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SILKITWA “SCOUT” FERREL vs. MONTANA STATE FUND

Workers' Compensation Court of the State of Montana

Is Petitioner receiving benefits “from a system that is an alternative to social security retirement”?

IN THE WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COURT OF THE STATE OF MONTANA 2017 MTWCC 6, WCC No. 2014-3352. SILKITWA “SCOUT” FERREL vs. MONTANA STATE FUND.

Summary: Petitioner and Respondent move for summary judgment on stipulated facts on three issues: (1) At the time Respondent terminated Petitioner’s PTD benefits, was Petitioner receiving benefits “from a system that is an alternative to social security retirement” within the meaning of § 39-71-710(1), MCA? (2) If Petitioner was receiving benefits “from a system that is an alternative to social security retirement,” is State Fund’s termination of Ferrel’s PTD benefits barred by the equitable defense(s) of estoppel and/or laches? (3) If State Fund’s termination of Ferrel’s PTD benefits is not barred by estoppel and/or laches, is § 39-71-710(1), MCA, constitutional?

Held: Because Petitioner’s receipt of retirement benefits from the Montana Highway Patrol Officers’ Retirement System does not preclude her from receiving them from Social Security when she is age-eligible, and she is not collecting retirement benefits from the Montana Highway Patrol Officers’ Retirement System instead of collecting them from Social Security, Petitioner was not receiving benefits “from a system that is an alternative to social security retirement” within the meaning of § 39-71-710(1), MCA. Thus, Respondent incorrectly determined that Petitioner was “retired,” and is liable for her PTD benefits from the time it terminated those benefits.

Judgement: Petitioner’s Motion for Summary Judgment is granted. Respondent shall reinstate Petitioner’s PTD benefits from the time it terminated those benefits. Respondent’s Motion for Summary Judgment is denied.

READ FULL DOCUMENT AT ORIGNAL SOURCE: http://wcc.dli.mt.gov/f/Ferrel_2017MTWCC6.pdf