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WRIGHT v. ALLEGHENY COUNTY RETIREMENT BOARD (06/06/57)

June 6, 1957

WRIGHT
v.
ALLEGHENY COUNTY RETIREMENT BOARD, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 127, March T., 1957, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Oct. T., 1957, No. 2162, in case of William F. Wright v. The Retirement Board of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Judgment reversed; reargument refused August 21, 1957.

COUNSEL

John B. Hester, for appellant.

John A. Metz, Jr., with him Metz, McClure & MacAlister, for appellee.

Before Bell, Chidsey, Musmanno, Arnold, Jones and Cohen, JJ.

Author: Cohen

[ 390 Pa. Page 76]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE COHEN

This appeal by the Retirement Board of Allegheny County comes to us from a judgment of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County en banc causing a writ of mandamus to issue against the Retirement Board. The writ required the defendant Board to permit repayment by the plaintiff, Wright, of certain amounts he had previously withdrawn from the County Employes Retirement Fund, and, upon receipt thereof, to pay Wright the required "service increment" as provided for in the 1955 amendment to the County Employes' Retirement System Law. Act of May 31, 1955, P.L. 111, 16 P.S. ยงยง 4701-4716.

In 1924, William Wright became an employe of Allegheny County, and a member of the Second Class

[ 390 Pa. Page 77]

County Employes' Retirement System in accordance with the terms of the Act of May 8, 1919, P.L. 138. Wright left the employ of the county in 1932, and withdrew the contributions he had made to the retirement fund during the years 1924-1932 which amounted to $142.39. Subsequently, in 1933, he was reemployed and continued as an Allegheny County employe until his involuntary separation on January 31, 1956. In 1933, when he was reemployed, the retirement system was governed by the Act of May 2, 1929, P.L. 1278, which did not change the earlier law of 1919. During this latter period of 22 years, (1933-1956), Wright made regular contributions to the retirement fund, but never repaid the monies he had withdrawn after his first term of service had ended.

The relevant provisions of the retirement acts of 1919 and 1929 stated that every county employe who had completed 20 years of service and had obtained the age of 50 was to receive a pension equal to fifty percent of his average salary.*fn1 Upon demand, an employe was entitled to a refund of all sums he had contributed to the system.*fn2 However, any employe who had availed himself of this right of refund could be reinstated and again become a beneficiary "by the payment in full of the amount withdrawn" and by continuing to pay the regular assessments set forth in the law.*fn3 Neither the Act of 1919 nor the Act of 1929 limited the time within which an employe could repay withdrawn contributions and thus qualify for the benefits provided by the acts.

[ 390 Pa. Page 78]

In 1955, the legislature granted eligible employes a new type of benefit in addition to the retirement allowance, namely, a "service increment" of five percent of the annual retirement allowance for each year over 20 in which an employe made contributions to the fund.*fn4 To be eligible for this additional ...


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