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The following opinion is presented on-line for informational use only and does not replace the official version. (Mich Dept of Attorney General Web Site - www.ag.state.mi.us)



Opinion No. 5762

August 27, 1980


Purchase of military service credit by spouse of deceased member

The Legislature has provided that only the member of the State Employees' Retirement System may purchase military service credit and the spouse of a deceased member may not purchase such credit.

Stephen Van Note


Bureau of Retirement Systems

Department of Management and Budget

Stevens T. Mason Building

Lansing, Michigan

You have requested an opinion which addresses the following question:

May the widow of a deceased state employee purchase the military service credit which her husband was eligible to purchase, but did not prior to his death?

The State Employees' Retirement Act, 1943 PA 240, Sec. 18(2), as last amended by 1978 PA 148 and 622; MCLA 38.18(2); MSA 3.981(18)(2), provides, in part:

'On or after January 1, 1978 a member of this retirement system who does not meet the requirements of subsection (1) and who was drafted, enlisted, inducted, or commissioned into active duty with the military or other armed service of the United States government may elect to receive service credit for not more than 5 years of active duty upon request and payment to the retirement system of an amount equal to 5% of the member's full-time compensation for the fiscal year in which payment is made multiplied by the years of service that the member elects to purchase up to the maximum. Service shall not be credited if it is or would be credited under any other federal, state, or local publicly supported retirement system, but this restriction shall not apply to those persons who have or will have acquired retirement eligibility under the federal government for service in the reserve. Armed service shall not be credited under this subsection until the member has accumulated 10 years of credited service. Armed service under this subsection shall not be creditable to a member on deferred retirement status under section 20(4) before the effective date of this subsection. For purposes of computing payment under this subsection, the compensation amount used shall not be less than the highest fiscal year compensation previously received by the member.' (Emphasis added.)

This section accords only 'members' the right to purchase military service credit.

'Member' is defined by 1943 PA 240, Sec. 1(e); MCLA 38.1; MSA 3.981(1), as follows:

'. . . any state employee included in the membership of the retirement system, as provided for in section 13 of this act.'

1943 PA 240, Sec. 13; MCLA 38.13; MSA 3.981(13), provides, in pertinent part:

'Membership in the retirement system shall consist of all state employees occupying permanent positions in the state civil service. . . .'

1943 PA 240, Sec. 16; MCLA 38.16; MSA 3.981(16), provides, in pertinent part:

'. . . In the event a member becomes a retirant or dies, he shall thereupon cease to be a member.'

From a reading of these provisions, it is clear that the widow of a deceased state employee member of the State Employees' Retirement System is not a 'member' of the State Employees' Retirement System in her own right and may not purchase the military service credit for the deceased member. Where the Legislature manifests its intent in clear and unambiguous language, a fair reading of the statute suffices and it is not open to construction. City of Grand Rapids v Crocker, 219 Mich 178; 189 NW 221 (1922). Although the deceased member may have had only a limited time to avail himself of the military credit provision, only the Legislature may amend the statute to permit the widow to purchase the military service credit.

It is, therefore, my opinion that the Legislature has provided for only the member of the State Employees Retirement System to purchase military service credit and the spouse of the deceased member may not purchase the military service credit.

Frank J. Kelley

Attorney General

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