Wisconsin Labor and Industry Review Commission --
Summary of Wisconsin Court Decision relating to Unemployment Insurance
Subject: Holger A. Olsson v. James A. Rutkowski, Commissioner, and Labor and Industry Review Commission, Case 02 CV 00028 (Wis. Cir. Ct., Vilas Co., July 31, 2002)
Digest Codes: UW 980 - Retirement Pay, UW 990 - Trust fund (welfare plan)
Claimant was receiving a Carpenter’s Union pension benefit, funded entirely by a number of employers for whom he had worked over the years. Pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 108.05(7)(e), his benefit amount was reduced by the entire amount of his pension payment. He argued that his benefits should only be reduced by the portion of his pension payment that was proportional to the contributions to the pension plan of his base period employers. The ALJ, and then LIRC, rejected this argument, noting that nothing in the statute provides for such a pro-ration of the pension offset in cases in which it was based partly on contributions from a base period employer and partly on contributions from earlier employers. On appeal, Claimant repeated this argument, also arguing that his pension was partly employee-funded.
Held: Affirmed. The record supports the finding that the pension was entirely based on employer contributions. According "due weight" deference, the court concludes that LIRC’s interpretation of Wis. Stat. § 108.05(7)(e), is more reasonable and less complicated than that urged by plaintiff. The purpose of the statute that reduces unemployment benefits when employer funded pension payments are received, is to help those who truly need assistance, while not punishing employers who fund pensions for their employees. LIRC’s interpretation comports with this purpose. Claimant’s argument that only that part of the pension funded by the base period employers should be offset, is not supported by the statute.
[LIRC decision in this case]
Please note that this is a summary prepared by staff of the commission, not a verbatim reproduction of the court decision.
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