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A Happy New Year to our members from the LRO Board of Directors

This wish is joined by news from Nokia Human Resource management that they will be transferring sufficient assets from our pension plan to the Group Life insurance fund to add two more years to the funding level of the Group Life Plan.

The LRO became concerned about the continued viability of the group life assets a number of years ago and raised the funding issue in our regular discussions with Nokia. Shortly after Nokia obtained control of Alcatel-Lucent assets for the plan it was noted that there were sufficient assets to fund the plan for only five more years. Joe Dombrowski, as LRO President, wrote a letter to the Nokia Chief Executive expressing our significant concern over the decreasing number of years we expected the group life assets to last. He reminded the Company of the increased dependency of our retirees on the Group Life Plan, particularly because the loss of our death benefit left group life as the remaining benefit at death for a retiree.

Over the following years we have observed the decline in group life assets from about seven remaining years to some 3-4 years now. As part of the effort to secure additional funding the LRO worked with Nokia in an effort to modify federal law that would help with the funding level.

That federal law is a provision of ERISA which permits companies to transfer excess assets from their pension plan to provide assets for group life and medical costs. Currently, that law requires the pension asset level to be 120 percent of pension liabilities but several efforts with the US Congress have attempted to lower the threshold level to 110 percent. Although those efforts have not yet succeeded help came from the improved funding level of the pension plan.

At the end of 2020, pension plan assets were above 120% which is sufficient to allow Nokia to transfer part of the excess over 120 percent to fund the group life plan. That transfer added another two years to the current three remaining level in the Group Life plan to a total of five years.

Nokia continues to work with Congress to change the ERISA threshold from 120% to 110% and this would allow Nokia to continue transfers of pension assets on a yearly basis to fund the Group Life plan. The NRLN is supportive of these efforts and will also work to seek this change for the benefit of our retirees. You can be assured that these transfers will not endanger our pension plan in any way while ensuring that our retirees will receive the promised Group Life benefit.

Yes, this is another reason to celebrate the New Year.

Joe Dombrowski, LRO President


Status of the Plan to terminate the Lucent Retirees Organization

You will recall that we ceased planning for our membership meeting to approve the dissolution of the LRO due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It now appears that there is no plan to have a meeting in the near future as conditions have not improved, The Board has discussed possible ways to prepare for a dissolution without the need for am in-person meeting. We plan to provide our suggested approach in a message to each of you in the very near future.

Frank C. Minter
For the LRO Board.

Lucent Retirees Organization (LR0)
Board of Directors meeting
Jacksonville, Fl October 23,24, 2019

The LRO Board met as outlined above in Jacksonville, FL on Oct 24. Directors Present: Joseph Dombrowski, Robert Janish, Danial Lovatt, Richard McCauley, Frank Minter, Gary Reichow. Director Absent due to health issues: Andrew Guarriello

The meeting was opened at 8:35am by President Joseph Dombrowski. Joe summarized the prepared agenda and it was agreed by all that appropriate issues were being addressed.

Update of Status of IRS Section 420 transfers (Transfer of excess Pension assets to retiree health and Insurance Accounts): A change in the limit associated with the distribution of surplus Pension Assets has been proposed to allow the transfer of pension assets above 110% of obligations to retiree health or insurance accounts. The current limitation is 120% of obligations .This legislation is being aggressively pursued by Nokia as a means of dealing with the currently underfunded Group Life Insurance Trust (GLI). The LRO, NRLN and other groups are supporting these efforts. Lowering the threshold to 110% of assets from 120% would give Nokia the flexibility to deal with the current GLI trust shortfall.

Lobbying efforts by Nokia and the NRLN indicate there is support for this change with legislation pending. The LRO has been pursuing this Group Life Insurance funding issue with Alcatel -Lucent and now Nokia for several years, promoting the importance given the loss of the Death Benefit (one year salary to surviving spouse previously paid out of the pension fund but discontinued in early ’90’s).

This is the last item where the LRO can have a very positive impact for our retiree base. This action is now in the hands of lobbyists, Nokia and our legislators. It is the opinion of the LRO Board that regardless of congressional action, if Nokia’s pension assets remain above 120% at year end, Nokia will transfer a portion or all of the excess to the GLI trust. This should extend funding for another 2 years beyond the current asset level.

Prior to getting into the specifics of dissolution, the board reminisced a bit about LRO accomplishments and contributions to our retirees over the years. The following were some of the specific areas of impact:

LRO Contributions to our retirees.

