Friday, May 01, 2015

Withdrawing an application for service retirement benefits requires the member to file a written request to do so with the retirement system prior to the effective date of his or her retirement



Withdrawing an application for service retirement benefits requires the member to file a written request to do so with the retirement system prior to the effective date of his or her retirement 
126 AD3d 1281

A member [Member] of the New York State & Local Employees' Retirement System [System]  filed an application for service retirement benefits. At a meeting with a System representative Member learned that a domestic relations order had been filed with the System that provided that his former wife was to receive a portion of his monthly retirement benefit. Member, believing that the terms of the order were inaccurate, told the System’s representative that he did not wish to retire until that matter could be resolved.

However it became apparent that Member’s retirement application was still being processed by the System and Member telephoned the System and again stated that he did not wish to retire. Ultimately Member was told by his employer that “he had retired.”

Member then submitted a written request to withdraw his retirement application but his request was denied by the System as untimely. Subsequently a Hearing Officer found that Member was not entitled to withdraw his retirement application as his written request was untimely, which finding the Comptroller adopted and denied Member’s request to withdraw his application for retirement.

The Appellate Division confirmed the Comptroller decision, explaining that the Comptroller "is vested with the exclusive authority to resolve applications for retirement benefits," and those determinations will be upheld if supported by substantial evidence in the record. The court noted that a Member’s application for service retirement could only be withdrawn "by filing a written request to withdraw [it] prior to the [Member's] effective date of retirement." As Member “admittedly failed” to submit a timely a written request to withdraw his application for retirement, the Appellate Division ruled that the Comptroller's determination denying his written request to withdraw as untimely was supported by substantial evidence.

The court also rejected Member’s argument that the Comptroller should be equitably estopped from denying his request to withdraw his retirement application.

According to the Appellate Division's decision, Member “did nothing until the day before his retirement became effective, when he called ‘someone’ at [the System] and reiterated that he wanted to withdraw his retirement application.” Although Member claimed that the “unnamed employee told him that an oral withdrawal would be sufficient,” which it was not, the Appellate Division said that "even if the advice given by [the System’s] administrative employees was erroneous, it would not give rise to an estoppel here."

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

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