Retirees seeing smaller benefit checks

By Evrod Cassimy – bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Hundreds of thousands of retired state workers got less money in their benefits check this month and they called 12 to find out why.

A spokesperson for the Virginia Retirement System told NBC12 they received more than 4,000 calls about the smaller checks. They've had to post the reason why on their website. The money went back to Uncle Sam.

70-year-old Charles Bennett is one of hundreds of thousands of retired Americans who noticed a significant difference in their benefits check this month. He was surprised to see nearly $50 missing and he's not the alone.

"That really irritated me to the fact, because I'm a retired marine, my wife and I are on a fixed income," said Bennett. "My wife is semi paralyzed so we have to use a lot of our money to take care of my wife's expenses."

Bennett was short exactly $48.80 as were many retired residents right here in Richmond. Since Monday, thousands of calls have poured into the Virginia Retirement System office downtown. Retirees wanted answers!

"The "Making Work Pay" credit had expired," explained Virginia Retirement System spokeswoman, Jeanne Chenault. "When this expired that meant that the IRS said to go back to the previous withholding tables."

So that $48 Bennett lost was not a mistake even though it was money he had grown accustomed to and desperately needed.

"When you say $48.80 it doesn't really sound like much until you times it by 12," said Bennett. "That's around $600 dollars a year less."

Chenault explained that letters were mailed out to everyone receiving retirement checks letting them know of the upcoming change. For Bennett and his wife, they're now forced to cut back on food and gas so they can afford medications she needs to live.

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