NU Online News Service, Feb. 27, 2004, 1:54 p.m. EST – New York Life Insurance Company has agreed to settle a dispute over a change in an agent retirement plan.[@@]
The company says the settlement agreement calls for it to make retirement benefits available to more agents; reduce the tax burden on the agents by, subject to Internal Revenue Service limits, paying the benefits through a tax-qualified plan; and contribute $16 million to a settlement fund that will pay pension benefits to 3,000 former New York Life agents.
The dispute involves the New York Life Insurance Company Retirement Plan and agents who began representing New York Life before 1991. The affected agents originally were eligible to receive monthly “Senior NYLIC” retirement benefit payments once they represented the company for at least 20 years, according to court pleadings filed by lawyers for the agents.
The lawyers for the agents filed the suit, Lucich vs. New York Life Insurance Company, in February 2001 in the U.S. District Court in New York.
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New York Life acknowledged that the NYLIC plan was a tax-qualified plan governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974.
In 1991, New York Life began making a portion of the Senior NYLIC benefit payments with checks from the NYLIC Retirement Plan. The company made up the difference between what the ERISA plan was paying and what the agents expected with checks for a “non-qualified excess benefit.” The company said the non-qualified benefit was not subject to ERISA.