Shorter Vesting Allowed for Firefighters Who Return to Service
Relief associations have authority to define a separate vesting requirement for members who return to active service after being paid a service pension or disability benefit. The vesting requirement for these specific “return to service” members can be lower than the vesting requirement for other members, and applies only to members who return to the same fire department after being paid a service pension or disability benefit from the affiliated relief association.
A member who is paid a service pension must have a break in service of at least 60 days before the individual may return to active fire department service and relief association membership. Upon a resumption of active service, the member starts over in accruing service credit and must become vested again based solely on the resumption period of service to become eligible for a second service pension distribution.
A relief association that wants to define shorter vesting requirements for members who are paid a service pension and then return to active service and membership must do so by amending the bylaws.
For example, a relief association may specify in its bylaws that members who return after being paid a service pension or benefit have a vesting requirement of three years, and become fully vested immediately after three years of resumption service.
As another example, a relief association may specify in its bylaws that members who return after being paid a service pension or benefit have graduated vesting, with a member being 50 percent vested after one year of resumption service and vesting increasing in 10 percent increments for each additional resumption year.
Relief associations that pay monthly service pensions specify in the bylaws whether the monthly payments continue or cease (to resume once service ends again) during the member’s resumption period of service.
Published last in the April 2022 Pension Newsletter