Sale of company could derail health benefits

Can They Do That?

Your Money

April 25, 2004|By Carrie Mason-Draffen

I work for a company that gives medical benefits to workers who are at least 60 years old with 10 years of service. As of this month, I will have worked six months into the 10th year. But a rumor is circulating that our division will be sold before the end of my 10th year.

A former colleague advised me that as long as I have worked 1,000 hours into the 10th year, I will be "grandfathered" for the remainder. Can you tell me if this is a federal or state law or a mandatory company policy?

Employment laws wouldn't come into play here. In fact, few address health benefits. So your best hope, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, is your "plan document," which should spell out your entitlements.

"The only thing they have for reliance is that plan document," said Gloria Della, a department spokeswoman. If you can't locate your copy, ask your company for the plan administrator's contact information. If you have any difficulties getting the information, call the Labor Department.

Carrie Mason-Draffen is a columnist for Newsday, a Tribune Publishing newspaper. E-mail her at

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