Calculating and Reporting Breaks in Service
The OSA receives questions from relief association trustees about how to report breaks in service for an association member and when breaks in service are deducted from a member’s creditable service time. In general, relief associations may only credit a member with service for periods during which the member was active and complied with all minimum service requirements established by the affiliated volunteer fire department and all minimum membership requirements established by the association.
The OSA is aware of only limited instances in which a volunteer fire relief association may provide active service credit to a member who did not meet the minimum active service and membership requirements. These limited instances include times when a volunteer firefighter is absent from firefighting service due to service in the uniformed services.
Minnesota law permits relief associations to prorate service credit on a monthly basis, and to define in the bylaws what constitutes a "month." The definition of a "month" must require a calendar month to have at least 16 days of active service. If the bylaws allow service credit to be prorated on a monthly basis but do not define a "month," a "month" must be a completed calendar month of active service measured from the member's date of entry to the same date in the subsequent calendar month.
We know of no authority for a relief association to allow a member to "make up" service credit in months that the member does not complete the minimum number of days of active service. We also know of no authority to issue a "warning" and provide service credit to a member who has not completed the minimum number of days of active service.
If a member has a break in active service because the member did not meet the minimum service or membership requirements, or because the member had requested a leave of absence, the break in service should be reported on the relief association’s annual reporting forms filed with our office. Relief associations should not adjust a member’s entry date or separation date to account for breaks in service.
Published last in the January 2012 Pension Newsletter