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1 N.J.A.R. 21

Public Employees' Retirement System, Board of Trustees of the; Muetter, Murray v
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Citation: 1 N.J.A.R. 21
Decision Date: 1980
Synopsis: Muetter appealed a decision of the Board of Trustees denying his request for reinstatement as a member of the Public Employees' Retirement System. The Board based its decision on N,J.S.A. 43:3C-1 which it claimed precludes membership in the State's retirement system if an individual is receiving benefits from another public retirement system. Evidence at the administrative hearing showed that in 1968 Muetter retired from his position with the New York City Health Department to accept a position as Health Officer for Paramus. Muetter started work with Paramus on September 30, 1968, and filed an application for service retirement with the New York City Employees' Retirement System on February 19, 1969, requesting benefits starting May 6, 1969. On February 6, 1969, Muetter applied for membership in New Jersey Public Employees' Retirement System and pension deductions began on June 30 of that year. From 1969 through 1975 Muetter received his pension benefits from the City of New York and his salary as a health officer in Paramus. In August 1976 the Division of Pensions informed Muetter and his employer that because he was receiving pension benefits from New York he was not eligible for membership in the New Jersey Retirement System and should file an application for withdrawal. After filing the application Muetter received back all the contributions he made to the system. On January 16, 1980, Muetter asked that he be immediately reinstated as an active participant of the retirement system retroactive to September of 1968. The administrative law judge noted that N.J.S.A. 43:3C-1 provides that a person is not eligible for enrollment in the retirement system if he is eligible to receive a pension from another state's system. Since Muetter filed his application for his New York pension approximately one month prior to his attempted enrollment in the New Jersey system thus becoming eligible for his New York pension, the judge concluded that the statute barred Muetter's membership in the New Jersey system. The judge rejected Muetter's assertion that the Board of Trustees was estopped from invoking N.J.S.A. 43:3C-1 seven years after accepting his (App. Div. 1975), the judge found that no fraud or illegality had been involved in the acceptance of Muetter's original application and that there was no support for the creation of an otherwise illegal pension by estoppel. Accordingly, the Board's denial of Muetter's reinstatement was affirmed. Gary O. Aidekman, Esq., for Petitioner (Cole, Berman & Belsky, Attorneys) William P. Malioy, Deputy Attorney General for Respondent, (John J. Degnan, Attorney General of New Jersey, Attorney)