Are Regulations Enacted by State Board Regarding Entitlement to Disability Retirement Binding on SERS ?

In Fair v. School Emp. Retirement Sys. (1978), 53 Ohio St.2d 118, 372 N.E.2d 814, a county board of education disqualified a school bus driver and state employees retirement system ("SERS") member from his job based on a state board of education regulation that precluded persons with diabetes from being school bus drivers. The driver applied to SERS for disability retirement benefits. SERS found that the driver was not disabled and denied the application. The trial court and this court ruled in favor of the driver. On appeal, the Supreme Court reversed. The court held that the driver was not entitled to retirement benefits because the state board's regulation was not controlling on SERS's determination of whether a member was entitled to disability retirement. The court stated: To hold that regulations promulgated by the state board pursuant to R.C. 3327.10(A) are binding on the SERS would not only lack a statutory base, but also would place the determination of eligibility for disability retirement within the province of an agency having no responsibilities whatsoever for the administration and control of the retirement funds. Such a result clearly does not comport with the scheme created by the General Assembly which established a separate and independent agency to oversee and manage the school employees retirement funds under R.C. Chapter 3309. The question as to whether appellee Fair should receive a certificate as a school bus driver is subject to those rules and regulations promulgated by the State Board of Education. the question as to whether appellee is entitled to disability retirement is subject to the determination of the retirement board acting under the provisions of R.C. 3309.39. In each instance, the agency involved is required to make an independent decision regarding which diseases or physical impairments constitute disabilities, and to take action accordingly. Id. at 121.