MINUTES OF SPECIAL MEETING
STATE EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT COMMISSION
OFFICE OF THE STATE COMPTROLLER
55 ELM STREET
HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT 06106
August 28, 2008
Peter R. Blum, Chairman
S. Fae Brown-Brewton
Jeffrey Smith, Municipal Liaison
Dr. Thomas Woodruff, Director, Retirement Services Division
Margaret Haering, Assistant Director, Retirement Services Division
Helen Kemp, Assistant Director, Counsel for the Retirement Services Division
Jeanne Kopek, Assistant Director, Retirement Services Division
Colin Newman, Assistant Director, Retirement Services Division
Joseph Lantieri, Retirement & Benefits Services Division, Disability Unit
Diane Ruggia, Executive Assistant, Retirement Services Division
George Spurlock, Connecticut Employees Union Independent
CALL TO ORDER
The Chairman called the meeting to order at 9:13 a.m.
The Chairman reminded the Trustees of the upcoming annual luncheon which will take place immediately following the September 18, 2008 meeting at Peppercorn's restaurant.
The Chairman updated the Trustees with regard to the Class Action RFP, and the decision made by the Legal/Personnel subcommittee. The Firm of Rose Kallor, LLC was chosen and the Attorney Michael Rose, of Rose Kallor, LLP by the Legal Personnel Subcommittee. Attorney Rose will represent the Commission in the remaining Longley cases as well as the class action suit. The Chairman noted that Attorney Rose will likely address the Commission at it's September meeting.
DIVISION DIRECTOR'S REPORT
The Director reported that at the request of the Chairman subsequent Commission meetings will include a report on each of the subcommittees' activity and/or updates when necessary.
The Director reported that the current backlog of unfinalized State Employees Retirement System (SERS) accounts is approximately 6,664 with 120 new retirees for the month of July 2008, consisting of 101 normal retirements and 19 disability retirements; 129 applications were finalized, total number of retirement files completed for the month totaled 249; 32 new disability applications were received and 25 applications were put on the Medical Examining Board agenda; 16 disability applications were approved. Currently, there are 39 disability applications pending, 306 incomplete applications, and 160 denied applications with a total of 505 pending / incomplete disability applications as of June 2008.
The Director updated the Trustees with regard to the biennial budget for the Division. The Director noted that the Division was directed to submit a budget consisting of current services only; He is submitting an additional item requesting 6 auditors and 2 clericals to work in the Division's audit unit for a durational period of 24 months due to the current backlog.
Mr. Cosgrove moved, seconded by Mr. Poulin that the Commission submit a letter to the Office of Policy & Management in support of an option within the budget preparation which allows the addition of staff for the Retirement Division to address the audit backlog issue. All voted in favor.
1. REQUEST COMMISSION APPROVAL OF THE JULY 17, 2008 MINUTES
Mr. Baus moved, seconded by Mr. Poulin to approve the July 17, 2008 minutes. All voted in favor.
2 REQUEST COMMISSION APPROVAL OF THE STATE EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT COMMISSION CHAIRMAN'S PER DIEM AND TRAVEL EXPENSE REIMBURSEMENT
Mr. Baus moved, seconded by Mr. Poulin to approve the State Employees Retirement Commission Chairman's per diem and travel expenses reimbursements. All voted in favor.
3. REQUEST COMMISSION APPROVAL OF THE STATE EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEM SERVICE RETIREMENTS FOR THE MONTH OF JULY 2008
Mr. Baus moved, seconded by Mr.Poulin to approve the State Employees
Retirement System service retirements for the month of July 2008. All voted in
4. REQUEST COMMISSION APPROVAL OF THE STATE EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEM VOLUNTARY PENDING DISABILITY RETIREMENTS FOR THE MONTH OF JULY 2008
Mr. Baus moved, seconded by Mr. Poulin to approve the State Employees Retirement System voluntary pending disability retirements for the month of July 2008. All voted in favor.
