We all know that financial planning for the retirement years is important.  Most of our parents were fortunate enough to have worked in an era where the pension was alive and well. 

As the children of aging parents, we know that it is important to be well informed on the financial health of Mom and Dad.  I thought I was well informed, but this week Dad’s pension from Lockheed Martin came back to bite us.  

When Mom passed almost 10 years ago, we all had our wills updated, and  made sure that Dad had a healthcare directive and power of attorney in place.  However, we did not think to inform Lockheed Martin’s retirement services of my mother’s passing. After all, she was the spouse. 

Fast forward to last Monday morning when UPS knock on the door with an overnight letter from the retirement service center.  They were informing us that during a routine audit of Social Security Numbers they had just discovered, 10 years later, that Mom was no longer with us.  When Dad was forced into early retirement due to cutbacks, had checked the option that would afford Mom the most income should he pass first.  Unfortunately, this clause also reduced his income in the event that she passed first.  Dad did not remember this, and his three grown children would have never have imagined this was the way it would work. 

With only three days notice, Dad is now receiving one-third less, and they are taking out payments for the overpayment of the last 10 years of approximately $27,000.  Ouch!  These payments go through the year 2036, and Dad will celebrate his 83rd birthday next month. 

My Dad was one of the main engineers for the Space Shuttle program, he holds the patents for the nose cone and leading edge of the Space Shuttle.  He sent men into space without the use of a computer, only a slide rule.  He will now receive less than $500 per month from his pension.  Fortunately, he is surrounded by three loving children, so he will be alright.