Feds mistake costs South Holland pensioner over $49,000 in pension payments

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SOUTH HOLLAND (CBS) – She spent more than four decades with the government before retiring.

But the feds are making him pay some of his pension money, even though they recognize a mistake in their system.

Morning Insider Lauren Victory takes us into a suburban woman’s fight for her hard-earned retirement money.

Beatrice Fells started her first government job in 1972.

“The salary is $5,871,” she said with a chuckle, showing CBS 2 her employment records that are so old they’re typewritten.

Before her last day of work, someone from human resources printed out the documentation for her.

“I’m like, ‘I’m retiring. Why am I going to need it?’ And I need it,” said Fells, who is now using paperwork to prove her 41 years of working for the federal government.

She retired from the Department of Veterans Affairs in May 2020 and received a pension for her accumulated time of service (at one point she worked a few years in the private sector).

“I’m not sleeping. I’m not sleeping!” she said shaking her head because the VA made a “mistake of [her] pension plan coverage “and despite the department’s acknowledgment of this error in November 2020 in a letter to Fells, the South Holland woman’s pension payments continue to fall short of the $3,556 she expected.

After tax, the difference is $1,815. Multiply that by the 27 months she waits and Fells is over $49,000 short.

“She’s extremely patient while I’m not,” said Karen Stingley, Fells’ niece. She helped Fells fight the US Office of Personnel Management, which must deal with the retirement plan error discovered by the VA. After more than a year and a half of email exchanges, nothing is set in stone.

“If it happens to him, it could happen to someone else who doesn’t have me,” Stingley said, referring to his plea for Fells, whose health is deteriorating.

CBS 2 tried to ask the feds what was causing the delay, but no one answered our call to the OPM communications office. We sent six email inquiries about Fells’ predicament and gave OPM several weeks to respond. Nobody did.

” Do you see what I’m talking about ? said Fells who says he was repeatedly told his case was aggravated to no avail.

The loss of tens of thousands of dollars of her hard-earned money caused her to deplete her savings. Fells is now behind on his mortgage and fears losing his house. This is not how the official envisioned her years of decline.

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