  1. Communication - The LRO website and newsletters kept our retirees in the loop on issues of importance to our retirees. On legislative issues, we partnered with the NRLN to work issues affecting our retiree base. We also provided information and support to retirees on company benefit issues. Our team of pension and healthcare experts offered analyses of complex pension funding data and assisted retirees with specific healthcare or other benefit questions. Our newsletter with the History Corner articles tried to keep our shared legacy alive, writing of accomplishments of the Bell Labs and of our many historic factories and service centers. We also periodically hosted retiree meetings at population centers across the country to update retirees on key issues like the recent pension buyout program.
  2. Established relationships with key Lucent and Nokia Human Resource executives. The LRO met annually with Mr. John Hickey, Human Resource, V.P. to lay out retiree concerns over pension funding, healthcare, and other benefit issues. In the early ’90’s with Lucent in financial difficulty and pension funding levels dropping into the 80% range, LRO continued to press for adjustments in pension funding allocations more toward fixed income devices with less in equities to help avoid large market losses. The pension plan is now fully funded. Relationships have been established whereby day-to-day phone calls between LRO and Nokia executives have become a commonplace event.
  3. The LRO supported the unsuccessful lawsuit to overturn the cancellation of the Death Benefit by Lucent. This issue was pursued to the appellate court level with a court ruling that the Death Benefit was a “Welfare benefit” at the discretion of the company, in spite of the many Company publications announcing the Death Benefit of one year’s salary to a spouse as an earned benefit funded in the pension plan.
  4. Recovery of health care dollars for retirees. In the early 2000 period, LRO supported a lawsuit charging Lucent with mishandling of certain medical charges which resulted in a large percentage of our members receiving a payout worth several hundreds of dollars.
  5. The LRO has played a major role in pressuring Nokia to take steps to properly fund the GLI Trust. As written above, we believe Nokia is on a path to deal with that issue.
  6. National Retiree Legislative Network (NRLN) - The LRO has been a major funder of the NRLN in support of retiree legislative issues and has provided individual leaders for that organization.

We, the board, are proud of the many hours of volunteer service to our retirees, but now see the major issue of pension funding behind us. We have done all that we can and now with an aging board it is time to come to an end, though you will be hearing about an NRLN/LRO chapter to carry out most of the support activities of the current LRO

Dissolution of the LRO

The primary focus of this board meeting was to go over the plan for dissolution of the LRO. While we have shared with our membership that we were studying dissolution, this meeting was our first to directly establish a plan. Dissolving a 501C5 organization like the LRO is a complex undertaking with specific guidelines provided by the IRS and the State of New York where we are incorporated.

Director Bob Janish, laid out the specific documents, steps and time-line required by the IRS and the State of New York to complete the dissolution process. A key event will be a final meeting of the membership to vote to approve the plan of dissolution now scheduled for March 25, 2020 in Dallas, TX., a location where the LRO Board has held the majority of their meetings. All members will receive a formal invitation to this planned meeting sometime in January, assuming we are able to gain approval from the State of New York of our plan of dissolution. A key part of that plan has to do with the final distribution of LRO residual assets.

Considerable time was spent discussing just how we should distribute those assets. Directors unanimously agreed that as we phased out the LRO we did not want to abandon our retirees. It was concluded that the planned NRLN/LRO chapter would be a worthy organization to support, assuming we can gain concurrence from the NRLN that the chapter would take on the communication and support functions for our retirees on pension, healthcare and other benefit related questions. That would require the chapter to maintain relations with key NOKIA representatives.

President Joe Dombrowski committed to schedule a meeting with Mr. Bill Kadereit, President of the NRLN, to formalize a support agreement with the proposed NRLN/LRO Chapter. If that agreement is attained, the board is proposing to dedicate a portion of its residual assets to that organization. Further discussions on how we might best serve the needs of our retirees led us to consider heath concerns of retirees that often afflict seniors. The thought was to donate a proportionate share of the remaining balance of residual funds to organizations addressing healthcare research and treatment of critical diseases, and a small portion to a recognized charitable group. The board unanimously approved this approach.

The Board approved unanimously the plan of dissolution prepared by Bob Janish, and thanked him for his work in researching State of New York and IRS requirements. All board members expressed their pleasure to serve our retirees interests over the years and the hope that our retirees are appreciative of those tireless efforts on their behalf.

We look back with pride at visionaries like Ken Rasche, our first president, who at a time of distress for Lucent did most of the recruiting of executive talent to run the organization. It has been our pleasure to serve you over the years since our founding in 2003.

Joseph Dombrowski, President, Lucent Retiree Organization (LRO)

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Facts about our Insurance Benefits

Prior to 2003 every Lucent retiree had two death benefits: One is the death benefit paid to a surviving spouse from the pension fund equal to final annual salary. Management retirees lost this benefit in 2003. Non management who did not take the lump sum in 2015 still have this benefit.

Group life insurance is provided by the Company at no charge and is equal to final annual salary. All retirees have this benefit. Between age 65 and 70 it reduces 10% a year. At age 70 is stays at 50% of final salary. It is paid from a separate trust fund which is in danger of depletion in a few years.


Nokia Benefits Resource Center (NBRC)1-888-232-4111
International Long Distance 1-212-444-0994    Other links here.

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The LRO receives frequent requests for dealing with the passing of a retiree or surviving spouse. Consequently, we have created a document that focuses on communicating with Nokia benefits and pensions, along with links to websites with checklists for other family issues. The document is available here.It is printable so that you can keep it in your files for future reference.



Rather than duplicate links to articles that are posted IN THE NEWS on the NRLN website home page, we will endeavor to post here articles of particular interest to Lucent Retirees. Please visit for a wide range of retiree news.

For news about Nokia or of specific interest to Lucent/Nokia retirees, go to