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: