APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, FIFTH DIVISION
510 N.E.2d 1222, 157 Ill. App. 3d 944, 110 Ill. Dec. 191 1987.IL.954
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Arthur L. Dunne, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE PINCHAM delivered the opinion of the court. SULLIVAN, P.J., and LORENZ, J., concur.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE PINCHAM
Plaintiff, Harry W. Cooper, a firefighter since 1951, received an off-duty injury in 1973 and was granted a nonduty disability pension by defendant River Forest Firemen's Pension Board of the village of River Forest (board). At the time of the injury Cooper was 47 years old and had 21 years and 11 months of active service.
In 1981 Cooper wrote the board that he would permanently retire from the fire department on January 1, 1982. The board ruled that if Cooper retired he would be paid a retirement pension based on the salary of a firefighter in 1973, the year Cooper went on disability pension, rather than a retirement pension based on the salary of a firefighter in 1982, the year of Cooper's permanent retirement. Cooper appealed the board's decision in a complaint for administrative review filed in the circuit court of Cook County.
Cooper argued before the trial court that he had over 20 years of credible service when he went on disability and that during his disability he could be called back to work as a firefighter. Cooper said Dwight Anderson, a deputy director of the State of Illinois Department of Insurance, said that a pension should be computed at an employee's salary at the time the employee went on pension and not when the employee went on disability. Cooper said a staff attorney in the Department of Insurance concurred with Deputy Director Anderson.
Cooper argued that there are three requirements which must be satisfied for a firefighter to receive a regular service pension. Those three requirements are (1) 20 years of credible service; (2) the firefighter is over 50 years old; and (3) the firefighter submits to the board his written application to retire. Cooper argued that he fulfilled each of the three requirements in that he had over 20 years of credible service, he was 59 years old and he submitted his application to retire to the board.
The board argued that when Cooper began receiving a nonduty disability pension, section 1-103.1 of the Pension Code of Illinois (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 108 1/2, par. 1-103.1) stated that any amendments to the Code would apply only to those persons who were in service as an employee under the retirement system on and after the effective date of the amendments. Cooper was not an employee of the River Forest fire department and was not a member of the pension fund on January 1, 1982, when the Code was amended, the board said, and he was not entitled to the increases in the pension upon his retirement "because he was not vested at that time with those things." The board argued that any additional compensation Cooper received would be improper because such compensation would be an expenditure of public funds for a private use.
The trial court reversed the board's decision and ruled that the amount of Cooper's pension should be based on the salary of a firefighter of Cooper's rank as of January 1, 1982, the day Cooper elected to permanently retire. We affirm.
We are called to decide whether Cooper is entitled to a pension based on the salary of a firefighter of his rank in 1973 when Cooper began receiving his disability pension or on the salary of a firefighter of his rank in 1982 when Cooper elected to permanently retire.
"A fireman who completes 20 years of service and is age 50 or more, and who is on the disability pension roll . . . may, at his option, by written application to the Board, continue to receive . . . a retirement pension for the remainder of his life, of 1/2 of his monthly salary at the date of his retirement on disability."
Section 4 -- 113 was amended by Public Act 82 -- 267, sec. 1, effective January 1, 1982, the day Cooper elected ...