Sunday, May 14, 2017

ONE MORE WRINKLE ON THE LA TIMES PENSION: IF YOU START LATER, YOU GET MORE

As you should know by now, anyone who joined a Times Mirror newspaper before mid-2001 and stayed on the payroll at least five years qualifies for a pension, above and beyond the 401k. (People who joined after 1995 were sometimes told they would not qualify, but that was incorrect.)
Bob Drogin, Bob Rosenblatt and Michael Hiltzik recently uncovered a hitherto unknown detail about the Times Mirror pension:
You have an option of starting your pension later than age 65 and getting a higher monthly benefit. This option has apparently been available for some time, but pension administrators never drew anyone’s attention to it.
For example, an employee or former employee who qualifies for a monthly pension of $3,590 at age 65 would get $4,009 per month if she waited until age 66 to start benefits, and $4,488 if she waited until age 67.
The good news: you get a “raise” of about 11% for every year you wait. The bad news: if you delay benefits by a year (and thus forego a year of payments), it will take about eight years to come out even.
This may be an interesting option for people in excellent health who expect to live well past 80. It might also be interesting for anyone who’s working past 65 and who worries that “double dipping” (taking the pension while still drawing a salary) might push them into a higher tax bracket.
But Hiltzik says it’s not a windfall. “The formula is supposed to be actuarially neutral, so you’ll end up collecting the same amount over a lifetime (on average) whether you take it now or later,” he writes. “Unlike Social Security, our pension isn’t inflation-indexed, so collecting it later means getting less after inflation than taking it now.”
If you already started your benefits after age 65, it appears that you should have benefited from this provision, too – i.e., you should be getting more than Times Mirror promised at 65.
If you want more information on your pension, contact the pension administrator, Transamerica Retirement Solutions, at (800) 755-5801. Tell them you’re a participant in the Tribune Company Cash Balance Pension Plan, which absorbed the Times Mirror pension in 2000. If you request an application to start your benefits, you’ll get a detailed rundown of all your options.
And if you’ve had any experience, good or bad, in negotiating these benefits, please let Bob know: bobrosenblatt7@ gmail.com. He’s keeping track to make sure people get the benefits they deserve.

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