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Federal Retirement Benefits after Divorce

by Norris Law Group on September 24, 2014

Federal Retirement Benefits after DivorceDivorcing or divorced federal employees divorce should be aware that their former spouses and other family members may actually be eligible for some of their retirement benefits.

Tammy Flanagan, senior benefits director for the National Institute of Transition Planning Inc., writes about the benefits which may be affected for Government Executive. According to Flanagan, some of the benefits that can be awarded include:

  • Retirement benefits under the Civil Service Retirement System or the Federal Employees Retirement System (if you and your former spouse are both still alive).
  • Survivor benefits, payable upon your death before or after your retirement. If a former spouse remarries prior to turning 55, however, he or she is not entitled to survivor benefits, even if they were awarded to him or her via court order.
  • FERS basic death benefit (payable upon the death of an employee covered under FERS).
  • Refund of employee retirement contributions (if an employee resigns and applies for a refund).
  • Return of retirement contributions upon the death of an employee or recent retiree (payable only if no recurring survivor benefits are due and only if the retiree has not already received retirement benefits equal to the amount he or she paid into the retirement fund).
  • Enrollment in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (under certain conditions).
  • Federal Employees Group Life Insurance benefits. A  judge has the authority to “assign” your life insurance to your former spouse as part of divorce settlement. If this occurs, you will not be able to change the beneficiary.
  • Access to contributions to the Thrift Savings Plan.

Entitlement to any of these benefits must be included in a formal divorce agreement, and must be by court order. If the divorce agreement does not specifically include any of these benefits, the former spouse is not entitled to receive them. Including a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QDRO, as part of your final divorce can accomplish this.

Attorney Graham Norris and his associates at the Norris Law Group serve the residents of Utah County, UT and throughout Utah, Wyoming and Idaho, and are fully qualified to draft QDRO’s. Contact them today at 801-932-1238 or online for a free consultation.

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