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3 N.J.A.R. 118

Public Employees' Retirement System, Board of Trustees of the; Dansbury, Emily by Wrightson T. Dansbury v
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Citation: 3 N.J.A.R. 118
Decision Date: 1981
Agency: PUBLIC EMPLOYEES' RETIREMENT SYSTEM
Synopsis: Wrightson T. Dansbury appealed from a determination of the Board of Trustees of the Public Employees' Retirement System denying his application for life insurance benefits allegedly due as the result of the death of his wife. The Board's denial was based on a claim that Dansbury's wife had died more than 31 days after the termination of her employment and that she had not exercised her life insurance conversion privilege within that required time period. The administrative law judge found that Dansbury's wife had been enrolled in the Public Employees' Retirement System since 1972. Her last day of work was November 17, 1978, and her last pay day was January 24, 1979 at which time she began an approved official leave of absence without pay which was to have continued until September 18, 1979. During her leave of absence, Mrs. Dansbury's son, without her knowledge or permission, notified his mother's employer of the improbability of her return to work due to her worsening physical condition. He did so by submitting a 'letter of resignation' in his mother's name on August 15, 1979. Mrs. Dansbury's employer interpreted this letter as a resignation effective August 15. Yet, Mrs. Dansbury received no notice of acceptance of the resignation until September 26 when she received a copy of an updated Civil Service form which indicated that she had resigned on August 15. At the same time she received insurance conversion information from the Division of Pensions which indicated that if she did not convert her group life insurance policy within 31 days of her resignation, her insurance coverage would lapse. Mrs. Dansbury died on September 30, 1979. Believing that Mrs. Dansbury had no insurance coverage because of the State of New Jersey 119 31 day period, petitioner applied for a withdrawal of Mrs. Dansbury's pension contributions and for any benefits resulting from her death. The Board denied any claim for insurance benefits claiming that Mrs. Dansbury had resigned on August 15 and had not converted her group life insurance within the required 31 days. The administrative law judge determined that since Mrs. Dansbury neither authorized, directed or acquiesced in her son's letter of'resignation' of August 15, 1979, that purported resignation was a nullity. Therefore, Mrs. Dansbury's term of employment continued until her official leave of absence expired on September 18, 1979. Since Mrs. Dansbury died within 31 days of the expiration of her leave of absence, the administrative law judge ordered that the amount of insurance with respect to which she could have exercised the conversion privilege should be paid as a claim under the group policy. Kirk B. Roose, Esq., for Petitioner Sharon M. Joyce, Deputy Attorney General, for Respondent (James R. Zazzali, Attorney General of New Jersey, Attorney)