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Chrysler’s Filing Threatens Benefits

Experts say bankruptcy could bring cuts in both pensions and retiree health care.

Industry observers noted that the cuts weren’t as deep as those faced by airline and steel workers when their companies filed for bankruptcy.

Still, that was little comfort to Chrysler retiree Ed Stephens, 64, of Tennessee. He said the prospect of losing health insurance was his biggest worry. Although he’ll be eligible for Medicare next year, his wife, Sandra, won’t qualify for another eight years.

Stephens, who retired in 2000 after nearly 35 years as a robotics technician, said he might have to go back to work if he lost his company-sponsored health care benefits.

“I’m fortunate in that I’m able to work should I have to, but it’s kind of bad for a whole bunch of people out there who couldn’t,” he said.

Bill DeBryn, 62, who retired in 2004 after 36 years as a welder-repairman for Chrysler, said the loss of vision and dental benefits and the higher cost of prescription drugs will chip away at his quality of life.

“It’s going to affect me quite a bit,” he said. “I’m on a fixed income. No doubt I’m concerned.”

Carole Fleck is a senior editor at AARP Bulletin Today.

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