MINUTES OF MEETING
STATE EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT COMMISSION
OFFICE OF THE STATE COMPTROLLER
55 ELM STREET
HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT 06106
August 26, 2010
Peter R. Blum, Chair
Thomas Landry, Municipal Liason
Dominic Cutaia, Municipal Liason
Mark Ojakian, Deputy Comptroller and Director, Retirement Services
Helen Kemp, Assistant Director and Division Attorney, Retirement Services
Colin Newman, Assistant Director, Retirement Services
Jeanne Kopek, Assistant Director, Retirement Services
Craig Henrici, Counsel to the State Comptroller
Peggy Gray, Executive Assistant, Retirement Services
Thomas Woodruff, Director, Benefit Services
Peggy Haering, Asst. Director, Benefit Services and Division Attorney
Jeffrey Bieber, I & R Unit, Retirement Services
George Spurlock, CEIU
Nancy Paretti, Court Recorder
Gordon Scott Bell
CALL TO ORDER
The Chairman called the meeting to order at 9:07 AM.
The Chairman asked for a moment of silence to remember those affected by the shootings at Hartford Distributors. Especially those on the Labor side of the table who deal with employee grievances on a daily basis.
DIVISION DIRECTOR'S ADMINISTRATIVE AND SUBCOMMITTEE REPORTS
Starting with Pending Disability Applications as of July 31, 2010, we have 35 new applications, 411 waiting for further documentation and 195 denied applications. The total pending is 641. For the month of July 22 new applications were received, 24 were put on the agenda and 15 were approved. The next available MEB meeting for scheduling cases is January of 2011.
For unfinalized Retirement records as of the close of the August payroll are as follows. The current backlog of unfinalized records is approximately 10, 777. The Division processed 99 new retirees to the payroll ( 85 normal, 14 disabilities). Finalizations for the month were 105.
Enclosed in your packet this month is GASB Preliminary View document entitled "Pension Accounting and Financial Reporting by Employers for the Commissions review.
To update Commission members on the Division Director's position. There were several fine candidates who applied for the position. The Comptroller, I and the members of the search committee feel that such an important position should be left to the new Comptroller, whoever he should be.
1. REQUEST COMMISSION APPROVAL OF THE JULY 15, 2010 MINUTES
On a motion from Mr. Luciano, seconded by Ms. Yelmini to approve the minutes of the July 15, 2010 minutes. All voted in favor
2. REQUEST COMMISSION APPROVAL OF THE STATE EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT COMMISSION CHAIRMAN'S PER DIEM EXPENSES REIMBURSEMENTS On a motion from Mr. Luciano, seconded by Ms. Brown-Brewton to approve the Chairman's Per Diem expenses reimbursements All voted in favor
3. REQUEST COMMISSION APPROVAL OF THE STATE EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEM SERVICE RETIREMENTS FOR THE MONTH OF JULY 2010 Mr. Luciano moved, seconded by Ms. Brown-Brewton to approve the State Employees Retirement System Service Retirements for the month of July 2010. All voted in favor
4. REQUEST COMMISSION APPROVAL OF THE STATE EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEMS VOLUNTARY PENDING DISABILITY RETIRMENTS FOR THE MONTH OF JULY 2010. Mr. Luciano moved, seconded by Ms. Brown-Brewton to approve the State Employees Retirement System Voluntary Pending Disability retirements for the month of July 2010. All voted in favor
5. REQUEST COMMISSION APPROVAL OF THE STATE EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEM DISABILITY RETIREMENTS FOR THE MONTH OF JULY 2010 AS APPROVED BY THE MEDICAL EXAMINING BOARD AS OF JUNE 30, 2010. Mr. Luciano moved, seconded by Ms. Brown-Brewton to approve the State Employees Retirement System Disability Retirements for the month of July 2010 as approved by the Medical Examining Board as of June 30, 2010. All voted in favor
