June 29, 2004
Charlotte Hutchens, Ed.D., Superintendent
Raleigh County Schools
105 Adair Street
Beckley, WV 25801
Dear Dr. Hutchens:
I am in receipt of your request for a Superintendent?s Interpretation regarding West
Virginia Code ?18-7A-14b, Members' option to make contributions for periods of temporary
West Virginia Code ?18-7A-14b states:
?Any member who was absent from work while receiving temporary total disability
benefits pursuant to the provisions of chapter twenty-three of this code as a result
of a compensable injury received in the course of and as a result of his or her
employment with the covered employer, may purchase credited service for that time
period or those time periods the member was absent from work as a result of a
compensable injury and receiving temporary total disability benefits: Provided, That
the member returned to work with his or her covered employer within one year
following the cessation of temporary total disability benefits. The member desiring
to purchase such credited service may do so only by lump sum payment from
personal funds within two years of the end of the disability period for which credit
is sought to be purchased: Provided, however, That in order to purchase such
service credit, the member shall pay to the board his or her regular contribution and
an equal amount that represents the employer's contribution, based on the salary
the member was receiving immediately prior to having sustained such compensable
injury: Provided further, That the member purchasing service credit under the
provisions of this section may not be charged interest. The maximum number of
years of service credit that may be purchased under this section shall not exceed
two: And provided further, That each year purchased under this section shall count
as a year of experience for purposes of the increment set forth in section two or
section eight-a, article four, chapter eighteen-a of this code, as applicable.?
Specifically, you ask:
1. How do we know when an employee has purchased service credit? Should
there not be some notification mechanism from the Retirement Board?
The burden of notifying a county board of education that service credit has
been purchased and providing proper documentation thereof rests with the employee.
While it would be convenient for the Retirement Board to provide notice of an employee?s purchase of service credit directly to the county board, the State Superintendent cannot direct it to do so.
2. How do we know when to make the increment experience effective? Does
this credit go back to the year of the inquiry/absence, or does it go to the
date the purchase was made?
I believe that the county board is only required to make the experience
increment effective from the date of purchase provided that the employee notifies the
board that the purchase has been made. To do otherwise would unfairly disadvantage a county board which must operate on a projected yearly budget that does not contemplate providing back pay for the purchase of experience increments by employees, which act would not be predicated on any wrongdoing by the county board.
Hoping that I have been of service, I am
State Superintendent of Schools