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|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|Wednesday, October 9, 2002
||Contact: AoA Press Office
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Aging (AoA) today announced grants totaling $1.1 million for pension information and
counseling projects. The funding is for new demonstrations and continuing projects
that will develop ways to educate and promote pension awareness and protection
among older adults.
"By assisting older adults to obtain information about their retirement
benefits and negotiate for due compensation when needed, we are helping them
maintain financial security and independence," HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson
In 1992, AoA first funded seven demonstration projects and one technical assistance
grant through Title IV of the Older Americans Act. The success of the original
program resulted in congressional recommendation for expansion in 1998, and
in 2002, Congress incorporated the program permanently into the Older Americans
Act. The program now includes three new projects, six on-going pension-counseling
programs, and a training and technical assistance project.
"We are extremely pleased that our pension counseling projects continue
to do what we hoped they would: find ways to help older people become better
educated about their pension rights and remain independent within their own
homes and communities," said Assistant Secretary Carbonell, who heads the
Administration on Aging. She added, "These projects help older citizens
file claims, work through legal loopholes created by divorce and widowhood,
and understand the advantages and disadvantages between lump sum payments and
AoA’s three new pension projects include:
Minnesota Senior Federation, St. Paul, MN $150,000. The Upper Midwest
Pension Project will serve both Minnesota and Wisconsin by combining comprehensive
pension counseling services for workers and retirees with both private and government
plans, including innovative initiatives to meet the needs of participants in
401(k) plans, multi-employer (union) plans, and state public employee plans.
University of Massachusetts-Boston, Institute of Gerontology, Boston, MA
$150,000. This project, which has been operational since 1993, expanded
to a regional project serving the six New England states, in 1998. The goal
of the project is to increase workers’ and retirees’ knowledge of
and access to retirement benefits. The project provides individual counseling,
case investigation, legal research, referrals to other agencies or a lawyer
when appropriate, and community education and outreach.
Elder Law of Michigan, Lansing, MI $150,000. Elder Law of Michigan proposes
to expand and enhance its current pension counseling project that serves the
states of Michigan and Ohio by adding limited service to the state of Illinois
The project provides intake, advice, and information to pensioners on benefits,
and offers suggestions and strategies for pension problem resolution. The grantee
is using the model of a statewide legal hotline as the first point of entry
for pension counseling.
Pension counseling projects receiving their third year funding include:
The University of Alabama School of Law, Tuscaloosa, AL $74,928. Recruits
law students to provide pension counseling, assistance and pension outreach
to older adults in rural and urban communities in Alabama.
The Pima Council on Aging, Tucson, AZ $75,000. Counsels seniors throughout
the state on pension and retirement issues, and focuses attention on special
issues facing Native Americans.
The Chicago Department on Aging, Chicago, IL $74,353. Provides outreach
and assists older citizens in the city of Chicago in understanding and obtaining
their pension benefits and accessing retirement income that is due to them.
The California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, San Francisco, CA $75,000. Provides pension counseling to seniors and trains other agencies and lawyers
about pension benefits issues. The project provides fact sheets for consumers
on various pension and related retirement issues in English, Spanish, and Chinese.
Pension Claims Law Center, New York, NY $75,000. Operates a pension
hotline that provides guidance and counseling to current and former New York
The Older Women's League, Washington DC $74,919. Provides innovative,
low-cost, user-friendly counseling on pension and retirement issues to low-income
seniors, especially minorities and women, in St. Louis, Missouri.
The Pension Rights Center in Washington, D.C. $208,600 is AoA's Pension
Counseling Program technical assistance and training grantee.
The Technical Assistance Project provides technical and legal assistance and
on-site training for staff and volunteers of the pension demonstration projects,
state and area agencies on aging, and legal service providers. The Center also
assists the projects in developing local support systems, such as pro bono legal
assistance and actuaries. The Pension Rights Center is also developing an interactive
website, PensionHelp America, which combined with a national hotline, will give
anyone with a telephone or a computer access to pension information on almost
any of the 750,000 private pension plans, federal, state and local government
plans, and railroad retirement benefits.