6. REQUEST COMMISSION APPROVAL OF THE STATE EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEMS RETROACTIVE RETIREMENTS FOR THE MONTH OF JULY 2010. Mr. Luciano moved, seconded by Ms. Brown-Brewton to approve the State Employees Retirement Systems Retroactive Retirements for the month of July 2010. All voted in favor
7. REQUEST COMMISSIONAL APPROVAL OF THE STATE EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEMS PRE RETIREMENT DEATH BENEFIT RETIREMENTS FOR THE MONTH OF JULY 2010. Mr. Luciano moved, seconded by Ms. Brown-Brewton to approve the State Employees Retirement Systems Pre Retirement Death Benefit for the month of July 2010. All voted in favor
8. REQUEST COMMISSION ACCEPTANCE OF RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE MEDICAL EXAMINING BOARD FROM ITS MEETING ON JULY 23, 2010 RELATIVE TO APPLICATIONS FOR DISABILITY RETIREMENT RECEIVED FROM THE MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEM. Mr. Luciano moved, seconded by Ms. Brown-Brewton to accept the recommendations of the Medical Examining Board from its meeting on July 23, 2010 relative to applications for Disability Retirement received from the Municipal Employees Retirement System. All voted in favor
9. REQUEST COMMISSION APPROVAL OF THE CONNECTICUT PROBATE JUDGES AND EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT FUND PERSONAL EXPENSES FOR THE MONTH OF JULY 2010. Mr. Luciano moved, seconded by Ms. Yelmini to approve of the Connecticut Probate Judges and Employees Retirement Fund Personal Expenses for the month of July 2010. All voted in favor
10. REQUEST COMMISSION APPROVAL OF THE JUDGES, FAMILY MAGISTRATES AND COMPENSATION COMMISSIONERS RETIREMENT SYSTEM RETIREMENTS. Mr. Luciano moved, seconded by Ms. Yelmini to approve the Judges, Family Magistrates and Compensation Commissioners Retirement System Retirements. All voted in favor
11. REQUEST COMMISSION APPROVAL OF THE MUNICIPAL RETIREMENT SYSTEM RETIREMENTS. Mr. Luciano moved, seconded by Ms. Yelmini to approve the Municipal Retirement System Retirements. All voted in favor.
12. REQUEST COMMISSION APPROVAL OF THE STATE EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT COMMISSION MANAGEMENT TRUSTEES PER DIEM AND TRAVEL EXPENSES REIMBURSEMENTS. Mr. Luciano moved, seconded by Ms. Brown-Brewton to approve the State Employees Retirement Commissions Management Trustees Per Diem and Travel Expenses Reimbursements. All voted in favor. Mr. Baus abstained
13. REQUEST COMMISSION APPROVAL OF THE STATE EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT COMMISSION UNION TRUSTEES PER DIEM AND TRAVEL EXPENSES REIMBURSEMENTS. Mr. Luciano moved, seconded by Ms Brown-Brewton to approve of the State Employees Retirement Commission Union Trustees Per Diem and Travel Expenses Reimbursements. All voted in favor Mr. Poulin abstained
14. REQUEST RECEIVED FROM MARYANN ASHTON THAT THE COMMISSION REVIEW AND RECONSIDER IT'S DENIAL OF HERREQUEST TO PURCHASE RETIREMENT CREDIT FOR HER PRIOR SERVICE AS AN INTERMITTENT CLAIMS INTERVIEWER UNDER CONNECTICUT GENERAL STATUTES, SECTION 5-181(a).
MaryAnn Ashton worked as an Intermittent Claims Interviewer with the Department of Labor from January 12, 1976 to May 5, 1977. During this time she was ineligible for membership within the State Employees Retirement System (SERS). Following her transfer into a permanent position on May 6, 1977 she elected to commence retirement contributions six months later.
On May 5, 2008 Ms. Ashton applied to purchase retirement credit under Connecticut General Statutes, Section 5-181(a) for her period of prior service from January 12, 1976 to May 5, 1977. The Retirement Services Division denied the request as untimely, advising that there was an October 1, 1985 deadline associated with this type of purchase. By letter dated December 23, 2008 Ms. Ashton requested the Retirement Commission review and reconsider the administrative denial. At its May 21, 2009 meeting the Commission unanimously adopted the recommendation of its Subcommittee on Purchase of Service and Related Matters to deny Ms. Ashton's request.
