Disability Retirees Update: Courts Uphold PERAC's Authority

NOVEMBER 2003
- Members on disability are permitted by the pension law to work and
supplement their retirement. But the law does limit the amount that
they can earn.

For the past few
years, we have reported on a controversy that developed over how much
the disability retiree can earn. Specifically, legal challenges have
been made to the definition of what are earnings for a disability
retiree, issued by the state's pension oversight agency, the Public
Employee Retirement Administration Commission (PERAC).

Critics
of PERAC have essentially charged that the agency had overstepped its
authority and that its definition is too broad legally and includes
items that should not be considered earned income. As we've reported
over the years, these arguments have not proved persuasive, with
PERAC's opinion on this issue being upheld.

That
continues to be the outcome in recent court decisions. In Boston and
Worcester, courts issued decisions (Marshall vs. CRAB, Qualey vs. CRAB,
respectively), which once again upheld PERAC's authority to define
earnings and supported its overall position of a broader definition of
the term, "earnings from earned income."

Our
disability members must be mindful of the fact that there are limits to
what they can earn and what they consider not to be earnings may be
subject to challenge. Currently, the Association has legislation in the
Public Service Committee (HB 245) that would establish a clear and
concise definition of earned income for disability retirees.

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