Local News

Pension Funds: Are Yours Safe?

Posted June 17, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Many people work for most of their lives, save as much money as they can, invest, and hope they'll have enough to live on when they retire. Now comes word that thousands of companies may be short-changing their retirees' by spending and squandering their benefits.

Are you one of the victims?

A little research on your part could mean money in your pocket -- pension money you've already earned.

Most companies have their own retirement programs set up so employees can save money, but they also have features set up so that you as an employee can double-check your money. The problem is, as some people are finding out, that companies make mistakes.

Fayetteville resident Flora Dunham used to think she was doing all she could to prepare for retirement, but now that it's just three years away she's not so sure.

Dunham isn't alone, not by a long shot. The average American still believes social security will be enough for them to retire on. Fortunately, more than 80 million Americans are enrolled in pension plans. but a government audit found that 13 percent of the nearly 3,000 participants studied aren't getting what they're owed.

John Hoffman teaches insurance at Fayetteville Tech. He says the part of the problem is that many people don't read the paperwork.

Dunham says, despite her confidence, the knowledge that others have been short-changed makes her worry.

Hoffman says the best advice is to try to get an annual statement from your company and check everything on it, from the spelling of your name.. to your social security number to your salary.

All of those checks can help pinpoint some of the possible mistakes.

Photographer:Mike Joyner