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In May 2014, Alcatel-Lucent announced its intent to offer a pension buyout to approximately 45,000 retirees and related beneficiaries in the U.S. management pension plan. In this column, the LRO will keep you up to date on what we know about the recent A-L announcement.

LRO cannot provide any advice or recommendation to a member regarding his or her acceptance or rejection of participation in the Alcatel-Lucent Retiree Lump Sum Window Program. LRO recommends that each member contact his or her own financial planner and/or tax adviser to discuss his or her specific situation, financial goals and investment strategy.

AUGUST 30,2015

There are now less than 30 days before the firm ending date of the A-L buy out offer. We continue to hear from retirees that have not yet received the offer because of Aon-Hewitt records. We have also heard from some that even after they have accepted the offer they haven’t received the written documents.

There are several actions we suggest you consider:

  1. When you call the Benefit Center record the date and time and the name (full name if they will give it) of the individual you are talking with. Do this each time you call.
  2. A number of people have been unsuccessful in getting them to call you back but it is still a good idea to ask.
  3. Document what they tell you about when you should inquire that the problem is fixed.
  4. If you are requested to send documents, we would suggest that since time is short you consider overnight mailing with a return receipt. In fact, if they are sending you something ask that it be sent over night.
  5. When you call the second or more times tell the representative the name of the individual, date, and time you spoke to previously.


This is an anxious time for Lucent retirees facing a major decision regarding the Alcatel-Lucent Retiree Lump-Sum Window Program, which now is upon us. With that in mind, the LRO is issuing a Pension Buyout Special Edition of our LRO Connection Newsletter, which may be accessed by clicking here.

While the LRO cannot provide individual counseling relative to acceptance or rejection of the ALU offer, the LRO has framed a series of questions or considerations that hopefully will assist retirees during this important deliberative process and supplement the package of support materials provided by Alcatel-Lucent.

Additional questions submitted by members are posted below.

We hope you will find the information in this special edition helpful, and we wish you well in your important decision process.


It has now been a year since A-L announced a proposed lump sum buyout of as many as 45,000 participants in the management pension plan. They have now also included about 30,000 formerly represented participants in the non- management plan. There is one significant difference between the two offers. The formerly represented retirees may also be entitled to a one time payout of their death benefit.

The letter containing the non-management offer’s mailing began about June 24, 2015. The letter with the management offer was dated June 29, 2015 and is now arriving at the home address of those eligible to participate. It states that participation in the program is strictly voluntary. It advises that the offer is limited to those who retired after March 1, 1990 and before certain specified dates which vary by type of pension. There are also other exclusions from the offer.

Those who receive the offer have several options other than declining the offer. The first option would be a lump sum which would replace your monthly pension. For certain former employees, the option of a monthly annuity to replace your current monthly annuity will be offered. Our interpretation is that this is an annuity option to be offered within our existing Alcatel Lucent pension plan.  It is not an annuity being offered by a third party insurance company as part of an additional sponsor de-risking program initiated by Alcatel Lucent.

Included in the mailing is the Announcement of the program. Also included is a Financial and Tax Education Guide developed by Delloite to assist in understanding the financial and tax aspects of this lump sum opportunity.

Page 17 of the program contains the telephone number established for this offer. (1-866-617-7164). Online resources are also shown. The Financial and Tax Education Guide (on page 21) list the dates and location of the several group sessions. On Page 23 is a listing of the dates and locations for individual sessions. It is being suggested that you call now to schedule your appointment for these sessions.

Your actual Benefit Decision Kit should arrive in mid-July. The inclusive dates to accept the offer begin on July 20, 2015 and terminate at 11:59 PM ET on September 25, 2015.

If you believe you are eligible for this offer but did not receive the materials, you should call now the number above. If your Benefit Decision kit does not arrive by July 24 you should also call that number.

The LRO has issued a special newsletter devoted to this program. As always, we are available to you by email.


minterThe following are questions in addition to those in the Special Newsletter sent to us by members, and answers from Frank Minter, the LRO Pension Director:

Question. Sale of Alcatel-Lucent USA Pension Plan to an Insurance Company

Answer. This subject is one we are hearing about most often and the LRO Directors are concerned when we hear that retirees are considering accepting the lump sum offer solely because they are concerned about a possible future sale of our plan to an insurance company. The only possibility of losing our pension if a sale occurs is for the insurance company to bankrupt.

Once again we repeat that we are in no way providing financial advice as you consider your decision on the offer so let us give you certain information that you can consider as you wish.

