(a)   Normal Retirement Pension. Upon retirement at his or her normal retirement date, each participant shall be entitled to receive the benefit provided in Section 288.04(a) (normal retirement benefit) except that for participants hired on or after January 1, 2002, normal retirement date shall be age 50 with 20 years of service. At such time Council shall take any necessary action so that the participant shall receive such benefit from the Plan or directly from an insurer, as Council shall direct.
   (b)   Late Retirement Pension. A participant who remains in the employ of the employer beyond his or her normal retirement date shall be entitled to receive, commencing on his or her late retirement date, his or her benefit calculated pursuant to Section 288.04(a) including the service increment in Section 288.04(a)(2).
   (c)   Limited Vested Benefit.
      (1)   If a participant terminates his or her employment prior to eligibility for a normal retirement pension pursuant to division (a) of this section, and if such participant has, prior to the effective date of such termination, completed not less than ten full years of eligible service, then the participant's pension shall vest as follows:
   Years of Service   Percentage of Final Monthly Average Salary
   After 10   25%
   After 11   27.5%
   After 12   30%
   After 13   32.5%
   After 14   35%
   After 15   37.5%
   After 16   40%
   After 17   42.5%
   After 18   45%
   After 19   47.5%
   After 20   50% plus increments, if any
      (2)   No benefit pursuant to this division (c) shall be under any circumstances payable prior to when the member would have qualified for a normal retirement pension had he or she continued as an employee. Benefits payable pursuant to this division (c) are optional with the participant upon his or her termination. If the participant does not elect to vest pursuant to the provisions of this section, then contributions made by the participant into the Pension Fund prior to the date of termination shall be refunded, in whole, to that participant without interest. The election to vest shall be made within 90 days of termination and shall be final and binding upon all parties.
   (d)   Disability Retirement Pension.
      (1)   Service-connected disability. A participant who becomes permanently and totally disabled as a result of a service-connected disability after 15 years of Service shall be entitled to a lifetime permanent disability pension equal to 75 percent of the normal retirement benefit.
      (2)   Non-service connected disability.
         A.    A participant who dies or is totally disabled due to injuries or mental incapacity not in the line of duty who is unable to perform the duties of a firefighter may be entitled to the following:
            1.   Ten years or less of service - 12.5% of final monthly average salary.
            2.   11 to 20 years of service - 25% of final monthly average salary
         B.   The member must make application to the Board for non-service connected total disability benefits. He or she shall furnish to the Board at the time of application, any and all medical records relative to his or her injury or sickness, and an affidavit, signed by his or her personal physician as to the extent of his or her disability. If the Board has any questions on the application, the Board shall select a physician to review the medical records submitted by the applicant, and conduct a physical examination of the applicant, if the Board deems it advisable. The Board's physician shall then submit an affidavit as to his or her findings. If the findings of the two physicians do not concur, then the Board shall hire a third physician for a review and examination if so required. This physician shall also submit an affidavit to the Board. The Board shall, after reviewing all affidavits, make its decision, which shall agree with the majority of the findings of the physicians. This decision shall be final with no right to appeal by the firefighter, except in the event future complications arising from the original injury or sickness, in which case the participant may reapply to the Board for non-service connected total disability pension. The disability retirement benefit shall be in lieu of any other retirement benefit pursuant to Section 288.06 of the Codified Ordinances.
         C.   All expenses incurred by the actions of the Board shall be paid by the Pension Fund, and all expenses incurred by actions of the participant shall be paid by the participant.
   (e)   Retirement Incentive Window. See Appendix A for the terms of a retirement incentive window.
   (f)   Increased Pension Allowance/Additional Increases. This Plan specifically recognizes the Increased Pension Allowance and Additional Increases that were set forth in Sections (g) and (h) of the City of Sharon Code Section 288.27.
   (g)   Distribution of Benefits.
      (1)   Notwithstanding any provision in this Plan to the contrary, the distribution of a participant's 's benefits shall be made in accordance with the following requirements and shall otherwise comply with Code Section 401(a)(9) and the Regulations thereunder (including Regulation Section (1.401(a)(9)-2):
         A.   A participant's 's benefits shall be distributed to him or her not later than April 1 of the calendar year following the later of:
            1.   The calendar year in which the participant attains age 70%, or
            2.   The calendar year in which the participant retires.
         B.   Alternatively, distributions to a participant must begin no later than the applicable April 1 as determined under division (g)(1)A. of this section and must be made over a period not exceeding the life of the participant or the life expectancy of the participant in accordance with Regulations. The above division (g)(1)A. shall not impact the benefit of any survivor or beneficiary.
      (2)   Distributions to a participant and his or her beneficiaries shall only be made in accordance with the incidental death benefit requirements of Code Section 401(a)(9)(G) and the Regulations thereunder.
   (h)   Time of Payment of Benefits.
      (1)   Unless elected otherwise as provided in division (h)(2) of this section, payment of benefits must begin no later than 60 days after the close of the Plan year which the latest of the following events occurs:
         A.   The attainment of normal retirement age; or
         B.   The termination of a participant's service with the employer.
      (2)   Payment of benefits shall begin on the date elected by the participant (subject to the restrictions of Section 288.06(f)). The election shall be made in writing, signed by the participant and submitted to the Board, and shall describe the date on which payments are to begin.
   (i)   Limitations on Fund.
      (1)   No pension, death benefits or disability benefits shall be paid under this chapter at any time or during any period that the principal of the Fund, together with accrued interest thereon, is less than the sum of five thousand dollars ($5,000). No person shall be entitled to pension or said disability benefits during any period that the payments have been suspended by virtue of this section.
      (2)   Payments for pensions, death benefits and disability benefits shall not be a charge on any other fund in the Treasury of the City or under its control, except the pension fund herein provided for.
   (j)   Payments not Affected by Workers' Compensation. Disability benefits and death benefits shall be paid under this chapter in addition to and notwithstanding any Workers' Compensation or other benefits which the member or his or her family shall receive by reason of the disability or death of the member.
   (k)   Increases in Payments. The Council of the City of Sharon may, at any time at its discretion, upon the recommendation of the persons having custody and management of the Firefighters' Pension Fund, increase the allowances of persons receiving allowances of any kind from the Fund by reason of and after termination of the services of any member of the Fund. Such increases shall be in conformity with a uniform scale which may be based on the cost-of-living, and the total of any such allowances shall not at any time exceed one-half of the current salary being paid firefighters of the highest pay grade.
   (l)   Forfeiture of Rights in Fund; Notice of Hearing. The Board may terminate and forfeit the rights of any member entitled to receive a pension and admitted participation therein for one or more of the following reasons:
      (1)   Convicted of a felony or misdemeanor;
      (2)   Becoming a habitual drunkard or failure to comply with some general regulation relating to the management of the Fund made by the Board and which provides that a failure to comply therewith shall terminate the right to participate in the Pension Fund. Any such termination shall be only after due notice and hearing as prescribed by regulations of the Board.
(Ord. 02-02. Passed 4-8-02.)