STATE EMPLOYEE RETIREMENT COMMISSION
SUBCOMMITTEE ON PURCHASES
AND RELATED MATTERS

MINUTES

Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Office of the State Comptroller
55 Elm Street
Hartford, CT 06106

TO: Connecticut State Employees Retirement Commission
FROM:
Subcommittee on Purchase of Service and Related Matters
(Present: P.Blum, C.Casella, R. Coffey, Linda Yelmini. Absent: R.McLellan)
DATE: November 4, 2009

The Subcommittee met on this date to consider the cases noted below. The first group of recommendations was made by unanimous vote; the second with some dissent.

Unanimous Recommendations

(1) Karen Adam. The Subcommittee unanimously recommends approval of the late submission of a posthumous non-service connected disability retirement application on behalf of Ms. Adam with the one hundred percent to contingent annuitant option elected.

Comment: Karen Adam was a twenty-three year Department of Transportation (DOT) employee who after having surgery in April 2007 passed away on July 23, 2007. The day after having the surgery retirement paperwork was completed by the agency personnel and Ms. Adam's mother, Arlene McCarthy who was the Power of Attorney. The paperwork including required medical documentation was received in to the Retirement Services Division on July 31, 2007. Ms. McCarthy in a letter of explanation indicated that following the surgery, she was not only caring for her daughter but also for her son-in-law who was recovering from neck surgery and her 18 year old grandson who was confined to a wheel chair. In her own words she dropped the ball with submitting the paperwork. Compounding matters, Ms. Adam had expressed that she did not want to retire because she did not want to give up her position. Ms. McCarthy felt her daughter was not informed enough to make that decision. The Subcommittee finds that the record shows that Ms McCarthy was trying to do the right thing for Ms. Adam and her family and that these extenuating circumstances are sufficient enough to granting the request.

(2) Linda Albanese. The Subcommittee unanimously recommends denial of Ms. Albanese's late request to purchase retirement credit under Connecticut General Statutes, Section 5-181(a) for her period of prior state service from July 5, 1978 to January 11, 1979.

Comment: The record reflects that Ms. Albanese applied to purchase her first six months of service under section 5-181(a) in 1983 however, despite her receipt of a last chance letter, she failed to respond to the Division's payment notices. Accordingly, she permanently forfeited her right to purchase this initial period of state service. Her assertion for the non-response was that she was advised by her Human Resource Office that she was ineligible to receive retirement credit for this period of service is uncorroborated. Accordingly, the Subcommittee finds there is not enough evidence to grant the relief that she is seeking.

(3) Margaret Buell. The Subcommittee unanimously recommends denial of Ms. Buell's late request to purchase retirement credit under Connecticut General Statutes, Section, 5-181(a) for her period of prior state service from September 1979 to July 1981.

Comment: As in The Matter of Linda Albanese (11/09) Ms. Buell after making a timely application in August 1985 to purchase retirement credit for her prior state service failed to respond to the Division's payment notices therefore permanently forfeiting her right to make the purchase. The subcommittee finds that her assertion that she was going through a difficult pregnancy at the time of her receipt of the last chance letter is not evidence of extenuating circumstances sufficient to justify a waiver of the October 1, 1985 deadline associated with this type of purchase.

(4) Robert J. Chausse The Subcommittee unanimously recommends denial of Mr. Chausse's late request to purchase retirement credit under Connecticut General Statutes, Section 5-181(a) for his period of prior state service from September 1979 to March 1980.

Comment: After making a timely application to purchase his initial period of state employment Mr. Chausse failed to respond to the Division's payment notices despite responding to the last opportunity letter sent to him in October 1985. Accordingly, he permanently forfeited his right to purchase this period of service. The Subcommittee concludes that his assertion of financial difficulties not evidence of extenuating circumstances sufficient to justify a waiver of the October 1, 1985 deadline associated with this type of purchase.

(5) Martha Lord The Subcommittee unanimously recommends approval of Ms. Lord's request that she be allowed to purchase up to the ten year maximum of retirement credit allowable in Tier IIA for her prior military service.

Comment: Martha Lord was a career military person who became employed with State of Connecticut in 1999. As a member of the Tier IIA plan of SERS she made application to purchase the maximum ten years of retirement credit for her prior military service. The Division in response sent an invoice allowing the purchase of six years of military service. Correspondence from the Division indicated that in accordance with Connecticut General Statutes, Section 27-103, pre-employment military service for vesting and credited service required the member to be in a combat or combat support role and that on Ms. Lord's military documentation there appeared to be no indication that her military service fell under either category. Ms. Lord asserted that she was on active duty status during her entire military career and could get called at any time. The Subcommittee reviewed how the Division's past practice was to administer prior military service applications where purchases were approved based upon the service being rendered as active duty during an eligible war service period or national emergency service period. The trustees felt the Division should not be quantifying how a combat or combat support role is defined. Accordingly, the record evidences justifying the granting of Ms. Lord's request.

(6) MaryEllen Pacific The Subcommittee unanimously recommends approval of Ms. Pacific's late request to purchase retirement credit under Connecticut General Statutes, Section 5-181(a) for her period of prior state service from October 3, 1979 to August 6, 1982.

Comment: As in The Matter of Andrew Jakab (11/94) the Subcommittee finds that Ms Pacific's assertion that she received no notice of the October 1, 1985 is corroborated to an extent by the employing agency. Accordingly, a waiver of the deadline is warranted.

