AVON PARK, Fla. (WFLA) — When Carole Cardwell’s husband died last spring she lost not only her best friend but also his federal retirement benefit.

Roger Cardwell was a U.S. postal carrier for 34 years, and his widow was eligible to continue receiving his monthly checks from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). But lost paperwork with no explanation and a lack of contact from the agency stalled her claim.

“The loss of a husband is tragic enough but then to have to fight for your money,” Cardwell said. “I’d been fighting this for seven months and I don’t know what I would’ve done without [8 on Your Side.]”

OPM contacted Cardwell the day after inquiries to the agency from 8 on Your Side.

Then, within a matter of weeks, the money Cardwell was owed was in her account and the monthly checks started coming again as well.

“I couldn’t believe the amount and it was from April 4 to October 31st and it really helped,” Cardwell said.

An Office of Inspector General (OIG) report from late last year indicates in the fiscal year 2021, OPM made nearly $320 million “in improper payments related to its retirement programs.”

The report also suggested a number of ways to improve the agency in 2023, including modernizing its information technology infrastructure and improving the financial integrity of OPM trust funds.

Cardwell said she hopes the changes improve OPM’s responses to others so that no one else will face the agonizing wait she did.

“They should make it easier,” Cardwell said. “I don’t know why they list phone numbers because nobody ever answers them.”

OPM has not responded to multiple requests for comment on Cardwell’s claim.