(a) No service pension is payable to a person while the person remains an active member of the respective fire department, and a person who is receiving a service pension is not entitled to receive any other benefits from the special fund of the relief association.
(b) No relief association as defined in section 424A.001, subdivision 4, may pay a service pension or disability benefit to a former member of the relief association if that person has not separated from active service with the fire department to which the relief association is directly associated, unless:
(1) the person discontinues volunteer firefighter duties with the fire department and performs duties within the fire department on a full-time basis;
(2) the governing body of the municipality, of the independent nonprofit firefighting corporation, or of the joint powers entity has filed its determination with the board of trustees of the relief association that the person's experience with and service to the fire department in that person's full-time capacity would be difficult to replace; and
(3) the bylaws of the relief association were amended to provide for the payment of a service pension or disability benefit for such full-time employees.
A service pension or ancillary benefits paid or payable from the special fund of a relief association to any person receiving or entitled to receive a service pension or ancillary benefits is not subject to garnishment, judgment, execution, or other legal process, except as provided in section 518.58, 518.581, or 518A.53. No person entitled to a service pension or ancillary benefits from the special fund of a relief association may assign any service pension or ancillary benefit payments, and the association does not have the authority to recognize any assignment or pay over any sum which has been assigned.
A relief association that provides a service pension in a single payment, if the governing articles of incorporation or bylaws so provide, may purchase an annuity contract on behalf of a retiring member in an amount equal to the service pension otherwise payable at the request of the person and in place of a direct payment to the person. The annuity contract must be purchased from an insurance carrier licensed to do business in this state.
A relief association that is a qualified pension plan under section 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code, as amended, and that provides a single payment service pension, at the written request of the applicable retiring member or, following the death of the active member, at the written request of the deceased member's surviving spouse, may directly transfer on an institution-to-institution basis the eligible member's lump-sum pension or the survivor benefit attributable to the member, whichever applies, to the requesting person's individual retirement account under section 408(a) of the Internal Revenue Code, as amended.
A relief association may directly transfer on an institution-to-institution basis the eligible member's lump-sum pension amount to the requesting member's account in the Minnesota deferred compensation plan, if:
(1) the governing articles of incorporation or bylaws so provide;
(2) the volunteer firefighter participates in the Minnesota deferred compensation plan at the time of retirement; and
(3) the applicable retiring firefighter requests in writing that the relief association do so.
A service pension or ancillary benefit payable under this chapter is governed by and must be calculated under the general statute, special law, relief association articles of incorporation, or relief association bylaw provisions applicable on the earlier of the following dates:
(1) the date on which the member separates from active service with the fire department and active membership in the relief association; or
(2) the date on which the member begins a break in service with the fire department that continues until the member separates from active service with the fire department and active membership in the relief association.
(a) A volunteer firefighter with credit for service as an active firefighter in more than one volunteer firefighters relief association is entitled to a prorated service pension from each relief association if:
(1) the articles of incorporation or bylaws of the relief associations provide;
(2) the applicable requirements of paragraphs (b) and (c) are met; and
(3) the volunteer firefighter otherwise qualifies.
(b) A volunteer firefighter receiving a prorated service pension under this subdivision must have a total combined amount of service credit from the two or more relief associations of ten years or more, unless the bylaws of every affected relief association specify less than a ten-year service vesting requirement, in which case, the total amount of required service credit is the longest service vesting requirement of the relief associations. The member must have one year or more of service credit in each relief association. The prorated service pension must be based on:
(1) for defined benefit relief associations, the service pension amount in effect for the relief association on the date on which active volunteer firefighting services covered by that relief association terminate; and
(2) for defined contribution relief associations, the member's individual account balance on the date on which active volunteer firefighting services covered by that relief association terminate.
(c) To receive a prorated service pension under this subdivision, the firefighter must become a member of the second or succeeding association and must give notice of membership to the prior association within two years of the date of termination of active service with the prior association. The second or subsequent relief association secretary must certify the notice.