(7) Onil Rodriguez The Subcommittee unanimously recommends denial of Mr. Rodriguez's request to discontinue his purchase of retirement credit for his prior military service and refund to him any payments made to date.

Comment: The Subcommittee finds that Mr. Rodriguez accepted the terms of the payroll deduction method to purchase his prior military service by signing the invoice. Regardless of his current financial situation there is no statutory authority upon which to grant the relief that he was seeking.

(8) Michael Rood The Subcommittee unanimously recommends denial of Mr. Rood's late request to transfer from Tier II to Tier I within the State Employees Retirement System (SERS).

Comment: Mr. Rood was hired in September 1982 and properly placed in Tier II. His date of hire operated to confer an opportunity to transfer from Tier II to Tier I during the window period in 1985. Mr. Rood claims that he should have been given the choice between the two Tiers at the time of employment and that he was improperly treated as he did not have the opportunity to complete a Form CO-931, "Designation of Retirement-System-Tier-Plan-Beneficiary" as of his hire date is without merit. The Division notes that the Form CO-931 was not created until 1984 and that there was no record of Mr. Rood requesting a Tier transfer during the 1985 window period even though he had the opportunity to do so. Accordingly, the Subcommittee found no evidence of extenuating circumstances sufficient to grant his request.

(9) Timothy Wentzell The Subcommittee unanimously recommends denial of Mr. Wentzell's late request to transfer from Tier II to Tier I within the State Employees Retirement System (SERS).

Comment: As in The Matter of Michael Rood Mr. Wentzell claimed that at the time of his hire in December 1982, he was not given the choice between Tier I and Tier II and received improper treatment in his Tier placement. The record evidences that he was appropriately placed in Tier II pursuant to SERS plan provisions. The record also reflects that Mr. Wentzell did not request a Tier transfer during the 1985 window period; a period that eligible employees hired between April 1, 1982 and July 1, 1984 were offered a one-time opportunity to transfer between Tiers. Accordingly, the Subcommittee finds no evidence of extenuating circumstances sufficient to justify a waiver of the October 1, 1985 deadline associated with this type of request.

Recommendations With Dissent

(10) Ruth Bubar The Subcommittee recommends denial of Ms. Bubar's request to receive hazardous duty retirement credit in Tier II for a period of contractual service which immediately preceded the commencement of state employment at the Department of Correction (DOC); Mr. Casella abstaining.

Comment: Ms. Bubar commenced employment in December 1992 at the DOC immediately following her contractual service at DOC from December 1989 to December 1992. The Subcommittee finds the contractual work performed by this member is not analogous to the type of contractual work the Commission has recognized as state service in the past due to the significant diminishment in her pay upon her transition from contractual service to state service thereby not conforming to the standard as determined by the Commission. Mr. Casella abstained as he felt the member could not be held accountable for the personnel actions of the employing agency.

(11) John Cerrato The Subcommittee recommends denial of Mr. Cerrato's late request to transfer from Tier II to Tier I within the State Employees Retirement System (SERS); Mr. Casella dissenting.

Comment: Mr. Cerrato was initially employed from June 1982 to August 1982 but was not enrolled in a retirement plan. Upon his re-employment as a part-time lecturer in September 1983 he was appropriately placed in Tier II. The record reflects that he was employed during 1983 and 1985 during which window periods were open to similarly situated employees to elect to transfer Tiers. His assertion that he never received any notice of the October 1, 1985 deadline associated with changing Tiers is uncorroborated. Accordingly, the Subcommittee finds no evidence of extenuating circumstances sufficient to grant this request. Mr. Casella believes that the evidence is sufficient to warrant relief.

(12) William Congero The Subcommittee recommends denial of Mr. Congero's request that the statutory interest charge associated with his purchase of his prior Tier II service is based upon the date in 1999 when an inquiry regarding his prior contractual service was initiated; Mr. Casella dissenting.

Comment: The Retirement Commission at its March 2008 meeting approved Mr. Congero's request for vesting and credited service in Tier II for his prior contractual service rendered from June 24, 1984 to December 19, 1985. Subsequently, in June 2008 the Division received a request from Mr. Congero for a plan membership transfer from Tier II to Tier I. His request was approved by the Commission in December 2008 and Mr. Congero received a March 2009 invoice for Tier I contributions due from his initial prior contractual date of June 1984 to February 2009 when his retirement contribution deductions commenced. The invoice reflected statutory interest charged to the date of Mr. Congero's initial request to change Tiers.The Trustees note that changing from Tier II to Tier I was triggered by Mr. Congero's decision in June 2008 and that the SERS fund derived no benefit from the money over Mr. Congero's career. Thereupon the Subcommittee determined that the interest charges in the March 2009 invoice were appropriate. Mr. Casella believes the request to use the initial date of inquiry should be granted.

(13) Paul Rotondo The Subcommittee recommends denial of Mr. Rotondo's late Request to purchase retirement credit under Connecticut General Statutes, Section 5-181(a) for his prior state service from April 14, 1978 to August 23, 1979; Mr. Casella dissenting. Comment: Although Mr. Rotondo made a timely application to purchase his prior State service, he failed to respond to the certified last chance opportunity letter sent to him in November 1986. In accordance with Commission policy, Mr. Rotondo's application was deemed a permanent forfeiture. Mr. Rotondo's assertion that the letter was received by his elderly parent at an address that he himself was no longer residing does not rebut the presumption of notice. The Subcommittee finds no evidence of extenuating circumstances sufficient to justify a waiver of the Commission's forfeiture policy. Mr. Casella finds the evidence is sufficient to warrant relief.

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