Local families could be in line for unpaid death benefits

Thursday at a Harrisburg train station, Pennsylvania State Treasurer Barbara Hafer announced the names of 2,174 names who may be eligible for death benefits based on information obtained by the Department of Treasury and reviewed by MetLife, the current administrator of the insurance policies.
Of the 2,174 names released by the Treasury Department, 14 were from Northern Blair County.
“If you are the spouse, sibling, child or grandchild of one of the railroad workers on the list, you could be the beneficiary and owed $2,000 in unpaid deth benefits,” the treasurer said. “I commend MetLife for joining us in our efforts to pay these funds to the beneficiaries of hardworking eligible railroad retirees of Pennsylvania and in other states.”
Hafer made the announcement with AFL-CIO Presdent Bill George and other union officials at her side.
Railroads began paying the group life insurance policies for their workers in 1964.
“We fought hard to create this benefit for our members,” said George. “The AFL-CIO’s and other affiliated unions are committed to working with Treasurer Hafer and determined to see that all the eligible beneficiaries of former Pennsylvania railroad workers are paid in full.”
The 14 names from Northern Blair County are:
• Virginia Condol, formerly of Park Avenue, Tyrone
• Wilbur Estep, formerly of Bellwood
• Paul Femea, formerly of Pennsylvania Avenue, Tyrone
• Helen Fowler, formerly of Tyrone
• Elmer Greene, formerly of General Jones Drive, Tyrone
• Phillip Haag, formerly of Jefferson Avenue, Tyrone
• John W. Harlow, formerly of RD #1, Tyrone
• William Heller, formerly of Bellview Avenue, Bellwood
• Ellery Hillard, formerly of Epworth Manor, Tyrone
• Leon Loose, formerly of 11th Street, Tyrone
• Henry McCulloch, formerly of amlin Avenue, Tyrone
• Charles Pryor, formerly of Tyrone
• William Rollason, formerly of Tyrone
• Charles Zanghi, formerly of Washington Avenue, Tyrone.
“There’s no reason these families should be made to wait any longer,” Hafer said. “We think the money should go to them, not the state, and it should go to them now, not years from now.”
The benefits are due to railroad workers who passed away between 1996 and April of 2001.
The railroad workers’ life insurance policies were originally issued by Travelers Insurance Company to participating railroads under group life insurance policies issued to the Health and Welfare Plan of the Nation’s Railroads and the Railway Labor Organizations. MetLife became the administrator of the policies in 1995.
Treasury officials are reviewing information pertaining to Pennsylvania railroad workers who died between 1964 and 1995 and will continue working with MetLife to determine potential unclaimed benefits.
Response to the unclaimed property notice has been significant in a short period of time.
“Between the secretary making the announcement on Thursday and the close of business on Friday, we received 275 phone calls and 375 e-mails before anything hit the papers,” said Steve Schell, press secretary for the Treasury department. “Many of the families did not know of this benefit. This was a group policy that the railroad workers started on their first day of employment.
To get your claim started, call the toll free number 1-800-237-9757 or you can e-mail
Have the name of the deceased, social security number, date of retirement, date of death and union involvement handy to help speed up your claim.
The phones were busy all Monday morning. It may be to your benefit to e-mail your claim.
“This started from a group of 329,000 names of deceased railroad workers,” said Schell. “We compared names with MetLife and came up with a list of over 2,100 who haven’t received their death benefits.”
If you feel that you have an unclaimed benefit, contact the Treasury Department for assistance.
“We only have records from 1996 when MetLife went computerized with their records,” said Schell. “We are looking back from 1964 when these policies started until 1996 to get the benefits in the hands of the families.”
If the benefits continue to go unclaimed, they will become property of the state.