October 17, 2017

A statute designating that certain public employees shall become members of the State and Local Employees' Retirement System preempts enrolling such employees in a different public retirement system


A statute designating that certain public employees shall  become members of the State and Local Employees' Retirement System preempts enrolling such employees in a different public retirement system
2017 NY Slip Op 07025, Appellate Division, Third Department


Petitioner, a Suffolk County Park Police Officer, applied for performance of duty and accidental disability retirement benefits with the New York State and Local Police and Fire Retirement System [PFRS] alleging that he was permanently incapacitated from performing his job duties as the result of a work-related injury. The application was denied because Petitioner was not a member of PFRS but, in fact, was a member of the New York State and Local Employees' Retirement System [ERS].

Petitioner requested a re-determination and, following a hearing, the Hearing Officer upheld the Department's decision. The Comptroller adopted the Hearing Officer's decision that Petitioner was a member of ERS and not a member of PFRS and Petitioner appealed the Comptroller's ruling.

Petitioner argued that the Comptroller should have found that he was a member of PFRS because his job duties satisfied the definition of a police officer within the meaning of Civil Service Law §58 and he was a member of an organized police force.

The Appellate Division's sustained the Controller's determination explaining that:

1. §89-r of the Retirement and Social Security Law [RSSL] was enacted for the purpose of establishing a 25-year retirement plan for individuals employed as Suffolk County Park Police Officers as Chapter 605 of the Law of 1966;*and

2. Petitioner had enrolled as a member of ERS when he began his employment as a Suffolk County Park Police Officer in 2003.

PFRS is "a separate retirement system for police and fire[fighters]" that includes a 20-year retirement plan for members of the Suffolk County police departments in accordance with RSSL §387-a.** Although eligibility for this plan also includes other Suffolk County law enforcement personnel, Suffolk County Park Police Officers are not included in the list of RSSL §387-a eligible Suffolk County law enforcement personnel and are instead provided for by RSSL §89-r.

In view of this statutory prescription with respect to membership set out in the RSSL, the Appellate Division held that the Comptroller's determination that Petitioner was a member of ERS rather than PFRS was not "irrational, unreasonable or contrary to the statutory language." 

* "Retirement of county park police officers in Suffolk county."

** "Retirement of members of the Suffolk county police force; new plan."

The decision is posted on the Internet at: 
http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2017/2017_07025.htm

CAUTION

Subsequent court and administrative rulings, or changes to laws, rules and regulations may have modified or clarified or vacated or reversed the decisions summarized here. Accordingly, these summaries should be Shepardized® or otherwise checked to make certain that the most recent information is being considered by the reader.
THE MATERIAL ON THIS WEBSITE IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY. AGAIN, CHANGES IN LAWS, RULES, REGULATIONS AND NEW COURT AND ADMINISTRATIVE DECISIONS MAY AFFECT THE ACCURACY OF THE INFORMATION PROVIDED IN THIS LAWBLOG. THE MATERIAL PRESENTED IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE AND THE USE OF ANY MATERIAL POSTED ON THIS WEBSITE DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP.
Consistent with the Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations, the material in this blog is presented with the understanding that neither the publisher nor members of the staff are providing legal advice to the reader and in the event legal or other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to seek such advice from a competent professional.