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5 N.J.A.R. 404

Teachers' Pension and Annuity Fund; Stoltz, Marshall L. v
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Citation: 5 N.J.A.R. 404
Decision Date: 1981
Synopsis: Marshall L. Stoltz appealed from a decision of the Board of Trustees of the Teachers; Pension and Annuity Fund declaring him ineligible to fule for a deferred retirement under N.J.S.A. 18A:66-36 by reason of the expiration of his membership in the Teachers' Pension and Annuity Fund. The administrative law judge found that after almost 16 years of teaching service and membership in the fund, Stoltz ended his services as a school teacher on January 30, 1976. On November 17, 1977, the Fund sent written notice to both Stoltz and his local board of educa- tion that his Fund membership would expire in 60 days. Stoltz' notice, which was sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, was re- turned unclaimed to the Division of Pensions. After being informed of Stoltz' last known address, the Division sent a second notice to Stoltz by certified mail which was received by Stoltz' wife on November 26, 1977. Acting on instructions from Stoltz, the secretary of the local board of education informed the Division of Pensions of Stoltz' intention to vest his retirement benefits. In January of 1978 acting on this information, the Division sent Stoltz a statement outlining the benefits he could expect to receive beginning in December of 1977 and requesting Stoltz to return to the Division a completed retirement application and birth certificate. The state- ment warned that failure to return the requested information would cause the expiration of all retirement and insurance privileges. Stoltz could not recall if he had received such statement form the Division. No reply was received by the Division and Stoltz' account expired, although Stoltz was never informed of this. State of New Jersey 405 In November of 1979, Stoltz requested that the Division review his account and was informed by the Division that his account had expired and he was ineligible for a deferred retirement. The administrative law judge determined that the essentia 1 question to resolve was whether Stoltz made a timely election to receive a deferred retirement allowance under N.J.S.A. 18A:66-36. The judg e noted that neither the statute nor the rules in question specify the manner in which an individual must make his election to vest retire- ment benefits other than stating that such a request must be in writing. The judge concluded that the November 30, 1977 letter written at Stoltz' instruction was sufficient to communicate his election to the Fund in writing. Noting that there is no statutory or case law authority requiring that a deferred retirement election could be made only by submitting a completed retirement application, the administrative law judge con- cluded that Stoltz had timely informed the Fund of his desire to vest and ordered that Stoltz be considered eligible for deferred retirement benefits. Arthur DiPadova, Esq., for petitioner William Ma!!oy, Deputy Attorney General for respondent (James R. Zazzali, Attorney General of New Jersey, attorney)