5. REQUEST COMMISSION REVIEW OF THE STATE EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEM DISABILITY RETIREMENTS FOR THE MONTH OF JULY 2008 APPROVED BY THE MEDICAL EXAMINING BOARD AS OF JUNE 30, 2008
Mr. Baus moved, seconded by Mr. Poulin to note and accept the State Employees Retirement System disability retirements for the month of July 2008 approved by the Medical Examining Board as of June 30, 2008. All voted in favor.
6. REQUEST COMMISSION APPROVAL OF THE STATE EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEM RETROACTIVE RETIREMENTS FOR THE MONTH OF JULY 2008
Mr. Baus moved, seconded by Mr. Poulin to approve the State Employees Retirement System retroactive retirements for the month of July 2008. All voted in favor.
7. REQUEST COMMISSION APPROVAL OF THE STATE EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEM PRE RETIREMENT DEATH BENEFIT RETIREMENTS FOR THE MONTH OF JULY 2008
Mr. Baus moved, seconded by Mr. Poulin to approve the State Employees Retirement System pre retirement death benefit retirements for the month of July 2008. All voted in favor.
8. REQUEST COMMISSION APPROVAL OF THE MUNICIPAL RETIREMENT SYSTEM RETIREMENTS
Mr. Baus moved, seconded by Mr. Poulin to approve the Municipal Retirement System Retirements. All voted in favor.
9. REQUEST COMMISSION APPROVAL OF THE STATE EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT COMMISSION MANAGEMENT TRUSTEE'S PER DIEM AND TRAVEL EXPENSES REIMBURSEMENTS
Ms. Brown-Brewton moved, seconded by Mr. Cosgrove to approve the State Employees Retirement Commission Management Trustee's per diem travel expenses reimbursements. All voted in favor.
Voting in favor of the motion: Ms. Brown-Brewton, Mr. Caliendo, Mr.
Casella, Mr. Coffey, Mr. Cosgrove, Mr. Culley, Mr. Greatorex, Mr. McLellan, Mr.
Poulin and Ms. Yelmini.
Abstaining: Mr. Baus
10. REQUEST COMMISSION APPROVAL OF THE STATE EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT COMMISSION UNION TRUSTEE'S PER DIEM AND TRAVEL EXPENSES REIMBURSEMENTS
Ms. Brown-Brewton moved, seconded by Mr. Cosgrove to approve the State Employees Retirement Commission Union Trustee's per diem travel expenses reimbursements. All voted in favor.
Voting in favor of the motion: Mr. Baus, Ms. Brown-Brewton, Mr.
Caliendo, Mr. Casella, Mr. Coffey, Mr. Cosgrove, Mr. Culley, Mr. Greatorex, Mr.
McLellan, and Ms. Yelmini.
Abstaining: Mr. Poulin
11. REQUEST COMMISSION APPROVAL OF THE PARKING EXPENSES INCURRED BY CHARLES CASELLA FOR THE MEETINGS BETWEEN APRIL 4, 2008, AND JULY 29, 2008
Ms. Brown Brewton moved, seconded by Mr. Cosgrove to approve the parking expenses incurred by Charles Casella for the meetings between April 4, 2008, and July 29, 2008.
Voting in favor of the motion:
Mr. Baus, Ms. Brown-Brewton, Mr. Caliendo, Mr.
Coffey, Mr. Cosgrove, Mr. Culley, Mr. Greatorex, Mr. McLellan, Mr. Poulin and Ms. Yelmini.
Abstaining: Mr. Casella
12. REQUEST COMMISSION APPROVAL OF THE CONNECTICUT PROBATE JUDGES AND EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEM RETIREMENTS
Ms. Yelmini moved, seconded by Mr. Poulin to approve the Connecticut Probate Judges and Employees Retirement System retirements. All voted in favor.
