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Friday, August 12, 2011

Retiree's "double dipping" for retirement benefits prohibited


Retiree's "double dipping" for retirement benefits prohibited
Williams v McCall, 283 AD2d 808

John Williams, Jr. initially joined the New York State and Local Employees' Retirement System [ERS] in 1962 while employed by Creedmoor State Hospital. In 1969, he became a member of the New York City Police Department and became a member of the New York City Police Pension Fund [Fund]. In 1997 Williams began working full time for both the Police Department and Creedmoor simultaneously. This continued until he retired from the Police Department in 1990.

In 1990 Williams began to receive retirement benefits from the Fund while continuing to work full time at Creedmoor. He retired from Creedmoor in 1995 and began receiving benefits from ERS as well.*

Ultimately, ERS ruled that for purposes of calculating William's ERS retirement benefits, his employment at Creedmoor after July 3, 1990 could not be counted as service credit because he was receiving pension benefits from the Fund at that time. Williams appealed this ruling.

The Appellate Division affirmed the Retirement System's decision. The court said that it is well settled that “[a]s a general rule, an individual who is retired from service with the State, a municipal corporation or a political subdivision of the State may not engage in the practice known as 'double dipping', where [such the individual] simultaneously receives pension benefits and compensation for post-retirement public employment or service,” citing Incorporated Village of Nissequogue v New York State Civil Service Commission, 220 AD2d 53.

The Appellate Division ruled that because Williams began receiving pension benefits from the Fund in 1990 and continued to receive them during his employment at Creedmoor, the Comptroller had a rational basis for denying him service credit for this time period in calculating his ERS retirement benefits. The decision also points out that even if Williams “was specifically authorized to continue his post-retirement public service (which he was not on this record),” Retirement and Social Security Law Section 213(b) specifically prohibits the grant of service credit for such post-retirement employment.

The Appellate Division said that the fact that Williams worked for Creedmoor before and during his employment with the Police Department “does not compel a contrary conclusion.”

* Williams answered “no” in response to the question: are you a member of “any other Public Retirement System in the State” when he filed his application for ERS benefits in 1995.

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