Friday, June 16, 2017

Getting the Song and Dance at the UFT Pension Consult

I’ve been getting feedback of late about end-year pension consults.  I can’t do much about it, not only because have I nothing to do with them, but also because I'm far from an expert on pension. Numbers are not really my forte. But three people who attended a UFT  pension workshop together just reported about their consultations, and all three seemed to wonder over different things. One had a particularly tough experience.

My friend couldn’t get an appointment at UFT Queens for a retirement consult, so she went to Manhattan. She found a coupon, paid $35 for parking and a little more for a roundtrip EZ pass fee. When she got to her destination, the UFT rep went on the computer, and it took her at least five minutes to figure out what my friend would make if she retired in 2020. That’s unusual, since it’s an average, and then a multiple of 2% per year. I don’t like to brag, but I'm a high school graduate and could have figured that pretty quickly.

She then asked how much she’d make if she were to retire now. The woman took another five minutes, and then came up with a figure that clashed with the one my friend had calculated at the UFT retirement workshop. My friend, as instructed, asked the UFT employee to check her W2s. The pension person requested her 2017 returns. This is unusual, as few people I know do their tax returns before the year actually ends. (Maybe Donald Trump, but everyone knows rules don't apply to kings.)

It then took the woman another five minutes to flip through the returns and determine that 2017 was not, in fact, a year for which my friend would have one. Instead of looking through five years of returns, as my friend was asked in a letter, the rep looked only at the 2016 returns and came up with a figure that way. This was problematic because my friend could have made more money other years. In fact, my friend says 2013, 14, and 15 were her best years.

When my friend asked about medical expenses, the woman told her they would be exactly the same. This is unusual, because retirees no longer get prescriptions via UFT Welfare Fund. They to tend to, therefore, incur higher costs. Perhaps the UFT employee didn’t know that. Oddly, I do.

My friend then told the rep that she had gone for a workshop at Queens UFT, attended by 150 people, and that the information she was giving contradicted what she had heard at the workshop. The rep contended the information at the workshop was incorrect. My friend then asked if there was any more information she could give, and the rep said no. The rep claimed said she was correct, and that someone in Queens told 150 people the wrong thing.

My friend then stood up, and said, “Thank you. This consultation is now over.” The rep said, “Look at you. You’re standing up. You have an attitude.” My friend then went outside. The rep followed her and gave her version of the meeting to everyone who happened to be in the waiting room, making certain all present knew about my friend's attitude.

My friend asked the rep to please stop announcing the results of this meeting to everyone in the room, and requested a supervisor. Eventually she got a name. At the appointed floor, someone came out and said a person, not the supervisor, was expecting her. The rep had evidently given her a heads-up. My friend got to give her version of the story to this person. The person apologized for the inconvenience and offered a consultation with someone she described as the top person. My friend asked if they would cover her parking the next time and was told they don't do that.

I'm sorry she has to go again. But I don't blame her for having an attitude. Everyone has an attitude. The best thing to do, as far as I'm concerned, is to adjust it to suit the situation. 
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