Had a bit of a financial crisis this morning when I called my bank’s automated phone system to verify that my monthly pension payment had been direct deposited.
It was there — but was $26 and change less than it should’ve been.
Shaken, I made a quick call to Fidelity to find out what had happened. Apparently an audit was done, and they lowered the amount because I hadn’t paid back money that I had started receiving “too soon”.
This dates back to September 2015, right after I moved back to Cleveland. My monthly pension for nearly four years before that — after I had started taking it at age 50 — had been $1,004 and change, and was reduced a few months later to $898 and change. Apparently I did not qualify to take it until age 55 — but somehow that fact fell through the cracks on everyone’s end and my request at age 50 was processed successfully, and no representatives at Fidelity or my former employer — or the computer — caught the error. So my monthly payout was reduced to $898 and change starting in December 2015.
My former employer sent me a letter at that time which said that the over $5,000 I had received from the one pension plan needed to be paid back, or else when I resigned up for it after I turned 55, which I was eligible to do in April 2016 but never did, that new monthly payout would be reduced by a certain amount.
To clarify, I had two separate pension plans from the same company, one from when I was a bargained-for employee, and the other from when I was management, and one of those was temporarily suspended in late 2015.
This probably doesn’t make much sense to anyone reading this — I realize I’m not explaining the situation well, but this is the best I can do right now.
I told them to go ahead and start the paperwork to reactivate the one plan that was suspended, now that I’m old enough to take it. Effective as of today, but I won’t start receiving payments for probably two to three months, but I’ll be paid retroactively.
So eventually I’ll end up receiving more money than I’ve been getting — but there will be a few tight months first. $26 doesn’t sound like a lot of money, but when you’re living at below poverty level and have no savings to tide you over as is my current situation, and every cent is carefully budgeted, it’s a big deal.
I’m already in debt up to my eyeballs, and am on the brink of running into real trouble meeting all my obligations in a timely manner. I’ve put it off for as long as I possibly can, but now I need to aggressively start looking for a job, even if only part time, and find one within a couple months.
Keinya told me yesterday that the motel chain where we’re currently staying needs front desk clerks desperately — so maybe I’ll start there, put in an application, and see what happens. I need work where I’m not running around on my feet all day, as I’m somewhat anemic, and besides, my medications give me problems with recurring lightheadedness when I physically exert myself.
It’s all an adventure, I keep telling myself. The near future is going to be interesting.