Dear Planning to Retire,
I used to work for WaMu and was fully vested in a pension program. Do you know if I will receive my benefit when I become eligible, or did I just lose some retirement income?
The government seized Washington Mutual's banking operations and sold parts of the company to JPMorgan Chase on September 25. But the jurisdiction of employee pension benefits was a point of contention during a tumultuous week that left current employees and retirees nervously awaiting an announcement that could affect their financial future. An unnamed WaMu human resources employee fueled the fire by telling Seattle Times business reporter Melissa Allison that payments to current or former Washington Mutual employees from the company's deferred compensation and supplemental retirement plans have been indefinitely suspended. But people in WaMu's 401(k) and pension plans will continue to be paid because those funds are held in trust, the employee said.
U.S. News contacted JPMorgan Chase to ask about the future of WaMu employee pensions. Tom Kelly, a spokesperson for the company, responded, "The current value of the general employee cash-balance pension remains intact, and employees will continue to accrue additional benefits under the current WaMu plan design until they are notified otherwise. If the bankruptcy court approves JPMorgan Chase's assumption of this plan, the employee's account balance will be shifted to the JPMorgan Chase cash balance pension plan at a later date. The employees will receive credit for your years of service under the terms of the JPMorgan pension plan."
A reader submitted a picture to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer of a Washington Mutual sign being transported to an undisclosed location. For the time being, at least, WaMu pensions will not be hauled off with it.