Dear Harry: My sister is taking an early-retirement package from her present employer. She previously worked for John Wanamaker for more than 22 years. After several changes, Macy's is now the owner of the Philadelphia store. She has an article from the New York Times from 1995 stating that Wanamaker employees would still get their pensions. She contacted Macy's and was told that they could not find any pension for her in their system. Later in the same conversation, they indicated that the reason was that it had been paid out. My sister remembers distinctly that there was no lump-sum-payout provision, so that statement was impossible. Since then, my sister has called and called, but has gotten nowhere. Is there some way she can get some definite action? She's at her wit's end, and does need any money she can get. Can you offer any guidance?

What Harry says: These ownership changes often lead to records problems that are hard to solve. Her best bet is to contact the Employee Benefits Security Administration at 215-861-5300. They have found answers to similar situations in the past. I hope she has some evidence of her employment, even after all these years. She may have to go to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., but that's the last resort.

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