7 On Your Side helps NYC teacher get late husband's pension

FRESH MEADOWS, Queens (WABC) -- A teacher and longtime coach from Queens left a legacy behind when he died suddenly last summer.

But Michael Eisenberg also left a lifetime pension that one of his family members could not access for more than half a year. That is, until they turned to Nina Pineda and 7 On Your Side.

"He was a strong man," wife Raquel Nery said. "He was strong. This disease took his life."

At 61, just three months shy of retirement, her husband lost his brief battle with pancreatic cancer. He was a New York City teacher and coach for 36 years.

"As a coach, he told players never give up, fight for your rights," she said.

Now, she finds herself fighting for him and their daughter. Her husband's pension with the Teacher Retirement System has gone missing in action.

"I have tried to contact them since May, and I have no answers to where this money is and what happened to the account," she said.

After receiving only part of her late husband's annuity, Nery is still looking for his Qualified Pension Plan. She believes just over $45,000 is in there, but she isn't sure since she's been frozen out of his account since the spring.

"It makes me feel uncomfortable and not trust them, because I'm also a teacher," she said. "And providing retirement money, what if my daughter needs that? What if something happens to me?"

The two-teacher family relied on spring coaching and summer camp counseling for extra income, and COVID dried up both resources. Now, she is worried about her family's future.

"We are staying positive," she said. "We just thank God we are alive."

We reached out to the pension administrators to identify the roadblocks, and four days later, two checks -- a lifetime career of retirement benefits for her husband -- were deposited totaling $219,000.

"I am so grateful to have Channel 7 Eyewitness News there for me in this terrible situation of need," she said.

The Teachers Retirement Systems for the City of New York apologized for the delay, saying in this case, they did not get the money out in an appropriate time frame and adding they will continue to improve services for members and their beneficiaries in the future.

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