Section 25: Guarantees; effects of amendments or repeal; mandamus
Section 25. (1) Guarantee of Minimum Allowances. ? (a) Any member in service who was a member on December thirty-first, nineteen hundred and forty-five, and who, having creditable service for a period prior thereto, is subsequently retired after the attainment of an age and the completion of a minimum period of creditable service which, under the provisions of this chapter as in effect and applicable on such date to the contributory retirement system of which he was then a member, would have entitled him to a yearly amount of retirement allowance not less than the minimum amount specified therefor in such provisions, shall receive a retirement allowance the normal yearly amount of which shall be at least equal to such minimum amount, plus any increase granted or authorized or which may be granted or authorized under any existing or future law granting an increase in the amount of the pension or of the retirement allowance of an employee who was retired prior to January first, nineteen hundred and forty-six, anything to the contrary in sections one to twenty-eight, inclusive, notwithstanding.
(b) Any employee of any governmental unit in which a contributory retirement system established under the provisions of a special law previously existed, who was a member of such system on the date when a new system, established under the provisions of sections one to twenty-eight inclusive, or under corresponding provisions of earlier laws, became operative therein, and who, having then or thereafter become a member of such new system with creditable service attributable to his membership in the previously existing system, is retired while a member in service and after the attainment of an age and the completion of a minimum period of creditable service which, under the provisions of such special law as in effect on the date such new system became operative, would have entitled him to a yearly amount of retirement allowance not less than the minimum amount specified therefor in the provisions of such special law, shall receive a retirement allowance the normal yearly amount of which shall be at least equal to such minimum amount, anything to the contrary in sections one to twenty-eight inclusive notwithstanding.
(2) Guarantee of Allowances at least Equal to Non-contributory Pensions. ? Any member in service who, on the date of his becoming a member, was employed in a position to which he was appointed prior to July first, nineteen hundred and thirty-seven, and under which he had inchoate rights to any non-contributory pension under the provisions of this chapter or under corresponding provisions of earlier laws or of any other general or special law, and who is retired while still employed in the same position or in a similar position in the same governmental unit and after the attainment of an age and the completion of a minimum period of service which, under such provisions, would have entitled him to a non-contributory pension, shall receive a retirement allowance the normal yearly amount of which shall be at least equal to the amount of such non-contributory pension, whether or not he may have signed a waiver of his rights under such provisions upon becoming a member, anything to the contrary in sections one to twenty-eight inclusive notwithstanding.
(3) Rights of Veterans at Retirement. ? (a) Any member in service classified as a veteran referred to in sections fifty-six to sixty A inclusive, who entered the employ of any governmental unit prior to July first, nineteen hundred and thirty-nine, shall have full and complete rights either under the system of which he is a member or under the provisions of sections fifty-six to sixty A inclusive, whether or not he may have signed a waiver of his rights under such sections upon becoming a member of such system, anything to the contrary in the provisions of this chapter or in similar provisions of earlier laws notwithstanding. Such rights shall be in the alternative and shall be exercised only at the time of his retirement. If a member is retired under the provisions of sections fifty-six to sixty A inclusive, he shall, upon his written application on a prescribed form filed with the board in which he waives all his rights under sections one to twenty-eight inclusive, be paid the amount of the accumulated total deductions credited to his account in the annuity savings fund of the system on the date of his retirement. If a member entitled to be retired under the provisions of section fifty-eight dies before making written application for such retirement, or, having exercised the option provided by section fifty-eight B, dies before the effective date of his retirement, his widow shall, in addition to the pension provided under said section fifty-eight B, be paid the amount of the accumulated deductions credited to the account of said member in the annuity savings fund of the system of which he was a member on the date of his death, unless said member has designated a beneficiary other than his widow under the provisions of paragraph (c) of subdivision (2) of section eleven in which case said accumulated deductions shall be paid to such designated beneficiary. Nothing contained in this subdivision shall permit the withdrawal of any such veteran from membership in such system except upon termination of his service. This paragraph shall apply only to such veterans who are employees of the commonwealth or metropolitan district commission, or who are employees of a governmental unit which has accepted sections fifty-six to sixty A, inclusive.
(b) The normal yearly amount of any retirement allowance of any member who is a veteran as defined in section one shall be subject to the provisions of chapter seven hundred and eight of the acts of nineteen hundred and forty-one, as amended by chapters one hundred and seventy-two, four hundred and nineteen, and five hundred and forty-eight of the acts of nineteen hundred and forty-three, and as may be further amended.
(4) The payment of all annuities, appropriations, pensions, retirement allowances and refunds of accumulated total deduction and of any other benefits or payments pursuant to the provisions of sections one to twenty-eight, inclusive, are hereby made obligations of the commonwealth in the case of any such payments to or from funds of the state employees' retirement system, the teachers' retirement system, or the Commonwealth's Pension Liability Fund and obligations of the governmental unit in which the system is established in the case of payments from funds of any system established in any county, city or town or in the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, the Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency, the Massachusetts Port Authority, the Blue Hills Regional Vocational School system, the Greater Lawrence Sanitary District or the Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical School District.
(5) Effect of Amendments or Repeal. ? The provisions of sections one to twenty-eight, inclusive, and of corresponding provisions of earlier laws shall be deemed to establish and to have established membership in the retirement system as a contractual relationship under which members who are or may be retired for superannuation are entitled to contractual rights and benefits, and no amendments or alterations shall be made that will deprive any such member or any group of such members of their pension rights or benefits provided for thereunder, if such member or members have paid the stipulated contributions specified in said sections or corresponding provisions of earlier laws.
(6)(a) It is hereby declared that any actual or potential failure to comply with the applicable funding standard or schedule established by sections twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-two C and twenty-two D of this chapter threaten serious injury to the members' contractual pension rights and benefits and the retirement systems. By expressly authorizing the remedy of mandamus herein, the general court intends to assist all persons or entities with a special responsibility or duty in relation to the retirement systems in securing that compliance. In the event that any governmental unit other than the commonwealth fails to comply with its duty either to provide for in its budget, or to pay, the full amount of its obligation towards the retirement system as specified in this chapter, the failure may be remedied by an action for mandamus.
(b) The public employee retirement administration commission shall have standing to institute a legal proceeding for mandamus as provided for in this section. The attorney general, or the district attorney of the county in which a retirement system is located, in addition to any other powers and duties conferred on that office by law, shall also proceed in the name of the commonwealth, upon request of the commission or upon the person's own motion, to institute a legal proceeding for mandamus as provided for in this section. Any mandamus pursuant to this section may compel the addition by such governmental unit other than the commonwealth to its current budget of any omitted amount of its pension obligation and the subsequent payment of any omitted amount of pension obligation with interest at the applicable compound rate, whichever is applicable.