Alfredo Llaguno is no stranger to hard work. He worked his entire life including the last 11 years for the City of Sweetwater. In February, Llaguno, 77, decided he was ready for something new and formally retired. But, he had troubles getting money he believed he was owed.
While working for the city, Alfredo would occasionally receive general mail from a pension fund, he said. But he said he did not know exactly how much money he was supposed to get.
“I got an idea, but nothing confirmed,” he said, adding he never received any details in writing. He said he was told he’d get those details, but weeks passed and nothing arrived.
“When I called them in two or three weeks, after I sent my papers, they ask me ‘what is your social security number?’” he said. “I said, well this, this and this. They said, ‘well we don’t have that social security number in here’.”
They determined the number on file was off by one digit, he said. He sent them copies of his social security card and driver’s license several times and even had the City of Sweetwater try to intervene in an email, but he said he still didn’t receive what he was promised.
“I was so depressed, I was so anxious, I was so mad because I couldn’t get any confirmation,” he said. “No information at all.”
NBC 6 Responds contacted the pension fund and sent Alfredo’s documents. The following day our team received an email from the pension fund, saying they had received his application and records and that he should contact the office directly. This time when he did, Alfredo was told his wait was over.
“Oh, yes, Mr. Llaguno, of course. I got all these papers ready for you,” he remembered the representative saying. Days later, those paper finally arrived at his home.
“I was so happy when I saw that,” he said. “It was a relief, you know, it feels much better.”
According to Flavio Carrillo, a professor of finance at Florida International University, consumers should meet with their HR department to be clear on the details of their potential pension well before retirement.
“If you qualify for a pension, first of all, you need to make certain that you are aware of what the pension is,” Carrillo said. And, just because you receive information from a pension fund, that doesn’t mean you’re going to get a benefit, Carrillo added.
“Maybe you’re not vested yet. Maybe you’re receiving this information because they’re sending it out to all the employees,” he said. “You really need to be aware of what it is that you’re eligible for.”
Alfredo finally got his first payment in June. He said it was retroactive and included the money he was supposed to receive since February.
“I’m going to celebrate,” he said.
He opted to get payments for the rest of his life, instead of a lump sum. That is the best option in most cases, Carrillo said. He said it’s also a good idea to have an attorney or an expert look at your paperwork to help you make the best decision for your situation.