ARTICLE 4 - FIREMEN'S PENSION ACCOUNT REFORM ACT OF 1981
 
15-5-401.  Citation.
 
This article is known as the "Firemen's Pension Account Reform Act of 1981".
 
15-5-402.  Definitions.
 
(a)  As used in this article:
 
(i)  "Account" means the firemen's pension account established by W.S. 15-5-202;
 
(ii)  "Board" means the retirement board established by W.S. 9-3-404 and includes all the powers and duties enumerated in W.S. 9-3-401 through 9-3-429;
 
(iii)  "Compensation" means all salary or wages payable to a member for service including contributions required by W.S. 15-5-420. For purposes of computing benefits under this article, compensation shall include only compensation on which contributions have been paid pursuant to W.S. 15-5-420 and 15-5-421;
 
(iv)  "Credited service" means for any member, service as an employee;
 
(v)  "Dependent" means a dependent child or dependent parent;
 
(vi)  "Dependent child" means a person who is unmarried and either:
 
(A)  Has not attained age eighteen (18); or
 
(B)  Has attained age eighteen (18) but not age twenty-three (23) and is attending school on a full-time basis; or
 
(C)  Has attained age eighteen (18) and is permanently disabled as the result of a disability which began before he attained age eighteen (18).
 
(vii)  "Disability" means a medically determined physical or mental impairment which renders the member unable to function as a paid firefighter and which is reasonably expected to last at least twelve (12) months;
 
(viii)  "Employee" means any individual regularly employed and paid by any city, town, county or fire protection district for devoting his entire time of employment to the care, operation and requirements of a regularly constituted fire department;
 
(ix)  "Employer" means any incorporated municipality, county or fire protection district offering fire protection or public safety services employing one (1) or more members;
 
(x)  "Final average compensation" means one thirty-sixth (1/36) of the compensation paid to an employee during any period of thirty-six (36) consecutive months in his years of credited service in which his compensation was highest;
 
(xi)  "Inactive member" means a member who:
 
(A)  Has terminated service;
 
(B)  Is not eligible to begin receiving a service or disability pension; and
 
(C)  Has neither applied for nor received a refund of his contributions.
 
(xii)  "Member" means an employee whose compensation is not subject to the federal old-age, survivors and disability insurance tax and who either is first hired on or after July 1, 1981 or who elects coverage under the provisions of W.S. 15-5-418;
 
(xiii)  "Pension system" means the retirement and disability plans for employees covered under the provisions of this article or W.S. 15-5-201 through 15-5-209;
 
(xiv)  "Primary survivor" means any person in the following order of priority, unless the priority is changed by the member on a form prescribed by the board and filed with the board at the time of the member's death:
 
(A)  The surviving spouse; or
 
(B)  If there is no eligible surviving spouse, a dependent child, or with the survivor's pension divided among them in equal shares, all such children, including any resulting from a pregnancy prior to the member's death.
 
(xv)  "Retired member" means any member who has terminated service, other than an inactive member, who is eligible to receive a service or disability pension under this article.
 
15-5-403.  Eligibility for service pension.
 
(a)  A member is eligible to receive a service pension after he has terminated employment beginning with the month when he has four (4) years of credited service and has attained age fifty (50).
 
(b)  Repealed By Laws 1998, ch. 75, § 2.
 
(c)  An inactive member with a vested right to a service pension is eligible to receive such pension, computed in accordance with the provisions of this article in effect when he ceased to be an employee, beginning with the first month after his attainment of age fifty (50).
 
(d)  For purposes of this section, credited service includes any period during which a member is receiving a disability pension as provided by this article.
 
15-5-404.  Vesting rights; return to service.
 
(a)  A member who has four (4) years of credited service has a vested right to a service pension payable as provided in W.S. 15-5-403(c).
 
