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Since the announcement of IBM strategies known as “Roadmaps” in 2010 and 2015, unions say the company has mutated into a machine focused solely on profit. Earnings-per-share became the corporation’s most important goal and a lack of appreciation of its own workers now threatens to undermine the corporation from the inside out. ...
Since launching its so called "workforce rebalancing" drive in which thousands of jobs are expected to go, IBM has played down the importance of its own employees. The global workforce policy of IBM is increasingly focused on reduction resulting in a lack of motivation and a climate of fear in the workplace.
“The IBM Global Union Alliance is saying to IBM that you need to treat us with respect, with dignity, and listen to employees when they discuss the situation within IBM. We want to make a better IBM, we want to make a better future for IBM employees worldwide,” said Lee Conrad, the long-time coordinator of the IBM Global Alliance.
The company spent $870m on restructuring its workforce as part of its plans to maintain earnings growth in the face of flagging revenues. It has not announced how many job cuts it expects in the US, the latest market to be hit by redundancies, but one analyst estimates it could be up to 13,000. ...
It also repurchased shares worth $8.2bn, in a buyback that Martin Schoroeter, chief financial officer, explained would be loaded towards the front half of the year. For the full year, the company plans to spend a little less on buybacks than last year, he added.
But the giant technology company faces a classic bind: Can the new offerings grow fast enough to offset the erosion of its traditional hardware and software businesses?
The company’s first-quarter results underline the challenge. The company reported on Wednesday that its profit fell and its revenue declined. It is the eighth consecutive quarter in which IBM’s revenue has slipped, with this quarter hit hard by a falloff in its hardware business. ...
IBM’s quarterly profit was hurt by a charge of $870 million for the severance costs for workers who were laid off. Every year, the company, which employed more than 430,000 people worldwide at the end of 2013, sheds workers in markets and product areas that are declining and adds employees in other units. But the $870 million charge is high, and the company chose to take it all in the first quarter.
IBM was also hurt by a slowdown in previously fast-growing markets abroad. Sales in China, for example, were off 20 percent. ...
IBM has long said its business model is geared to deliver profit growth rather than sales growth. But investors, analysts say, are anxious to see signs of revenue growth, especially since cost-cutting and share repurchases have played a large role in IBM’s strong earnings performance in recent years. The first-quarter results, according to A. M. Sacconaghi, an analyst at Bernstein Research, only “amplified the existing concerns about the quality of I.B.M.’s earnings.”
There was a time, not long ago, that the only thing IBM investors cared about was the company's ability to hit its made up "roadmap" target of non-GAAP $20 a share by 2015. It was a great investor relations marketing tool, but it also put the company under the gun to pull out all stops to make a silly number.
Now, even though the company says it's still on target to get there, investors in recent quarters have become more focused on the quality of that number.
After all, last quarter's revenue of $23.5 billion is pretty much flat with March 2010. Between here and there revenue was on a roller coaster, suggesting just how much IBM is really not growing.
Just look at operating margins, which last quarter sank to 13.2% -- the lowest they've been since 2007. Put another way, just to keep the revenue from going even lower the company had to do quite a bit of wheeling and dealing with its customers, who increasingly are in the driver's seat. Schroeter pretty much said so himself, when he mentioned "substantial price pressure" in connection with IBM's global business services group.
All of which gets back to the increasing irrelevance of that $20 roadmap target. It appears analysts are finally wising up and becoming more focused not just on the number, but the quality of the number. (Funny how that happens once a stock starts falling.) As Reitzes said in a post-earnings report, "Although IBM maintained its guidance for 'at least' $18 in non-GAAP EPS for FY14, the company really lowered its operating profit forecast for the year quite materially."
In effect, he's calling out IBM for its numbers game-playing and says that IBM should "completely change its business model" and "abandon it's non-GAAP roadmap..." About time somebody said that.
A selected reader comment follows:
In essence, the company has sacrificed employee morale, customer satisfaction, and revenue, ALL attributes that CANNOT be manipulated, for a profit target that CAN be TOTALLY manipulated.
If it turns out that, from a geopolitical standpoint, the emerging markets (BRIC-lead countries) become unstable and less desirable economically speaking vs. the developed "Americas" market, then IBM is in VERY big trouble. What this means is that the strategy they have in place for almost 15 years is totally backward and they will be totally exposed in the emerging markets.
