I think Ellen Levy, a paralegal employed by a federally funded program, Western States Pension Assistance Project (WSPAP), a project of Legal Services of Northern California and California Senior Hotline, has a pretty cool job. She helps track down lost retirement and pension plans, which make all the difference in the world to retirees living on fixed incomes.
Levy and her supervising attorney, Justin Freeborn, were interviewed for a feature article, “Pension detectives help pin down retirement benefits.” Freeborn told the Sacramento Bee that the job requires digging up “Social Security records, company pension documents, work histories, tax records and even the anniversary pin from a union.”
Levy’s contributions to the agency’s success stories are shared at the WSPAP website, including her sleuthing to help a 68-year old woman living on Social Security, who was unable to track down what she thought was a Teamsters pension:
She had worked 12 years full time in a job covered by a Teamsters contract, leaving in 1986. Project paralegal Ellen Levy reviewed her records, talked to a number of people connected to the Teamsters and tracked down a former coworker and the local union’s former business agent. The advocate eventually obtained a copy of an old contract and learned that the pension was provided by the Automotive Industries fund rather than the Teamsters. The woman will receive a pension of $186 a month plus a significant retroactive payment.
According to her LinkedIn profile, Levy, who has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and was a journalist for 26 years, also does extensive grant writing as part of her duties.
Working as a pension detective sounds both challenging and rewarding, but maybe more like being a legal superhero to seniors.