Claiming breaks in service for childcare may be excused for the purposes of member service in the NYS Employees’ Retirement System
Soronen v Comptroller, 244 A.D.2d 842
William Soronen, Jr., was a temporary aide to a New York State Senator during the 1974 and 1975 legislative sessions. He worked on a part-time basis. In July 1975 Soronen accepted a position with a private law firm. In 1978 he was appointed as a confidential law clerk to a State Supreme Court justice and joined the New York State Employees’ Retirement System [ERS].
Soronen subsequently applied for retroactive membership in ERS based on his service with the State legislature in 1974 and 1975 pursuant to Section 803 of the Retirement and Social Security Law.
ERS rejected his application on the grounds that he had a “break in service.” Soronen appealed, contending that he had not reapplied for employment with the State legislature, although his employer would have approved such part-time employment, because he wanted to care for his son. He attributed his three-plus year break in public service to childcare, claiming that Section 803(b)(2) allowed certain breaks in service “attributed to the birth of a child... or care for such child.”
The Appellate Division affirmed ERS’ determination, noting that Soronen’s break in public service was due to the end of the 1975 legislative session and his termination from his temporary employment, not childcare. The Court also commented that Soronen had not demonstrated that “a public employment position was definitely available to him during both the 1976 and 1977 legislative sessions and that he turned [them] down because of child care requirements.”
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