Dr. Marta Stekelman retired from the Department of Defense in 2010, having worked for the agency as a medical doctor for 32 years. After retiring, Dr. Stekelman applied for retirement annuity benefits under 5 U.S.C. §§ 8401-79. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) awarded Dr. Stekelman a monthly gross annuity of $5,720. Dr. Stekelman asked OPM to reconsider her annuity benefits because the amount failed to consider a portion of her income, which was denied.

Stekelman appealed that denial to the Merit System Protection Board, which ordered OPM to recalculate her annuity. OPM recalculated the annuity awarding Stekelman $6,150 per month and a back-payment award of $24,483. Once again, Dr. Stekelman challenged the monthly annuity award, contending that the Office of Personnel Management had miscalculated her back pay.

In February 2018, Dr. Stekelman and her husband filed a complaint in the Court of Federal Claims seeking greater back pay, interest on the monthly annuity amounts, and attorney’s fees equal to 1/3 of the damages awarded to Dr. Stekelman. The Government moved to dismiss the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim under Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6).

The Court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction because it did not have jurisdiction over retirement benefit claims subject to Merit System Protection Board review. “The MSPB [Merit System Protection Board] and the Federal Circuit clearly have jurisdiction over the subject matter of [p]laintiffs’ underlying adverse personnel action . . . they, and not this [C]ourt, have jurisdiction over the monetary claims[,] back pay[,] and attorney fees, which are based upon those adverse actions.”

Therefore, the Court granted the Government’s motion to dismiss the complaint.

Read Judge Lettow’s full opinion here.