Interpretation's Date: June 29, 2004
by superintendent David Stewart
Section: VIII. Finance

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 total disability.

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


David Stewart
State Superintendent of Schools



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