TULSA, Okla. — A Tulsa family is scrambling to help their elderly mom survive medically and financially.
They called 2 News Problem Solvers after several delays in the retirement benefits she needs. Like any mom, Heather shares a lot of love, sweat, and tears when it comes to her children. So it's no surprise Heather feels that way about her 62-year-old mom.
No more so, than during desperate times, "Without getting paid, she's at risk of being homeless."
Her mom is much too private to go public and we're not using Heather's last name to protect her identity. Heather said stage 4 cancer caused her mom to retire after working more than two decades for Tulsa County. Now, her mom's life depends on her monthly retirement benefits. They cover medical bills, insurance premiums, and medicine.
Since the first of the year, those payments have been late by two or three weeks every month. Heather said it's taking a toll on her mom as she struggles financially and emotionally.
"She's had to decide whether to pay for her groceries, her bills or get evicted. Or pay for her medication for cancer treatment and recovery," she said.
While Tulsa County pays for retirement benefits, the monthly payments are administered by a Wisconsin company called Total Administrative Services Corporation (TASC). A Tulsa County representative told 2 News last November TASC informed them they would be upgrading their system and there could be some delays in payments.
But since then, Tulsa County said more than 75 retirees had benefits paid late every month and county administrators are in weekly contact with TASC.
"We are fully aware of the issues," said Devin Egan with Tulsa County. "It's deeply frustrating. Our retirees especially depend on these funds for their monthly expenses and it's totally unacceptable that they have been subjected to these errors."
"She talks about not being able to sleep at night, feels sick to her stomach, she's still waiting on this payment, this check every single month," said Heather.
Heather and her siblings helped their mom financially as much as they can afford, but that bothers her mom.
"It continues to leave her in a bind, she feels stressed because she's borrowed money from us and feels like she owes people money, I keep telling her you don't need to pay it back," she said.
2 News made several attempts to get information from TASC, no one from the company responded. Heather's mom received May's check on June 8th.
Tulsa County said its post-employment health plan benefit is a rarity these days. Former full-time employees are eligible after a minimum of one year. The county pays 100% of the benefits. Retirees can set up automatic monthly reimbursement for premiums and medical expenses.
Here’s more information on the retirement plan:
Tulsa County provides our retirees and resigned employees access to a post-employment health plan fund that can be used to reimburse them for eligible healthcare expenses and post-tax premiums. This benefit is 100% funded by Tulsa County. When an employee leaves Tulsa County after a minimum of one year of full-time employment, they are eligible to access this benefit. Retirees can get set up automatic monthly reimbursement for their post-tax premiums and can submit their receipts to be reimbursed for expenses (similar to a flexible spending account).
In November of 2020, TASC informed us that they would be upgrading their system in January 2021 and that a blackout period would be enforced. Unfortunately, this notice of the system changes and blackout period came too late and the majority of the recurring premium claims were paid late for approximately 75+ previous employees.
Here’s Tulsa County’s statement on the situation:
We are fully aware of the issues our retirees and resigned employees are having with late and/or missing reimbursements from TASC and it is deeply frustrating. Our retirees especially depend on these funds for their monthly expenses and it is totally unacceptable that they have been subjected to these errors. We hope that they know that since these issues came to our attention earlier this year our HR and Finance teams have been conducting weekly calls with TASC and sending nearly daily emails to our account representative to ensure those who are affected are getting the funds they need as quickly as possible. Tulsa County’s post-employment health plan benefit is a rarity in today’s world and we want it to be a highlight of being employed here. We will continue to work with TASC to identify and address any and all issues until they have been rectified to our satisfaction.
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