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DENVER (AP) -- Qwest says it will eliminate death benefits for retirees starting in March.
Currently, when retirees die, their survivors receive an amount equivalent to their last year's salary. The families of as many as 27,000 retirees are eligible for the benefit and eliminating it could cut Qwest's liabilities by $220 million.
Qwest says it wants to protect its pension fund's ability to pay out benefits now and in the future.
It's in good shape now. Qwest hasn't made a cash contribution for years and won't need to next year either.
Company spokesman Nick Sweers acknowledges that ending the benefit will strengthen its standing on Wall Street.
In 2005, retirees filed a lawsuit to stop Qwest from dropping the benefit but they lost their appeal this past summer.
Information from: The Denver Post
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)