December 2012
November 26, 2012

ERS: Administrative hearings may help resolve disputes

Source: NYSUT United

Would you know what to do if you believed you were wrongly denied a retirement benefit or you think your pension was improperly calculated?

If such an event occurs, you should contact the Employees' Retirement System (ERS). If the matter cannot be resolved, you still have a legal recourse.

After the retirement system has issued a final administrative determination on the matter, you may request a hearing and redetermination to be held before a hearing officer.

Our Hearing Administration & Matrimonial Bureau has recently taken several steps to make the process more transparent and efficient.

For instance, when retirement system determinations are based on medical records, members are sent copies of those records on a compact disk before the hearing. This enables the member to review the records and supplement them if need be. A transcript of the hearing may also be provided to the member on a CD. To protect your privacy, these files are always provided in an encrypted, password-protected format.

Another way we try to make things easier for our members is by allowing hearings to be conducted by video conference — in 2011, 72 percent of our hearings were conducted in this manner.

Video hearings are currently held in Buffalo, Manhattan, Poughkeepsie, White Plains, Syracuse, Binghamton, Rochester and Hauppauge.

Q: Where can I learn more about administrative hearings?

A: You can learn more about the hearings process at our Administrative Hearings – Frequently Asked Questions page at www.osc.state.ny.us/retire/members/hearing_faq.htm.

Q: Are previous hearing decisions available on the system's website?

A: Yes. They are available on our Hearings Database, https://nysosc9.osc.state.ny.us/product/ihod.nsf, so members can see how similar issues were handled.

Q: I understand that a Domestic Relations Order is necessary in order to divide my pension if I get divorced. Where do I start?

A: Since retirement benefits are considered marital property, any division of your benefits must be stated in the form of a Domestic Relations Order (DRO).

We recently developed a worksheet which provides you with all of your plan and benefit information in a DRO format. This document is now available on our website at www.osc.state.ny.us/retire/members/divorce/dro_form/overview.php. DRO proposals that are prepared using this template will be given priority review, and can be emailed, along with scanned copies of your judgment of divorce, to our Matrimonial Bureau at dro@osc.state.ny.us.

Q: How can I get more information?

A: Contact the Hearings Administration unit by emailing hearings@osc.state.ny.us, or send a letter to Hearing Administration & Matrimonial Bureau, New York State & Local Retirement System, 110 State Street, Mail Drop 7-9A, Albany, New York 12244-0001.

You can also contact our Call Center toll-free at 866-805-0990 or 518-474-7736 in the Albany, New York area.