Petitions and appeals

If you receive a decision about your retirement benefits from the Department of Retirement Systems (DRS) that you don’t agree with, there are steps you can take. We want you to have every right and every benefit you are eligible to receive. In determining your benefits, our Plan Administrators answer requests about the rights of retirement system members, beneficiaries and employers and make decisions about benefits such as service credit, plan membership and disability retirement rights. If your request isn’t granted, or you’re not satisfied with the results, you may ask a different DRS representative to review the Plan Administrator's decision.

Here are the steps of the petitions and appeals process:

  1. You ask the Plan Administrator to review your rights
  2. The Plan Administrator makes a decision you don’t agree with
  3. You file a petition
  4. You don’t agree with the results of the petition
  5. You file an appeal

Your rights

At each step, DRS respects your right to:

  • Be heard: You have a right to explain why you want DRS to grant your request
  • Respond: When someone opposes your request, you have a right to know who they are and why they are involved in your petition or appeal
  • Understand: You have a right to have procedures clearly explained to you, and to understand the steps in the petition or appeal process
  • Ask questions: You have a right to ask any questions you have, and to receive clear, prompt responses from DRS
  • A fair decision: You have a right to expect fairness and impartiality from DRS
  • A complete decision: You have a right to expect a careful, thoughtful explanation of any petition or appeal decision

Filing a petition

If you don’t agree with the Plan Administrator’s decision, you may file a petition. The DRS Petition Examiner handles the petition process and writes the petition decision. The petition process is informal and is generally conducted on written documents. There is no hearing involved.

Here’s what you need to remember and what you need to include when filing a petition:

The deadline

You must file your petition within 120 days of the date you receive the Plan Administrator's decision.

What to include in your petition

Your petition should contain:

  • Your name, address, telephone number and signature 
  • The name, address and telephone number of your attorney (if you have one) 
  • An explanation of the facts 
  • Copies of any relevant documents 
  • A specific statement of what you are asking DRS to do (or not do)

Where to file a petition

Send or deliver your petition to:

Department of Retirement Systems
Attention: Petition Examiner
PO Box 48380
Olympia, WA 98504-8380

Street Address:

6835 Capitol Boulevard
Tumwater, WA 98501

What you can expect

The Petition Examiner will review your submission, including DRS records and other relevant information. The Petition Examiner will enter a written decision and mail it to you and to other interested parties.

Filing an appeal

If you don’t agree with the petition decision, you may file an appeal. The DRS Presiding Officer handles appeals and writes the appeal decision (which will be the final order). An appeal is more formal than a petition and may involve a hearing to discuss the evidence.

Note: If you are representing yourself in the appeal proceedings, please review the section representing yourself in a retirement appeal.

Here’s what you need to remember and what you need to include when filing an appeal:

The deadline

You must file your appeal within 60 days of the date you receive the Petition Decision.

What to include in your appeal

Your appeal should contain the specific information set out in Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 415-08-023. A general summary of that information includes:

  • Your name, address, signature and employer
  • Your attorney’s name and address (if you have one)
  • A description of the decision you are appealing, and why it is unfair or illegal
  • An explanation of the facts
  • Copies of any relevant documents
  • A specific statement of what you are asking DRS to do (or not do)
  • A statement that you have read the notice of appeal and believe it to be true

How and where to file

Send or deliver your appeal to:

Department of Retirement Systems
Attention: Presiding Officer
PO Box 48380
Olympia, WA 98504-8380

Street Address:

6835 Capitol Boulevard
Tumwater, WA 98501

What you can expect

There are usually two parties involved in an appeal — you and DRS (an Assistant Attorney General will represent DRS). The Presiding Officer will conduct a preliminary telephone conference, establish an appeal schedule, review the information submitted by both parties and, if necessary, conduct a hearing. The Presiding Officer will then write a decision and mail it to the parties.

Where to get more information about petitions and appeals

For more specific information about petitions, you can read the DRS petition rules in Chapter 415-04 of the Washington Administrative Code (WAC). If you have questions, please contact the DRS Petition Examiner at 360-664-7307.

For more specific information about appeals, read the DRS appeal rules in Chapter 415-08 WAC. Additional appeal rules are in Chapter 10-08 WAC (the procedural rules for adjudicative proceedings).

For information on appeals that have been decided, see Disposition of Administrative Appeals 2003‐Present (PDF).  

If you have questions, please contact the DRS Appeals Coordinator at 360-664-7294.

The provisions governing petitions and appeals are contained in the Revised Code of Washington and Washington Administrative Code. This information is a summary of those provisions, not a complete description of the law. If there are any conflicts between what is written in this publication and what is contained in the law, the applicable law will govern.