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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

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.

If you don’t agree with the Plan Administrator’s decision, you may file a petition within 120 days of your receipt of the decision. The DRS Petition Examiner handles the petition process and writes the petition decision. The petition process is informal and generally conducted using written documents. There’s no hearing involved.

Your petition should include:

  • 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)

 

Submit your petition to DRS by email at drs.petitions@drs.wa.gov or by mail:

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

Do not send via any method requiring DRS to sign upon receipt.

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.

If you don’t agree with the petition decision, you may file an appeal within 60 days of receiving the decision. The 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.

 

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 to identify the issue, schedule pre hearing dates and the date and location of the hearing.  After the hearing, The Presiding Officer will then write a decision and mail it to the parties.

 

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
  • 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

 

Submit your appeal to DRS by email at drs.appeals@drs.wa.gov or by mail:

 

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

Do not send via any method requiring DRS to sign upon receipt.

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 Coordinator at 360-664-7940.

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). 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.

Updating Your Address and/or Name

Retirees, inactive members, beneficiaries and legal-order payees: You can update your address from your online retirement account. Just select “Address” from the welcome screen. If you need to update your name, fill out and send in a printed form as well as a copy of documentation showing the change.

Active members: Update your name and/or address through your employer. That new information will soon appear in your online retirement account.

Direct Deposit

Set up and manage direct deposit of your benefit payments from your online retirement account. Just follow the “Direct Deposit” directions under “My Account” in the navigation menu.

(If you prefer to fill out and mail in a printed form, select this link.)

Beneficiary Designation

Members, you can update your beneficiary information from your online retirement account. Select “My Account” in the navigation menu and then “View/Edit” beside “Beneficiary.”

(If you prefer to fill out and mail in a printed form, select this link.)