We are already seeing this in the plunging sales in China, Russia, India, and soon to be Europe etc. while they will have to re-ramp up thousands of employees who have been let go in the Americas. As some have said, looks like it is not if, but when, the regime change is coming.
It is a tricky business, selling off IBM Microelectronics, as you can see. But once IBM lost the game console businesses of Microsoft and Sony to AMD, the fate of IBM Microelectronics was pretty much sealed, no matter how much extra business IBM might try to attract as an ARM chip or Power embedded chip maker. If IBM didn't buy something on the order of $14 billion in its own shares from Wall Street every year, it could easily indulge in chip manufacturing. Even after losing the game console business, IBM Microelectronics is still bringing in around $400 million in revenues per quarter, about 20 percent lower than it was at five years ago. The problem is that each node gets increasingly more costly to bring to market, and the move from 300 millimeter to 450 millimeter wafers is going to add further to development costs even if it will eventually drop the costs per chip.
To make it plain and simple: IBM made the choice to put financial engineering ahead of real chip engineering, and now it is suffering the consequences. Now, Big Blue needs to find a buyer who will continue making its Power and System z chips and invest in the future to advance process technology. There is no question in my mind that IBM will prevail in this effort, but I think that if you look at the math of the deal very closely, with a wafer supply agreement that is inevitable between the buyer and Big Blue, you will see that it will all net out to a wash and IBM may end up paying slightly higher costs for each chip. But, it won't have what I presume is an unprofitable business dragging on its Systems and Technology Group business.
Reporter Gina Bullard spoke with the writer of the Wall Street Journal article, Spencer Ante. He says the sale could go through in the next couple of months and could include IBM facilities in Essex, Fishkill, N.Y., and Montreal. Ante predicts Fishkill is more likely to be sold than the Vermont plant because the Essex facility has older technology, but GlobalFoundries could be forced to buy it as part of the deal.
Though IBM met the expectations of beancounters polled by Yahoo! for earnings (though they were down 15 per cent year-over-year), its revenue missed Wall Street hopes of $22.91bn. ...
The results show that hardware, as ever, is sucking profits out of the company and dragging down revenues. The division's revenue of $2.4bn was down 23 per cent year-on-year and around half off of the previous quarter's $4.3bn compared with a 2 per cent rise in IBM's other higher-margin Software ($5.7bn) and Services ($9.3bn) divisions. ...
But as IBM grows some divisions it is pruning away at others. El Reg hears employee morale at the corporation is down following massive layoffs in Europe, India, and America in the last quarter.
The poster boy for this deformation is IBM which for all intents and purposes has become a stock buyback machine on steroids. It had a bad hair day yesterday, reporting still another year/year decline in sales, but that goes right to the heart of the matter. During the last seven years IBM has been a stock traders dream, climbing an almost picture perfect chart from $94 per share in March 2007 to a recent peak of $212.
But as shown below, those gains had nothing to do with what has been a historic ingredient of stock appreciation—-namely, expansion of its asset base and revenues. In fact, sales revenues in Q1 2014 clocked in at virtually the same number as Q1 2007...
So how has IBM and its ilk achieved revenue-less earnings growth? After all, reported EPS has gone from about $7 per share to $15 during the period. The short answer is that its executives and board have utilized every accounting and financial engineering short-cut in the book to disguise an equity liquidation campaign as a splendid strategy for “growth”.
During the 7-years ending in 2013 IBM booked about $100 billion in net income, and spent virtually every single penny on share buy backs. So the once and former king of the global high-tech industry had nothing better to do with its cash than shrink it equity base. Accordingly, its share count dropped by 20% over the period, thereby accounting for about 45% of its EPS growth. ...
Coughing up rivers of cash was only one arrow in the quiver of IBM’s shareholder value enhancement strategy, however. Its lawyers and accountants weighed in smartly, too. During fiscal 2007 Big Blue’s tax rate was already low at 28%, but by dint of the best tax maneuvers money can buy, IBM’s tax provision dropped to just 15.5% last year. So if you hold constant IBM’s tax rate and share count at the 2007 level, EPS would have been about $9.50/share in 2013, not the $15 reported.
The lawsuit, filed in federal district court in New York, centered on a contract that Iusacell said IBM induced it to enter into in Mexico.
