AT&T Sends Retirees To Collection

Grind for August 12th, 2018

“I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.”

– Thomas Jefferson

Good Advice

The Headline

Having trouble concentrating at work? Drink more water.

The Grind

A growing body of research suggests mild dehydration can make it hard to concentrate, which can affect anything from focusing during a long staff meeting to finishing a crossword.

Mild dehydration is also believed to have a negative effect on your mood.

“We find that when people are mildly dehydrated they really don’t do as well on tasks that require complex processing or on tasks that require a lot of their attention,” explains Mindy Millard-Stafford, director of the Exercise Physiology Lab at Georgia Tech.

The Details

During the hot summer months, mild dehydration can occur after just 30 minutes of intense exercise or after 60 minutes of moderate exercise.

“If I were hiking at moderate intensity for one hour, I could reach 1.5% to 2% dehydration,” explains Doug Casa, a professor of kinesiology at the University of Connecticut. “Most people don’t realize how high their sweat rate is in the heat…If you’re going hard during a run, you can reach that level of dehydration in about 30 minutes.”

The feeling of thirst, which is actually a symptom of dehydration, generally kicks in around 2% dehydration.

According to a recent study funded by Pepsi, women with just 1% dehydration made 12% more errors in a cognitive game than women with full hydration.

That percentage could be a big deal for a student taking a math test or a doctor performing surgery.

“I absolutely think there could be big implications of having a mild cognitive deficiency with small amounts of dehydration,” says Casa.

The takeaway here is that you shouldn’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink water. If you aren’t sure whether you’re getting enough liquids, take a look at the color of your urine. The lighter the color, the more hydrated you are. Experts say to aim for shades like “straw” and “pale lemonade.”

I Want My Money Back

The Headline

AT&T asks former employees to return pension money

The Grind

AT&T is working with collection agencies to retrieve money from former employees after it mistakenly gave out too much in pension payments.

According to AT&T, the pension “overpayments” will affect less than 1% of the program’s 517,000 participants and only a “very small percentage” will hear from a collection agency.

Among that small percentage is James Mizelle, 70, who retired from AT&T in 2001. Fifteen years later, he received a call informing him that he owed AT&T more than $32,000 thanks to a pension miscalculation.

“That money had been spent…I could not pay it back,” said Mizelle, who had incurred significant medical debt during his battle with prostate cancer.

Another individual affected by AT&T’s miscalculations is Sydney Smith, a single mother who lives near St. Louis. In July 2016, she received a letter asking for $19,300. Smith told AT&T she used the money on debts and living expenses.

That’s when the collection agency started calling.

The Details

While it is perfectly legal for a company to ask for money back after pension miscalculations, large companies like AT&T rarely go so far as to hire collection agencies.

“We haven’t seen that before,” says lawyer Roger Curme. “These tactics that AT&T is using…they’re kind of harsh.”

When you have a net worth of $200 billion, asking retirees for money back seems like a petty move. On top of that, AT&T’s pension plans currently have enough assets “to pay about 77 cents on every dollar of pension benefits earned so far by all current and former employees and retirees for their full life expectancy, as well as other beneficiaries,” notes The Wall Street Journal.

And according to pension experts, pension overpayments don’t harm a company’s plan finances because companies have to set aside enough money to cover a lifetime of benefits based on what retirees actually receive – not on earlier estimates.

“The way the funding rules work, you’ve already got it,” says pension expert Richard Shea. “You don’t have to get it back.”

Did you know… The word ‘mile’ is derived from the Latin word for 1,000 – the number of paces it took the average Roman