Recovering Lost Pension Benefits

What you need to submit for claims for lost pension benefits  

The Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) has developed new forms to use when submitting claims for defined benefit pension loss. These forms identify the key information needed in order to process these types of claims.

Pension losses are different from other economic losses. Defined benefit pensions are retirement benefits that are awarded based on the number of years of credited service with an employer or union, unlike a 401(k), for example, in which it is the employer’s contribution to the retirement plan that is defined rather than the benefit. If a victim stopped accruing credited services toward his/her pension earlier than expected because he/she died or became disabled due to an eligible condition, VCF will try to compensate that pension loss. It should be noted, however, that in some cases, the benefits may increase because of death or disability, and in that case VCF would need to offset the amount of the increase.


If the victim worked for a New York City agency that is a part of New York City Employee Retirement System (NYCERS) or worked for a New York state or local agency that is part of the New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS) and is claiming compensation for loss of pension benefits suffered as a result of VCF-eligible conditions, claimants should use this worksheet and provide the VCF with all of the relevant documentation.

In the case of a NYCERS claim, documentation includes:

  • “Retirement Data Sheet” or “Disability Retirement Data Sheet” providing the data used to calculate the pension
  • Letter informing the victim about the different pension options
  • Letter stating that the pension has been finalized
  • Individuals who have a disability pension should also submit:
    • NYCERS Medical Board Report
    • Letter stating that the victim has been approved for a 3/4 accidental disability pension
    • Letter showing the annual or monthly benefit amount.

For NYSLRS claims, documentation includes:

  • A document or letter providing the information used to calculate the pension, such as membership date and final average salary
  • Letter informing the victim of the different pension options
  • Individuals who have a disability pension should also submit:
    • The physician’s statement of disability (RS 6401) or other evidence submitted in support of the disability application
    • The NYSLRS disability application showing the condition(s) claimed as the basis of the disability application
    • Letter stating the application for a World Trade Center Accidental Disability Retirement has been approved.

Union and Other Defined Benefit Plans

If the victim has a defined benefit plan through a union, employer, or other entity, claimants should complete this worksheet and provide the VCF with all of the relevant documentation as provided in Appendix G and Section 2.2 of the Policies and Procedures Document. This includes a Summary Plan Description (“SPD”) for any pension plan and annuity fund for any union or employer that does not appear in the chart, so that the VCF can calculate the disability pension offset and/or pension loss.

It should be noted that with any defined benefit plan, if claimants do not submit complete information about pension benefits, the VCF will not compute the value of the lost pension and will instead apply its standard default values for retirement benefits (i.e., a 401k employer contribution equal to 4% of base salary and $2,400 per year for health insurance).

In addition, if there is any indication that the victim receives a disability pension (or if the victim received a disability pension before death), but claimant does not submit information necessary to calculate that pension or determine the basis of that pension, the VCF may issue only a non-economic loss award as, without that information, the VCF cannot determine whether an offset is appropriate or the amount of that offset.

Additional information about claims for loss of defined benefit pensions can be found in the VCF Policies and Procedures document at Appendix G and Section 2.2. FDNY, NYPD, NYCERS, and federal employees, including military personnel, are discussed in section 2.2. Unions and other employers, including NYSLRS, Con Ed, and Verizon are discussed in Appendix G.

The deadline for filing a VCF claim is December 18, 2020. If you need assistance with a claim for loss pension benefits, reach out to us at (800) 962-9954 and via our contact page.

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