By letter dated September 25, 2009 Ms. Ashton requested that the Commission review and reconsider its denial. In that connection Ms. Ashton appeared accompanied by Scott Bell, a Human Resource manager with the Department of Developmental Services and a union representative, Hollis Block. Ms. Ashton asserted that there was evidence that extenuating circumstances existed regarding her work locations during December 1980 when the memorandum from the Office of the State Comptroller to statewide agency personnel and payroll offices indicating the opportunity for former Intermittent Claims Interviewer's to purchase their prior service and the periods of time when notices regarding the October 1, 1985 deadline were distributed. Her job sites were remote enough where she would have very little interaction with the agency human resource office hence supporting her claim that she never received any notice of the deadline. She also provided documented support from her former supervisor who indicated that he also did not recall ever receiving notification of the deadline and that if he had he certainly would have informed Ms. Ashton.
Mr. Bell informed the Trustees that the agency by revamping its human resource office to provide more personnel support to employees within the different regions was acknowledging that there was a problem with information being distributed to the employees.
After discussion concerning the relevant information that had been heard during the hearing Mr. Casella moved, seconded by Mr. Luciano to approve Ms. Aston's late request to purchase retirement credit for her prior service from January 12, 1976 to May 5, 1977 finding her assertion that she received no notice of either the December 1980 memorandum or the October 1, 1985 deadline is sufficiently corroborated.
Voting in favor of the motion: Baus, Brown-Brewton, Casella, Coffey, Cosgrove, Culley, Dzurenda, Fortier, Luciano, McLellan, Poulin, Yelmini
Voting in opposition to the motion: None Unanimous decision
15. REQUEST COMMISSION APPOINTMENT OF A TRUSTEE TO FILL THE VACANCY LEFT ON THE REGULATIONS AND OVERPAYMENT SUBCOMMITTEE BY THE RETIREMENT OF STEPHEN CALIENDO Ms. Yelmini graciously agreed to fill the slot on a temporary basis so that subcommittee meetings can continue.
16.REQUEST COMMISSION DECISION ON TIE VOTE OF TWO MATTERS CONSIDERED AT THE JUNE 29, 2010 MEETING OF THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON REGULATIONS AND OVERPAYMENTS TABLED FROM JULY 15, 2010 MEETING (case histories and financial information)
Julio Santiago (MERS) - (member) - Amount of Overpayment - $84,361.43
Mr. Santiago's overpayment was due to his receipt of workers compensation benefits while collecting SCD benefits. Mr. Santiago made application for a MERS retirement benefit on August 8, 2005 retroactive to July 21, 2005. He applied for a service connected disability benefit but also checked the block for an early retirement (presumably in case he did not qualify for SCD). His application for early retirement was approved immediately. His SCD retirement application was approved on May 19, 2006. At that time MERS checked with the insurer and it had no record of him receiving payments.
The workers compensation records obtained by MERS in 2010 indicate that Mr. Santiago started to receive specific indemnity payments in 2005. At this time Mr. Santiago was receiving an early retirement (no offsets) and he was receiving specific indemnity payments (no offsets even to an SCD). He stopped receiving these payments on January 26, 2006. He began to receive temporary partial disability (C.G.S §31-308(a)) on May 17, 2006. He collected TPD through February 11, 2007 and then went on temporary total disability (C.G.S. §31-307). Both of these payments are offsets to an SCD.
Mr. Santiago is currently not receiving a MERS benefit due to the amount of workers compensation he receives. In his request for waiver he explained that he was not aware that workers compensation was an offset to his pension and that he assumed his pension payment was correct. While it was normally MERS' policy to send an SCD retiree a letter which instructed a MERS SCD retiree to notify MERS if there were or receiving or begin to receive workers' compensation benefits, such a letter(s) could not be found in Mr. Santiago's file.
Since he does not receive a MERS benefit, Mr. Santiago's only income appears to be his workers compensation benefit of approximately $2,300 per month. His expenses are estimated at approximately $3,000 per month.
The Retirement Commission reviewed Mr. Santiago's appeal. Based upon the information presented, it found that Mr. Santiago met the statutory and regulatory criteria for a waiver. It noted several things. First, MERS could find no record that it notified Mr. Santiago via one of its usual letters or paragraphs within a letter that he had a responsibility to notify MERS should he receive workers compensation payments. Therefore there was no presumption of notice as there usually is when such a letter exists in the records. Based on the circumstances of Mr. Santiago's retirement benefit (i.e. his initial benefit was under early retirement which is not offset by workers compensation) and the fact no letter could be found indicated that Mr. Santiago more likely than not was unaware of his obligation to notify MERS that he received a workers compensation benefit post retirement. Therefore, he satisfied the first two prongs of the regulatory criteria.
