Thursday, October 06, 2005

Commonwealth Court Publishes SERS Pension Offset Case

The Commonwealth Court granted the motion to publish DPW/Polk Center v. WCAB (King), wherein the WCJ rejected the Commonwealth's request for a pension offset under Section 204(a) of the Act. Linda Miller of the State Employees Retirement System testified the Claimant contributed a specific sum, and SERS further credited the Claimant with interest at the flat rate of 8.5%, then SERS assumed all of the rest of the present value of the Claimant's benefit was contributed by the Employer.

Ms. Miller testified she did not know what contributions were made by the Employer to the Claimant's pension. There was no other testimony presented by the Employer.

The Court stated the relevant inquiry is whether the Employer provided any funding to the plan. The WCJ found there was no evidence it did. The Court was particularly concerned about the flat rate of return used, when real rates of return over the course of the Claimant's employment would be available.

The Court did leave the door open to establishing funding through actuarial calculations, noting there was no finding by the WCJ that the Employer could not determine contributions by way of actuarial tables. The corollary to that observation is that if the actuarial tables told the Employer it did not need to make a contribution, it would not be entitled to a credit under Section 204(a).

The Court also clearly stated the burden to establish what it contributed is on the Employer. In Croom v. WCAB (Pennsylvania Hospital) the Court suggested the burden is on the Claimant, and Petition for Allowance of Appeal to the Supreme Court was denied in Croom on September 28.

The Court finally rejected the Employer's request to remand the case to the WCJ for a determination of what credit is appropriate. On the record presented, no credit was appropriate.

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