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retirement benefits - Pamela Moore/iStockphoto.com Pamela Moore/iStockphoto.com

David Minsavage had been a teacher at Hanover Park High School for more than 24 years when, in August 2014, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. In November of that year, following advice provided by a representative of the New Jersey Education Association, he selected the option of “early retirement” on a retirement application. In fact, that option required 25 years of teaching service, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:66-113.1. In December 2014, as his illness progressed, Mr. Minsavage stopped teaching. On April 9, 2015, he died. His school listed his last day of teaching service as the day before his death. Because he had not completed 25 years of service at that time, the Division of Pensions and Benefits notified his wife that his retirement application would not be approved. In June 2015, his wife sought to modify retroactively his retirement application so as to select “ordinary disability” rather than early retirement. The facts adduced subsequently established that he would have been entitled to far greater benefits had he selected and qualified for ordinary disability rather than early retirement.

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