Because he satisfied the first two prongs of the regulatory criteria, the Commission next examined financial hardship. It noted that his only source of income was his workers compensation payments, that currently his MERS benefit was completely offset by workers compensation payments and that the financial information submitted did not show any unreasonable expenses or spending habits that would negate a finding of financial hardship. Additionally, there was nothing contained in any document or any record which would indicate that Mr. Santiago's financial condition would significantly improve in the foreseeable future. If he continues to receive workers compensation payments he will not receive a MERS benefit and while he may receive a MERS benefit in the future it will only be because he lost his workers compensation income.
Action:Mr.Casella moved; Mr. Poulin second to grant Mr. Santiago's request for a waiver of repayment of an overpayment as Mr. Santiago met all the statutory and regulatory requirements required for approval. Mr. Baus, Mr. Cosgrove, Ms. Yelmini, Ms. Brown-Brewton, Mr. Coffey - NO Mr. Luciano, Mr. Casella, Mr. Poulin, Mr Fortier, Mr. McLellan, Mr. Culley and Mr. Dzurenda - YES
Ronald Shepard (MERS) - (member) Amount of Overpayment $ 94,892.31
Mr. Shepard's overpayment is due to his receipt of workers compensation benefits while collecting a MERS service connected disability (SCD) benefit. Mr. Shepard made application for a MERS SCD retirement benefit on August 24, 2005 retroactive to August 18, 2004. Mr. Shepard collected workers compensation benefits (temporary partial disability) from August 2004 to February 2010. His SCD retirement application was approved on March 10, 2006 and he was sent a letter by MERS which informed him that he had to report a payment of workers compensation to MERS. He was collecting workers compensation benefits at the time he received the letter.
In support of his waiver, Mr. Shepard in essence stated that he is in no position to physically, mentally or financially to repay any funds. In anticipation of the Commission meeting, and in light of some of the questions and issues that were raised with regard to his request for waiver, Mr. Shepard submitted additional information and documentation which showed a weekly income of $366.95 and weekly expenses of $443.28.
The Retirement Commission met on August 26, 2010 and reviewed Mr. Shepard's appeal. Based upon the information presented, it found that Mr. Shepard did not meet all three prongs (i.e. all of the statutory and regulatory criteria) for a waiver. It noted that Mr. Shepard received a letter from MERS on or about May 26, 2006 informing him that he had a responsibility to report to MERS the receipt of any workers compensation payments. This letter, which had the caption informing the retiree to keep this letter for their records - created a presumption of notice - that is - Mr. Shepard is presumed to have had notice of this requirement. Mr. Shepard produced no evidence to overcome this presumption.
The combined effect of the letter and material from Bridgeport created a presumption that Mr. Shepard was aware of his obligation to notify MERS when he received a workers compensation benefit post retirement. Therefore, he did not meet or pass the first two prongs of the regulatory criteria. Since he did not meet or pass the first two prongs, the Commission did not get to the third prong of whether there was financial hardship.
Action: Mr. Luciano moved; Ms. Brown Brewton second to deny the request for a waiver of repayment of an overpayment as Mr. Shepard failed to meet all the statutory and regulatory requirements required for approval. All vote in favor of denial.
17. HEARING: REQUESTS FOR RECONSIDERATION OF THE COMMISSION'S DECISION ON THE FOLLOWING REQUESTS FOR WAIVERS OF REPAYMENT OF OVERPAYMENTS (case history and financial information)
Marie Laterza (SERS) - (member) - Amount of Overpayment - $217,359.99
Division records show that Ms. Laterza applied for a service-connected disability retirement effective September 1, 1993 from Southern Connecticut State University which was approved by the Medical Examining Board at its meeting of January 27, 1995. Ms. Laterza was informed in several letters that receipt of a disability retirement income was offset by social security benefits, workers compensation payments and future outside earnings. She was receiving workers compensation payments at the time of her retirement although the nature and amount of the payments changed over the years.
