AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Joyce Leary was well into her retirement when her pension was cut almost in half after a letter by her company, Citigroup, said it overpaid her and wants that money back with interest.

As of April 28 Leary owes a total of $35,892.51. Leary, 80, has been retired for seven years, relying on her pension since 2004 after working as a customer service representative for Citibank for 30 years.

“Well, it makes me lose a lot of faith in them,” Leary said. “I always thought they were wonderful. They treated us nicely and I was very happy with the company, but this has changed my whole picture of the company.”

The letter also stated that the error was no fault of her own and would automatically recover the overpayment by reducing her ongoing pension if she did not respond to the letter by June 10.

“I was just flabbergasted,” Leary said.

Joyce’s daughter-in-law, Patti Leary, and other family members have tried to settle the matter by having their attorney send in two letters requesting to see the detailed calculations in writing to substantiate the request. But there was no response.

“They’ve reduced her payments and are already taking out what they say she owes her and ignoring the fact that we’re disputing it,” Patti Leary said.

When CBS4 contacted Citigroup, a response finally came, stating, “Citi regrets if an error was made on Ms. Leary’s account. Citi, like all employers, is legally required under IRS rules to seek repayment plus interest in all cases of overpayment.”

Citi also stated that the repaid funds go back into the pension fund for other retirees and not to the bank.

Leary has already started to make several cutbacks on her expenses, including groceries. And with her newly revised pension plan taking out her health insurance, she fears it will also cut into her medication costs.

“It’s a hardship,” Leary said. “You’ve got to cut back on all your expenses.”

Leary’s room is filled with memorabilia to remind her of her golden years. The clock in her living room was a gift from Citibank congratulating her on a quarter century of service. A retirement photo album consists of mementos from her daily work and well wishes from friends and colleagues. Now, those golden years may be somewhat tarnished.

“You can’t sit and brood over it, you’ve just got to hope that eventually that you can work it out somehow,” Leary said.

–Written by Young Kim, CBS4 Intern


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