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DROP(Deferred Retirement Option Plan) missed window


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I missed my window of eligibility to participate in the DROP (Deferred Retirement Option Plan) plan with the FRS (Florida Retirement System).   I contacted FRS in March 2020 when I was ready to apply for DROP and received an email back telling me that I WAS currently in my window and had until August 2020 to apply.  I applied in May 2020 and received a denial letter saying that my window had actually passed.  I sent a letter of appeal asking them to reconsider as they had misinformed me of my window.  They apologized for the misinformation but told me that they did not have the statutory authority to change their decision.  I have worked under the FRS for over 30 years and had planned for my entire career to participate in DROP for the last 3 years. This will have a rather serious negative effect on my retirement. I cannot believe that there is no one who can override this decision.  I also cannot believe that my retirement system (FRS) does not alert us when we are in our window so that something like this doesn't happen.  Does anyone know anything about this, or how I might be able to get this decision reversed. 

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Several thoughts --

1. Since the Florida Retirement System is a state pension, it is not subject to any national regulation. If anyone mentions the word ERISA to you, ignore them. Any rights you have are a creature of Florida Law.

2. What kind of notice did you receive initially about applying for DROP? If you weren't told when you became DROP eligible, there may be something worth investigating there. Also, was your initial contact date (March 2020) inside or outside your DROP window? There is a concept called promissory estoppel that may apply, but probably only if you missed the deadline because of bad information. If your deadline was already gone, though, you have a harder road to a benefit..

3. Have you tried contacting the office of your state representative? (Either state house or state senate). They may be able to help you with the state agencies.

4. You may want a lawyer to advise you. Be careful, though. Also, you may want to get in touch with the Pension Rights Center.

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