Baltimore County Public School Retirees Continue to Face Issues With Retirement Benefits After Months of Questions – Baltimore Sun


Baltimore County public school retirees are still wondering what will happen to their insurance benefits despite promises from the school system to resolve months-long payment issues by May 1.

Some BCPS retirees noticed discrepancies in health benefits following the November 2020 ransomware attack on the school system. Too much or too little was taken from their pension checks for insurance, leaving some retirees owing or owing thousands of dollars.

After retirees informed the school system and the extent of the problems became clear, BCPS sent letters to retirees last month stating that benefit statements detailing the amount they owed or would be reimbursed would be sent from here on April 26. Checks and invoices would be issued. no later than May 1.

A day after the scheduled deadline, retirees say they received checks without explanation, and the amounts issued to them do not seem logical.

Some have been reimbursed for amounts greater than what was owed to them while others received a check when they expected to owe money. Those who received checks said they had no idea how the costs would be broken down and whether they would be taxed on the money. Some have not yet received anything at all.

Charles Herndon, a spokesman for BCPS, said in a statement that all retirees who had overpaid received refund checks on April 28 and that BCPS was in the “final stages of resolving accounts.” .

“BCPS is pleased to have met its May 1 deadline to resolve the bulk of its pension benefit gaps resulting from the 2020 ransomware attack,” he said.

In an earlier statement, Herndon said the system had worked “diligently” to resolve retiree benefit issues and added that there was “no evidence that personal information of current employees or retirees or old ones have been compromised or accessed” by the ransomware attack. He said retirees were offered free credit monitoring similar to current BCPS employees.

But retirees still question their benefits.

“There are different issues now,” said Angela Leitzer, president of TABCO-R, the retiree division within the Baltimore County teachers’ union. “We are seeing issues with the accuracy of these refunds.”

Retired teacher Susan Allen received a check dated April 27 from Baltimore County Public Schools for about $8,000, about $3,000 more than she said she owed. The check arrived with no explanation and she said she wouldn’t cash it until she got some answers.

She has been asking the BSPS about discrepancies with her health benefits since April 2021. Despite the plan change to pay a lower premium, her pension check still showed that the same amount had been withdrawn from her previous insurance plan. Yet when she or her husband went to the doctor, they were always asked to fork out a higher co-payment – ​​one she said she would be happy to pay as long as her monthly insurance premium was not $400 more than it was supposed to be.

“I won’t cash this check until I call them and say, ‘Hey, how did you figure that out? When will my regular pension check be correct? said Allen.

Leitzer said she did not receive a check. Instead, after telling BCPS she was speaking to the Baltimore Sun on Monday about ongoing insurance discrepancies, Assistant Deputy Superintendent Myriam Yarbrough hand-delivered benefit statements for her and her husband. , another pensioner, on Friday evening.

When Leitzer asked why she was receiving these statements, the assistant replied, “Dr. Yarbrough feels like you’ve been through enough. The only difference between her and other retirees, Leitzer said, is that she was candid when it came to press interviews.

BCPS denies that the assistant said that. Leitzer stands by what she said, describing the conversation as “brief, but memorable.”

Hand delivery The document told Leitzer to report any discrepancies to the BCPS benefits office by May 13.

Leitzer said she compiles status updates for TABCO-R members, but there’s no way for her to know who received what. She said many retirees are still missing. Since retirees organized in TABCO from 2014, there are retirees who are not linked to the union and therefore have not been aware of communications on insurance issues.

BCPS retiree Cynthia North said BCPS communication about insurance gaps has been lacking since before the cyberattack.

When the system was attacked, North said, retirees had no idea how badly they would be affected by the data breach. She only discovered incorrect insurance payments in her pension check because Allen told her about his own problems.

“She called me and said, ‘Check your pension statement. Check last year’s pension statement. Check the previous year,” North said. “And I did, and I noticed mine hadn’t changed either.”

North said she did not receive a benefit statement or check.

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Leitzer said she began receiving messages in January this year from retirees noticing patterns of incorrect amounts withdrawn from their pension checks for insurance. Leitzer said BCPS was aware of the issues but did not notify retirees.

When BCPS Superintendent Darryl L. Williams recently took to Baltimore’s NPR station WYPR for an interview, Leitzer said she wrote to ask what Williams planned to do about the discrepancies. ‘assurance. She said it was the first time retirees had heard that BCPS had hired a contractor to fix the problem.

“There hadn’t been outreach to retirees before that saying, ‘We know there’s a problem. We are working on it,” Leitzer said. “All of a sudden on the radio, we hear that they’ve hired a contractor.”

Leitzer also questioned BCPS’s assertion that no retiree information was compromised.

“There are cases, and so I don’t know why they say there aren’t,” Leitzer said.

Leitzer has already brought these concerns to Yarbrough’s attention, she said. However, Leitzer wonders what the follow-up will be for the system’s more than 9,000 retirees.

“I’m extremely disappointed,” North said. “We’ve been through almost two years of that, and there’s still so much confusion.”

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