(01/28/13) - Monday, McLaren Bay Region retirees heard an explanation about why they were overpaid on their pensions, and why they have to pay back the money.
McLaren sent out letters to retirees a few weeks back, alerting them about the mistake.
McLaren officials say 70 employees were underpaid on their pensions, while 213 were overpaid a combined total of about $832,000.
After Monday's meetings, those that were overpaid are weighing their options.
"They had the same auditors since 2004. They said they found the mistake in 2010," said Joe Ceraso, whose wife receives McLaren pension.
That mistake in the calculation of McLaren Bay Region pensions means many of the people leaving the meeting have to pay back thousands of dollars. Retirees can either make a lump sum payment, or see their monthly pension checks reduced. Katherine Lattimore of Saginaw has to pay back $11,000.
"It's just so wrong," she said.
Lattimore worked at Bay Medical Center for more than 27 years, and has been retired for 13 years.
"Not only snatching it away, but telling me I owe money with interest, you know me, a widow, and retired all those years, who has $11,000 to pay back?" she said.
In the face to face meetings, the retirees were told McLaren's management is working with the federal government to forgive the interest on the money that is owed. Ceraso's wife worked for the health system for more than 30 years.
"I made a plea to the CEO that they could probably do something more than just forgive the interest, maybe they can reach in their pocket and continue to pay the current stipends," he said.
Sara Parkin, of Midland, says her monthly pension check will be cut in half.
"Actually, it's what it is, we're going to have to do it, we're going to have to do it," she said.
But Carol Ouellette was not that understanding.
"I think everybody should get an attorney," she said.
Late Monday afternoon, McLaren management released a statement, and the retirees got some good news.
McLaren says it is looking at a new option, and it will not require any retirees to pay back the over payments while it works with the federal government on this problem, which could take 12-18 months.
However, those that were overpaid will start receiving their reduced pension checks for the correct amount on March 1.
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