COA Opinion: Medical examiner’s report must certify permanent disability before State Employees Retirement Board may retire an employee
In Polania v. State Employees Retirement Board, the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld the Board’s conclusion that it lacks discretion to retire employees against the medical examiner’s recommendation. MCL 38.24(1)(b). The plaintiff sought to retire from the Department of Human Services due to various conditions such as bi-polar disorder, diabetes, and other physical and emotional problems. Two medical examiners concluded that these conditions did not amount to a permanent, total disability. Based on this finding, the Board denied the plaintiff’s request for non-duty disability retirement. The circuit court reversed the Board’s decision, concluding that the medical examiner’s report was not the last word, and that substantial evidence did not support it. The court of appeals reversed, noting that the Legislature amended MCL 38.24 in 2002, and “unambiguously limited” the Board’s discretion to retire employees to those situations where all criteria, including the medical examiner’s certification, are met. Thus, the appellate court reversed the decision of the circuit court and affirmed the Board’s decision to deny the plaintiff’s retirement.