"Events subsequent to the execution of the agreement have revealed that IBM both knowingly misrepresented and wrongfully concealed from Iusacell material facts both before and during the parties' relationship," Iusacell said in the complaint.
IBM said in a statement that the lawsuit was a "transparent attempt" by Iusacell, which is co-owned by media and retail mogul Ricardo Salinas' Grupo Salinas and broadcast giant Grupo Televisa, to avoid its contractual obligations. ...
According to the lawsuit, Iusacell's management designed a plan to boost the market share and revenue of the company, which was then the third-largest mobile phone operator in Mexico.
Doubtful its existing information technology systems could support the plan, Iusacell sought advice from IBM, the lawsuit said. Several pages of the complaint are then redacted, leaving it unclear what happened next.
Iusacell, however, said in the lawsuit that IBM's capacity limits crippled its performance.
In an order to grow EPS despite declining sales, IBM continues to aggressively repurchase its stock. The average diluted count was down by 82 million shares or 7.3% over the past twelve months. During the first quarter, IBM bought back stock at a blistering pace, spending $8.17 billion just in the quarter. The dividend also cost $990 in the quarter. Keep in mind, GAAP operating cash flow was only $3.3 billion, and first-quarter free cash flow was $631 million. As a consequence, cash on hand fell by about $1.3 billion, and total debt increased by about $4.3 billion.
Revenues from IBM's Systems and Technology unit (STG) were $2.39bn for the quarter, down 23 per cent compared to Q1 2013. ...
IBM's storage business used to be a billion-dollar-a-quarter business. Now it's half that. How low does it have to go before IBM CEO Ginni Rometty decides enough is enough and there's no realistic prospect of salvation?
IBM Haifa Labs, run by Oded Cohen, are the company's largest outside the U.S.
Pros: I loved IBM when I first started working here years ago. But much of what I loved no longer exists — including respect for employees and trustworthy management and a fun working environment — yes, it was fun! However, the only benefit to working at IBM these days is the flexible work schedule and the ability to work from home.
Cons: The constant layoffs (at least one or 2 RAs per year involving 3K to 5K US employees, each time, for 5 years now), and the various incentive programs to increase attrition make IBM an extremely dismal and demoralizing place to work. IBM has more recently stooped to increasing the quota percentage of negative appraisals across target organizations. These "3" appraisals identifying "lowest contributors" are a way of avoiding costly layoffs for which IBM annually takes a $1 billion restructuring charge. So, by falsely and unfairly identifying hard-working employees as "3" performers, IBM is able to force these people out without severance packages. These appraisals are not fair, and long-time, hard-working IBMers are being cheated out of their severance as those targeted for the "3" appraisal generally have enough years to collect the maximum 6 months severance through an RA.
Advice to Senior Management: Stop the unfair, unjust, and unethical quota based distribution of "3" appraisals. We all understand that layoffs must occur due to business reasons, but it is unfair to cheat IBMers out of their severance packages by falsely accusing them of being low performers. Obviously, they are not low performers as all of the lower performers have been laid off. These are shameful and unethical practices.
Pros: Access to the largest library of technical information. Depending on what account you work on, you may be exposed to interesting but not bleeding edge technology.
Cons: No interest in allowing you to gain qualifications at IBM expense. You should plot your career progress yourself. Very bad managers are just moved around the organisation spreading their crap on others unfortunate to be on their team. Poor remuneration in relation to market rates.
Advice to Senior Management: Get rid of bad managers and apologise to staff who have had to put up with them.
Pros: Flexible work schedule; casual work environment; (with management support) it is easy to get involved in volunteering and community outreach initiatives; strong brand; mentoring placement.
Cons: Very top-down management style, and low and mid-level management are unwilling to try new approaches (no matter how logically sound the suggestion is, change is viewed as a liability). Focus is on investment in emerging markets, and the focus in mature markets is on cost reduction. Although salaries are decently competitive, bonuses are not. Career growth opportunities are primarily administrative-based or in management.
Advice to Senior Management: Reduce administrative tasks for technical staff, allowing them the time to apply high-level skills. Promote cross-training of early career IBMers immediately.
Pros: Extremely diverse workforce! A very green workplace; friendly environment. Talented people to work with and know.
Cons: Dubuque is a terrible place for people of color. Not much work/life balance for people in technical roles; chronic burnout. Overtime slashed for three consecutive quarters now; morale is very low. There's something very, very wrong when people are leaving on their own and don't have another job to move on to.