(b)  If a member who has less than four (4) years of credited service ceases to be an employee, his service credits to the date of termination shall be cancelled unless:
 
(i)  He again becomes an employee within four (4) months after his cessation of employment; or
 
(ii)  He subsequently acquires four (4) years of credited service; and
 
(iii)  If he has withdrawn his contributions he repays them with interest at a rate determined by the board and remains employed for not less than two (2) continuous years following the date or reemployment.
 
(c)  For purposes of this section, credited service includes any period during which a member is receiving a disability pension under this article.
 
(d)  The board shall adopt rules to allow service for any period of time, after commencement of participation under this article, which an employee spends in active military or other emergency service of the United States as required by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, 38 U.S.C. 4301 et seq.
 
15-5-405.  Eligibility for disability pension.
 
(a)  A member, not otherwise eligible for a service pension, who suffers a disability is eligible for a disability pension.
 
(b)  The determination of disability shall be made by the board in accordance with rules and regulations adopted by the board for this purpose.  The board may require physician reports, medical examinations, psychological examinations, functional capacity evaluations, vocational examinations and other necessary reports and examinations in determining a disability under this subsection and in reviewing any disability under subsection (c) of this section.  The cost of any functional capacity evaluation, vocational examination or other specialized test incurred pursuant to this section shall be paid from the account.
 
(c)  The board may annually review the status of any member receiving a disability benefit under this article and may require any member receiving a disability benefit who is not eligible for normal retirement benefits under W.S. 15-5-403, to submit to any examination, test or evaluation by a physician or other appropriate professional designated or approved by the board, as necessary for conducting a review under this subsection.  If a member refuses to submit to an examination, test or evaluation required under this subsection, benefit payments under this article shall be discontinued.
 
15-5-406.  Survivor benefits.
 
The eligible surviving spouse or dependents of a member shall receive a survivor's pension if the member dies from any cause while in service.
 
15-5-407.  Payment of service or early retirement pensions.
 
Service or early retirement pensions shall be made to a retired member for each month beginning with the month in which he is eligible to receive such pension and ending with the month in which he dies, unless an optional form has been elected in accordance with W.S. 15-5-413.
 
15-5-408.  Payment of disability pension.
 
(a)  Disability pension payments shall be made to a member for each month beginning with the month in which he is eligible to receive such pension and ending with the month in which he ceases to be eligible or dies, unless an optional form has been elected in accordance with W.S. 15-5-413.
 
(b)  If a member who is disabled recovers and is no longer totally or partially disabled, his disability pension shall be discontinued unless he has reached normal retirement age.
 
15-5-409.  Amount of service pension.
 
(a)  The amount of the monthly service pension payable to a retired member is:
 
(i)  Two and eight-tenths percent (2.8%) of his final average compensation multiplied by the number of years in his first twenty-five (25) years of his period of credited service.
 
(ii)  Repealed By Laws 2000, Ch. 43, § 2.
 
(iii)  Repealed By Laws 2008, Ch. 112, § 2.
 
(b)  For purposes of this section, credited service shall be measured in years taken to the nearest twelfth (1/12) of a year.
 
(c)  Benefits shall not be payable under the pension system to the extent that they exceed the limitations imposed by section 415(b) of the Internal Revenue Code.
 
15-5-410.  Repealed By Laws 1998, ch. 75, § 2.
 
15-5-411.  Amount of disability pension.
 
(a)  The disability pension shall be the greater of:
 
(i)  Fifty percent (50%) of final average compensation; or
 
(ii)  The service pension based on credited service accrued to the date of disability.
 
15-5-412.  Amount of survivor's pension.
 
(a)  The monthly survivor's pension payable to a member's eligible primary survivor or, if there is no eligible surviving spouse, then to his eligible surviving dependents, shall be equal to the greater of:
 
(i)  Fifty percent (50%) of final average compensation; or
 
(ii)  The service pension based on credited service accrued to the date of the member's death.
 
