Attorneys Explain the CalSTRS Appeals Process–
The CalSTRS retirement pension plan for educators in California is one of the best in the country – that is until benefits are wrongly denied. Then it can be a nightmare for a dedicated and deserving teacher who needs their hard-earned retirement benefits.
As experienced CalSTRS attorneys, we are frequently asked by our educator clients how they can appeal a CalSTRS denial of retirement pension benefits.
If you are an educator in California, this article will explain the general appeals process for CalSTRS benefits. However, every case and situation is different and there is no substitute for the advice and representation of a CalSTRS attorney.
Our experienced CalSTRS attorneys have helped thousands of educators in Los Angeles, Long Beach, Anaheim and Southern California get the CalSTRS benefits they deserve. After reading this article, you are welcome to call us for a free consultation & advice on how the CalSTRS appeals process applies to you.
How to Appeal a CalSTRS Pension Decision
Step 1: CalSTRS Executive Review
Any employee who disagrees with a benefits decision by the director of a CalSTRS program area may request a review of that decision by the program’s executive.
Step 2: CalSTRS Administrative Hearing
If the employee disagrees with the program executive’s determination, they may then request an administrative hearing, heard by an administrative law judge. The judge will issue a Proposed Decision. However, the Teachers’ Retirement Board will consider the Proposed Decision and then make the final CalSTRS benefit decision.
Attorneys Explain Executive Review of CalSTRS Pension Denial
If you disagree with an initial benefits decision by the director, you must request an Executive Review program’s executive within 45 days of the date of the letter informing you of the CalSTRS decision.
Your request for an Executive Review must include a statement of all pertinent facts, any Education Code or other law supporting your position, and any other information relevant to your claim for CalSTRS benefits.
The Executive Review will be conducted by the Executive Review Committee (ERC). The ERC will then prepare a written analysis and issues a determination.
If you are not granted an Executive Review – or if you disagree with the Executive Review Committee’s determination, the next step is to request an Administrative Hearing.
Attorneys Explain CalSTRS Administrative Hearings
To appeal the Executive Review Committee’s decision you must request an administrative hearing within 90 days from the date of the ERC response. The Office of Administrative Hearings will schedule the hearing and notify you of the time, date and location of the hearing.
The hearing is what is called a “full evidentiary hearing” – which means it is much like an actual full-blown Court Case. Evidence may be presented and witnesses may be called. Proper procedures according to the hearing laws must be followed. CalSTRS may be represented by the state attorney general or by their own attorney.
For this reason it is essential that you are represented by an experienced CalSTRS attorney at this stage of your benefits appeal. You will be “up against” an experienced attorney representing CalSTRS and you will be expected to follow proper rules, laws and procedures. Only an experienced attorney can “fight fire with fire” and give you the best shot at collecting the CalSTRS benefits that you deserve.
With 30 days after the hearing, the administrative law judge will submit their Proposed Decision to CalSTRS. CalSTRS will provide all parties with a copy of the Proposed Decision within 30 days. The Teachers’ Retirement Board will then consider the Proposed Decision and then make the final CalSTRS benefit decision. The Teachers’ Retirement Board Appeals Committee has 100 days to must decide whether or not to adopt the Proposed Decision. The board’s Appeals Committee has the final authority to act on behalf of the board.
If the Appeals Committee adopts the Proposed Decision, then that is the final decision and the end of the case. However, in cases where the Appeals Committee does not adopt the Proposed Decision, they must either send it back to the administrative law judge – or decide the matter themselves at a meeting of the Appeals Committee.
If you disagree with the Appeals Committee’s decision, you or your attorney may ask the committee to reconsider its decision. Or you and your attorney may appeal the case to Superior Court.
Our Los Angeles CalSTRS Pension Attorneys Can Help
Our attorneys are CalSTRS benefit experts. If you are having difficulty collecting your CalSTRS benefits – or you think you have been wrongly denied your Cal STRS Pension Benefits – call us for a FREE Consultation with an experienced CalSTRS attorney.
We have helped hundreds of teachers in Los Angeles, Long Beach, Anaheim and Southern California get the CalSTRS benefits they deserve. We can help you, too.