Appeal from the Order of the Public School Employes' Retirement Board in case of In Re: Claim of Mary B. Card, SS No. 169-36-3211.
Lynne L. Wilson, with her, Catherine C. O'Toole, for petitioner.
Marsha V. Mills, Assistant Chief Counsel, for respondent.
Judges Williams, Jr., Colins and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Williams, Jr. Judge Colins dissents.
[ 83 Pa. Commw. Page 603]
Mary B. Card appeals from the decision of the Public School Employes' Retirement Board denying her application to purchase pension credits for her years of employment with the Farmers Home Administration (FHA), an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture. The Board determined that the type of duties and responsibilities Card performed for FHA did not qualify as "service as an administrator, teacher or instructor in the field of education for any agency or department of the Government of the United States . . . ," as prescribed by Section 3207(1)(b) of the Public School Employes' Retirement Code of 1959, Act of June 1, 1959, P.L. 350, Art. II. § 207, 24 P.S. § 3207(1)(b).*fn1 Furthermore, the Board determined
[ 83 Pa. Commw. Page 604]
that the retirement fund was not estopped from declining Card's request to purchase credits for prior government service by virtue of having previously advised Card that she was eligible to purchase such credit. For the reasons which follow, we affirm the decision of the Board.
The uncontested facts underlying this appeal are reflected in the record and in the findings of the Board. From 1935 to 1951, Card was employed by FHA in various job titles, ranging from assistant clerk-stenographer to supervisor and office manager assistant. Throughout her employment, Card's primary responsibility was to train full-time employees and work-study students at FHA to perform a variety of clerical and accounting procedures involved in FHA's operation. In the performance of her training responsibilities, Card traveled to FHA offices
[ 83 Pa. Commw. Page 605]
throughout the State of Florida instructing groups of 3 to 12 employees. Although Card was certified as a teacher by the State of Florida, teaching certification was not a requirement of her position.
In September of 1965, Card became employed as a public school teacher by the Troy Area School District. She remained so employed until June of 1978, when she reached mandatory retirement age. In 1972, several years prior to her retirement, Card applied to the Pennsylvania State School Employes' Retirement System to purchase pension credit for the years she was employed by FHA. She was advised that she could purchase pension credit for up to twelve years of public school service by paying a maximum of $15,330.48 into the retirement fund. She was told that she could purchase these credits any time prior to retirement. Card did not purchase any credit due to financial inability to do so. She inquired again in 1974 regarding her eligibility to purchase pension credits for her FHA employment. The response she received from the Board confirmed the information she was previously given. Card made two inquiries in 1975, but received no reply. Finally, in October of 1977, eight months before her forced retirement, Card wrote to the Board again to inquire about the procedure for purchasing the credits. This time, the Retirement System wrote to Card stating that it needed information and verification of her positions and duties with FHA, and that a determination of her eligibility to purchase additional service credits would be made after ...