John Pasquella was set for a nice retirement. For five years and he his wife Kayrn (CQ) had dreamed of living in South Florida close to their daughter, where he could play golf, fish and enjoy their golden years.
They had planned well: paid off the mortgage on their Thomaston home, had found a great bargain on a Florida house with a pool-lanai in a gated community. John had made sure that they had enough pension to live comfortably.
They even got lucky: John got a great buyout offer from AT&T and after accepting it they put their Connecticut home up for sale. In five days they had a buyer.
Unfortunately there is not a happy ending to this tale.
Soon after they accepted the offer on their home last year, Fidelity Investments – AT&T’s pension manager – notified them that they had made an error in calculating his retirement payout.
Instead of getting $1,600 a month for life, it was only going to be $800.
“I thought maybe $50 or $100, but 50 percent…We were devastated,” he told me, explaining he could no longer afford to retire and move to Florida. “I said what are you nuts?” when they asked him to sign off to accept his new pension figure.
If Pasquella hadn’t been careful about making sure his pension figure was accurate, he perhaps could understand the mistake.
But having been warned by his union years earlier that Fidelity was error prone on pensions calculations, Pasquella had asked SIX times over several years to get written modeling showing how much he could count on for his retirement.
Every one of the financial models Fidelity sent him, showed the pension to be about $1,600 a month.
Fidelity does not deny that it had erred, not once but every time Pasquella asked how much he can count on for his monthly pension.
But, it rejected an appeal filed by Pasquella ‘s attorney, Joseph D. Garrison of New Haven, saying that Pasquella can only count on the pension amount he is entitled to, not the estimates he was sent by Fidelity to prepare for his retirement.
The errors apparently occurred, Fidelity said, because Pasquella had a break in service at AT&T and Fidelity had failed to include in the pension assumptions the fact that he had received a partial payout when he left AT&T the first time. Fidelity said it would not respond to CtWatchdog because this issue will be in litigation.
Fidelity suggested that Pasquella apply for another job as AT&T and forget about retiring.