Advice to Senior Management: Stop worry about Roadmap 2015! Take care of our customers, both internal and commercial, and the rest will work itself out. Stick to IBM principles instead of paying lip service to them!
Pros: Work at home options; good team work across business lines. Excellent skill base of employees.
Cons: Bad morale. Management has one focus and that is on themselves. Only goal of company is for 2015 EPS goals that will eliminate more employees.
Advice to Senior Management: Care more about employees than themselves. Treat people with respect and instill a sense of pride in their accomplishments. No raises or bonuses and take aways all the time.
Pros: IBM has a good education program, allowing you to take online courses. The projects expose you to differing technologies and experiences. They are a challenge.
Cons: IBM, at least where I am, does not give yearly increases, to my knowledge. They expect you to bill your maximum hours, and do your online education on your own time. There is a lot of bureaucracy. I just earned an MBA in Aug 2013 and applied for internal entry-level consulting positions; everyone I have contacted about those positions has virtually ignored me. There is a large emphasis on the numbers, but little or no emphasis on rewarding a good job.
Advice to Senior Management: Concentrate on the customer and service. The numbers will follow. Don't just rely on numbers: talk to people — you are not doing this nearly enough.
Pros: Competitive benefits, flexible work hours, multi-cultural work environment.
Cons: Internal IT support is inadequate. Standards and processes are there but are not implemented consistently across the different organizations. Surprisingly has bad technology infrastructure resulting in slow networks and sending/receiving emails getting delayed by 4-5 hours or more. Seasoned employees have very bad and unprofessional attitude towards their peers—would bad mouth their peers in front of clients so that they would appear to be good at doing their jobs.
Advice to Senior Management: Fix the network, enforce industry standards, fire self-serving employees, listen to the rank-in-file personnel's complaints.
Pros: Appreciate your technical know-how and analytical skills. A lot of learning opportunity.
Cons: Unfortunately, I have been working from a Helpdesk specialist up until as a team lead, but was not appreciated for my effort. IBM management likes to make a lot of blank promises, like telling you "you are on top of the list". But eventually never happened. Just a way to keep you working there without extra effort.
Advice to Senior Management: Don't make promises, especially blank promises to a staff, whether or not the staff is an IBM contractual or third party contractual. And don't ever make a promise of transferring the staff to another dept for a promotion if you don't have the intention of doing so or if you are going to give the job to someone else and then tell the staff the job have been given to someone else and tell the staff sorry.
Pros: Flexible work schedule and telecommuting. Developing products can be interesting.
Cons: You are forced to work using IBM's platforms and infrastructure which is usually behind the industry. Also with so many different pieces of the architecture of the software solution being developed at the same time, it raises the risk significantly as many pieces are interdependent of each other and when one fails, it breaks all others. Many different departments with different goals and agenda's lead to the nothing getting accomplished.
Advice to Senior Management: Our company suffers from large corporation syndrome, in which too many chefs in the kitchen. Too many decision makers in which it takes too long for any decisions or direction to be made, which shorten life-cycle period for planning, architecture, development, testing, etc...which always results in hacked work and lots of technical debt.
Pros: Very smart people, with deep personal and professional commitment, who remain blissfully unaware that they will have no future.
Cons: One of the most depressing, alarmingly arrogant and confused IT companies in the world. Acting like wolves, hunting in small packs, they eventually run out of food and are then forced to eat their own kind. Greed remains the key motivation for leadership, who will seemingly stop at nothing to best a colleague, weaken a partner or flip a customer. Reckless outsourcing of American jobs for low paid, often unqualified personnel in so called “growth markets”. Stay away from this work environment.
Advice to Senior Management: Bring back the H in HR? Work with, not against your people resources. Get a plan for the future. Clean out the top of the business, not the people who actually perform.
Pros: This is a great company for one to start their career, but don't make the mistake of hanging out too long. IBM is a sales organization, which just happens to be in technology. It used to be run by sales people with an ethos of work hard, play hard. But that's been gone for a decade +. The bean counters have taken over the top offices and have slowly taken away all the things that made this company fun to be a part of. If you're on commission, expect a 1% salary increase about once every 3 years, so negotiate well on your way in the door. My recommendation for anyone starting here is to learn all you can in 2-3 years, then leave and go to a competitor — you'll see the same business from another angle and become a very well rounded IT professional.
