Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Retiree’s survivors application to modify the retiree’s election of a retirement option rejected

Retiree’s survivors application to modify the retiree’s election of a retirement option rejected
Kevin M Gorey, Jr. v New York State Comptroller, 2011 NY Slip Op 03329, Appellate Division, Third Department

Kevin M. Gorey Sr. applied for service retirement effective September 1, 2004 and elected benefit payments under the "Single Life Allowance" option. This option provided that Gorey Sr. would receive the maximum lifetime retirement allowance payable to him and the payments would stop upon his death. Further, this option did not permit Gorey to designate a beneficiary.

New York State and Local Employees’ Retirement System [ERS] sent Gorey Sr. a letter confirming his option selection and detailing his annual benefit payments. In addition, ERS told Gorey Sr. that he could his selection of his retirement option prior to September 30, 2004. Gorey Sr. did not submit any change and died on November 19, 2004.

Gorey Sr.’s children [Gorey, Jr.] asked ERS to void decedent's selection of the "Single Life Allowance" option, contending that Gorey, Sr. was incompetent at the time he made the selection. Ultimately ERS rejected Gorey Jr.’s application, holding that Gorey Jr. had not established that Gorey Sr. was incompetent* when he made his retirement option selection and Gorey Jr. sued in an effort to overturn the Retirement System’s decision.

The Appellate Division affirmed the Retirement System’s determination.

Noting that Gorey Jr. contend that the Retirement System “did not take adequate steps to ensure that [Gorey Sr.] made a proper retirement option choice, the court said that the Retirement System is "not required to insure that proposed retirees receive the best possible entitlement," citing Matter of Cummings v New York State & Local Employees' Retirement Sys., 187 AD2d 862, appeal dismissed 81 NY2d 834.

Further, said the court, the State Comptroller "has the exclusive authority to determine all applications for any form of retirement or benefits" and his decision will not be disturbed if it is supported by substantial evidence.

* The applicant for a retirement allowance is presumed to have been competent at the time he or she made his or her retirement option selection and the burden is on those challenging that election to prove the contrary.

The decision is posted on the Internet at: 


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Challenging Adverse Personnel Decisions at http://nypplarchives.blogspot.com

The Disability Benefits E-book: at http://section207.blogspot.com/

Layoff, Preferred Lists at http://nylayoff.blogspot.com/

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