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Mandatory Retirement of Public Safety at Age 65

Town, and fire district, administrators – 

Please share this with other officials in your town as you deem appropriate.
Occasionally, we notify individuals (and their employers) that, by virtue of their position as a “public safety officer”, they are subject to the law(s) that requires retirement from public safety at age 65.  (See the attached sheet listing the pertinent sections of law.) It is always with great reluctance that the individual complies, because if they are still doing the job at age 65, it’s because they like it and are proud to serve their community – and of course the community suffers because these experienced people, in the case of call firefighters, are often the most available to respond in town during the day.  For this reason, small towns prefer to believe they are exempt from the provision, and I have spoken with a few towns to see if I can get some traction on the “exempt” concept.  However, I can find no legal evidence that that is the case.  (The only hint I found was an online newsletter for call firefighters, where the only fact the writer had was a strong opinion that call firefighters were exempt.)
The official word from our state oversight commission, PERAC, is that call firefighters* are included in the provision for mandatory retirement at age 65.  Therefore, that is our stance.  Call firefighters (chiefs also), part-time police, as well as all the full-time police and fire positions that have funds with us need to be done with us at age 65.  If they meet the requirements, they can retire, if not, they can take a refund, otherwise, we at least need official notice from the employer that they have retired their public safety position.  They can continue working for you in other positions, but until the law changes, they must “retire” their police and/or firefighter position(s).
We consider the Emergency Manager Director (“EMD”) position to be outside of the Age 65 restriction. The law specifically says, ” . . .  uniformed member of a paid fire department or uniformed member of a police department . . .”, and the intent of the law is assumed to be that there is greater risk of <whatever> and reduced ability after age 65 therefore people engaged in such activities should not be performing them after the age of 65. However, EMD is not specifically listed in the law, and, it is described to us as administrative only. Please note that if the person was doing the EMD job along with their public safety position (fire chief?) and they continue the EMD job after they retire/resign the public safety position, and the EMD annual salary is less than $5,000, then retirement deductions should cease on the EMD wages while they are less than the $5k. (If the wages are greater than $5k, and if they get special legislation passed that allows them to continue in the public safetly position beyone age 65, and the legislation requires that the retirment benefit revert back to their status at age 65, then it will be an odd situation and we will have to get legal advice as to whether the EMD position would still be pensionable.)
We believe this applies only to public safety positions – that are members of one of the 106 Massachusetts retirement systems. Although Section 2 of Chapter 415 of the Acts of 1987 (see our link to Age 65 laws below) does not expressly describe the connection to Chapter 32 (retirement law), the original section 1 (of 415) did make the reference. 
I know this is not helpful news, given how valuable to your community experienced (and available) personnel are. If the situation changes I will let you now.  (Perhaps you have the energy and will to pursue legislative change?)
Dale Kowacki
Executive Director, Franklin Regional Retirement System
*although they might be members of this retirement system, for other pending legal reasons, call  firefighters are classified as group 1.

Please click these items of interest for further reading:

Age 65 laws

Opinion letters from Exec Off Public Safety, and Perac

Wording for Special Legislation – Age 65 Group 4

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