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The Petitioner is not entitled to purchase credit for his vocational work experience under G. L. c. 32, s. 4(1)(h½) because he failed to make an election within 180 days to pay the full invoice amount, or to enter into an installment agreement within 180 days of the invoice date.
Ralph MacLeod filed a timely appeal under G. L. c. 32, s. 16(4) of the May 12, 2008 decision of the Teachers' Retirement System ("MTRS") to deny his request to purchase credit for his prior vocational work experience under G. L. c. 32, s. 4(1)(h ½).
The Petitioner requested that the matter be handled as a Submission Without a Hearing under 801 CMR 1.01(10)(c). The record closed on August 15, 2008.
I admitted documents into evidence. (Exs. 1 - 7) I marked the Written Submission of the Respondent "A" for identification.
A list of exhibits appears on the last page of this decision.
1. Ralph MacLeod, d.o.b. 4/15/1949, has been an active member of the MTRS since September 1982. (Ex. 3)
2. In March 2007, Mr. MacLeod applied to the MTRS to purchase credit for his vocational work experience under G. L. c. 32, s. 4(1)(h ½). (Ex. 3)
3. On June 4, 2007, the MTRS notified Mr. MacLeod that he was eligible to purchase three years of credit for his prior vocational work experience, and provided him with an invoice. (Ex. 6)
4. The invoice informed Mr. MacLeod in capital letters that he had "180 days from the mailing date of this invoice, or by your date of retirement, whichever comes first … in which to act." The invoice further indicated that Mr. MacLeod had to make full payment of his service purchase within 180 days, or sign up for the installment plan within 180 days. (Ex. 3)
5. The invoice informed Mr. MacLeod that 180 days from the invoice mailing date was December 1, 2007. (Ex. 3)
6. Mr. MacLeod did not take action with respect to this invoice within 180 days because his four year old grandson died on April 22, 2007 and his doctor advised him not to make any life-altering decisions at that time. (Ex. 2)
7. On May 6, 2008, Mr. MacLeod made a telephone request to the MTRS for an updated vocational service invoice. By letter of May 12, 2008 the MTRS informed Mr. MacLeod that it could not honor his request because he failed to pay the full invoice amount, or sign up for the installment plan, within 180 days of the date of the invoice. (Ex. 1) Mr. MacLeod appealed. (Ex. 2)
The decision of the MTRS is affirmed. Ralph MacLeod is not entitled to purchase credit for his vocational work experience under G. L. c. 32, s. 4(1)(h ½) because he failed to purchase the service in a lump sum, or enter into an installment agreement, within 180 days of the notice to pay for the service.
G. L. c. 32, s. 4(1)(h ½) provides for the purchase of credit of up to three years of prior vocational work experience for members of the MTRS, or teachers who are members of the Boston Retirement system, who have completed ten or more years of creditable service.
The section provides in pertinent part:
Members in service of a retirement system who make application
for this creditable service shall be notified by the retirement board
of their eligibility for such creditable service, and, if they are eligible,
shall also be notified by the retirement board that they have the
following options: (1) to purchase the service in a lump sum within
180 days of the notice, or (2) to enter into an installment agreement
within 180 days of the notice to pay for the service. (emphasis supplied)
The MTRS gave proper notification to the Petitioner, in accordance with the statute, by invoice dated June 4, 2007, that he was required to make an election within 180 days to pay the full invoice amount for the service, or to enter into an installment agreement within 180 days of the invoice date. The invoice informed him that 180 days from June 4, 2007 was December 1, 2007. The Petitioner failed to act within 180 days, and his right to purchase credit for this service was therefore extinguished.
Although I am sympathetic to the personal tragedy suffered by the Petitioner that may have prevented him from acting within 180 days, the statute makes no allowance for such failure.
The decision of the MTRS is affirmed. The Petitioner may not purchase credit for his vocational work experience.
DIVISION OF ADMINISTRATIVE LAW APPEALS
Maria A. Imparato
Exhibit 1 Notice of Retirement Board Action, 5/12/08
2 Letter of Appeal, 5/15/08
3 Membership Blank, 9/21/1982
4 Service Purchase Application, 3/7/07
5 "About your invoice and your payment options"
6 Invoice, 6/4/07
7 Petitioner to DALA waiving a hearing, 6/3/08
8 Magistrate to parties, 7/15/08
"A" for identification Written Submission of Respondent