MSCA Perspective - July 2001

State Retirement Board Makes Policy Change in Treatment of Part-time Creditable Service

In a memorandum dated February 16, 2001, the Massachusetts State Retirement Board announced an important change in policy regarding the treatment of part-time creditable service. Any member of the Retirement System with less than full-time creditable service before January 28, 1993 will now receive full-time creditable service for that time. This means that the pro-rated creditable service earned for part-time work prior to January 28, 1993 will no longer be pro-rated.

The State Retirement Board's decision came about because of a Supreme Judicial Court decision in the case of Madden v. Contributory Retirement Appeal Board, litigated by Massachusetts Teachers Association Attorney Sandra Quinn. The Madden case involved the Massachusetts Teachers Retirement Board (MTRB). Prior to 1990, the MTRB policy was to give a full year of creditable service for every year of part-time employment for teachers in the system. In 1990, the MTRB approved a new regulation providing for pro-rated creditable service for part-time employment. The MTRB then began to pro-rate all creditable service for part-time service, even that earned prior to 1990. MTA challenged the new policy as it was applied to a teacher through administrative and judicial fora. The Supreme Judicial Court found that the MTRB could pro-rate a member's part-time creditable service only after the regulation went into effect in 1990.

The State Retirement Board's policy change is in direct response to that decision. Why January 23, 1993? That was the date that the State Retirement Board approved a regulation analogous to the MTRB regulation at issue in Madden. The State Retirement Board regulation reads:

Part-time employees shall receive credit for service based on the number of hours worked in proportion to a regular work week (i.e., a person working 30 hours per week in an agency which has a regular week of 40 hours, would receive 9 months of service for each year of employment).

All of the implications of this change for MSCA members are being reviewed. The MTA Division of Higher Education has requested a legal opinion from MTA Legal Services. When that review has been completed the information will be reported in the Perspective, so keep an eye on upcoming editions if you believe this policy change may apply to you.

If you believe that your creditable service calculation will be affected by this change, it is recommended that you contact the State Retirement Board and request an updated creditable service calculation. If you feel there is a discrepancy, please contact your local chapter president.