Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Aaron Jaffe, Judge Presiding.
Released for Publication July 14, 1994.
DiVito, Hartman, McCormick
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Divito
Presiding Justice DiVito delivered the opinion of the court:
Plaintiff Philomena Glynn brought this action in the circuit court for administrative review of the decision by the Retirement Board of the Policemen's Annuity and Benefit Fund of the City of Chicago ("Retirement Board"), rejecting her petition for additional compensation annuity benefits. The circuit court found that the Retirement Board erroneously refused to consider evidence regarding the correct birth date of her deceased husband. The court then granted her motion for summary judgment and remanded the matter to the Retirement Board so that it could grant her the additional benefits. On appeal, the Retirement Board contends that the circuit court erred in reversing its decision because under the Illinois Pension Code, the date of birth stated in the employment application is "conclusive." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 40, par. 5-223, now codified as 40 ILCS 5/5-223 (West 1992).) For the reasons that follow, we reverse the judgment of the circuit court.
On March 2, 1953, Thomas J. Glynn was appointed to the Chicagopolice department. In his application for employment with the Civil Service Commission, he stated that he was born on January 3, 1928. Similarly, on his enrollment form with the Retirement Board, he stated that his date of birth was January 3, 1928. Glynn died as a result of an injury sustained in the line of duty on September 20, 1974, and plaintiff began receiving widow's compensation annuity benefits.
On January 17, 1991, the Retirement Board sent plaintiff a letter informing her that because their records indicated that her husband would have turned 63 years old on January 3, 1991, she would no longer receive the compensation annuity, and instead would receive the lesser supplemental annuity benefit. Plaintiff filed a petition with the Retirement Board asserting that because Glynn was actually born on February 4, 1929, he would not have attained the age of 63 until February 4, 1992, and therefore she was entitled to the greater benefit until that time.
At the hearing on the petition, plaintiff offered into evidence certified copies of Glynn's birth certificate and baptismal records, both of which established that Glynn was born on February 4, 1929 rather than January 3, 1928. She also testified that throughout their marriage, their family had always recognized Glynn's birthday as February 4th. On cross-examination, she identified her husband's signature on the Civil Service Commission application.
The Retirement Board first noted that Glynn's enrollment form indicated that the date of birth of January 3, 1928 had been verified with the Civil Service Commission on July 21, 1953, and then unanimously voted to deny plaintiff's petition because section 5-223 of the Pension Code provides that the age stated in the employment application is conclusive evidence for purposes of the statute.
One of the board members then told plaintiff:
"Mrs. Glynn, you understand how we feel? We're faced with the statute, what's written in the statute.
I have talked with you on the phone before and I want to tell you that I have requested the [Fraternal Order of Police] to look into statutory changes as far as what a surviving spouse might be entitled to. I have reminded them about that. I don't want you to feel as though we have forgotten you. We haven't. We're sort of tied with this particular decision.
I hope you'll understand that."
Plaintiff then filed a complaint for administrative review in the circuit court, alleging that the Retirement Board's decision was not in accordance with the law. Plaintiff ...