With regard to Ms. Laterza, Division records indicated that she applied for and ultimately received Social Security Disability benefits effective April 2002 and that her workers compensation rate increased over the years. The Commission found that the combination of these amounts caused an overpayment. Beginning in March 2002, Ms. Laterza was being paid a SERS benefit when she was not entitled to any benefit due to the combination of social security and workers' compensation income she received which caused an offset to the SERS benefit. The difference between the amount she should have been paid and actually were paid from March 2002 to July 2009 is $ 217,359.99.
On or about August 10, 2009 Ms. Laterza, was sent a letter from the State Employees Retirement System (SERS) informing her that she had been overpaid the amount of $217,359.99. She was informed of her right to appeal repayment of this overpayment. Ms. Laterza, submitted the necessary and required financial information with regard to her request for waiver.
Her request was heard by the Regulation and Overpayment Subcommittee of the Retirement Commission on October 6, 2009. Based upon the information presented to the Subcommittee, and after discussion, the Subcommittee recommended that the Retirement Commission deny her request for waiver.
Her appeal was heard by the Retirement Commission at its November 19, 2009 meeting. Utilizing Ms. Laterza's financial affidavit that she submitted to the Commission, the Commission found that she had a monthly income of approximately $6,200 (without any SERS benefit) and monthly expenses of $4,380. Ms. Laterza had - at that time (prior to losing her entire SERS benefit to offset) - $128,101.00 of equity in her home (condo).
The Commission found that Ms. Laterza was not a fault as fault is defined in the Waiver Regulations. Ms. Laterza knew that workers' compensation and SSDI benefits were offsets to her SERS. Ms. Laterza did notify the Division of the receipt of these benefits and because she did so, she passed this prong of the three part test which allowed the Commission to look at the material to determine whether there was financial hardship. Ms. Laterza reached the prong of whether there was financial hardship; however upon the Commission's initial review, it found that Ms. Laterza did not show that repayment of the amount was a hardship.
The Commission found that the appropriate repayment rate for Ms. Laterza was the amount of $1,500 for 145 months (approximately 25% of Ms. Laterza's monthly income). As she has no SERS retirement benefit, the Commission instructed Division Counsel to attempt to secure this repayment from her workers compensation payment pursuant to CGS Section 5-170 or in the alternative to talk to Ms. Laterza's counsel to work out an alternative repayment arrangement acceptable to the Commission.
A request for reconsideration (hearing) ensued.
Ms. Laterza's hearing was originally scheduled for the Commission's March 18, 2010 meeting. The hearing was marked off, literally at the last minute, at the request of Ms. Laterza's then counsel. Chair Peter Blum had expressed concern that Ms. Laterza was being represented by an attorney in the firm of Livingston, Adler and Pulda which is also the law firm of SEBAC's chief negotiator. Chair Blum believed that such representation might inadvertently create the appearance of impropriety or conflict of interest. The hearing was marked off while these concerns were taken under advisement.
Ms. Laterza secured different counsel to represent her in this waiver request. Her hearing was then scheduled for the Commission's July 15, 2010 meeting. Both her and her attorney came to be heard but unfortunately by the time of the hearing, there was no longer a quorum and her request could not be heard.
Ms. Laterza's request is based on several premises. The first is that she does not dispute that she received these benefits but rather that she, as was her obligation, informed the Division on several occasions since 2002 that she was collecting workers compensation and social security benefits (although not the amount) and the Division did not take any action as to further investigation or seek recovery at those times. Had the Division done so, she would not owe the large sum she does today. Ms. Laterza asserts because she notified the Division of these awards, it is inequitable for the Division to seek repayment of the full amount at this time.
The second is that her claim (based on financial hardship) was denied because on her September 1, 2009 Affidavit she had erroneously listed that she was receiving $1,334.68 weekly from workers compensation however that was a bi-weekly amount. She intended to submit an amended Affidavit at the March 2010 and July 2010 hearings but those hearings did not go forward. She submitted the amended Affidavit for the August 2010 meeting which showed the correct figure of $912.50 for weekly benefits from workers compensation (with the attorney fee offset it is actually only $ 724.98 per week). Ms. Laterza also submitted her 2009 tax return in support of her claim for financial hardship. At the time of the August 2010 hearing, Ms. Laterza's monthly income came from workers compensation and social security and totaled $4,621.25. Her monthly expenses totaled approximately $5,016 per month.
