April 2, 2015
Petition for Review of an Order of the District of Columbia
Police and Firefighters Retirement and Relief Board
Kierstan L. Carlson, with whom Alan M. Freeman was on the
brief, for petitioner.
J. Schifferle, Assistant Attorney General, with whom Eugene
A. Adams, Interim Attorney General for the District of
Columbia at the time the brief was filed, Todd S. Kim,
Solicitor General, and Loren L. AliKhan, Deputy Solicitor
General, were on the brief, for respondent.
BEFORE: Glickman and McLeese, Associate Judges; and Steadman
, Senior Judge.
case came to be heard on the administrative record, a
certified copy of the agency hearing transcript and the
briefs filed, and was argued by counsel. On consideration
whereof, and as set forth in the opinion filed this date, it
is now hereby
and ADJUDGED that the current petition is dismissed for lack
McLeese Associate Judge.
Sheila Farrell filed a claim for survivor benefits with
respondent District of Columbia Police and Firefighters
Retirement and Relief Board. The Board denied Ms. Farrell's
claim, and Ms. Farrell seeks review of that ruling in this
court. We conclude that we lack jurisdiction, because the
Board's ruling is not subject to direct review in this
court. We therefore dismiss the petition.
following circumstances appear to be undisputed. Ms. Farrell
was previously married to Joseph Novak, a member of the
United States Secret Service. Mr. Novak was eligible for
retirement benefits administered by the Board. Ms. Farrell
and Mr. Novak divorced in October 1989, having agreed that
Ms. Farrell would receive the survivor benefits associated
with Mr. Novak's retirement plan. That agreement was
subsequently incorporated into a divorce decree. Mr. Novak
did not, however, formally designate Ms. Farrell as a
beneficiary under his retirement plan, and neither Mr. Novak
nor Ms. Farrell submitted the divorce decree to the
administrator of the retirement plan.
Novak later married Jane Novak. Following the death of Mr.
Novak in July 2012, the Board awarded his survivor annuity to
Ms. Novak as the surviving spouse. Ms. Farrell applied for
survivor benefits in April 2013. The District of Columbia
Department of Human Resources denied Ms. Farrell's
application, stating that Ms. Farrell had not presented the
divorce decree to the administrator of the retirement plan
until 2013, and that the survivorship benefit under the plan
had vested in Ms. Novak as Mr. Novak's legal spouse at
the time of his death. The Department of Human Resources also
stated that the divorce decree did not comply with certain
requirements of the retirement plan and of the Spouse Equity
Act of 1988, D.C. Code § 1-529.01 et seq. (2014 Repl.).
Farrell challenged the denial in August 2013 by petitioning
the Board. The Board issued its final decision in December
2013, stating without explanation that it found no reason to
reverse its decision awarding benefits ...