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Frigiola v. State Board of Education

Decided: March 4, 1953.

NANCY FRIGIOLA, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS EXECUTRIX OF THE ESTATE OF ROSE FRIGIOLA, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION AND THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE TEACHERS' PENSION AND ANNUITY FUND, RESPONDENTS



Eastwood, Bigelow, and Jayne. The opinion of the court was delivered by Jayne, J.A.D.

Jayne

We acquire the following pertinent information from the stipulation of facts to which counsel for the appellant and respondent have subscribed. One Rose Frigiola was born on July 12, 1895. She attained the qualifications of a teacher and latterly pursued her vocation in the public school of Fairview, New Jersey, until she became physically incapacitated on June 30, 1948. She died on July 15, 1949.

She had, however, on September 14, 1929 applied for enrollment in the Teachers' Pension and Annuity Fund and received her certificate of membership on October 1, 1929. On December 12, 1929 a certificate of prior service was issued to her crediting her with ten years of service as a teacher in the public schools of New Jersey, in consideration of which she thereafter made the requisite contributions to the fund.

The "general administration and responsibility for the proper operation of the retirement system" (R.S. 18:13-24, et seq.) is delegated by the Legislature to a board of trustees. At a meeting of the board on March 8, 1929 it appears from the minutes that:

"The Board approved the text of a new Application for Retirement and Information to Applicants for Retirement, and authorized the secretary to have the new forms printed and put into use at the earliest possible date."

The application form so approved contained, inter alia , the following:

"* * * If Option I is requested, the retirement does not become effective earlier than thirty days from the time the Option I request is received in the Pension Fund office. Members who contemplate applying for retirement should therefore have their papers in the Pension Fund office in time for the board to act upon them in advance of the date on which their salary is to stop."

It may be explained that prior to March 8, 1929 all pensions for service and disability became effective upon approval by the board.

In the present case the chronology of the sequential occurrences is significant. On June 16, 1949 Rose Frigiola presented the formal application for the allowance to her of a total disability pension (Option I) with the supervising principal of the Fairview Public Schools, which after its augmentation was mailed to the office of the pension fund on June 20, 1949 and its receipt on June 22, 1949 acknowledged. On July 7, 1949 the board of trustees of the pension fund approved the disability retirement as of June 22, 1949 to become effective 30 days thereafter, namely on July 22, 1949.

The circumstance that the applicant died after the approval of her application but before the expiration of the 30-day period succeeding the receipt of the application has occasioned this litigation.

It seems evident that if the retirement pension under Option I accrued immediately upon its approval by the board the appellant as the present beneficiary is entitled to $9,575, and that if the pension did not accrue until the expiration of the 30-day period the appellant is entitled only to the accumulated ...


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