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Former steelworkers suffer huge pension meltdown

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in Human Resources

Hundreds of retired Illinois steelworkers once employed by Republic Technologies International (RTI) recently received some unwelcome notices in the mail: Due to miscalculations, their pensions are being cut by as much as 75%, some to as little as $300 per month.

Worse, some retirees learned they owe as much as $60,000 in overpayments back to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), which picked up the workers’ pension obligations when RTI declared bankruptcy in June 2002.

PBGC just completed a detailed review of the workers’ benefits, taking into account a 2004 court decision. The agency canceled a $700 monthly supplement for younger retirees and denied benefits accrued by former employees of LTV Corporation, which became RTI.

PBGC spokesman Jeffrey Speicher noted that the agency is operating under the terms of a contract set by Congress. “We have to enforce it,” he said.

Michael Millsap, Northwest Indiana sub-district director for the United Steelworkers union, objected to the timing. “If they’d done this in 2002 when these guys were younger, it would be one thing,” he said. “But when you wait six years, what are they going to do?”

RTI also operated in Indiana, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio asked Congress to consider changing the PBGC rules after one of his constituents received a bill for $53,415.60.

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