Cocker v. Terminal R.R. Ass'n of St. Louis Pension Plan, No. 15-2690 (7th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff took early retirement from Union Pacific in 2006 and began receiving his monthly benefit (1,022.94) in 2009. In 2010 he retired from Terminal Railroad. Terminal’s retirement plan, governed by ERISA, provides that “the retirement income benefit payable under this Plan shall be offset by the amount of retirement income payable under any other defined benefit plan … to the extent that the benefit under such other plan or plans is based on Benefit Service taken into account in determining benefits under this Plan.” The Terminal Plan administrator calculated the monthly benefit owed plaintiff for his combined years of service to Terminal and Union Pacific to be $3,725.02, from which it would deduct the monthly benefits payable under the Union Pacific Plan, which it calculated as $2,311.73. The Seventh Circuit reversed the district court’s ruling (under 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B)) in favor of plaintiff. The maximum amount payable under the Union Pacific plan was $2,311.73; plaintiff lost nothing by choosing to receive only $1,022.94, because the expected value of a stream of the monthly receipts was equal to the expected value of a stream of monthly receipts of $2,311.73 received for many fewer months.