Ms. Laterza and her attorney, Donald Walsh attended the hearing. Mrs. Laterza testified on her own behalf and answered questions from the Trustees. Attorney Walsh provided some information and was helpful in clarifying some of the issues present in the case.
The Commission acknowledged to the parties that it had found that Ms. Laterza was not a fault as fault is defined in the Waiver Regulations. Ms. Laterza knew that workers' compensation and SSDI benefits were offsets to her SERS. Ms. Laterza did notify the Division of the receipt of these benefits and because she did so, she passed the first two prongs of the three part test which allowed the Commission to look at the material to determine whether there was financial hardship. Therefore the Commission was only reviewing the prong of financial hardship.
Ms. Laterza testified that seven or eight years ago she had purchased her condominium and would not have done so if her retirement benefit would have been offset. She noted that since her SERS benefit was eliminated to the offset amount she had to take out a home equity loan to help make ends meet/ pay her bills on a monthly basis and she had several surgeries (related to her injury) anticipated for the future.
The Commission discussed Ms. Laterza's income and assets and whether it was such that she needed substantially all her current income and liquid assets to meet necessary (not discretionary) living expenses and liabilities so that she could not afford to repay the amount at any rate of repayment.
Action: Mr. Casella moved; Mr. Poulin second to grant the request for a waiver of repayment of an overpayment as Ms. Laterza failed to meet all the financial hardship prong of the statutory and regulatory requirements required for approval. Mr. Baus, Mr. Cosgrove, Mr. Luciano, Mr. Dzurenda, Ms. Yelmini, Ms. Brown-Brewton, Mr. Coffey- NO, Mr. Casella, Mr. Poulin, Mr. Culley, Mr. Fortier, Mr. McLellan- YES
Wanda Hoyle (SERS) (member) - Amount of Overpayment - $81,615.42
Ms. Hoyle is a Tier II employee who received a SERS service connected disability retirement benefit effective October 1, 2001. She applied for social security disability benefits and received a payment of $92,547.50 on March 3, 2010 which represented benefits retroactive to June 2003. In accordance with the plan provisions of the State Employees Retirement System (SERS) her disability benefit may be reduced for three types of income: (1) Social Security benefits (any type) (2) Workers' Compensation payments and (3) earned salary or wages. Ms. Hoyle was informed of these reductions/offsets in various letters she received from the Division through the years.
Based on her recent entitlement to Social Security disability income retroactive to June 2003, her SERS retirement benefit was adjusted from $3,464.04 to $2,303.05 effective April 1, 2010. Furthermore, she received an overpayment in her SERS disability benefit of $81,615.42 from June 1, 2003 to March 31, 2010 due to her receipt of this retroactive payment from Social Security in March 2010.
Ms. Hoyle sought a waiver of repayment of this amount in essence stating that that she simply didn't think how social security disability would affect her retirement benefit and that she needs the money to forestall a foreclosure action
Her financial affidavit indicated a monthly income of approximately $4,925 per month and expenses of $4,814. However, this Affidavit did not seem to include the amount of $92,547.50 she received from social security less than two months earlier. Her checking account indicated a much larger balance than her Affidavit. There does not appear to be any single large check amounts accountable for this decrease but rather a large number of purchases to various stores including Best Buy, Coach, Victoria Secret, Zales, etc.
At its June 29, 2010 meeting, the Subcommittee on Regulations and Overpayments examined Ms. Hoyle's waiver request. Action: Mr. Culley moved; Mr. Coffey second to recommend to the Commission to deny the request for a waiver of repayment of an overpayment as Ms. Hoyle failed to meet all the statutory and regulatory requirements required for approval. Messrs. Caliendo, Coffey and Culley voted yes to deny. Mr. Casella abstained.
At its July 15, 2010 meeting, the Commission voted to accept the subcommittee's recommendation. Mr. Casella abstained.
Ms. Hoyle requested reconsideration of the Commission's decision and a hearing was held on August 26, 2010. Prior to the hearing, Ms. Hoyle had stated she could not afford to repay the amount because she was renegotiating a mortgage payment and/or facing a possible foreclosure action and that her spouse "lost" his social security income so their income was reduced. She was asked to bring proof of these statements of hardship - for example - any and all lender agreement or notices, a copy of a letter from Social Security informing your spouse he is no longer eligible to receive social security, to the hearing for review by the Commission. She did not do so.
