Chapter 76 – Increase in Special Accidental Death Benefit
Chapter 76 of the Laws of 2008 increases the special accidental death benefit payable under Section 208-f of the NYS General Municipal Law by 3%. The beneficiaries of the following NYCERS’ members are covered: Correction Officers, Housing and Transit Police, EMTs and TBTA members. The benefit is payable to the widow or widower or the children of the deceased under 18 years of age or under 23 if the child is a student, if the widow or widower is deceased.
This law was signed on May 13, 2008 and takes effect on July 1, 2008.
Chapter 115 – New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation (NYC OTB)
This law provides for the takeover of the Board of Directors of NYC OTB to comprise of five appointees of the NYS Governor; previously, appointments to the five-member board were made by the Mayor of the City of New York. NYC OTB remains a public benefit corporation and will continue wagering operations in OTB parlors located in the City of New York. A summary of the law’s pension-related provisions is as follows:
- All incumbent employees of NYC OTB remain employees of NYC OTB
- All incumbent employees of NYC OTB who are NYCERS’ members will continue to have the same rights, privileges, obligations and status pertaining to NYCERS’ membership
- All future employees of NYC OTB will be eligible for NYCERS’ membership
- Employment by NYC OTB shall constitute City-service for the purposes of chapter one of title thirteen of the Administrative Code of the City of New York.
- NYC OTB shall retain all personnel, payroll and associated employee records and shall ensure NYCERS has access to such records for retirement purposes consistent with current records retention requirements.
The law was signed by the Governor on Tuesday, June 17, 2008 and takes effect immediately.
Chapter 133 – Patriot Plan Extender
The Patriot Plan allows NYCERS to suspend a member’s obligation to repay a pension loan while the member is on active military duty. The maximum rate of interest NYCERS can charge its members on active military duty is six percent. The Patriot Plan was originally enacted in 2003 and was extended a few times since its enactment. Chapter 133 extends it for an additional two years, until July 1, 2010.
The law was signed by the Governor on Monday, June 30, 2008 and takes effect immediately.
Chapter 173 – Revocatory Effect of Divorce on Beneficiary Designation
This law enacts a series of measures designed to revoke certain designations, appointments, nominations, etc. made by a married individual in the event of divorce, annulment of marriage or judicial separation. Insofar as this law would affect pension benefits, the designation of a spouse for any benefit which allows a change in beneficiary designation will be revoked upon divorce, annulment of marriage or judicial separation.
The designations impacted by Chapter 173 include the ordinary death benefit (pre-retirement), the post retirement death benefit and any lump-sum retirement option under which the member is permitted to change the beneficiary. Designations that are irrevocable by law, such as the beneficiary designation of a joint and survivor retirement option, or designations that are required under a domestic relations order on file with NYCERS, are not affected by Chapter 173. Before payment of a death benefit can be issued, NYCERS must receive a copy of the judgment of divorce, annulment or judicial separation.
This law was signed by the Governor on July 7, 2008 and takes effect immediately. Its provisions shall apply where the divorce, annulment or judicial separation takes place after the effective date. The law also applies to divorces, annulments or judicial separations which occurred prior to the effective date, but only where the benefit would be payable to the beneficiary on account of the member’s death after the effective date.
Chapter 489 – World Trade Center (WTC) Law
On August 5, 2008, Governor David A. Paterson signed legislation amending the WTC Law. The following changes were made:
- The deadline to file a Notice of Participation was extended to September 11, 2010.
- Eligible beneficiaries may file a Notice of Participation prior to the deadline in the event of a member’s death.
- A pre-employment physical examination is no longer required.
- Participation in WTC rescue, recovery or clean-up operations now includes any period of time during the 48 hours after the first airplane hit the towers.
- 19 communication/dispatcher titles in the NYC Police and Fire Departments who worked at 12 locations across NYC during the 24 hours after the first airplane hit the towers were added to the law’s coverage.
- Emergency vehicle radio equipment is now included among City-owned vehicles and equipment contaminated by debris at the WTC site that were repaired, cleaned or rehabilitated.
- Certain vested members separated from City service may apply for WTC-related disability with immediate payability if approved.
- Vested members separated from City service are covered under accidental death provisions.
- Certain non-WTC accidental disability retirees may reclassify to a WTC accidental disability benefit.
The law takes effect immediately and is deemed to have been in full force and effect as of September 11, 2001.
Chapter 640 – Additional Requirements for Granting RSSL §211 Waivers
This law enacts a series of measures aimed at increasing transparency and accountability in public employee retirement systems. The law was advanced by the NYS Attorney General who recently conducted an investigation into the process by which lawyers and professional service providers are placed on the payrolls of school districts and subsequently eligible for pension benefits. The law prohibits these types of employment arrangements.
The law also amends RSSL §211 to require more of employers requesting the issuance of a “211 Waiver.” Specifically, the law requires the additional following criteria be met:
- The retiree is properly certified for the prospective position where such certification is required; AND
- The prospective employer has prepared a detailed recruitment plan to fill such vacancy on a permanent basis; AND
- There is an urgent need for the retiree’s services as the result of an unplanned, unpredictable and unexpected vacancy where sufficient time is not available to recruit a qualified individual and that such hiring shall be deemed as non-permanent rather than a final filling of such position; OR
- The prospective employer has undertaken extensive recruitment efforts to fill such vacancy and as a result, has determined that there are no available non-retired persons qualified to perform the duties of such position.
Chapter 640 does not change the two-year validity of a properly issued waiver. However, it prohibits retirees from returning to work in the same or similar position for a period of one year following retirement.
Chapter 640 was signed by the Governor on October 7, 2008 and takes effect immediately. However, the additional criteria mentioned above shall not apply to any 211 Waivers issued prior to October 7, 2008.