HMBR Successfully Appeals A Circuit Court Decision That Reinstated Pension Credits Awarded To A Government Employee For Unqualified Prior Employment
The River Forest Township (Township), together with the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) successfully appealed a decision of the Cook County Circuit Court that had reinstated 198 months of “omitted service credit” awarded to a former Township employee for his prior employment with a non-profit entity not eligible to make IMRF contributions on behalf of their employees. In its August 31, 2020 decision (here), the Appellate Court vacated the Circuit Court’s decision and reinstated the 2018 IMRF Board decision that found the former Township employee had submitted an erroneous application for the omitted service that was mistakenly certified by the Township when he knew his former employer had never applied for or became a participating IMRF employer.
The Appellate Court found that in 2018 the IMRF Board had jurisdiction to review the initial approval of the service credit made in 2003 because it was not a final decision of the agency and found that the Board had the specific statutory authority to recoup benefits awarded in error. The Appellate Court also rejected the Circuit Court’s alternative holding that IMRF was equitably estopped in 2018 from correcting the 2003 error even though the former employee retired in 2015 with the erroneously awarded annuity benefits. The Township was represented in the Circuit Court and on appeal by Patrick Deady and Mikayla Hamilton from the firm’s Litigation Practice.