7 On Your Side helps grieving mom fight for daughter's death benefits

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Tuesday, May 17, 2022
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It's been a devastating few months for one Westchester mom. First, she lost her daughter in a tragic fire. Then, she got a double gut punch when she says she couldn't get tens of t

RYE, Westchester County (WABC) -- It's been a devastating few months for one Westchester mom. First, she lost her daughter Tina in a tragic fire.

Then, she got a double gut punch when she says she couldn't get tens of thousands in retirement money her daughter earned.

"She was a beautiful girl," mom Carole Vaccaro said. "She was a beautiful little girl."

Vaccaro is still not used to referring to her daughter in the past tense, despite her death six months ago when a fire broke out inside her Mamaroneck co-op.

"She couldn't get out," Vaccaro said. "She tried to. She was on the floor crawling towards the door. They found her on the floor dead...It was a horrible way to go."

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Tina worked for the Bank of New York for 15 years, until she began suffering from vertigo due to a childhood brain injury from a fall.

"When she would get up, she would hold onto everything," Vaccaro said. "Panic attacks, and then she'd get the heart palpitations."

After Tina resigned from her position in the check fraud department, her mom moved back home from Florida to Westchester to take care of her full time.

When Tina died, Vaccaro was listed as her beneficiary for over half a million stock shares Tina held in the employee pension plan.

"At one point, it was $35,000," she said.

She says she hasn't been able to receive whatever the fund is worth now.

Bank of New York merged with Mellon Bank, and Vaccaro's been trying to contact BNY Mellon, which said it wasn't aware of any issues with Buck, the company processing former employee pension benefits.

"Look under that table, I have a mountain of paperwork," Vaccaro said. "The left hand doesn't know what the right hand's doing, that's what it is...I don't know where the money is, and I never heard back from them."

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After 7 On Your Side got in touch with both BNY Mellon and the third-party pension administrator, they authorized a payment to Vaccaro and also reimbursed $1,000 in lawyer fees to help set up an estate for Tina.

They both apologized for the delay, and just a few days later, Vaccaro received a check for more than $27,500.

BNY Mellon even helped restore funds lost when the stock slumped.

"I feel ecstatic about it," she said. "It's been so long...Thank you."

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