AMHS Retiree Benefit Recalculation

If you were employed by the State of Alaska, Department of Transportation, Alaska Marine Highways System (AMHS) at the time of your retirement, your retirement benefit may be affected by a recent decision by the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) in OAH No. 12-1272-PER.

This case centered around whether, when an AMHS employee does not work for prolonged periods of time between ship assignments, these periods constitute leave without pay resulting in no PERS service accredit accrual. The administrative law judge found that time between assignments did not constitute leave without pay under the PERS statutes but left open the question whether such time may be disqualified for other reasons under the PERS statutes and regulations. Examples of when a protracted absence would result in a loss of PERS service credit include (but are not limited to) an authorized leave of absence without pay, an authorized leave of absence with pay during which the employee exhausted paid leave and went into leave without pay, a break in service, a disciplinary suspension, or a change in status from full-time to part-time or seasonal.  

In view of OAH No. 12-1272-PER, if you have eligible PERS service, you will have your service reviewed by the Division of Personnel and Labor Relations (DOPLR) to determine whether a change is warranted. Due to the large volume of these verifications and the requirement that DOPLR examine every pay period for each employee over many years, it will take approximately 12 to 18 months to complete the review project. It is not possible to predict when your verification will be reviewed within the project time period.

If DOPLR changes the amount of service credit you have accrued, it will send a revised verification of service to the Division of Retirement and Benefits (DRB). Once the Division has received a verification of service for you, it will review your benefit calculation for any adjustment. An adjustment to your retirement benefit will be retroactive to your original retirement date. 

If you have questions regarding the recalculation of your benefit, please contact Marla Christenson, Benefits Processing Manager at 465-4460 or at marla.christenson@alaska.gov.