Do You Have to Forfeit Pension Benefits as a Felon?

When it comes to felons, especially those who were convicted with something connected to their job, or the crime they did contradicts with the nature of their career (police officers, firefighters), there is a high chance that they won’t get any benefits, I.e., Pension. However, this varies from state to another, but in the majority of the states, if you happen to have committed the crime against a co-worker or simply an individual related to your job, you’ll most likely end up without benefits.

In the article, we’re going to discuss the reasoning behind the denial of pension benefits, what the law has to say about pension contributions, how a pension fund works and how it cannot be reinstated once a refund is made, and finally, how your service as an employee affects your benefits.

Pension Fund: How Does It Work?

felon pension benefits

Basically, employees receive a sum of money that is equal to a percentage of the average salary that they received over the last few years of work. Both the employee and the employer contribution in paying the fund benefits over the years, and the employer usually pays the largest part of the funds. Life assurance companies and investment firms offer pension plans for employees; you can also employ a Fund manager who invests contributions in pension funds.

These funds are usually used to buy or sell assets such as shares, property, and bonds. A typical fund is usually divided like this, 50% invested in shares, 30% invested in bonds, 15% in property and the last 5% are usually for cash. Note that fees and chargers are regularly deducted from the funds, and the value of funds rises and falls continuously, this is due to the irregular and ever-changing performance of shares.

Going back to our main topic that is felons and their benefits, most convicted who had forfeited their pensions were older when their benefit was denied. As a result, the amount that they had already paid into the fund is somewhat sizeable at the time. However, felons are usually granted their pensions if the crimes they committed were not related to their work.

See also: Can A Convicted Felon Get Medicaid?

In Which Cases Are Benefits Denied?

This may sound like a horrible thing, but you must realize that this decision isn’t made out of the blue. Each case is carefully examined before the benefits of an individual are denied from him. Probably one of the most common points of this law is whether a crime happened in the wake of a public service or not. For example, back in 2001, a police lieutenant in Chicago was denied benefits from his pension.

This wasn’t simply because he was convicted of taking part in mail fraud, but because he was a police officer, and as would any honorable police officer do, he should’ve reported the scam. But instead, he took part in it, which led the court to exercise the law and deny him of his benefits. But, this example doesn’t mean that felons aren’t allowed to get the monies they put into a fund back.

The Law & Pension Contributions

Moving on from Chicago to the state of Illinois, in one of the multiple cases in relation to this issue, a judge who committed a crime that was related to his job, wanted to obtain some sort of refund for all the money that he had put into his pension fund. He had already received a sum of money that was valued at approximately $75,000 when he retired as a convict. To many people’s surprise, The Supreme Court of Illinois eventually granted the judge a refund of $110,000; this was for the money that he had paid into his retirement fund. There are similar cases where this decision was upheld, usually cases where the felon was a police officer or a firefighter.

What Happens When a Refund Is Made

Unfortunately, if you were denied pension benefits as a felon,but you did receive some sort of refund for your contributions, you can’t be reposition into the fund again. Once you get the refund for all the monies you paid into the fund, you will no longer be able to associate with that funding. In conclusion, if the crime a felon committed was in anyway related to his job, all his pension benefits will be denied.  Still, any contributions made by the felon into the fund are to be refunded. And he won’t be able, by law, to restore his retirement account’s membership.

How Your Service as An Employee Affects Your Benefits

Going back to the state of Illinois for this point, there was a case where the felon was working in 4 different jobs and his ‘’main job’’ was as a village administrator in the Village of Antioch; he happened to have collected credits for each one of his jobs.

The court decided to terminate all of his pension benefits, and he responded by saying that the court should have only denied him the benefits that he was entitled to during the period where his crimes were committed. To his surprise, the notion of ‘’service as an employee’’ basically means the total time you spend with a company, which means that each and every bit of your benefits during that time are to be denied.

See also: Government Grants for Felons

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