1600 Recently Retired Teachers Getting Shafted?

Last week, there was lots of discussion about the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund (Back And Forth About The Chicago Teachers... ).  This week, a retired teacher sent in this letter (below) saying that he and hundreds of other recent retirees may be getting shorted on their benefits.  It's a little different from the previous issue -- take a look and write in or call the author if you want to get involved.

Here's the letter:

I retired from CPS last June along with 1600+ other teachers. I want get touch with these retirees ( especially those who also had some teaching at public schools in Illinois other than CPS) I believe that some or all of us are being shorted on our pension checks. Some of us possibly by more than 40%. Following is an email I wrote to the Chicago Tribune on 10/3/07 that explains how CPS is treating their retirees.

Thanks for taking time to speak with me earlier today. I hope you will be able to help me. My situation is as follows. I retired in June 2007. I worked 16 years in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) covered by the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund (CTPF) and 7 years in the suburbs covered by the Illinois Teachers Pension Service (TRS). Each pension pays their share proportionally. Before I retired I was told by CTPF that I would probably not receive my 1st check until Sept 1. When I did not get a check on Sept 1, CTPF told me that CPS had not sent them all of the payroll records yet and I would get a check on Oct1. When that didn't happen I was told that CPS had sent the payroll records but payroll #13 had errors so that they still could not send me a pension check, but Bill McGowan at CTPF told me I certainly should have one by November 1.
The people at CPS virtually never return your calls, but occasionally I speak to someone. Mostly I  have talked to Ray Sanders in payroll. The last time I spoke with him was Wed. 9/29/07. He said that that CTPF had everything they needed from CPS including a corrected payroll #13. On the same day I spoke with Pat Hambrick, the chief operating officer at CTPF. She made it very clear to me that CPS had not sent them a correct and error free payroll #13 and that I could not receive a pension check until it was received.
After that conversation I left 2 messages for Angela Alonzo ( the head of payroll at CPS). She did not return my call until I started leaving messages for her superior, Ascendion Juraez (the head of human resources at CPS). When I spoke Alonzo she also seemed to be under the impression that CPS had sent everything over to CTPF that was needed including a correct payroll#13. This shocked me because Pat Hambrick ( C.O.O. of the CTPF) said this was not the case and indicated that she had been in touch with CPS on a regular basis to make them aware of this fact. Before I got off the phone with Angela Alonzo on Tuesday 10/2, she said she would get in touch with Pat Hambrick on Wed. and call to let me know what happened. She said she would definitely call me Wed. even if she did not get a chance to speak to Pat Hambrick. When I did not receive a call by 4:55 pm on Wed, I called Angela Alonzo. The person who answered the phone  (I believe it was Ms Porter) said Ms Alonzo was in a meeting, but when she was told I was on the phone, she said she would call me back today as soon as the meeting was over. It is now 9:00 pm so it is safe to assume that her promise to call me is not going to happen.
The last rep I spoke to at CTPF told me that if they get what they need from CPS payroll soon, they should have all the records fully audited by the end of the calendar year. This would mean I would hopefully get my 1st check on Feb 1, but that is only if CPS sends correct payroll records which they seem unable or unwilling to do. In fact they don't seem to be willing to even admit that there is a problem.
As I  said on the phone, there were over 1600 CPS retirees in June 2007. This problem mainly affects those with reciprocal service in another Illinois Pension system ( mainly . TRS). I have no way of knowing how many of us there are. I would guess about 100, but TRS could probably give you an exact figure. At this point I have received no regular pension checks. I also have received no checks to reimburse  me part of my out of pocket health insurance expenses which I am also entitled to.  CTPF has sent me 2 advance checks which  totals less than 60% of what my net check ( after taxes) would be if I had been receiving my regular pension checks and health insurance reimbursement.
I don't enjoy rocking the boat. Believe me it is humiliating to spend countless hours on the phone begging for my money. Your help will be greatly appreciated. Please feel free to contact me through email or on my cell phone 847-830-4257. Thank you. Michael Bortz


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  • WoW! I felt bad because they have my pension checks all screwed up and the board is in the worst shape its ever been in. I retired in June and I went back to work as a sub in a critical need area because I can't live on the estimated amount that they are giving me on my estimated pension check. They told me to call back next month. That eventually it will get straightened out. I took the ERO and its just unbelievable that we have no recourse. What about the Union? When I went back to work it took two weeks for my fingerprints to clear and I don't know if they ever wouldve called me to let me know. I had to make 3 trips to Elizabeth st. and 3 trips to Clark St. Who ever heard of having half your human resources at one location and half at the other location? What was wrong with 39th st. Wasnt it Arnie that came up with this wonderful alternative.

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