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MetLife sued over underpaying pension plan participants

A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., New York, and its benefits committee claiming the company underpaid retirement plan participants by using outdated mortality rates to calculate certain alternative retirement benefits.

The suit, filed in New York federal court Monday, alleges MetLife, its employee benefits committee and individual members of the committee failed to pay "the alternative benefits available under its defined benefit Metropolitan Life Retirement Plan in amounts that are actuarially equivalent to the plan's default benefit as required under ERISA and the terms of the plan itself."

The suit added: "By not offering actuarially equivalent pension benefits, Metropolitan is causing retirees to lose part of their vested retirement benefits in violation of ERISA."

The plaintiffs are demanding the insurer makes sure the retirement plan complies with ERISA, pays all previously withheld benefits, recalculate the benefits that have been paid, and provide an accounting of all prior payments of benefits to determine how much should have originally been paid.

Robert A. Izard, a partner at law firm Izard Kindall & Raabe who represents the plaintiffs, declined to comment. MetLife representatives could not be reached for additional comment.

The Metropolitan Life Retirement Plan for U.S. Employees had $8.7 billion as of year-end 2016, according to its most recent Form 5500.