Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 3.671, Subsection (c) of Section 8.509, Sections 8.515, 8.516, 8.547, 8.548, 8.559-3, 8.559-4, 8.571, 8.572, 8.584-3, 8.585-3, 8.585-4, 8.586-3, 8.586-4, 8.588-3 or 8.588-4, any application for disability leave, disability retirement, or death allowance made pursuant to said subsection of said sections of this Charter shall be heard by a qualified and unbiased hearing officer employed under contract by the retirement board and selected by procedures set forth in the rules of the retirement board. The retirement board shall have the power to establish rules setting forth the qualifications and selection procedure necessary to appoint a qualified and unbiased hearing officer.
Following public hearing, the hearing officer shall determine whether such application shall be granted or denied.
All expenses relating to processing and adjudicating the above applications, including but not limited to the cost of hearing officer, legal, investigative, and court reporter services, shall be paid from the compensation fund.
At any time within 30 days after the service of the hearing officer’s decision, the applicant or any other affected party, including the Retirement System, may petition the hearing officer for a rehearing upon one or more of the following grounds and no other:
a. That the hearing officer acted without or in excess of his powers.
b. That the decision was procured by fraud.
c. That the evidence does not justify the decision.
d. That the petitioner has discovered new evidence material to him, which he could not, with reasonable diligence, have discovered and produced at the hearing.
Upon the expiration of 30 days after the petition for rehearing is denied, or if the petition is granted, upon the expiration of 30 days after the rendition of the decision or hearing, the decision of the hearing officer shall be final. Such final decision shall not be subject to amendment, modification or rescission by the retirement board, but shall be subject to review by the retirement board only for the purpose of determining whether to seek judicial review, and such final decision shall be deemed for all purposes to be the decision of the retirement board.
The provisions of this section shall become operative on October 1, 1980.