A hearing was held at the Commission meeting on August 26, 2010 and Ms. Hoyle testified on her own behalf. In addition to her previous arguments, she also stated that she had medical and familial issues at the time she received the letters from the Division regarding the effect of social security awards and her SERS pension and because of these issues she had no recollection of receiving these letters. She testified that she always talked to and/or conferred with Jeffrey Bieber about her benefit. She stated that she had reviewed some of the Commission's previous decisions on line and it was her belief that another person had an overpayment but Mr. Bieber unilaterally waived that overpayment. She did not give the Commission this person's name. She also did not provide the Commission with the additional documentation it had requested to support her claims of hardship.
The Commission found that Ms. Hoyle had been notified of the effect of social security on her SERS benefit and the requirement that she notify the Division should she receive one.
Action: Ms. Yelmini moved; Ms. Brown-Brewton second to deny the request for a waiver of repayment of an overpayment as Ms. Hoyle failed to meet all the statutory and regulatory requirements required for approval. Mr. Casella abstained. All voted in favor
18. REQUEST COMMISSION APPROVAL OF THE PROPOSED DECLARATORY RULING IN THE MATER OF ROBERT EDDY TO BE ISSUED PRIOR TO OCTOBER 24, 2010 IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 15-155-1(e)(1)(A) OF THE REGULATIONS OF CONNECTICUT STATE AGENCIES. Ms Brown-Brewton moved, seconded by Ms. Yelmini to enter into Executive Session. All voted in favor. 11:50 AM Executive Session Mr. McLellan moved, Mr. Casella second to return to Regular Session at 11:58AM. Mr. McLellan moved, Mr. Casella second to table this item for future discussion. All voted in favor.
19. DISCUSSION - FOLLOW UP-SETTLEMENT/SETTLEMENT POLICY ISSUES RE: SEC. 5-142a OVERPAYMENT ITEM (COZZOLINO) Ms. Yelmini moved, seconded by Ms. Brown-Brewton to enter into Executive Session for purposes of discussion at 12:00 noon. Ms. Brown-Brewton moved seconded by Mr. Dzurenda to return to Regular Session at 12:10 PM. Ms. Yelmini moved, Ms. Brown-Brewton second to authorize Helen Kemp, Divison Attorney to settle the matter of the overpayment as discussed in Executive Session. Mr. Casella - NO, Ms. Yelmini, Ms. Brown-Brewton, Mr. Dzurenda, Mr. Baus, Mr. Cosgrove, Mr. Poulin, Mr. Luciano, Mr. Coffey, Mr. Culley, Mr. McLellan, Mr. Fortier - YES
AGENDA ITEM NO.16, JULY 15, 2010- Request Received From Daniel Micari That The Commission Review And Reconsider Its Denial of His Request To Obtain Retirement Credit For His Prior Service With The State of Massachusetts
Daniel Micari has been employed with the Department of Developmental Services (formerly Department of Mental Retardation) since June 27, 1986. Currently Mr. Micari has attained approximately twenty-four years and three months of vesting and credited service in the State Employees Retirement System (SERS) Tier II plan. In February 2009 the Retirement Services Division (RSD) received a packet from Mr. Micari that included a request to obtain additional retirement credit for his prior service with the State of Massachusetts from June 1971 to August 1986. A general questionnaire regarding Mr. Micari's out of state employment that had been forwarded to the Massachusetts State Retirement System (MSRS) was returned completed to RSD on March 26, 2009 indicating that the Retirement Commission's 1992 established criterion for determining similarity had not been met with the administrators of the MSRS advising that members of MSRS are ineligible to obtain retirement credit for former employment such as Mr. Micari's.
Mr. Mr. Micari's request and supporting documentation that included a similar request from a fellow DDS employee (who subsequently retired) that had been approved by RSD and the completed general questionnaire were forwarded to the attention of the Subcommittee on Purchase of Service and Related Matters (Subcommittee) for review. Although the Trustees considered Mr. Micari's explanation regarding the lack of opportunity for him to obtain retirement credit for his period of out of state service they unanimously recommended denial of his claim finding that his prior service with the MSRS did not meet the Commission's established criterion for similarity. This recommendation was adopted unanimously by the Commission at its May 21, 2009 meeting.
