The OSA has seen compliance issues related to the distribution of service pensions and benefits to relief association members who are not yet eligible for the distribution.
To be eligible for a relief association service pension, a member must (1) separate from active service with the fire department and separate from active membership in the association, (2) be at least age 50 or at least the minimum retirement age specified in the bylaws if greater than 50, and (3) complete the minimum service and membership requirements to be vested.
To be eligible for a disability benefit, a member must (1) separate from active service with the fire department and separate from active membership in the relief association, and (2) comply with all disability benefit eligibility requirements specified in the relief association’s bylaws. A relief association’s bylaws may require, for example, that the member provide documentation from a doctor that confirms the member’s inability to continue firefighting duties.
A relief association cannot pay a service pension or benefit to a member who has not yet separated from active service as a volunteer firefighter. In addition, Minnesota law currently does not permit a relief association to make hardship distributions to members who are not yet eligible for a distribution, but who have a financial need or hardship.
Published last in the November 2018 Pension Newsletter