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Work-related Accident Denied Disability Retirement Benefits

Brandenburg v. Montgomery Co. (MD) Public Schools (MCPS) (D. Md.) (Income/Savings) – AARP Foundation filed a lawsuit on behalf of 66-year-old Ernie Brandenburg.  Mr. Brandenburg challenges the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Employees’ Retirement and Pension Systems Plan’s policy of denying accidental disability retirement benefits to employees, like Mr. Brandenburg, who become disabled because of a work-related accident at age 62 or older.

This case presents an opportunity to distinguish and emphasize the narrow breadth of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that held that “differential treatment based on pension status, where pension status . . . itself turns, in part, on age” does not violate the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).  Although many practitioners expected that legal challenges to discriminatory pension provisions based on age would be difficult, there have been some successful cases.  We hope to use this case to reaffirm that facially discriminatory retirement provisions violate the ADEA.