13. REQUEST COMMISSION APPROVAL OF THE CONNECTICUT PROBATE JUDGES AND EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT FUND PERSONAL EXPENSES FOR THE MONTH OF JULY 2008
Ms. Yelmini moved, seconded my Mr. Poulin to approve the Connecticut Probate
Judges and Employees Retirement Fund personal expenses for the month of July
2008. All voted in favor.
14. REQUEST COMMISSION ACCEPTANCE OF THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE MEDICAL EXAMINING BOARD FROM ITS MEETINGS OF JULY 11, 2008 AND AUGUST 15, 2008 RELATIVE TO APPLICATIONS FOR DISABILITY RETIREMENT RECEIVED FROM THE MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEM
Ms. Yelmini moved, seconded by Mr. Poulin to accept the recommendations of
the Medical Examining Board from it's meetings of July 11, 2008 and August 15,
2008 relative to applications for disability retirement received from the
Municipal Employees Retirement System. All voted in favor.
15. REQUEST COMMISSION APPROVAL OF THE PROPOSED DECLARATORY RULING IN THE MATTER OF SHARON LEE ALBUQUERQUE TO BE ISSUED AUGUST 28, 2008 IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 5-155-1(e)(1)(A) OF THE REGULATIONS OF CONNECTICUT STATE AGENCIES (issue: request from spouse of a CMERS member to allow a posthumous change in retirement income payment election)
Anthony Albuquerque, a Municipal Employees Retirement System (MERS) member, retired from the Windsor Police Department effective September 20, 1986. At the time of his retirement Albuquerque elected "Income Payment Election - Option D", the straight life annuity option. Mr. Albuquerque died in 2004. His spouse requested that the Commission grant her request to allow a posthumous change in Anthony Albuquerque's retirement income payment election from that of straight life annuity to a 50% spouse option.
On March 17, 2006, the Retirement Commission' s Subcommittee on Purchase of Service and Related Matters (Subcommittee) considered this request and unanimously recommended denial of the claim for a posthumous change of an irrevocable option election made at the time of retirement finding no statutory basis and no evidence of extenuating circumstances sufficient to grant the request.
At its April 13, 2006 meeting, the Retirement Commission voted by unanimous decision to adopt the recommendation of the Subcommittee and deny the request for a posthumous change in the payment option Albuquerque elected when he retired from the MERS. After request from the petitioner and in accordance with C.G.S., Section 4-176, the Commission conducted a hearing on the said petition. The Petitioner and her legal counsel appeared before the Commission on October 19, 2006 and were fully heard. After such hearing, the Commission voted to deny Petitioner's request.
On or about June 4, 2008, the Petitioner, through her attorney requested that
the Commission, pursuant to Section 155a-1(e) of the Regulations of Connecticut
State Agencies, issue a declaratory ruling within 180 days. In review of such
request, the Commission found that no extenuating circumstances present in the
record sufficient to justify either the lateness of the election change request
or the election change itself. The Commission found as it had previously there
no evidence showing the election made by the member was contrary to the law at
the time it was made. The Commission found no statutory authorization or "window
of opportunity" that would currently permit such change as requested at the
Mr. Poulin moved, seconded by Ms. Yelmini to approve the proposed declaratory ruling in the matter of Sharon Lee Albuquerque to be issued August 28, 2008 in accordance with section 5-155-1(e)(1)(A) of the regulations of Connecticut state agencies. This ruling denies Petitioner's very untimely request to allow a posthumous change in Anthony Albuquerque's retirement income payment election from that of straight life annuity to a 50% spouse option. All voted in favor.
16. REQUEST RECEIVED FROM KEITH SCOTT THAT THE COMMISSION REVIEW AND RECONSIDER ITS AUGUST 23, 2007 DENIAL OF HIS REQUEST TO CHANGE HIS RETIREMENT OPTION ELECTION
Keith Scott retired July 1, 2004 from the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services at age fifty-one under the disability provisions from Tier II of the State Employees Retirement System (SERS), with eighteen years and one month of vesting and credited service. In connection with his retirement, Scott elected to receive his retirement income in the form (option) of the fifty percent to spouse; naming his wife Deborah.
