NY state: Sorry your husband’s dead, now fork over $27k

A nasty story from New York, as Shirley Findel, a nearly 80 year old widow, gets a demand letter, out of the blue, for nearly $27,000 from the state.

Her crime?  Her husband, who was a train engineer with the Long Island Rail Road, died in September, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) went back and checked their books, and someone realized that the railroad had made a mistake when her husband retired back in 1995.

It seems the state was sending her husband too large of a pension check each month, to the tune of $124.80 too much per month, so now they’d like their $26,707.20 back.

Have a nice day.


From the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s letter to Shirley Findel.

Newsday, which reported the story, posted the letter from the state on Twitter:

I’m sorry, but that’s bs. You can’t hand someone $27,000, especially when you’re in a position of authority, as the state of New York is, and thus the person receiving the money has every reason to believe that the amount they’re receiving is accurate, and then turn around nearly 20 years later and say oops.

It’s one thing for an ATM to spit out a million bucks, and for me to run and spend it, knowing full well that the money isn’t mine. It’s quite another for me to rely to my detriment on my bank giving me the wrong interest, or some other payment, over a 20 year period and then expecting the money back.

At some point, you will likely spend that money since you would never assume that the source of the money was wrong.  And that’s when it becomes your problem rather than mine.

If the MTA is permitted to go after this woman, then no one should trust any money they get from their pension funds. Who knows what mistakes they’ve made, if it takes them 20 years to find them. It’s a bad precedent, and a lousy way to treat a nearly 80 year old woman who just lost her husband.

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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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