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General Laws

Section 16. (1) Involuntary Retirement and Right to a Hearing. — (a) Any head of a department who is of the opinion that any member employed therein should be retired for superannuation, ordinary disability or accidental disability, in accordance with the provisions of section five, six, or seven, as the case may be, may file with the board on a prescribed form a written application for such retirement. Such application shall include a fair summary of the facts upon which such opinion is premised. The applicant shall forthwith deliver to such member by registered mail, with a return receipt requested, a true copy of such application, together with a brief statement of the options available to such member on his retirement and a statement of his right, if any, to request a hearing with regard to such retirement and of the right, if any, of review available to him, as provided for in this section, in case he is aggrieved by any action taken or decision of the board rendered or by failure of the board to act upon his request or to render a decision within the time specified in this subdivision. Upon such delivery to such member the head of the department, or one acting in his behalf, shall file with the board under the penalties of perjury a written notice of such delivery, including the date thereof.

(b) (i) Any member in service, classified in Group 1, Group 2 or Group 4 who has attained age 55 and completed 15 or more years of creditable service;

(ii) any member in service, classified in Group 1, Group 2 or Group 4 who has not attained age 55 but who has completed 20 or more years of creditable service;

(iii) any member in service, who entered such service on or after April 2, 2012, classified in Group 1 who has attained age 60 and completed 15 or more years of creditable service; or

(iv) any member in service, who entered such service on or after April 2, 2012, classified in Group 1 who has not attained age 60 but who has completed 20 or more years of creditable service, for whom an application for such member’s retirement is filed by the head of such member’s department under paragraph (a) of this subdivision, may, within 15 days of the receipt of such member’s copy of such application, file with the board a written request for a private or public hearing upon such application. If no such request is so filed, the facts set forth in such application shall be deemed to be admitted by such member; otherwise such hearing shall be held not less than ten nor more than thirty days after the filing of the request. The board, after giving due notice, shall conduct such hearing in such manner and at such time or times as the best interests of all parties concerned may require. The board shall prepare and file with its clerk or secretary a certificate containing its findings and decision, copies of which shall be sent to the proper parties within fifteen days after completion of such hearing.

(c) If the board finds that any member should be retired under the provisions of this subdivision, he shall receive the same retirement allowance as he would have received had the application been made by himself. If the board finds that such member should not be retired, he shall continue in his office or position without loss of compensation, subject to the provisions of sections one to twenty-eight inclusive, as though no such application had been made.

[There is no subdivision (2).]

(3) Right of Review by District Court. — (a) Any member classified in Group 1, Group 2 or Group 4 who has attained age fifty-five and completed fifteen or more years of creditable service, or any member so classified who has not attained age fifty-five but who has completed twenty or more years of creditable service, or any such member who is a veteran and has completed ten or more years of creditable service, and who is aggrieved by any action taken or decision of a board or the public employee retirement administration commission rendered with reference to his involuntary retirement under the provisions of subdivision (1), or any member who is aggrieved by any action taken or decision of a board or the public employee retirement administration commission rendered with reference to his dereliction of duty as set forth in section fifteen, may, within thirty days after the certification of the decision of the board, bring a petition in the district court within the territorial jurisdiction in which he resides praying that such action and decision be reviewed by the court. After such notice as the court deems necessary, it shall review such action and decision, hear any and all evidence and determine whether such action was justified. If the court finds that such action was justified the decision of the board or the public employee retirement administration commission shall be affirmed; otherwise it shall be reversed and of no effect. If the court finds that such member was unjustifiably retired under subdivision (1) from the member’s office or position, the member shall be reinstated thereto without loss of compensation. The decision of the court shall be final.

(b) Any member whose office or position is subject to chapter thirty-one or to the rules and regulations made under authority thereof, who is aggrieved by any action taken or decision of a board or the public employee retirement administration commission rendered as described in paragraph (a) of this subdivision shall, for the purposes of sections one to twenty-eight, inclusive, have and retain such of the rights provided by sections forty-two A, forty-two B, forty-three and forty-five of chapter thirty-one as applied to his particular office or position, and the court shall, in addition to the matters it is required to review under such sections of chapter thirty-one, affirm or disaffirm the decision of the board or the public employee retirement administration commission as provided for in paragraph (a) of this subdivision.

