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#193566 - 02/10/07 03:59 PM Pension Survivor Benefits
Maxwell Offline
recently joined

Registered: 01/18/07
Posts: 12
I made a previous post on the alimony board with a few more details, but I'll give the basic situation here.

Married 6 years as of November 2006. No kids

Salary
Me: ~90k
Her: ~35k

Assets/Liabilities:
Me: 50k TSP (401k-like government) + pension which has not been valued yet.
Her: 27K (in many vehicles) - 25k student loan = 2k

We have been having preliminary discussions about a settlement and hoping to avoid the lawyers. Her last suggestion was:

1. 500/mo alimony for 3 years.
2. 20,000 transfer from TSP
3. survivor benefits from the pension. (No other requests on the pension, nothing while I'm alive; I asked).

Ignoring what might be probable with regard to alimony in court and having yet to consult with an attorney, this is something I think I can live with. The only thing I'm concerned about is the survivor benefits request. It seems a strange thing to ask for given that we have only been married for a little more than 6 years. I am not sure whether she is getting half the marital property since I don't know the value of the pension yet is and even if I did have that value it seems difficult to calculate the value of giving her survivor benefits. That's further complicated by the fact that I could change jobs. Survivor benefits would not be just for the marital portion.

However, the way I see it now, the worse thing that can happen is that she doesn't remarry before age 55 and she retains the survivor benefits, therefore, in 30-35 years when I retire, I'll get a pension that is 90% of its full value. I am not sure how I would feel about that then. Symbolically, it kind of doesn't feel right to be potentially earning her a portion of my pension for the rest of my life, but otherwise, it does not seem like a bad deal. And I think there's a good chance she would remarry and forfeit those benefits. Does anyone see any problems with that request? Any disadvantages to me besides losing %10 of my pension? I have no interest in marriage in the future, so there's no future spouse who would lose out. Any chance a judge would look at that agreement and say it's really unfair to her and refuse to sign off on it? I have suggested that she wait till I get the pension valued, and then I would give her more of the TSP or pay it off over time depending on the value, but she's not interested in doing that now.

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#193567 - 02/12/07 08:27 PM Re: Pension Survivor Benefits [Re: Maxwell]
joan Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 09/24/04
Posts: 248
I am also a Fed and my ex will receive a survivor's pension. However, the way we worded the COAP is that the 10% cost of the survivorís pension would be paid completely out of his share. This is possible because he will be getting about 25% of my pension when I retire.

I don't know if OPM would accept your arrangement. I think she has to be getting some portion of your retirement in order to be eligible for a survivorís pension. Also, if she is receiving a portion of your pension, she can sign up for health benefits (she has to pay the total premium though).

I used a VERY good expert and I thought she was very reasonably priced. She is from the Milwaukee area. Send me a PM if you are interested.

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#193568 - 02/13/07 08:56 PM Re: Pension Survivor Benefits [Re: joan]
Maxwell Offline
recently joined

Registered: 01/18/07
Posts: 12
Thanks for your response. I haven't found anything in the rules or on OPM's website that says she can't take survivor annuity only, but you could be right. I haven't seen anything suggesting this is something people ever do either.

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#193569 - 02/14/07 01:31 AM Re: Pension Survivor Benefits [Re: Maxwell]
Lucy44 Offline
old hand

Registered: 07/11/05
Posts: 874
Loc: Rochester, MN
Never say never about future marriage ;-)
And I would find a way to value your pension, and figure out how much of that has been earned while married. Could you not get a QDRO to settle her cut, if any?
Also, was any of that vehicle debt accrued prior to marriage?
If she's keeping the vehicle(s), are you getting the same value out of other assets?

If you do go along with her proposal, be 100% certain that retirement survivor benefits end upon remarriage or cohabitation.
Have an attorney look it over before you sign.
_________________________
Experience is a wonderful thing. It enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.

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#193570 - 02/15/07 06:32 AM Re: Pension Survivor Benefits [Re: Lucy44]
Maxwell Offline
recently joined

Registered: 01/18/07
Posts: 12
Quote:
Never say never about future marriage ;-)
And I would find a way to value your pension, and figure out how much of that has been earned while married. Could you not get a QDRO to settle her cut, if any?

Technically, we couldn't call do a QDRO. I'm work for the federal government like Joan. Our pensions and retirement savings are covered under different laws and I think we'd have to title it a COAP (court order appropriate for processing, I think) as Joan mentioned. But yes, it could have the same effect. I will eventually have it valued. I think she might come around. We are just talking now.

Quote:

Also, was any of that vehicle debt accrued prior to marriage?
If she's keeping the vehicle(s), are you getting the same value out of other assets?

If you do go along with her proposal, be 100% certain that retirement survivor benefits end upon remarriage or cohabitation.
Have an attorney look it over before you sign.


When I said vehicles, I meant various savings vehicles (CD's, IRA, mutual funds). Yes, I realize I mixed pre-tax and after-tax stuff. I'm sure we will have no problem dividing the very small assets that can be liquidated. The pension is the only thing that gets a little complicated.

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