Cons: Like any sales organization, whatever you achieved in the past, is the past, and there is a new quarter ahead. If you're hitting your quota early, they will increase it and say that you'll appreciate the challenge. There is management by intimidation, but retribution seems rare. The last few months have been a particularly heartbreaking time - 4 rounds of layoffs in the last 6 months, because the share price is much more important than the people who've made this company great for our customers.
Commission statements are delivered via random number generator, where it's nearly impossible to determine if you're getting paid on your accounts, or those of someone else. If you have a commission dispute, IBM outsourced that aspect of the business to South America years ago, and they have little time, or sympathy to help resolve money issues for people whom they feel are paid too much.
Tuition reimbursement is a thing of the past — better to hire from outside than foster organic development. At conferences when the company hosts a party, they'll let in the customers, but not the IBMers who brought the customers. Sometimes a little awkward.
With regards to compensation IBM consistently pays at the low end of the scale. And the benefits get more expensive and cover less each year.
Advice to Senior Management: Way too many levels of management, which is why our products are so expensive — 75 people (65 of which are overlays who never touched an account) need to get paid for every widget sold.
You need to closely examine the first line managers, as they are essential to the career development of the people in the field. While there are some outstanding people here, I've had a few managers who provide zero value, and have actually done damage to the morale of the team they manage. Keep in mind the job of a first line manager is among the worst in the company — your job is to deliver bad news from above, have very little influence over change, and your main task is to inform your team of new administrivia tasks with short deadlines, and forward emails.
Browse the proxy statements of the nation’s largest corporations and you’ll find the instruction manuals for this apparatus explaining how to finely calibrate the pay of top executives with company performance. ...
The current system of executive compensation, with its emphasis on performance, can theoretically constrain pay, but in practice it has not stopped companies from paying their top executives more and more. The median compensation of a chief executive in 2013 was $13.9 million, up 9 percent from 2012, according the Equilar 100 C.E.O. Pay Study, conducted for The New York Times. The 100 C.E.O.s in the survey took home a combined $1.5 billion last year, a slight rise from 2012. And the pay-for-performance metrics — particularly the idea of paying executives with stock to align their interests with shareholders — may even have amplified that trend. In some ways, the corporate meritocrat has become a new class of aristocrat.
Even as one tunnel was being canceled, however, another was nearing completion, as Spread Networks finished boring its way through the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania. Spread’s tunnel was not, however, intended to carry passengers, or even freight; it was for a fiber-optic cable that would shave three milliseconds — three-thousandths of a second — off communication time between the futures markets of Chicago and the stock markets of New York. And the fact that this tunnel was built while the rail tunnel wasn’t tells you a lot about what’s wrong with America today.
Who cares about three milliseconds? The answer is, high-frequency traders, who make money by buying or selling stock a tiny fraction of a second faster than other players. Not surprisingly, Michael Lewis starts his best-selling new book “Flash Boys,” a polemic against high-frequency trading, with the story of the Spread Networks tunnel. But the real moral of the tunnel tale is independent of Mr. Lewis’s polemic.
Think about it. You may or may not buy Mr. Lewis’s depiction of the high-frequency types as villains and those trying to thwart them as heroes. (If you ask me, there are no good guys in this story.) But either way, spending hundreds of millions of dollars to save three milliseconds looks like a huge waste. And that’s part of a much broader picture, in which society is devoting an ever-growing share of its resources to financial wheeling and dealing, while getting little or nothing in return. ...
But if our supersized financial sector isn’t making us either safer or more productive, what is it doing? One answer is that it’s playing small investors for suckers, causing them to waste huge sums in a vain effort to beat the market. Don’t take my word for it — that’s what the president of the American Finance Association declared in 2008. Another answer is that a lot of money is going to speculative activities that are privately profitable but socially unproductive. ...
In short, we’re giving huge sums to the financial industry while receiving little or nothing — maybe less than nothing — in return. Mr. Philippon puts the waste at 2 percent of G.D.P. Yet even that figure, I’d argue, understates the true cost of our bloated financial industry. For there is a clear correlation between the rise of modern finance and America’s return to Gilded Age levels of inequality.
Enter Obamacare. Love it or hate it, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) offers an element of predictability in the health-care marketplace. Premiums based on pre-existing conditions are a thing of the past. The only criteria for setting premiums are age, geography, family size, and whether or not the applicant is a smoker. And, interestingly, not all states consider smoking status when setting premiums. ...
