- Associated Press - Monday, June 1, 2015

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) - Some Caterpillar retirees are scrambling to comply with a recent request by the Peoria company to provide proof of dependency for family members to continue receiving health insurance.

Affected former employees include 92-year-old Jordan Wieland, a tool designer who worked for Caterpillar Inc. for 44 years before retiring three decades ago, The (Peoria) Journal Star (http://bit.ly/1KyU6eX ) reported.

Wieland was asked to provide verification of his birth and his 61-year marriage through government-issued certificates before June 17, he said. He had to enlist the help of his son, Vince Wieland, a lieutenant with the Peoria Police Department, to retrieve the documents from the Peoria County Courthouse.

“I think it’s outrageous. I don’t understand what they’re trying to do,” Jordan Wieland said of the information he was asked to provide to his former employer.

The company calls the verification request routine. More than 70 percent of the company’s 15,000 retirees already have complied with a step last requested of current and former employees about 10 years ago, according to Lisa Miller, a spokeswoman for Caterpillar.

“It is an important step in managing costs. Caterpillar and its group health plans have security measures in place to protect the personal information of employees and retirees,” she said.

If the information isn’t verified, it will be assumed that the dependents no longer meet the plan’s eligibility requirements, and they will be removed from the plan effective Aug. 1, Miller said.

Officials with the Peoria County Courthouse have noticed a recent uptick in requests for vital records, including birth and death certificates and marriage licenses, for Caterpillar employees and retirees.

“Last April, we had requests for 1,785 documents, whereas this year, that’s nearly doubled to 3,232. That’s an 81 percent increase,” said Steve Sonnemaker, the county clerk, referring to a rise in the amount of paperwork this April.

The county processes about 23,000 documents each year, he said, adding that such requests for documentation aren’t uncommon.

Sonnemaker believes the company may be conducting an internal audit of those being covered by its health plan, he said.

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Information from: Journal Star, http://pjstar.com

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