My husband, Henry Smith, a Vietnam War Veteran, (5416) retired from Boeing Aircraft in California in 2008. At that time he was married to someone else. However, they divorced in 2009 and at some point he forwarded his divorce decree to Boeing Aircraft Pension/Total Access. In March 2011, Henry and I got married. In January 2012, he called Total Access at Boeing Aircraft to inquire about changing his beneficiary from his former wife to me, Sharon Smith, his current (he, also, inquired about other monies that he believed were being taken out of his monthly pension for insurance for his ex-wife). The telephone rep, Ann, told him that no additional payments were being taken out of his check for anything. A case number was even given to the phone call. In early February 2012 my husband received a letter a (stating that his ex-wife was his survivor) a long with the form to complete for the beneficiary change. Admittedly, we did not send the form, executing the change of beneficiary, back until May 2012, prior to my husband going to the VA in Alexandria, LA to begin chemo treatments for the Leukemia he was diagnosed with earlier that month. In addition to the completed form, we, also, included a copy of a letter from Boeing dated February 3, 2012 and a letter signed by my husband indicating EXACTLY what change he was requesting and expecting. I made and still have a copy of EVERYTHING that was mailed to Boeing.
The disease behaved very aggressively and began to spread rapidly through my husband's body. While we resided in Sulphur, LA, my husband and I spent a lot of time at the Michael Debakey VA Medical Center in Houston, TX which disabled us from attending to some necessary business back in Louisiana until we returned home.
For the final time, Henry was admitted back into the Houston VA hospital on June 4, 2013. At that time, I really had no clue just how sick my husband was. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would respond, "I'm feeling like a winner. Ocassionally, I would take child care jobs which resulted in me not being at the hospital all the time when the doctors came in to talk to my husband. Therefore, I did not know that the chemo had began to affect his kidney and they had basically given him up to die.Henry woke up one morning and said to me "You have been a wonderful wife. I want to be sure that you are well taken care of when I am gone". Later that day we called Boeing to be sure that I was the beneficiary. We were told that at the time of his retirement, he cashed out everything and there would be no monthly payments after he passed. We were further told that I was the beneficiary of a one time payment. The phone representative NEVER mentioned the ex-wife. Upon reviewing the phone call, Beoing will be able to confirm such as the calls are recorded. Additionally, after we ended the call, my husband insisted that I would receive a portion of his monthly pension and he made calls to former co-workers to confirm. I have since spoken with fellow-members of the union.
My husband really began to decline within a matter of days. He woke me up very early one morning and instructed me to get his nurse. He told me, "I am dying. I will be gone in a few days. Make sure you call Social Security and Boeing to report my death". He said that with my child care positions and the pension payments, I should be okay from month to month. When I called to report his death to Boeing Aircraft Total Access, I was told that the ex-wife would receive the monthly pension. Of course, I question that as we were previously told that the only things that would be paid out was a one time payment and I would receive it. Had Henry been told this during his final conversation with a Boeing representative, he would have disputed it. Again, that was never mentioned during that particular phone call.
On Thursday, July 18,2013, I spoke with another phone representative at Boeing whose researched showed that my husband had up to two years to change his beneficiary; he did that. Upon further research, this representative saw wherein my husband made the call in January 2012 to make the change as well as where he sent in the divorce decree earlier. He was clear on what my husband was requesting, however, Ann, the rep that my husband previously spoke with was not, evidently. She either failed to mail out the correct form and/or neglected to mail the additional, necessary form. The very nice and understanding gentleman with whom I spoke , suggested that I write a Letter of Concern; he gave me the fax number.
I am heartbroken, not only because my wonderful husband passed away on July 7, 2013 at the hospital (he was never discharged after being admitted on June 4, 2013), but because he left believing in his heart that he had made provision for me prior to his demise. I struggled to raise only some of the monies for his funeral as I still have an outstanding balance of over $2500 with Lola James, due to him trusting that life insurance premiums were being paid from an account that a family member was overseeing. It was suggested to me that lay his remains in a wooden box and then have him buried in a public, unkempt cemetery, because it was "cheaper" and closer to our home. When I drove over to see the cemetery, I cried that someone would even make such a suggestion. My husband served this country and deserved to be buried with dignity; it was my conviction to see to that. I would much rather beg and borrow and be in debt to James Funeral home than to dishonor my husband.
I believe that it is written at Boeing that, "one of the employee retirement benefits is a defined benefit pension plan, where survivor benefits would allow continuation of pension payments to the employee's spouse, should the employee die. Survivor benefits were put in place to protect families against the hardships caused by the loss of their loved ones." Do I not fall under that description? Why should I and my husband be punished? Why are he being held accountable and why should I have to suffer, because Ann who is no longer at Boeing Aircraft Total Access dropped the ball or had little knowledge of what form or forms needed to sent out to satisfy my husband's request? I must quote Mr. Murray Douglas in saying "The correct and right thing to be done here is to ignore policies and procedures (which are made solely for general guidance) and base any and all action on compassion, dignity, and respect for an obviously deserving fellow human". Finally to magnify my misery, Boeing request that I return his last pension check so that it may be re-issued to his ex-wife. Please, please, please support me and sign this petition.
Henry Smith was always a very responsible husband and father. He sought to provid the best for us even during his hospitalizations, he saw to us being okay. I park here parenthetically to recall how bad of a cook he was. The day after we got married, I woke up to four scrambled eggs cooked soft; I like mine cooked hard with cheddar cheese, five slices of bacon; three would have been plenty and three waffles; I have never like waffles. He knew that was not a good cook, but wanted to make sure that his wife had breakfast. In his passing, why is Boeing obligating this man to provide for a woman other than his wife when in his living, he was always faithful, loyal and dedicated to one woman, me? If the United States Government and the Veteran's Administration recognizes me as his survivor, what is wrong with Boeing Aircraft? Also, I have in my possession two certified documents that clearly state that I am Mrs. Henry Smith. I am Mr. Henry Smith's widow; his survivor.
I pray that it is known that I am not seeking to make a living off my loving husband's dying. I would much rather live in a cardboard box, sharing a can of beans with him than to be without him. This is hurts; I mean really hurts! I pray that this will begin the mark of no other widow/widower having to suffer through this with, not just Boeing, but any other corporate company. If I receive nothing from this, I intend to go to my own grave in this movement. Our spouse's deserve to rest in peace and so do we as their survivors.
Thanks, thanks and many thanks. God's favor on each of you.
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