SURVEY SAYS: What is the most funny/unusual request you’ve received?

Last week, I asked readers, what is the most unusual/funny question or request you’ve received from a retirement plan participant or client?

My favorite response was: When completing a questionnaire for the 5500, the client answered the question regarding the type of entity for the client’s organization as “non-prophet.” I’m assuming it was a secular plan.  

Here are the other responses:  

Plan participant called and could not be called back needed to talk with someone in person right away, I took the call he was calling from jail and needed an immediate hardship distribution to pay his bail… needless to say I had to inform him that bail was not one of the recognized hardship conditions!  

It’s a tossup: 1) Can I stop receiving my pension forever so my ex-wife doesn’t get any of it? 2) Why do I have to get spousal consent? We were common-law married and I quit him. 3) Can you send my daughter the pension check minus beer and cigarette money that you send me directly?  

I had a participant fax in a beneficiary form to me three times with frustration mounting as to why I was only getting a blank sheet of paper when they were sending the completed form. It wasn’t until the third conversation when the participant told me that to keep it confidential they had folded and stapled the form shut before faxing and if I would just “open it up, I would have exactly what I needed.” Needless to say, we had to have him fax it one more time!

In Anchorage, Alaska, is a small plane airport called Merrill Field. When we rolled out our new 401(k) plan years ago I had en employee call and tell me they wanted to invest it that new Merrill Field plan. I'm pretty sure they were thinking Merrill Lynch. It was my first notion of just how much education these participants would need because we weren't offering Merrill Lynch either.  

Can you fax the check to me today?  

Our 401(k) plan is very generous -- we contribute 12% of employee in addition to 100% matching on the first 4% deferral. Several years ago an employee asked to decline the 12% contribution as they did not want "to support the evil corporate world".  

A participant in a retirement plan wanted me to talk to her pet parrot named Peteie. So here I was talking in my parrot voice saying hello Peteie awwwk. 

How do I get a hardship loan?  

More of a sad/scary request than funny...but a parent of a deceased participant called asking to freeze the deceased participant's account immediately and not let the beneficiary take a withdrawal from it. The reason? The parents suspected the beneficiary of murdering the deceased participant and the police were beginning to investigate their suspicion. They feared he would take the $ out and flee. 

A plan participant who was retiring asked for the life insurance that would be maintained for her as a retiree. She thought she would get a cash payment on retirement.  

Request to take a 401k loan to bail themselves out of jail.  

Employee wanted to start receiving the free company match, but he didn't want to contribute himself. He did not get that he had to put something in to get the company "match".  

I had a retirement plan participant for one of my clients send a letter asking if his J&S benefit could revert back to the higher Life Annuity amount because his spouse passed away (which was an easy request to deny). The request itself is fairly normal - however, what made this funny (and the reason I remember it 15+ years later) - the participant said that if I wanted to confirm that his wife is actually dead he was willing to meet me at her grave and he even sent a map of the cemetery and highlighted her plot. I guess he never thought that if he wanted to prove her death he could just send a copy of the death certificate.  

From a 73-year old still employed female janitor (in January 2008) - "You know about this investment stuff, tell me: I've been in the money market funds for 50 years, and now I think it is time to buy stocks. How can I do that?" My response: not now, not now...  

Hardships can be used for education expenses right? okay I need to take a hardship to go to Yoga School.  

Years ago I was listening in on a customer service line for participants and participant insisted that we need to help him protect his benefits because his employer is affiliated with a known organized crime organization. A brief check turned up no public records of the business owners having any legal issues whatsoever, nor any implied relationships. The plan always ran appropriately, and there were never any anomalies. I don't know what the individual thought we could do.  

Client needed advice on their "cafeteria plan", for example could they give employees a set dollar amount and let them choose among various foods. Joke was on me; the client really did have an on-site cafeteria.