(4) Right of Appeal to Contributory Retirement Appeal Board. — There shall be an unpaid contributory retirement appeal board which shall consist of three members as follows: an assistant attorney general who shall be designated in writing from time to time by the attorney general who shall act as chairman, the public employee retirement administration commission or an assistant who shall be designated in writing, from time to time, by the said commission, and a member appointed by the governor for a term of five years. In the event the matter before the contributory retirement appeal board deals with any matter related to disability retirement or interim benefits as awarded by the division of administrative law appeals, the commissioner of public health or his designee shall substitute for the public employee retirement administration commission.

The members of the contributory retirement appeal board shall be compensated for any expenses incurred in the performance of their official duties. On matters other than those subject to review by the district court as provided for in subdivision (3), or other than those which would have been subject to review had the requirement for the minimum period of creditable service been fulfilled, any person when aggrieved by any action taken or decision of the retirement board or the public employee retirement administration commission rendered, or by the failure of a retirement board or the public employee retirement administration commission to act, may appeal to the contributory retirement appeal board by filing therewith a claim in writing within fifteen days of notification of such action or decision of the retirement board or the commission, or may so appeal within fifteen days after the expiration of the time specified in sections one to twenty-eight, inclusive, within which a board or the commission must act upon a written request thereto, or within fifteen days after the expiration of one month following the date of filing a written request with the board or the commission if no time for action thereon is specified, in case the board or the commission failed to act thereon within the time specified or within one month, as the case may be. The contributory retirement appeal board, after giving due notice, shall, not less than ten nor more than sixty days after filing of any such claim of appeal, assign such appeal to the division of administrative law appeals for a hearing. The division of administrative law appeals shall maintain the official records of the contributory retirement appeal board. After the conclusion of such hearing, the division of Administrative Law Appeals shall submit to the parties a written decision which shall be final and binding upon the board involved and upon all other parties, and shall be complied with by such board and by such parties, unless within fifteen days after such decision, (1) either party objects to such decision, in writing, to the contributory retirement appeal board, or (2) the contributory retirement appeal board orders, in writing, that said board shall review such decision and take such further action as is appropriate and consistent with the appeal provided by this section. The contributory retirement appeal board shall then pass upon the appeal within six months after the conclusion of such hearing, and its decision shall be final and binding upon the board involved and upon all other parties, and shall be complied with by such board and by such parties. Any person, upon making an appeal involving a disability retirement allowance, shall be permitted to retire for superannuation retirement, if otherwise eligible, pending the decision of the contributory retirement appeal board, but in no event shall such action prejudice the person from receiving any further benefits which the contributory retirement appeal board may grant in its decision nor shall the person upon a finding in favor of the employer be required to reimburse the employer for payments made prior to the decision of the contributory retirement appeal board.

On appeals involving disability or where medical reports are part of the proceedings, the contributory retirement appeal board may request further information from the members of the appropriate regional medical panel, or may employ a registered physician to advise them in determination of an appeal.

The contributory retirement appeal board shall have the power to subpoena witnesses, administer oaths and examine such parts of the books and records of the parties to a proceeding as relate to questions in dispute. Fees for such witnesses shall be the same as for witnesses before the courts in civil actions, and shall be paid from the Appropriation Fund of the division of administrative law appeals.

The contributory retirement appeal board, acting through the division of administrative law appeals, shall arrange for the publication of its decisions and the cost of such publication shall be paid from the Appropriation Fund of the division of administrative law appeals.

The contributory retirement appeal board shall establish a fee structure for appeals brought under this section, which shall be subject to the approval of the commissioner of administration.

The division of administrative law appeals shall submit to the contributory retirement appeal board on an annual basis a report on the status of all cases that have been assigned to the division of administrative law appeals for a hearing.

(5) Provisions Not Applicable to Certain Members. — The provisions of this section relative to the right of any member to a hearing or to the right of review by the district court shall not apply in the case of the removal or discharge of any state official or of any official of any political subdivision of the commonwealth for which provision is otherwise made in any general or special law, anything in this section to the contrary notwithstanding. The provisions of this section relative to the right of any member to a hearing or to the right of review by the district court shall not apply to any teacher or principal or superintendent of schools employed at discretion or any superintendent employed under a contract, for the duration of his contract, or any principal or supervisor, who has been dismissed, demoted, or removed from a position by a vote of a school committee under the provisions of section forty-two, forty-two A or section sixty-three of chapter seventy-one. The provisions of this section shall not apply to any member classified in Group 3.

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