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May 16, 2012

Designating a beneficiary typically will result a reduction of the individual’s retirement allowance otherwise payable before such a designation


Designating a beneficiary typically will result a reduction of the individual’s retirement allowance otherwise payable before such a designation

A retired Chief of Department is entitled to a retirement allowance, consisting of both an annuity and a pension. In this instance the retired Chief of Department of the New York City Police Department, challenged Board of Trustees' interpretation of Administrative Code §13-249, claiming that the plain language of the statute entitled him to receive a pension equal to two-thirds of his salary unreduced by any optional modification.  

Although Supreme Court granting the retiree’s petition holding that that New York City Police Department’s failure to apply the plain language of Administrative Code of City of New York §13-249 to the calculation of retiree's retirement allowance was arbitrary, capricious and contrary to law, the Appellate Division unanimously reversed the ruling “on the law” and dismissed proceeding brought pursuant to CPLR Article 78.

Administrative Code §13-249 provides that a retired Chief of Department is entitled to a retirement allowance consisting of both an annuity and a pension that will effectively make the retirement allowance equal to two-thirds of the retiree's salary.*

The Appellate Division said that the plain language of §13-249, states that a retiring Chief of Department's "accumulated deductions," are not subject to "any decrease resulting from withdrawals, loans, optional modifications . . .." The statute, however, is silent with respect to computations of the "pension" portion of the retirement allowance.

Accordingly, said the court, a retiring Chief's receiving the full two-thirds retirement allowance may be affected by his or her choice of options under Administrative Code §13-261 whereby “if any retiree exercises an option to designate a beneficiary to receive a portion of his retirement allowance, then his retirement allowance will be reduced accordingly.”

The Appellate Division then held that “no fair reading of Administrative Code §13-249 … leads to the conclusion that the ‘pension’ portion of [retiring Chief’s] retirement allowance would not be subject to a reduction based on the selection of an option in which a beneficiary is designated under Administrative Code §13-261.”

* Section 13-249 also provides instruction as to the computation of the "annuity portion" of the retirement allowance.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

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