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RUTH C. FINNEGAN v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (06/14/89)

decided: June 14, 1989.

RUTH C. FINNEGAN, PETITIONER,
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, PUBLIC SCHOOL EMPLOYES' RETIREMENT BOARD, RESPONDENT



PETITION FOR REVIEW

COUNSEL

Lynne L. Wilson, Harrisburg, for petitioner.

Abbott A. Leban, Chief Counsel, Harrisburg, for respondent.

Craig and Barry, JJ., and Kalish, Senior Judge.

Author: Craig

[ 126 Pa. Commw. Page 585]

Ruth Finnegan appeals from a decision of the Public School Employes' Retirement Board (board) that refused to adopt a hearing officer's recommendation to permit Ms.

[ 126 Pa. Commw. Page 586]

Finnegan to purchase additional years of credit she sought in order to qualify for early retirement. We affirm.

The factual findings relied upon by the board in making its determination are summarized as follows: The Derry Township School District hired Ruth Finnegan as a public school teacher in January 1968. In November 1984, she received information about an "early retirement window" available to Public School Employes' Retirement System (PSERS) members with thirty or more years of credited service. That early retirement provision would permit any member 53 years of age or older with at least thirty years of credited service to retire without a reduction in pension benefits. After reviewing her system handbook, Finnegan concluded that she could indeed purchase fifteen years of credited service. The relevant portion of the handbook stated:

You may, under certain conditions, receive credit for school service outside the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania including service as an administrator, teacher or instructor in the field of education for an agency of the United States government. Such service cannot exceed 12 years or the number of years of credited service in Pennsylvania at the time application is submitted.

Based on this section, Finnegan spoke with Lewis Lore, a PSERS field representative, about purchasing nine years of out-of-state teaching service and six years of government service so that she could retire on July 1, 1985. Lore advised Ms. Finnegan that she was eligible to purchase fifteen years of out-of-state teaching service and government service in order to qualify for the early retirement window. Ms. Finnegan also spoke with a Mr. William Warrick, who helped verify the amount of credit needed, but Mr. Warrick, at that time, did not know that the claimant's total service credits acquired through purchase could not exceed twelve years.

Finnegan submitted her application to the system in April 1985, and on July 1, 1985, she retired with the belief that she would have a ...


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