|(a) The administrative law judge shall issue a proposal for decision with proposed conclusions of law and findings of fact in accordance with Government Code, Chapter 2001 and other applicable law. (b) Exceptions to the proposal for decision shall be filed with TRS, directed to the attention of the executive director, within 15 days of the date the proposal for decision was issued. Replies to any exception shall be filed with TRS within 15 days of the date the exception is filed. Exceptions shall state with specificity any error of fact or law alleged to have been made by the administrative law judge, and specific references shall be given to exhibit numbers and pages and to testimony where supporting evidence is found. References to testimony shall include the witness name and transcript page and line, if a transcript was prepared; if no transcript was prepared, testimony shall be identified at least by witness name, as well as any other means that may assist in verifying assertions regarding the testimony. (c) The executive director shall render a decision in the proceeding, except that in a proceeding relating to eligibility for disability retirement, the board of trustees shall render a decision following issuance of a proposal for decision. The executive director or the board of trustees may accept or modify the proposed conclusions of law or proposed findings of fact or may vacate or modify an order issued by an administrative law judge in the manner set forth in subsection (f) of this section. If changes are made, the decision shall state in writing the specific reason and legal basis for each change. A copy of the decision shall be served on the parties. (d) Any party adversely affected by a decision of the executive director in a docketed appeal may appeal the decision to the board of trustees, unless by statute or other rule the decision of the executive director is the final decision of TRS. Written notice of appeal must be filed with the executive director no later than 20 days after the decision of the executive director is served. If notice of appeal is timely filed, the decision of the executive director shall serve as a proposal for decision to the board. (e) If a decision of the executive director is appealed, the parties may file additional exceptions or briefs and replies if the executive director modified the administrative law judge's proposed findings of fact or conclusions of law. Additional exceptions or briefs must be filed and served at the same time as the notice of appeal. Replies shall be filed and served within 15 days of the filing of the notice of appeal and exceptions or briefs. The executive director may modify the filing deadlines. (f) The final decision in an appeal shall be based upon the existing record in the case. In its sole discretion, the board of trustees or the executive director, as applicable, may take the following actions: (1) modify, refuse to accept, or delete any proposed finding of fact or conclusion of law made by the administrative law judge; (2) make alternative findings of fact and conclusions of law; (3) vacate or modify an order issued by the administrative law judge; and (4) make a final decision on a contested case. (g) In exercising its discretion, the board of trustees or the executive director, as applicable, may consider but is not limited to the following grounds for changing a finding of fact or conclusion of law or for making a final decision in a contested case that is contrary to the recommendation of the administrative law judge: (1) the administrative law judge did not properly apply or interpret applicable law, retirement system rules, written policies provided to the administrative law judge, or prior administrative decisions; (2) a prior administrative decision on which the administrative law judge relied is incorrect or should be changed; (3) a technical error in a finding of fact should be changed; (4) a finding or conclusion or other action of the administrative law judge would alter the terms of the plan; or (5) the change is pursuant to a fiduciary responsibility. (h) An administrative decision of TRS staff, a decision by the Medical Board, or a decision by the executive director is the final decision of TRS unless a party exhausts any right to appeal a matter to the board of trustees. (i) An appeal to the Board of Trustees shall be considered in open meeting to the extent required by law. A party who appeals to the Board of Trustees consents to the public discussion of all relevant facts, including information in the member's file that may otherwise be confidential by law. The board in its sole discretion may determine whether to hear oral argument on an appeal. In making that determination, the board may consider if confidential information of a TRS participant who is not a party to the appeal may be disclosed during oral argument.
|Source Note: The provisions of this §43.45 adopted to be effective April 20, 1988, 13 TexReg 1672; amended to be effective January 24, 1992, 17 TexReg 256; amended to be effective June 9, 1999, 24 TexReg 4249; amended to be effective March 12, 2003, 28 TexReg 2115; amended to be effective March 8, 2007, 32 TexReg 1095; amended to be effective April 1, 2011, 36 TexReg 2002