Widower fights for late husband's pension, 6 years later
Six years after her husband’s death, Judy Lynch is still fighting to receive his hard-earned pension.
News 12 first interviewed the Brewster woman, who now lives out of state, back in 2017 then again in 2019.
Her husband, James Lynch, was a state Department of Transportation employee of 28 years. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2016 and died weeks later.
He had applied for retirement but died before meeting the 15-day requirement for his application to become active.
Judy Lynch was instead offered a death benefit that would pay out significantly less than his pension.
"He worked hard. For 28 years, he was with the state, and he put in more than what the death benefit is willing to give me," she said. "I would like to go back and see who put this policy in place and what their thought process was."
After News 12's first story aired, Sen. Pete Harckham authored a bill to right the wrong, but it failed to pass both houses. Now another lawmaker is picking up the fight..
"It's heartbreaking. Obviously these folks have lost their loved one," said Assembly Member Ken Zebrowski. "Many times they are in financially difficult situations."
Zebrowski said several Rockland constituents are experiencing similar issues.
He authored a bill in 2019 that he plans to reintroduce this coming legislative session to close this loophole by allowing eligible beneficiaries of state and local employees retirement system to choose between a death benefit or their loved ones' pension.
The late employee must have applied for retirement less than 30 days prior to their death, worked the required number of years and died at retirement age.
Judy Lynch said she hopes the bill passes in the 2023 legislative session so no one else has to experience this hardship.