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Iacono v. Office of Personnel Management

Decided: September 15, 1992.

JENNIE IACONO, PETITIONER,
v.
OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT, RESPONDENT.



Appealed from: Merit Systems Protection Board

Before Nies, Chief Judge, Archer and Clevenger, Circuit Judges.

Clevenger

CLEVENGER, Circuit Judge.

Jennie Iacono (Iacono) appeals the October 7, 1991 final decision of the Merit Systems Protection Board (Board), which denied review of the May 29, 1991 Initial Decision of the Administrative Judge, Docket No. NY08319110304. The Administrative Judge affirmed the Office of Personnel Management's (OPM) decision that denied Iacono's application for a survivor annuity. We affirm.

I

Iacono married John J. Iacono on June 29, 1941. Mr. Iacono was a government employee in the Brooklyn Navy Yard from before his marriage until he retired due to disability in the early 1960's. The couple divorced in August of 1977. Mr. Iacono died on November 26, 1984 without remarrying.

Iacono has received treatment since 1978 for Manic-Depressive Illness. According to her physician, she has suffered from symptoms of sadness, moodiness, loss of appetite, loss of interest, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, and impaired concentration. In an attempt to stabilize her condition, Iacono has been medicated with potent doses of powerful psychotropic drugs prescribed by her doctor. These drugs had side effects, including dizziness, edema, disorientation and light-headedness.

In October 1990, Iacono read an article in an American Association of Retired Persons publication that led her to believe she might have a right to benefits as the surviving spouse of a former federal employee. She sent a letter on November 6, 1990 to her former husband's employing agency, the Department of Labor (DOL), inquiring about such benefits. DOL forwarded the letter to OPM, which treated the letter as an application for former spouse annuity benefits under the Civil Service Retirement Spouse Equity Act of 1984, Pub. L. No. 98-615, 98 Stat. 3195, as amended by the Federal Employees Benefits Improvements Act of 1986, Pub. L. No. 99-251, § 201, 100 Stat. 14 (1986) and the Federal Employees' Retirement System Technical Correction Act, Pub. L. No. 100-238, 101 Stat. 1744 (1988) (hereinafter "Spouse Equity Act").

In 1986, Iacono had become eligible to apply for surviving spouse annuity benefits under the Spouse Equity Act. See 5 U.S.C. § 8341 note (1988). In order to elect benefits under the Spouse Equity Act, Iacono had to meet the following criteria:

(ii) the former spouse was married to the employee . . . for at least ten years during periods of creditable service . . . ;

(iii) the former spouse has not remarried before age fifty-five after September 14, 1978;

(iv) the former spouse files an application for the survivor annuity with the Office [of Personnel Management] on or before May 7, 1989; and

(v) the former spouse is at least fifty years of age on ...


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