HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -- Is the state purposely overlooking some former teachers?
A Channel 3 I-Team investigation uncovered more than 7,000 former CT teachers who may be losing out on part of their retirement savings, to the tune of $400,000 every year.
The I-Team went to the State Teacher’s Retirement board for answers.
A list on its website shows about 7,000 names over 193 pages.
In an email, Administrator Helen Sullivan said the accounts on the list are "deemed abandoned and no longer eligible for interest accrual."
Who ends up on the list is based on a state law, which says former teachers who aren't vested in their pensions and are inactive with the retirement board for 10 years go on the “unclaimed funds list.”
The money is still there but it stops accruing interest, and a lot of money is at stake.
The unclaimed funds account has more than $45 million in it. Even at super low savings account interest rates (0.9% apy), that's more than $400,000 in interest lost to former teachers.
Members can claim their money at any time, they just have to fill out a form and let the retirement board know where they are.
With all the lost interest, one wonders if the state is keeping the money for itself or if they are actively looking for the members who are missing out.
Sullivan said the board first sends mail to the members last known address and then tries email as well.
She added that they post the names online and subscribe to a 'people finder' service to look for people.
The I-Team went looking for some of the people listed, and found Julie Abbiati, from Pawcatuck.
She’s on the list with “Thompson Board of Education” next to her name.
For 30 years, Abbiati has been teaching at the private Pine Point School in Mystic.
Before that, she taught for five years in Thompson, which is how she ended up in the teacher retirement system.
She said she knew she had that money, but assumed it was sitting and gaining interest that she'd get when she retired. She was wrong.
“I’m kind of disappointed that I didn't know about this sooner because there's interest that I have now lost on those retirement funds,” Abbiati said.
She added that she doesn’t think the state is looking for those folks very hard.
“I have a social security number, I pay Connecticut taxes, I can't imagine that I couldn't be found,” she said. “I just glanced through the list and found three other names of people that I happen to know, know that they're still around, still living in the area and they could easily be found. In fact, I found the sister of somebody last night and mentioned it to her. So hopefully more people will respond,” Abbiati said.
The I-Team reached back out to administrator Sullivan to tell her about the multiple people on the list who were found in just a few minutes, on page 1 alone.
However, after sending some initial information, she didn't respond to repeated follow-up calls and emails.
If you're a former teacher or know one, you should check that list to see if you're owed money. Click here to see the full list.