Mr. Micari, by e-mail dated May 29, 2009 requested that the Commission review and reconsider its May 21, 2009 decision. In accordance with his request the Division scheduled a hearing allowing him to appear before the Retirement Commission at its July 15, 2010 meeting and prepared the appropriate notice. Mr. Micari argued that circumstances surrounding the fact that he had never been afforded the opportunity to obtain retirement credit for his prior out of state service warranted the granting of the relief that he was seeking.
On July 15, 2010 the Retirement Commission voted to table Mr. Micari's request to the Commission's August 26, 2010 meeting to allow the Division to provide additional documentation. At the August 26, 2010 meeting, the Trustees discussed whether or not that additional documentation would have had any affect on the outcome of this claim.
After discussion, Ms. Yelmini moved, seconded by Mr. Dzurenda to deny Mr. Micari's request to obtain retirement credit for his prior service with the State of Massachusetts finding that his claim did not warrant a waiver of the Commission's criterion for similarity.
Voting in favor of the motion: Baus, Casella, Coffey, Cosgrove, Culley, Dzurenda
Fortier, Luciano, McLellan, Poulin, Yelmini
Voting in opposition to the motion: Brown-Brewton
AGENDA ITEM NO. 18, JULY 18, 2010- Request Received From Ruthe Bubar To Obtain Hazardous Duty Retirement Credit For Her Prior Work Rendered Pursuant To Personal Services Agreements
Ruthe Bubar commenced her state employment on December 28, 1992; she immediately became a member of the State Employees Retirement System (SERS) Hazardous Duty Tier II plan. On January 2, 1998, Ms. Bubar requested to receive hazardous duty credit in Tier II for contractual work she rendered pursuant to a series of personal service agreements (PSA's) from 1989 to 1992. The Retirement Services Division advised her by letter dated August 18, 1999 that her claim was denied because the rate of compensation she received was significantly higher than her rate of salary upon commencement of state employment therefore not meeting the standard of no more than a fifteen percent diminishment in the rate of pay as set forth by the Retirement Commission.
By correspondence dated January 21, 2010 Ms. Bubar requested that the Retirement Commission review and reconsider its denial. In that connection Ms. Bubar appeared before the Retirement Commission at its July 15, 2010 meeting to advocate for her claim. Ms. Bubar asserted that her contractual position as an HIV Counselor was very unique. She stated that the Department of Corrections however did not have an equitable position that she could transition into but to comply with the Doe versus Meachum consent decree she was placed in the classification of a Health Services Worker although she and her co- HIV Counselors had advocated to be placed in a higher class. She also stated that there were other DOC employees in multiple job classes, a fact supported by the current DOC Human Resource manager that were performing the same duties as HIV Counselors. Ms. Bubar argued that pursuant to an I.R.S. ruling in 1991 a Health Services Worker, HIV Counselor was a position that should be deemed that of employee status and not an independent contractor and therefore that ruling would supersede any state law or SEBAC agreement. She urged the Trustees to treat her inconsistently with a fellow DOC employee whose claim was similar as in their contractual work did not meet the Retirement Commission's standard to recognize contractual services as state employment yet the member was granted additional retirement credit.
The Trustees tabled consideration of the claim to the August 26, 2010 Commission meeting as some of the Trustees had departed and the remaining number of Trustees did not constitute a quorum.
At the August 26, 2010 meeting following discussion Mr. Luciano moved, seconded by Ms. Brown-Brewton to approve Ms. Bubar's request to obtain hazardous duty retirement credit for her prior work pursuant to a series of PSA's.
Voting in favor of the motion: Baus, Brown-Brewton, Casella, Coffey, Cosgrove,
Culley, Dzurenda, Fortier, Luciano, McLellan, Poulin, Yelmini
Voting in opposition to the motion: None
On a motion from Ms Yelmini, seconded by Mr. Luciano the meeting was adjourned at 12:15.
Peter R. Blum, Chairman
Mark Ojakian, Deputy Comptroller and Division Director, Retirement Services
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