First- we have nothing from A-L that indicates ( after the buyout ends) they plan to sell our pension plan to an insurance company. The reason we have commented on that possibility results from GM and Verizon doing exactly that following completion of their lump sum offer.

Lets look at some numbers. We will use management as the LRO has better numbers for that group/ Today, we have about 128,000 management individuals covered by our pension plan. We know that 45,000 have been offered the lump sum. Historically, 20% to 30% accept these offers, which will leave about 115,000 in the plan. At year end 2014, on a fair market value basis, our plan had $ 20 billion in assets and was funded at 108%. Since the lump sum will reduce pension liabilities at least as much as assets, the arithmetic says the remaining plan funding level has to be over 108%. If A-L decides to terminate the plan it would not be turned over to the PBGC because it is fully funded. The law calls this a "standard termination" in which the plan must purchase an annuity from an insurance company that pays your current pension. The plan must also identify the insurance company for you. If this occurs, the protection of the PBGC guarantee ends. However, each State has an arrangement that will pay you certain amounts up to a maximum if the insurance company subsequently becomes bankrupt. The total amount available should be checked in your state.

The most important factor in a possible sale of a pension plan to an insurance company is the viability of that company. There are not very many companies that could handle 115,000 retirees with monthly annuity (pension) payments and almost $ 20 billion in assets in our plan. Lets look at one such company, Prudential has $ 1.2 trillion in assets under management and has a strong financial position and would not be considered a candidate for bankruptcy.

Should we worry enough about the possible bankruptcy of this type of insurance company to accept a lump sum buyout that we might have turned down based on other factors. As we have said repeatedly, taking the buyout transfers all risk to the retiree. The risks are that you will outlive your money and also earn a sufficient return on your assets. Only you can make the decision that is best for you but the possible sale of our plan to an insurance company certainly should not be the only factor you consider because of the remote possibility that such a company will bankrupt.

Question. Death Benefit and Group Life Insurance

Answer. One of the most frequent questions we are receiving at this time concerns benefits that are available at the retiree's death. There is confusion between the Death Benefit and Group Life Insurance . They are separate benefits.

The Death Benefit has been historically paid from the pension fund and is equal to the retiree's final annual salary. That benefit for management employees was terminated in 2003 during Lucent's financial difficulties. Formerly represented retirees continue to have that benefit. If they accept the lump sum offer they must also accept a much reduced death benefit. The determination of that death benefit is recorded on a table (shown on page 5 of the Lump Sum Program ) that is based on salary ranges and ranges of ages. The amounts in the table are always less than the benefit the retiree currently is entitled to at death and appears to be less than the amount if a present value is calculated. If they do not accept the lump sum offer the death benefit equal to their final salary will be paid if they have a qualified beneficiary.

The other benefit is Group Life Insurance for which the retiree pays nothing and is also equal to the retiree final annual salary. Both former management and former represented retirees are entitled to this benefit. This amount decreases by 10% a year between the ages of 65 and 70, so that at age 70 it is 50% of final salary. This is a welfare benefit and is provided at the discretion of the Company. We were told by A-L Human Resource officers that the Trust fund which contains the assets to pay this benefit is currently sufficient to last another 6-8 years. We don't know what A-L will do at that time. The Group Life Insurance Trust Fund was also used by Lucent in 2004 to pay other costs with permission obtained from the IRS If your group life insurance benefit exceeds $ 50,000 you receive a W2 each year for the tax on the excess over $50,000 which you will include in your tax return each year.

Questions and Answers continued in next column at right.

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Over 500 Retirees Attend LRO Naperville Meeting

Chicago area Lucent retirees were out in force to attend the meeting with LRO leaders on Tuesday, June 23rd. The group discussed healthare and pension issues and the upcoming pension buyout. Pictures and slides from the event are below. (for full screen click upper right corner).

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Slide Presentations from Chicago Area Meeting 6/23/15


Joe Dombrowsky - Welcome


Bob Martina - Legislative


Ron Hoth - Healthcare


Frank Minter - Pensions


Frank Minter - Lump Sum


Video presentations from the New Jersey meetings

We videotaped the presentations at the meeting in New Jersey in October 2104. They are still available below. Up to date presentations are shown in the slides above.

Intsroductions & Agenda - Joe Dombrosky
Grassroots support - Bob Martina
Healthcare and Lucent benefits - Ron Hoth
Pensions and the coming buyout - Frank Minter and Al Duscher
Q & A - Frank Minter and Al Duscher


Read all about the Eastland disaster at the History Corner under the Hawthorne Works tab.

