Friday, July 25, 2014
Pains and Tribulations in Cashing Out My Wife's Retirement Fund
My wife has Parkinson's Disease and has a hard time communicating via telephone. As her primary care giver I am responsible not only for her physical needs but also her financial obligations and investments specifically her retirement benefits as a retired visiting Nurse here in Northern California.
This article chronicles my experience in trying to cash out a small amount of her retirement funds from a well-known visiting nurse organization here in Northern California. For the sake of security I will not mentioned the actual name of this organization, but just called it ST. ST does not have a local office that one can personally submit the paper work required for my wife's cash distribution.
On middle of June, I received a note from my wife's investment company (FI) asking for additional information and an update of our address etc.... This triggers my wife's memory that she had a small amount of retirement fund (a little more than $500) left from her former employer (AB) when she retired in 1994. AB no longer exists because it was acquired by ST several years ago. Thus ST should have all the paper work that I will need to cash out this small amount that my wife has almost completely forgotten.
Last July 15, I called ST ( human resources and the retirement section) for the initial inquiry regarding my wife's account. The person (PA) in the benefits section asked for my wife's employee number and I said she has retired a few years ago from AB . PA asked me to hold while she searched in their data base for my wife's name. She was not able to locate it. Then she asked for my wife's SS and again my wife according to their data base does not exists. I requested to talk to PA supervisor She refused to let me talk to her supervisor until she talks to my wife. Luckily my wife was besides me and she was able to talk to PA. PA then let me talk to her supervisor (JA). I told JA perhaps my wife's file could be under the investment company (FI). After about 5 minutes of holding, supervisor JA found my wife's file. There was minimum amount of information, but my wife's starting and termination date was on file and there was Plan number assigned but there is no employee number. JA said there is nothing that ST can do right now, but I should called the investment company FI. This was about 4PM, so I decided not to call FI that day.
The next day I called FI and after talking to a representative, he refused to talk to me unless he can talk to my wife first. My wife at this time was not feeling well, so I told him I will call tomorrow. The next day I called FI and a more understanding representative ( WW) entertained my request when I informed him of my wife's problem talking to the telephone. However, he was satisfied when I gave him the plan number, date of hire and termination from AB and my wife's SS. WW requested me to hold while he checked what form and procedure will be needed for the cash distribution of an account that was so old, it was almost lost in the paper work fiasco. After 10 minutes WW informed he found the right form and he will mail it to me. I should receive the form in 4 to 5 working days.
July 18th:, I receive the four-page form with a self-addressed envelop with a note that ST should approved this before I return it to FI. I called ST and behold the person I talk to again can not find my wife's account. I requested to talk to supervisor JA, but she is gone for the day. I was told to call the next day.
July 22: I called ST and another person answered me( NA). The first few minutes I was asked for my employee number. I said I have none since I( my wife) retired in 1994. The usual question of asking my wife's name and her SS started again. After a few minutes NA found my wife's file and asked me of how she can helped. I told her I have received the form from FI but there is an item that ST has to approved it. She said I could FAX the properly filled form or send it via E-mail as an attachment after I scan it. Since I have a scanner I decided to send it via e-mail. I asked for ST E-mail. The E-mail address sXXXXLLL@ST.org. XXXX are four numbers and LLL are letters. I asked if there is a person I could send as ATTENTION of, but NA said no.
I waited for a couple of days to call ST. When I talked to a representative from ST named DE, I found out I sent it to the wrong e-mail, so ST has not received the cash distribution form from FI investment. DE gave me the correct e-mail and for my additional security gave me a FAX number. I resend the form that same day.
The next day I received a call from ST from a person named SE. SE informed they got the form and need a copy of my wife's driver license to verify her signature. I told her my wife no longer drives and has no driver license but has her senior ID card. SE said the senior card will suffice.
July 24, I called ST today. The person who answered my call is again a new person.( AP). I requested to be connected to either SE or JA who seemed to have no trouble finding my wife's file. Neither SE or JA is available, so AP asked me if she can help. Again the same standard routine, my wife's name her SS, her plan number, her employee number. I asked AP that all I want to know is if ST has received my wife's Senior ID card. After a few minutes AP said they have. So I asked the obvious question when will I hear from ST or FI. She said perhaps another 10 working days. ST will take care of sending the form to FI.
I will be anxiously waiting the next 10 working days for the check. Is this trouble worth the $1000 I will be expecting in the mail. Indeed as a retiree with a fixed income, any amount coming is welcome.
Note I can not believe that a large organization such as ST, does not have an office that one can submit in person paper work related to retirement benefits for its thousands of employees here in Northern California. I was told there are no local offices for personnel activities because all personnel activities are now centralized, so all business is done on line.