Pension Fund Interfered With Military Benefit Rights

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By Jacklyn Wille

Feb. 2 — A multiemployer pension plan violated federal law protecting military service members when it imposed additional restrictions on the ability to receive pension benefits based on periods of military service, a federal court ruled.

According to the court, a plan provision conditioning certain benefits on a service member's completion of 300 work hours following deployment was preempted by the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, which provides job and benefit protections for members of the military.

The court explained that USERRA lists the criteria that workers must satisfy to receive pension credit for periods of military service, including making a timely application for reemployment upon their return. The pension fund's attempt to impose additional conditions on service members' benefits ran afoul of USERRA and was therefore preempted, the court found.

Although the court found that the plan violated USERRA on its face, it didn't go so far as awarding benefits to the naval officer who filed suit. Rather, it found genuine questions about whether the officer validly applied for reemployment within the time frame required by USERRA after his multiple deployments.

The decision was entered Feb. 1 by Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

For More Information

For more information, see Compensation and Benefits Library’s Military Leave chapter.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jacklyn Wille in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at