History Corner pieces in our recent newsletters (THE LRO CONNECTION) can be accessed at any time by clicking on the HISTORY CORNER tab on the navigation bar.. We plan to continue with additional pieces on WECO, BTL, and TELETYPE and persons of note. If you have historical information, send to Gary Reichow at

Information on the Passing of Retirees

Under the "In Memoriam" tab located at the top of this page, the LRO lists the submitted names of recently deceased individuals and, where possible, provides a linkage to an official obituary. Information required and the form to list an individual are contained on the "In Memoriam" page. We encourage family members and friends to take advantage of this service.


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The IRS on July 9 issued Notice Notice 2015-49 notifying taxpayers of the intent to amend the required minimum distribution regulations under 401(a)(9) of the Internal Revenue Code to address the use of lump-sum payments to replace annuity payments being paid by a qualified defined benefit pension plan. The regulations as amended will provide that qualified defined benefit plans generally are not permitted to replace any joint and survivor, single life, or other annuity currently being paid with a lump-sum payment or other accelerated form of distribution.

The Treasury Department and the IRS intend that these amendments to the regulations will apply as of July 9, 2015, except with respect to certain accelerations of annuity payments.  The Alcatel-Lucent Retiree Lump-Sum Window Program pre-dates this notice and therefore qualifies as an exception to this ruling.

This change in position is likely tied to government concerns that retirees are ill-prepared to manage lump-sum distributions and the view that continued lifetime pension payments are a critical part of an individual’s financial security during the retirement  years. This risk issue must be factored into any decision by retirees to accept a lump-sum offer. 

Click here to access the Notice 2015-49.


You should have received the AFN which reports the status of the funding of our management pension plan. You will observe that our plan is well funded and protected by PBGC guarantees, and you should have no concern about the safety of your pension. As you review his year’s report there are several items to which we should like to call your attention. (click here for LRO's comments)

More Questions & Answers on Buyout

Question. Are supplemental pensions (non-qualified payments to some management retirees) included in the lump sum amount?

Answer. No. Only the amount of the pension paid from the pension plan is used in the calculation of the lump sum.

Question. How can a retiree get the amount included in the lump sum based on his life expectancy?

Answer. A-L has suggested that this question should be asked at the Deloitte sessions.

Question. We are receiving a number of questions about the role of the PBGC and about plan terminations.

Answer. We have posted on our web site this year's Annual Funding Notice (AFN) you received in May which has the same explanation about the role of the PBGC and Termination of pension plans as it has for several years. It is "boilerplate" but explains well. If after reviewing the AFN you still have questions, please get back to us.

Question. Do the funds to pay those who accept the buyout come out of the pension plan funds and does that have the potential of draining to unacceptable levels the funds for those remaining in the plan?

Answer. Pension fund assets are used to pay those who accept the buyout. At the same time an equal amount of liabilities are subtracted from the fund. Since or pension plan is fully funded, there is no funding impact from this transaction.

Question. I have a question regarding page 10 of the Retiree Lump-Sum Window Program COMPANY'S RIGHT TO AMEND OR TERMINATE THE PLAN. Does this mean they can cancel our retirement pension?

Answer. They have always had the right to amend or terminate the plan. Look at the Annual Funding Notice you receive each year for the discussion about this.


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WECO SAGE is a group formed by computer pioneers who worked for Western Electric Company in the 1950s and 1960s installing an Air Defense System for the United States Air Force. The members of this Group have maintained their personal, and in some cases professional, relationships for over 50 years. The Group, whose members once numbered in the hundreds, meet on an annual basis at different locations throughout the country.The 2015 reunion will be held in Pacific Grove, California on the Monterey Peninsula on the 13th-15th of September. Contact Ron Trettau.

Club WECO-AT&T-Bell Labs-Lucent Technologies-Teletype-NCR-ALU. This group is intended primarily as a forum to connect (network) and maintain communication between past and/or current members. The Summer reunion was held on Friday July 17th, 2015 at Base Camp (the former 4 Lakes Lodge in Lisle). Contact Jim Simak.

eX TELETYPE is for ex-Teletype Employees to keep in touch. Teletype Corp. was located in Skokie, IL and Little Rock, AK. The Spring gathering of Teletype and Lucent people and friends was held on Tuesday, May 12, 2015, at Riggio's Restaurant in Niles .....Contact John Furno.

lucent5-5 is for Lucent retirees who took the special 5+5 voluntary retirement on July 13, 2001 (or wish they could have!). Its purpose is to keep in touch, to help provide support for working with the Lucent Pension folks, and to talk about Lucent in general. To subscribe, send an email to

PCLUCENTALUM This group was set up to facilitate communication between ex-Lucent employees in Northern California. Send email to