Federal Civilian Pension after divorce. (US)
April 4, 2013 1:51 PM   Subscribe

Asking for a friend. YANHL. A couple has divorced, wife has a local civil service pension and husband a federal civilian pension. The judge ruled they would split each pension 50/50, instead of letting them keep their own. She has sent her court order to his pension board and has received acknowledgement. She has been unable to get any answers from the pension board about what happens now. He has left federal service but has not retired. Does she have to wait until he retires to start receiving her monthly checks from the federal system? Can she start getting them when he reaches retirement age even if he's not retired? Who can she contact that will answer her questions? Would CC'ing her Senators/Rep on her emails help or hurt? Thanks.
posted by 1066 to Work & Money (6 answers total)
Best answer: I'm pretty sure that OPM.gov is where she should be going to get this information. On a cursory look, I'd say that the pension does not begin paying anything until he officially applies for retirement (and they say it takes about six months from the date of application to get all the paperwork done).
posted by jacalata at 2:01 PM on April 4, 2013

Response by poster: Thank you, jacalata!
posted by 1066 at 2:37 PM on April 4, 2013

Here's a little light reading that might be informative.

I scanned the pdf briefly, and found it interesting that Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs), which are used to allocate benefits for private pension plans covered by ERISA, do not apply to federal civil service pensions. But the concept is presumably similar -- there are certain "magic words" that the order must contain, and the ex-spouse is generally not entitled to benefits until the employee would be entitled to them.

Also, I highly doubt that cc'ing senators or reps would help. It probably wouldn't "hurt," but this is administrivia that is not going to catch the attention of elected officials.
posted by pardonyou? at 2:53 PM on April 4, 2013

If she contacts her local representative's constituent services aide/department, they can answer questions like this and help her out. It's not a threat or anything--helping their constituents navigate the federal government is a big part of their job.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:50 PM on April 4, 2013

this is administrivia that is not going to catch the attention of elected officials.

Just to be clear, this is completely false.

Here is one Brooklyn Congressperson's website: Hakeem Jefferies has a page specifically set up for Help with a Federal Agency. As far as I can tell, it's standard issue for congressional websites. See also, from a Republican. Like I said, it's a major part of what they do and they have staff whose specific responsibility is helping constituents with federal agencies and questions just like this. Please don't hesitate to reach out to them.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:55 PM on April 4, 2013

I don't have cites, but I knew a lot of divorced guys who would eventually collect federal pensions when they retire. Iirc, it doesn't take place until they retire, period.
posted by corb at 8:59 PM on April 6, 2013

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