Maryland State Retirement and Pension System Notice Extending Certain Time Requirements
Changes due to COVID-19 State of Emergency

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This notice is given by the Board of Trustees of the Maryland State Retirement and  Pension System (“System”) on March 30, 2020, acting pursuant to the Proclamation of Governor Lawrence J. Hogan, Jr. (the Governor”) dated March 5, 2020 proclaiming a state of emergency and a catastrophic health emergency related to COVID-19 (“State of Emergency”), as it may be amended or renewed from time to time, and the Order of the Governor dated March 12, 2020 entitled “Extending Certain Licenses, Permits, Registrations, and Other Governmental Authorizations, and Authorizing Suspension of Legal Time Requirements,” as it may be amended from time to time, after finding that the action(s) described herein will not endanger the public health, welfare, or safety.

A. Disability Retirement

1. Accepting a disability award. A disability retirement applicant who is granted a disability retirement is required to accept a retirement allowance by properly completing and submitting an application to the State Retirement Agency (“Agency”) within 120 days of the date of written notice from the Agency’s Disability Unit, or the applicant’s file is closed and the disability claim is terminated. See Code of Maryland Regulations (“COMAR”) 22.06.01.05B(4); COMAR 22.06.03.03C(3); and 22.06.05.03B and .04B. If the 120-day time period for a disability applicant falls in whole or in part within the time period of the State of Emergency, then the applicant’s deadline to accept a retirement allowance is extended until the later of 120 days of the date of the written notice of the Agency’s Disability Unit, or 30 days after the State of Emergency expires.

2. Diligent pursuit of disability claims. A disability applicant must diligently pursue the applicant’s claim for disability by, among other things, providing the Agency any requested information or documentation within 45 days of the date of the request by the Agency or the medical board. The Agency may provide not more than one extension of this time requirement, not to exceed 45 days. See COMAR 22.06.01.05. If the 45-day time period to respond to a request for information or documentation (or a 45-day extension period) falls in whole or in part within the time period of the State of Emergency, then the deadline to provide requested information or documentation is extended until the later of 45 days of the date of the request, or 30 days after the State of Emergency expires.

3. Requests for Reconsideration. If a disability applicant disagrees with the recommendation of the medical board regarding the applicant’s claim, the applicant may request reconsideration by submitting a written request and any additional documentation to the Agency’s Disability Unit within 30 days of the date of the Disability Unit’s notice. See COMAR 22.06.03.03C. If the 30-day time period to request reconsideration falls in whole or in part within the time period of the State of Emergency, then the deadline to request reconsideration is extended until 30 days after the State of Emergency expires.

4. Appeal of Denial of Disability Claim. A disability applicant may appeal the denial of a disability claim by submitting a written request for hearing to the Executive Director within 30 days of the Disability Unit’s written notice of the denial of the disability claim. See COMAR 22.06.03.01A(3); COMAR 22.06.05.04C and .05. If the 30-day time period to appeal the denial of a disability claim falls in whole or in part within the time period of the State of Emergency, then the deadline to request an appeal is extended until 30 days after the State of Emergency expires.

5. Acceptance of disability application from a surviving beneficiary. A surviving beneficiary of a deceased member may submit a preliminary application for disability retirement or application for disability retirement that was signed and dated by the deceased member within 7 days of the date of death, if the surviving beneficiary submits the application on or before 30 days after the date of the death of the member. See State Personnel and Pensions Article (“SPP”), § 29-104(d), Annotated Code of Maryland. In the event of the death of a member during the State of Emergency, the member’s surviving beneficiary may submit a disability application that was signed and dated by the deceased member within 30 days of the date of the death of the member, if the application is submitted to the Agency on or before 30 days after the State of Emergency expires.

B. Service Retirement

1. Effective date of a service retirement allowance and eligibility for unused sick leave credit. A member or former member who is eligible to retire at the time of separation from employment may not retire with a normal service retirement allowance or early service retirement allowance until the later of the first day of the month after separation from employment, or the first day of the month after submission of a properly completed retirement application. See SPP §§ 22-403, 23-403, 24-402, and 25-402; COMAR 22.01.14.03A(3) and B. A member who retires within 30 days after separation from employment is entitled to receive creditable service for unused sick leave in accordance with SPP § 20-206. If a member separates from employment during the State of Emergency, or separated from employment within 30 days prior to the State of Emergency, the member’s submission shall be considered timely, and the member therefore may retire on the first day of the month after separation from employment and retain eligibility for any unused sick leave credit, if the Agency receives the member’s properly completed retirement application on or before 30 days after the State of Emergency expires.

2. Change of optional form of allowance. A member who has elected an optional form of allowance may change that election only if the member submits a written request to change the election to the Agency before the first allowance payment normally becomes due. See SPP § 21-401(c). If a member retires during the State of Emergency, then the deadline to submit a written request to change the optional form of allowance is extended until the later of the date the first allowance payment normally becomes due, or 30 days after the State of Emergency expires.

C. Public Information Act Requests. The Agency shall endeavor to comply with the time requirements set forth in the General Provisions Article (“GP”),§ 4-203, Annotated Code of Maryland, and COMAR 22.01.02.05 and .06. However, in the event that compliance with the time requirements set forth in GP§ 4-203 and COMAR 22.01.02.05 and .06 is impracticable during the State of Emergency due to limited access to physical documents, restrictions upon the communications, movements, or working hours of Agency personnel, or other exigencies arising solely due to the State of Emergency, the Agency may extend the time period to respond to a request under the Public Information Act to not later than 30 days after the State of Emergency expires, by providing notice to the applicant.

D. Domestic Relations Orders. Parties who wish to dispute the method of distribution of benefits in the Agency’s Notice of Administration (“NOA”) of an Eligible Domestic Relations Order (“EDRO”) may advise the Agency of their disagreement in writing within 45 days of the date that a NOA is sent to the parties to the EDRO. COMAR  22.01.03.04C(l). If the Agency determines that a genuine dispute exists regarding proper interpretation of the EDRO, the parties have 3 months, following the Agency’s receipt of the notice of disagreement, in which to submit a consent agreement or amended EDRO addressing and resolving the disagreement. COMAR 22.01.03.04C(4). If a member or alternate payee receives a NOA during the State of Emergency, then the deadline for advising the Agency in writing of a disagreement is extended until the later of 45 days after the date a Notice of Administration is sent to the parties, or 30 days after the State of Emergency expires. If a member submits a notice of disagreement with a NOA during the State of Emergency, then the deadline to s submit a consent agreement or amended EDRO is extended until the later of 3 months after the Agency received the notice of disagreement, or 30 days after the State of Emergency expires.

Any effect of statute, rule, or regulation inconsistent with the foregoing is hereby suspended.

This Notice is effective immediately and shall remain in effect until 30 days after the State of Emergency has been terminated and the proclamation of the catastrophic health emergency has been rescinded.

R. Dean Kenderdine
Executive Director, State Retirement Agency
On behalf of the Board of Trustees for the
Maryland State Retirement and Pension System