But not everything has changed. When MetLife recently released a new list of 57 “lost” Massachusetts retirees, the Secretary of State’s office again conducted its own search, this time locating six of them, as well as the beneficiary of one. other deceased, who will now receive all payments from MetLife.
In this second batch of cases, MetLife agreed to pay nearly $ 45,000 in retroactive payments, including interest, to these Massachusetts residents. Additionally, MetLife has agreed to make monthly payments of approximately $ 75, on average, to retirees and a beneficiary.
MetLife owes these pensions not to its own former employees, but to former employees of a few dozen companies for which MetLife owns and administers pension plans. Some companies have gone bankrupt.
“I’m happy that we have located these people and that they are able to get the money they are owed, but fixed income retirees should not fall through the cracks like this,” Galvin said. , whose securities division applies state laws. .
âThere needs to be oversight of the transfer of these retirement responsibilities so that this does not continue to happen to workers,â he said. âNobody controls this. “
Among those who will now receive their benefits is a 73-year-old former employee of an aerospace company who will receive $ 13,900 in retroactive pay, plus $ 126 per month for life; a 69-year-old former utility worker who will now receive $ 4,200 in retroactive payment, plus $ 82 per month for life; and a 73-year-old former paper company employee who will now get $ 6,150 in retroactive payment, plus $ 37 per month for life.
MetLife, one of the world’s largest providers of insurance, annuities and benefit programs with tens of billions in annual revenues, said in a statement that “making contact with untraceable and unresponsive participants is a challenge across the public and private pension sector. “
MetLife has “developed and implemented robust procedures for locating and tracking” those to whom it owes pensions, “including the use of third party address tracing companies, additional mailings, certified and phone calls, âthe statement said.
“We appreciate that the Massachusetts Securities Division has helped locate other [pensioners] using the sources available to them, âsaid MetLife.
Galvin’s office moved aggressively in 2017 after MetLife revealed in a file with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it had lost track of approximately 13,500 retirees nationwide. His office asked for the names of Massachusetts residents on that list and then found about half of them.
In a lawsuit filed against the financial services company in 2018, Galvin’s office called MetLife’s attempts to locate retirees “bureaucratic” and “lip service,” saying MetLife had sent letters to addresses it had recorded when retirees turned 65 and called them “presumed dead” if there was no response.
âIt’s not our best time,â said Steven A. Kandarian, CEO of MetLife at the time. “We had an operational failure that should never have happened and it is deeply embarrassing.”
After Galvin’s office located 226 of the “presumed dead” retirees, MetLife quickly began making monthly payments to them of about $ 150 per month, plus about $ 2 million in retroactive payments, including interest.
MetLife also paid the state a fine of $ 1 million.
Galvin said the problem is bigger than an “operational failure.” He said financial services companies like MetLife have been working for years to acquire pension plan assets from various companies and convert them into group annuity contracts, making them responsible for monthly payments to retirees.
But financial services companies sometimes lose track of who they owe pensions, especially when the original employers go bankrupt or merge and their former employees change jobs and addresses over the years.
âMost people keep track of their pensions, but some don’t, whether because of dementia or other reasons,â Galvin said. “Usually, it’s not huge sums that are owed to them, but it’s their money and they deserve to have it.”
Galvin said he was in favor of creating a “national clearinghouse” in which financial services companies would be required to file data on the pensions they owe. He said state agencies that enforce securities law would then be able to verify this data for anyone who is not receiving their legitimate pension.
âWe need to find a better way to trace assets back to people,â he said.