured everything was fine… I wake up thinking about this and I go to sleep thinking about this.”
She also mentioned that her income has already dropped sharply after the death of her husband and that if the state keeps pursuing her, she may be forced to sell the house she shared with her late husband.
Lee Adler, a lecturer at Cornell University, pointed out that as a multibillion-dollar public authority, the MTA can absorb the consequences of its clerical error better than an elderly woman on a fixed income.
“Where is their fiduciary responsibility in regard to these 214 overpayments, and shouldn’t the persons in charge of the pension’s fiduciary responsibilities be held accountable?” He asked.
This is yet another example of how the state expects the public to pay for its mistakes.
And on a much larger scale, the Federal Reserve System operates in the exact same manner; through job losses and the hidden tax called inflation, it forces the public to pay for the consequences of its flawed, centralized planning of the economy.
“When there is a conflict between the public interest and the private needs of the [banking] cartel – a conflict that arises almost daily – the public will be sacrificed,” noted author G. Edward Griffin wrote in his book The Creature From Jekyll Island. “That is the nature of the beast.”
(H/T: Long Island Newsday)