Press Release

Senator Gillibrand Secures Social Security Check For 80 Year-Old Albany Resident After Benefits Snafu

Dec 7, 2009

Albany, NY – An 80 year-old Albany resident finally received over $11,000 in Social Security payments that she was owed after her retirement benefits lapsed for over half a year. Senator Gillibrand helped secure the funds, which came weeks before her 81st birthday on December 15th.

Ms. Claire Geller-Kolchetski said, “I jumped for joy when I received the check. I’ve worked my whole life and it felt unjust that I was owed so much money and did not see a penny of it. This was a pleasant surprise in time for my 81st birthday. I am so thankful to Senator Gillibrand and her staff for their efficient, outstanding work.”

Senator Gillibrand said, “For many of our seniors, retirement benefits that they have worked for their entire lives serve as their financial lifeline. It’s important that our seniors have the funds they so rightly deserve.”

Since her 1996 retirement as an administrative assistant, Ms. Geller-Koltchetski received $1,400 in monthly benefits under her husband’s United States Railroad Retirement Board system, a federal agency separate from the Social Security Administration. Once her husband passed away in April 2009, her benefits were no longer covered by the Railroad Retirement Board and should have been transferred to the Social Security Administration. Only months after her husband’s death did Ms. Geller-Koltchetski discover that she was owed benefits since May 2009.

After receiving no response from the Railroad Retirement Board, Ms. Geller-Kolchetski contacted Senator Gillibrand’s office in November, which helped to ensure that her past and present benefits were promptly transferred. The Social Security Administration recently sent checks for $11,482.50 to the Albany senior and assured her that in addition to a retroactive sum, Ms. Geller-Kolchetski will be receiving $1,404 each month going forward.

Ms. Geller-Kolchetski’s late husband, Mr. Alex Koltchetski, was a World War II veteran and machinist who worked for the Albany State University Campus and the South Mall.