(b)  If the primary survivor is the surviving spouse, that person shall have been married to the deceased member for at least one (1) year before the date of death, unless the death was the result of an accident.
 
(c)  A survivor's pension shall begin with the month following the month in which the member dies.  If the pension is payable to a surviving spouse who subsequently dies, it is then payable in the following month to the next primary survivor as defined in W.S. 15-5-402(a)(xiv) or ceases with that month in the absence of eligible dependents.  If payable to a child who dies or fails to meet the conditions of eligibility in W.S. 15-5-402(a)(vi), the pension shall cease with that month.
 
15-5-413.  Optional forms of benefits.
 
(a)  Any member eligible for a service or disability pension may elect to receive one (1) of the following optional forms, in lieu of the pension computed in W.S. 15-5-409 through 15-5-411, which shall be the actuarial equivalent of the benefit to which he would otherwise be entitled:
 
(i)  A reduced pension payable to the retired member and upon his death all of the reduced pension to be paid to his surviving spouse;
 
(ii)  A reduced pension payable to the retired member and upon his death one-half (1/2) of the reduced pension to be paid to his surviving spouse;
 
(iii)  A benefit which provides reduced monthly service retirement payments with provision for the continuance of payments for ten (10) years certain and life thereafter.  If the retired member dies within ten (10) years after retirement, the remaining guaranteed payments shall be made to his designated beneficiary.  This beneficiary may be changed at any time by written notification to the board as provided in subsection (b) of this section;
 
(iv)  The largest possible benefit for life with no lump sum refund or benefit for anyone else upon the retired member's death;
 
(v)  Any other modified monthly service retirement benefit, including any other modified joint and survivor monthly service retirement benefit, actuarially determined, which the board approves.
 
(b)  An election of an optional benefit shall be in writing and filed with the board prior to the first benefit payment.  After an election of any of the options provided in subsection (a) of this section has been made and the member has cashed his first pension check, or sixty (60) days from the date of issuance of the check have elapsed, the election is irrevocable unless a beneficiary dies prior to the occurrence of either such event, in which case the election is void and the member may, by written notice to the board, designate a new beneficiary and may select a different option.  As provided in paragraph (a)(iii) of this section, upon written notice to the board, a member may change a beneficiary at any time within the ten (10) year period.
 
(c)  The retirement benefits payable under optional forms available under this section shall be the actuarial equivalent of the normal benefit form under W.S. 15-5-409.
 
15-5-414.  Death benefit.
 
Except as may otherwise be provided in any of the options under W.S. 15-5-413, upon the death of a member, inactive member, retired member or individual receiving a survivor's pension, there shall be paid to the designated beneficiary or beneficiaries or, in the absence of a designated beneficiary, to the estate of the member, inactive member, retired member or survivor, a lump sum equal to the excess, if any, of the accumulated member contributions without interest over the aggregate of all pension payments made.
 
15-5-415.  Withdrawal benefit.
 
(a)  The accumulated contributions without interest of a member who is neither eligible for a service nor disability pension, nor has a vested right to a service pension, shall be refunded upon his withdrawal from service.  There shall be a rebuttable presumption that a former member who fails to apply for a withdrawal benefit within five (5) years after the date of withdrawal has waived his right to such benefit.
 
(b)  If a member has a vested right to a service pension and withdraws from service and is not immediately eligible for a service or disability benefit, he may request a refund of his accumulated contributions without interest.  Refund of such contributions extinguishes all rights to any benefits under this article.
 
15-5-416.  Repealed By Laws 2012, Ch. 107, § 3.
 
15-5-417.  Application of benefits.
 
(a)  A service pension, disability pension, survivor's pension, death benefit or withdrawal benefit shall be paid only upon the filing of an application in a form prescribed by the board. A monthly benefit shall not be payable for any month earlier than the second month preceding the date on which the application for such benefit is filed.
 
