AK Steel Appeals Surviving Spouses' Benefit Ruling

April 11, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - AK Steel has appealed a ruling by a federal judge in Ohio that the company erroneously cut the pension benefits due to widows and widowers of AK Steel retirees.

A Middletown Journal news report said U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio ruled that the company had incorrectly been cutting the spouses’ pension payments by half of their entire Social Security benefit during the last 15 years.

According to the newspaper, the company was supposed to pay the spouses half of their deceased mate’s pension benefit miunus one-half of their Social Security widow’s benefit. The AK Steel practice effectively reduced benefits from the surviving spouse’s own employment, the report said.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Rupert Ruppert told the newspaper that widows or widowers may be owed thousands of dollars in benefits.

“There are currently 5,000 widows and widowers receiving pension benefits through (AK Steel). What we don’t know is how many earned benefits on their own right and would be affected and those who would not be impacted,” Ruppert told the Journal.

Alan McCoy, spokesman for AK Steel, declined to comment to the newspaper.