Ruth to the Rescue: GM retiree was losing $450 a month


How would you feel if you suddenly had more than $400 taken from your income every month?

It happened to 78-year-old Nicholas Brawner. He worked for General Motors for 32 years and retired in 1998

The problem? It began in May of 2012 when Brawner discovered a complication with his pension.

"I first noticed something was wrong when I received this letter stating that my ex-wife was the beneficiary," he said.

When he tried to make sure his current wife, Alice, would receive death benefits something went horribly wrong.

Pension managers for General Motors had a mix up and thought Brawner wanted his second wife to receive a pension from GM after he died. This, however, was not the case.

"All I wanted to do was call General Motors and tell them I wanted my beneficiary changed to correct what they have on the paper," Brawner told Ruth to the Rescue.

When he called to correct the situation things only went down hill from there.

"The next thing I know they are planning to take the money out. They had to plan it because at that time it wasn't being taken out," said Brawner.

The amount of money the pension company thought Brawner owed them came at a steep price.

"They told me I owed $12,315 dollars and 35 cents," said Brawner. To make up this difference the pension company started to deduct $456 dollars from his pension each month.

This was a hard hit to the Brawner household.

"We have two grandchildren. We have to feed, clothe and protect them and we cannot do it borrowing from everybody to make ends meet," said Alice Brawner.

Trying to fix the problem

Brawner started making a flurry of phone calls to get the problem fixed.

"They told me that the government had to approve it and it would take sixty to ninety days, they told me this in June of 2012."

The money was being deducted every month for eighteen months. The Brawners were getting the run around from General Motors, and they were understandably upset.

"I am angry because you should be able to talk to somebody who has the authority to make changes and it should happen," said Nicholas Brawner.

The Brawner family had, had enough and they contacted Ruth to the Rescue. The consumer unit contacted General Motors on May 6th and two weeks later something great happened to the Brawner household.

"I am holding a check from General Motors regarding the amount that was deficient in my check," said Brawner.

General Motors had finally reimbursed Mr. Brawner with what they had been deducting from his account for the past eighteen months.

"I talked to too many people at General Motors and nothing happened. Over eighteen months we were working with this thing to try to get solved, actually it's almost two years. And eighteen months of taking the money out ... " said Brawner.

A weight had now been lifted off of the Brawner's shoulders.

"A great relief because with that amount of money you can't make ends meet. You have to pay gas bill, light bill, car payment all the stuff that you have that you had scheduled without this amount being deducted from your check. And as a result, you end up borrowing money from relatives and friends and everybody else to try to keep everything going," he told Ruth to the Rescue after the check arrived.

The Brawners' faith has now been restored in General Motors.

"We'd like to thank General Motors because they did come through at your request. We couldn't get anything done, but you certainly got it done, thank you so much," said Alice.

They now look forward to a life without constant concerns about their financial well-being.

"I had no idea what Ruth to the Rescue meant until they solved our problem. We're so grateful there's nothing that I can say that will match what is inside of my heart, thank you all so much for what you have done. Now my husband can sleep at night, we can pay our bills and we can go back to our happy life that we had before things happened," said Alice.

If you have a problem you think Ruth to the Rescue should investigate you can email ruthtotherescue@clickondetroit.com or call 313-298-WDIV.

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