Pensions, Divorce and the Federal Employees Retirement System
Key Points
  • If you work for the government you are either part of the civil service or federal employee’s retirement system.
  • With either the civil service or the federal employee’s retirement system, unless the alternate payee is entitled to the former spouse survivor annuity, monthly benefits commence to the alternate payee when the participate retires.
  • Alternate payees can be awarded a share of the net or gross benefit.

Government employees are members of either the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or the Federal Employee's Retirement System (FERS):

Examples: employees of the Postal Service, Federal Aviation Dept., civilian employees on military bases.

When a Court Order Acceptable for Processing is drafted, monthly benefits will commence to the Alternate Payee when the Participant retires, and will continue being paid for the lifetime of the Participant. If the Alternate Payee is entitled to a Former Spouse Survivor Annuity, such monthly annuity shall commence upon the Participant's death, and continue for the life of the Alternate Payee.

Some Key Facts to Remember:

An Alternate Payee can either be awarded a share of the Net Benefit (amount of the annuity after health insurance premiums, medicare premiums, etc. have been deducted from the gross benefit) or the Gross Benefit.

There are a number of different Former Spouse Survivor Annuities available to a Former Spouse under these plans. However, the cost of such annuity must be deducted from either the Employee's annuity or the Former Spouse's share of the Employee's annuity or both annuities equally.

If the Alternate Payee remarries prior to reaching age 55, he/she will not be entitled to a Former Spouse Survivor Annuity under the guidelines of the Plans.

Suggested Reading
Pension Issues in Divorce Pension Issues in Divorce
When couples get divorced they must decide how to divide their property. Retirement benefits (pensions) often form a substantial part of the parties' total marital estate and many times are the largest single marital asset afforded the couple. Similar to other assets, pensions are typically divisible in cases of divorce to the extent that they are acquired during the period of marriage.

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HOUSE OR PENSION -- Many women quickly grasp the idea of dividing the marital house, but the importance of the division of the pension may not seem present since its distribution may be several years away. The custodial mother of teenagers may grab at the marital home as a solution to a short-term problem but forget that down the road her share of her former husband's pension will be more important than owning a house.

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