Health-Care Premiums. Under the old rules, basically there were no rules. The insurance companies could use occupation, age, health history, or more to determine premiums. Under the ACA, rates for older adults cannot exceed three times the rate of a younger person. This is the heart of the concern that not enough young people will participate in ACA plans for the economics to be financially viable. However, this pricing restriction can be very beneficial to the younger retiree.
That’s according to a new report released by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group –a Boston-based firm that advocates for tax reform. The group says more than $150 billion in federal revenue and $34 billion in state revenue is lost every year to major corporations and wealthy people that stash their cash offshore in order to skirt hefty U.S. tax bills. PIRG notes that corporations account for about $110 billion of the total lost revenue—with wealthy individuals making up the rest. ...
“Tax haven abusers benefit from America’s markets, public infrastructure, educated workforce, security and rule of law -– all supported in one way or another by tax dollars –but they avoid paying for these benefits,” PIRG said in the report. “Instead, ordinary taxpayers end up picking up the tab, either in the form of higher taxes, cuts to public spending priorities, or increases to the federal debt,” it said. ...
Though most companies are still paying some taxes, complex tax tricks and loopholes are still driving down the actual tax rate many are paying. The Government Accountability Office said in 2010 that companies were paying an average effective tax rate of 12.6 percent—well below the nominal federal tax rate of 35 percent.
I'd actually welcome a package myself, I work hard because that's the ethic I was taught by may parents and the military, and I'm not a butt-kisser. I'm anything but, and have been called on the carpet more than a few times for saying it like it is, to both my management and our customers. I'm in my mid-50's and just biding my time.
I don't see anyone around me putting in the effort they used to back around 2001, when we were all very energized. I certainly don't work as hard as I used to and it's taking a toll on my conscience. I just don't want to deal with switching and starting over with another company at this point. So, I'll bide my time a little longer and see what shakes out. -MoraleInTheToilet-
Alliance reply: Without a union contract, IBMers in the US can expect much more "poorly managed" processes than just RA's. IBM "manages" RA's for IBM's benefit, not the employee. The sooner IBMers realize that IBM will continue to abuse and mismanage their workers, the sooner IBM workers can organize and change that paradigm. Get busy fighting for your jobs, or get busy losing them.
Alliance reply: Simply put, the answer is no. Why? Because IBM can break their own rules any time they want to. The Federal government has absolutely NO SAY about what IBM does with their own policies. The best way you have to "get rid of this horrid, unfair, unjustly, yearly inquisition" is to form a union and fight for a collective bargaining agreement.
All IBMers in the US are "At Will Employees" and have no say about how IBM conducts its employee policies; which include the PBC system, the salary system, the workplace conditions, the benefits (if any) and the circumstances involving RA's.
The labor laws generally vary from state to state; but even so, they are stacked in favor of corporations and business...NOT the worker or employee. If you know of others you work with that also don't know this information, it would be a good idea if you informed them. It would even be a better idea if you and other IBMers currently employed, joined the Alliance and organized throughout the company locations in the US.
With the a majority of IBMers, we could bargain for a legally binding contract that would most definitely include protections against discrimination by IBM on many levels, legally. Are you willing to do that? For more information on "At Will Employee" status and other questions, see this page: http://www.endicottalliance.org/allianceibmsimplefactsheet.htm
Alliance reply: We have continued to answer questions, as best we can, regardless of whether they have been asked many times before. Not being informed of labor laws and being an At Will Employee, is the exact reason why Alliance continues to answer these questions without judging anyone. We never intend to insult anyone or be condescending to get our point across. This why Alliance@IBM exists: to inform and provide an alternative to the propaganda, lies and abuse that IBM dishes out to their employees on a daily basis. Thank you for your support.
When I asked the Rep that despite the "IBM rule" on this whether their decision was purely "aged based" that one who is 55 with 15 years in service can use the FHA account and have access to group benefits and me with 30 years of service, but age 52 cannot. They indicated that it is "aged based" on the recorded line. My question to all is whether there is an appeal process or an external process to protest this "age based" bias with hopes in overturning? I realize this may be wishful thinking but wondered whether anyone has gone done a similar path before I begin my trek. :-) -RAd_Bridged_Retired_in_2014-
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