Washington Mutual Holds Pension Funds

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Sep 25

Since January, Kate has been trying to extract her pension money from Washington Mutual. This morning was the fourth time attempting to get the company Washington Mutual uses for its pension funds to simply send her the forms to request the pension disbursement to her Individual Retirement Account.

This morning came the most interesting excuse yet: because she was working for Great Western Bank, which was then acquired by WaMu, her pension request was being held.

Why? Apparently, someone sued Washington Mutual on behalf of Great Western over pension funds and Kate was entitled to some money from that lawsuit.

How much? No one knows; the company has to manually calculate the amount.

When will they know the amount? They can provide a status in two days. Not an answer, mind you. Just a status.

Can they disperse the money from the Washington Mutual part of the pension – the only part she cares about – and leave the Great Western portion until later? No.

Can she get the disbursement papers on-line so she can complete them? No. They must be mailed to the home (not certified or anything, just mailed…).

Can she at least get the disbursement request papers mailed so she can complete her portion of the work (including the spousal waiver to put the funds in her IRA that needs to be notarized)? No. The disbursement amount has to be included in the request and they have to manually determine the amount.

Let’s bottom line this:

  • Since January, 2008, this company has not sent disbursement papers requested through one on-line request and two phone calls to agents of the company, even though the agents said the paperwork would be to us within seven days.
  • There has been no mention of this lawsuit in any interaction with the company until today, 9-months after the initial request.
  • The company is unable to calculate the disbursement and cannot even provide a time-frame where the disbursement amount will be known.
  • And unless we continually harass them through phone calls, they will just continue to hold the money until??

And bankers and pundits wonder why money in a mattress is a good alternative to placing your hard earned cash in a financial institution.

This certainly doesn’t improve my outlook on the company. When my completed disbursement request was  sent in, including the notarized spousal waiver, they resent the forms weeks later saying they never got the spousal waiver. Another trip to the Notary Public and another delay of a month getting the money out.

Now, you can consider this a rant about Washington Mutual and you’d be correct. But there are implications for all Cubicle Warriors:

  • When you are laid off, you have created a project that must be completed. That project is difficult because you still have to deal with all the emotions that come along with being laid off, no matter how prepared you are for the event.
  • Persistence is required because most people do not know the rules of the road when it comes to getting your money from these companies. You don’t know the questions to ask and you don’t know the process these companies follow. That’s frustrating.
  • It is important to have an inventory of what you need to take with you before you leave the company. You won’t remember what all of those things are without a checklist.

Learn from this experience before you experience it yourself. What experiences have you had where you needed persistence to conquer these hurdles?


About the Author

Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.