Denver Health medical center, photographed on Thursday, April 4, 2019. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)
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About 40 retirees from the city of Denver have been ordered to pay back $11 million in retirement benefits after they were erroneously receiving the funds because of a mistake by a retirement plan administrator, a television station said.

“It’s extremely unfortunate for the affected employees,” said Heather Darlington, executive director of the Denver Employees Retirement Plan, an agency that manages retirement benefits for 10,000 retired Denver employees.

“It was a DERP administrative error,” said Darlington. “We unfortunately paid too much to a fraction of a percent of our retirees. We are doing the right thing by correcting the error. Any overpayments need to be recouped legally from the individual. It was not the retirees’ fault.”

The error occurred about 15 years ago and was discovered in late 2019 during a routine review, agency officials said, adding that letters were sent out to the retirees and their survivors.

One of the recipients was Tod Sedbrook, whose wife Lynn Sander, worked for Denver Health for 23 years, KCNC-TV reported. Sander died in 2013, but Sedbrook continued receiving her benefits from 2004 until she died.

“Somebody messed up,” Sedbrook told KCNC-TV after being told he needs to repay more than $58,000. “I’m actually at a loss here. It’s not fair to me what they’re doing.”

Sedbrook says he is likely to hire a lawyer and an accountant and is leaning toward appealing the agency’s attempt to be repaid.

“DERP recently notified Denver Health and a group of DERP members, who are retired and current Denver Health employees, that DERP has discovered an error it made in calculating the retirement benefits of those retirees and employees,” Denver Health said in a statement. “Denver Health has always made the required contribution payments to DERP-on time and in full-on behalf of all employees who have been members of DERP. We are concerned about this issue and the consequences for our retirees and current employees who are affected.”

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