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Senior Finance Matters: Pension Counseling and Information Projects

What are pension counseling projects?

The Pension Counseling and Information Projects provide free, personalized pension counseling and assistance to individuals throughout their regional service area, regardless of age or income. Project counselors deal with the most complex issues across the full spectrum of private and government-sponsored pension and retirement savings plans.

Recognizing that pensions are vital to the retirement security of older Americans, Congress established the Pension Counseling and Information Program in 1992 under the Older Americans Act. Initially a demonstration project, pension counseling is now a permanent part of the Act and is primarily funded through a grant program of the U.S. Administration for Community Living (ACL).

The projects are supported by the National Pension Assistance Resource Center (National PARC), an initiative of the Pension Rights Center in Washington, D.C. National PARC provides the training and legal back-up necessary to practice in the complex field of pension law.

Why are the pension counseling projects needed?

More than 50 million American workers are covered by government and private pension and retirement savings plans. The inherent complexities of these plans and the laws that govern them make it extremely difficult for individuals to navigate the system without assistance, and problems are not uncommon.

Benefits can be miscalculated, resulting in over- or under-payments, and, in the worst of cases, denied altogether. The Pension Counseling and Information Projects provide much-needed assistance to thousands of individuals each year, helping them to understand and exercise their retirement income rights.

What have the pension counseling projects accomplished?

Currently, six regional pension counseling projects serve 29 states, including Massachusetts. The projects have helped thousands of individuals, recovering over $175 million in benefits that otherwise would have gone unclaimed. These recoveries represent a return on federal investment of more than 8 to 1, proving that pension counseling is not only necessary, but that it can be provided efficiently and effectively.

Serving Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont, the New England Pension Assistance Project is an individual case advocacy arm of the Pension Action Center, which is based out of the Gerontology Institute at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Contact their pension lawyers and counselors with your pension questions on any private or government-sponsored retirement plan toll-free at 888-425-6067 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Learn more and request help online at www.umb.edu/pensionaction/nepap.

Information for this article was found on the ACL website at www.acl.gov as well as on www.pensionrights.org, where you can find more retirement security resources.

The views expressed in this article represent general information. To address your particular and specific needs, consult your financial services professional.