On March 8, 2007 Scott contacted the Division by telephone requesting a change to his option election. Staff advised him that pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes, Section 5-192q the statutory provisions of SERS a retirement income payment election must be made at the time of retirement; such election could not be made subsequent to the date of retirement or the receipt of a retirement check. He was further advised that if he wished to pursue this request, he could write to the Retirement Commission for relief.
Mr. Scott wrote to the Division on March 23, 2007 requesting a change in his benefit payment option election from the 50% to spouse to the straight life annuity. At its August 23, 2007 meeting the Retirement Commission unanimously adopted the recommendation of its Subcommittee to deny Mr. Scott's request finding that there was statutory basis upon which they could grant the relief that Mr. Scott was seeking.
By letter dated October 7, 2007 Mr. Scott requested that the Retirement Commission review and reconsider its denial. In that connection Mr. Scott appeared before the Retirement Commission to advocate his claim. At the outset Mr. Scott wanted to ensure that the Trustees had received additional documentation in support of his claim that had been sent by one of his treating physicians. In response Division staff in attendance assured Mr. Scott that all of the appropriate documentation had been provided to the Trustees.
Mr. Scott explained that retirement paperwork he had been given did not contain any statement indicating that the option choice could not be changed after retirement and that he expressed surprise upon receiving such information when he called the Division. He also stated that when he went to his agency to sign the paperwork the agency staff member indicated to him that what he was signing was just a typed copy of what he had indicated in handwritten form therefore he didn't feel the need to read anything. During his testimony, Mr. Scott became emotional when recounting his mental capacity at the time of completing the paperwork, that his thinking capacity was greatly impaired.
He cited letters from his treating physicians that considering the state of Mr. Scott's marriage at the time, no reasonable person would have signed the paperwork knowing that they would be getting divorced. His reason for making a claim three years after retiring was simply that he had not given it a thought until his wife told him she wanted a divorce and that he should get his retirement option changed.
The Chairman asked Mr. Scott how his pension played into the divorce agreement between himself and his wife. Mr. Scott then proceeded to give an account of what they had agreed to. There then centered a discussion regarding the family leave that immediately preceded his retirement. The Chairman then stated to Mr. Scott that basically the trigger for him appearing before the Trustees to request an option change was his wife asking for a divorce and that if he was not divorced he would not have asked for the change. Mr. Scott agreed with these statements.
In response to questions posed by Trustee Casella, Mr. Scott advised that up until today when he learned that his wife was still eligible to receive a benefit in the event that he predeceased her, he was under the impression that once he got divorced she would no longer be eligible for any payment therefore there was no need to keep her on as the annuitant. In closing Mr. Scott stated that his option choice was a reflection of his inability at the time to make a commitment to anything. He thought he was leaving the door open to choose another option if necessary.
After the vote, Mr. Casella noted that although not relevant to the Commission's decision, one of the forms given to Mr. Scott by his agency appeared ambiguous with regard to the continuation of benefits after the death of the member. He requested that the form be updated to provide clarification. Division Counsel explained that the Division was in the process of reviewing and updating many of its forms. She noted that the form at issue had not been revised since 1982 and thus had been ambiguous since that date. Division Counsel further explained while the need for form revision was not disputed, lack of staff required the Division to do its highest priority work first and work on other projects as available. Mr. Casella asked for an update at the next Commission meeting.
17. AGENDA ITEM NO 18, OCTOBER 18, 2007 REQUEST COMMISSION CONSIDERATION
OF THE JUNE 15, 2007 RECOMMENDATION OF ITS SUBCOMMITTEE ON PURCHASE OF SERVICE
AND RELATED MATTERS IN THE CASE OF GIACOMO MORDENTE III's LATE REQUEST TO
PURCHASE HIS PRIOR MILITARY SERVICE UNDER CONNECTICUT GENERAL STATUTES
Giacomo Mordente a Tier I, Plan B member of the State Employees Retirement
System (SERS) applied in July 2001 to purchase retirement credit under
Connecticut General Statutes, Section 5-180(b) for his prior military service
from August 25, 1970 to February 11, 1974 and from August 30, 1974 to May 18,
1975. In February 2005, the Retirement Services Division denied his
application as untimely, advising the member that there was an October 1, 1985
deadline applicable to this type of purchase.