(b)  The board may require any member, inactive member, retired member or eligible survivor to furnish any information as may be required for the determination of benefits under this article, if the determination of the pension is dependent upon that information. The board may withhold payment of any benefit, if the determination of the benefit is dependent upon the information and the member, inactive member, retired member or eligible survivor does not cooperate in the furnishing or procuring thereof.
 
15-5-418.  Election of membership.
 
(a)  A "paid fireman" as defined in W.S. 15-5-201(a)(xi) may elect to become a member, as defined in this article by filing an election with the board not later than December 31, 1981, or within thirty (30) days of return to service, if later, for any paid fireman who leaves service prior to July 1, 1981.
 
(b)  Commencing January 1, 1982, or thirty (30) days after return to service, if later, an electing member is covered by the provisions of this article, and all rights to a pension under W.S. 15-5-201 through 15-5-209 are extinguished. The member shall receive credited service for all prior service, not to exceed ten (10) years, which was recognized under W.S. 15-5-201 through 15-5-209. However, that credit may be reinstated only by payment of any contributions previously refunded with interest at the rate of eight percent (8%) per annum from the date of refund.
 
15-5-419.  Dual membership prohibited.
 
(a)  Any employee hired before July 1, 1981 is covered by the pension system specified in W.S. 15-5-201 through 15-5-209 unless he elects to become a member pursuant to W.S. 15-5-418. Any employee hired on or subsequent to July 1, 1981 is covered by the pension system specified in this article. No employee may be covered by the pension systems of both W.S. 15-5-201 through 15-5-209 and this article.
 
(b)  No paid employee shall participate as a member of the firemen's pension system established under this article and as a member of the volunteer firefighter and EMT pension account established under W.S. 35-9-616 through 35-9-628 if participation is based upon covered service with the same fire department.
 
15-5-420.  Member contributions.
 
(a)  Each employer shall deduct monthly from the compensation of each member participating in the account a sum equal to eight and seven hundred twenty-five thousandths percent (8.725%) of the member's compensation until June 30, 2014, and thereafter nine and two hundred forty-five thousandths percent (9.245%) of his compensation, and that amount shall be paid by the employer to the account.
 
(b)  The contributions required by subsection (a) of this section shall be paid by the employer for employees covered under this article in order to be treated as employer contributions for the sole purpose of determining tax treatment under the United States internal revenue code.
 
(c)  The contributions under subsection (b) of this section shall be paid from the source of funds which is used in paying salary to the employee. The employer may pay these contributions by a reduction in cash salary of the employee or by an offset against a future salary increase, or by a combination of a reduction in salary and an offset against a future salary increase, provided:
 
(i)  No such salary reduction or offset, or combination thereof, shall exceed the percentage amount actually being deducted from an employee's salary for contributions to the account as of July 1, 1983; and
 
(ii)  Any employer may pay any amount of an employee's share of retirement contributions without a salary reduction or offset, or combination thereof.
 
15-5-421.  Contribution by employer.
 
Each employer shall make monthly contributions to the account in an amount equal to the percentage contribution rate multiplied by the salaries paid to members of the account. The contribution rate, expressed as a percentage, shall be based on the results of actuarial valuations made at least every three (3) years.  The city's contribution rate shall be comprised of the normal cost plus the level percentage of salary payment required to amortize the actuarial liability over a period of forty (40) years from January 1, 1983, calculated on the basis of an acceptable actuarial reserve funding method approved by the board.
 
15-5-422.  Payments; when and how made; protections; nonassignability; qualified domestic relations order.
 
(a)  Payments made under this article shall be made to the beneficiaries on or before the fifth day of each month and shall be made by voucher drawn against the firemen's pension account and paid by the state auditor out of the account. No payments made under this article are subject to judgment, attachment, execution, garnishment or other legal process and are not assignable nor shall the board recognize any assignment nor pay over any sum assigned.
 
(b)  Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this section, payments under this article may be made in accordance with qualified domestic relations orders pursuant to W.S. 9-3-426.