MetLife Inc. failed to distribute annuity pension benefits to 13,500 recipients for up to 25 years, the company announced Feb. 13.

“Simply put, this is not our finest hour,” Steve Kandarian, chairman, president, and CEO of Metlife Inc., said on the company’s earnings call Feb. 14. “We had an operational failure that never should have happened and it is deeply embarrassing.”

An internal company review revealed MetLife had been employing a faulty system to contact pension benefit recipients for the past 25 years, the company said in a filing Feb. 13. Under the system, MetLife would attempt to contact...