By letter dated March 30, 2007 Mr. Mordente requested Retirement Commission review of the Division's denial. Following his submission of additional documentation the claim was presented before the Subcommittee on Purchase of Service and Related Matters wherein the Subcommittee by majority vote recommended approval of Mr. Mordente's request stating that the documentation provided to Mr. Mordente by his employing agency appeared to be very confusing and in their opinion was enough of an extenuating circumstance that warranted a waiver of the October 1, 1985 deadline.
At its August 23, 2007 meeting the Retirement Commission voted to table the Subcommittees recommendation so that the case history could be presented before the Commission for consideration. The claim was subsequently presented before the Commission at its October 18, 2007 meeting. Following discussion, a motion accepting the recommendation of the Subcommittee was again made however it resulted in a tie vote. Before casting a tie breaking vote the Chairman determined to have the claimant come before the Commission to present his case. In that connection, Mr. Mordente appeared, accompanied by Staff Representative, Paul Wallace of AFSME Council 4.
Mr. Wallace began the presentation by providing background history of what had occurred regarding Mr. Mordente's efforts in requesting retirement credit for his military service. Mr. Wallace cited correspondence from the Interim Human Resource Director that supported the claim that Mr. Mordente was never advised of the October 1, 1985 deadline associated with this type of purchase. Trustee Yelmini pointed out to the claimant and the staff representative that the Commission operates on a rebuttable presumption of notice of the deadline date and that what was required was that someone who was at the agency at the time of the deadline could verify that Mr. Mordente did not receive notice.
There was continued discussion regarding the notices regarding the October 1, 1985 deadline that were sent from the Retirement Services Division at that time. There also was discussion regarding materials that Mr. Mordente had received from the Office of the Attorney General following his request of them for assistance in his claim. He was advised that the materials were inappropriate as collective bargaining had changed the information that he had been given.
The Chairman then questioned Mr. Mordente as to whether he was abandoning his claim of being misled by the documents provided to him. Mr. Mordente confirmed that he was no longer making that claim. Following further discussion Trustee Yelmini suggested to Mr. Mordente that he try to find an individual who was employed at SCSU during the period of time who could corroborate his claim. The Chairman agreed and indicated to Mr. Mordente that his claim could be tabled for a short period of time to give him the opportunity to do this. Mr. Mordente upon requesting information on the statutory provisions pertaining to his purchase request and copies of the notices given to employees regarding the October 1, 1985 agreed to have the claim tabled. The Chairman indicated that this information would be sent to him and thanked Mr. Mordente and Mr. Wallace for their appearance.
Ms. Yelmini moved, seconded by Mr. Cosgrove to table the request for
Commission consideration of the June 15, 2007 recommendation of its subcommittee
on Purchase of Service and Related Matters in
the case of Giacomo Mordente III's late request to purchase his prior military service under Connecticut general statutes 5-180(b) until it's November 20, 2008 meeting upon receipt of additional documentation. All voted in favor
18. AGENDA ITEM NO 20, JULY 17, 2008 REQUEST COMMISSION CONSIDERATION OF REQUEST RECEIVED FROM AN EMPLOYEE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY FOR RIGHT TO APPEAL DENIAL OF HAZARDOUS DUTY RETIREMENT MEMBERSHIP
Update provided by the Director regarding the above item. It was requested
that the Comptroller request her counsel, Karen Buffkin, contact the Attorney
General's Office to determine how this was settled. Also it was noted that the
Comptroller would volunteer to meet with the Commission and the Attorney General
to discuss the issues regarding item #18. Six Trustees expressed an interest in
attending the meeting.
Ms. Yelmini moved, seconded by Mr. Greatorex to adjourn the meeting.
All voted in favor.
The Chairman adjourned the meeting at 11:25 a.m.
Peter R. Blum. Chairman
State Employees Retirement Commission
Thomas C. Woodruff, Ph.D., Director
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