New Jersey’s Department of Banking and Insurance said it is working to track down more than 1,000 state retirees who may be due money from MetLife after the insurance firm said it did not make payments to those it could not locate.
“The department is working diligently to locate and contact New Jersey residents whose pensions may have gone unpaid by MetLife because of a process the company acknowledges fell far short of what should have been done to reach them,” said Marlene Caride, the department’s acting commissioner. “We will take every measure to ensure those who were impacted get the benefits they are entitled to.”
After requesting information from MetLife about New Jersey retirees who may have been impacted by its inability to make pension payments to unreachable customers, the department received a list from the company of 1,075 retirees with New Jersey addresses who may be due payments. The New Jersey pensioners are among an estimated 13,500 people the company did not pay benefits to during the past 25 years.
The Department of Banking and Insurance said it is also working with other state agencies to find New Jersey residents who may be impacted, and said it will monitor the progress by MetLife in processing payments due to residents. It also established a toll-free hotline (1-800-446-7467) for New Jersey residents who believe they may be owed pension benefits from MetLife. In an SEC filing, the company said it set up a policy more than 20 years ago of releasing the full insurance liability after two attempts of contacting annuitants, and has reserved $510 million to cover the payments.
Last month, Massachusetts’ Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin said that his office had discovered hundreds of state retirees who were owed pension payments by MetLife. The company provided the names of state residents to whom it owes money to Galvin’s office after the securities division opened an investigation in December. Galvin then sent letters to the retired workers informing them of the money that was due to them. MetLife had acquired the obligation to pay the employees’ pensions from their former employers.
“My office was able to locate many of these retirees in just two months,” Galvin said in a release. “My office will seek to establish what meaningful efforts MetLife has made in the past to locate and pay these people, many of whom are likely living on fixed incomes.”