Do I need to submit my divorce decree to OPM if my ex-spouse has waived interest in FERS pension

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I was divorced 10-years ago and my ex-spouse received 50% of my TSP, but waived any interest or claim in my federal pension. The answer to the OPM question would be “No” I do not have an ex-spouse with any interest or claim to my pension. Some say I need to attached the divorce decree and others say no, only if ex-spouse has an interest or decree was silent. I am confused as to what to do.

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Asked on July 10, 2018 10:00 pm
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The instructions for the SF-3107, Application for Immediate Retirement, are very clear, the divorce decree is only required if the former spouse is entitled to either a portion of your annuity or a survivor benefit. By signing this document you are certifying your responses are true. Instructions from retirement application, Item 2: Indicate whether you have a living former spouse to whom a court order awards a survivor annuity or a portion of your retirement benefits based on your Federal employment. If you answer “yes,” you must submit a certified copy of the court order and any attachments or amendments.
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Answered on July 11, 2018 2:18 pm

Greetings to all! I recently retired and realized that I may have messed up! Like some previous posts, I got divorced 20 years ago and my ex-wife got a portion of my TSP and assets at the time. She waived all rights to my FERS retirement and it’s clearly stated in the stipulation section of the decree, “Female petitioner XXXXXXXX waives any right, present or future, which she may have regarding these funds.”

In anticipation of any issues, a year before my retirement, I sent in a copy of my divorce court order to OPM, Court Order Benefits section and requested a review to determine if the Court Order was Acceptable for Processing (COAP). After several phone calls, I managed to get a letter from OPM stating the following:

“Thank you for the receipt of your documentation in regards to court order benefits. The Court Order Acceptable for processing (COAP) submitted states that your former spouse, is waving all right, title and interest she has in (your) Defendant’s/Employee’s Gross Monthly Annuity set forth in the COAP provided. We will file the Court Order Acceptable for processing received in your former souse’s records. Please let us know if we can provide further information about this important matter for you.”

My thought process was that I wanted to cover all bases so my retirement would go smoothly and my current spouse would not encounter unforeseen circumstances in the event of my death. When I submitted my retirement application, I consulted my HR coordinator who advised to check “NO” to the question of a former living spouse and a court order that awards retirement benefits. She further advised that I should attach a copy of my divorce decree and the letter previously received from OPM COAP.

I’m now retired and started to receive interim pay which is suppose to be 60%-80% of my estimated annuity. I’m receiving only 30%! I contacted OPM and they advised that it’s because I was previously divorced. OH Boy! Here we go! After reading previous posts and opinion by ELAINE LUMSDEN.I should just have checked the box and signed the application. I now expect to be put through a gauntlet and anticipate that OPM will look for any excuse to reduce my annuity. I’m sorry if I sound pessimistic, but as the readers in this forum, I worked all my life for a giant bureaucracy and keenly aware of how easily things can go awry. I’m losing sleep and started looking at law firms in the event I have to Lawyer up!

Any advice is greatly appreciated! Best to all.

( at April 12, 2019 3:48 am)
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Don’t lawyer up, yet! They usually can’t help and it costs you money. I would suggest your try and reach OPM again, stressing your ex-spouse waived all interest in your retirement. If that does not work, contact your Senator and request this be handled as quickly as possible. It is ridiculous that you have attempted to get your ducks lined up and then this happens but I am more upset your agency recommended for you to send your divorce decree. Obviously that was not necessary or required. Good luck….

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Answered on April 12, 2019 2:57 pm
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Hi Ms Lumsden, thank you for your response and advice. Is it possible that I may be overreacting? The letter from OPM acknowledges that court order states former spouse waives her interest in my pension. They haven’t adjudicated the matter an it’s my understanding that the my package was sent to DC to the court order processing department. The reduced interim payment was made as soon as they received my retirement package and then they forwarded the court order to DC for final evaluation. Also, how could OPM apportion anything to my ex wife without specific language in the court order directing them to do do so? I guess my biggest fear is that they come back and say they dont like the language in my court order, but if that were the case, how was it deemed “court order acceptable for processing?” I will contact them with these questions. Lmk you thoughts? Thank you, Doug.

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Answered on April 12, 2019 4:20 pm
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It pains me to admit that although OPM should NOT provide anything to your former spouse, per your court order, nothing surprises me anymore. For one thing, why reduce your interim payments? Definitely stay on top of this but don’t hesitate to contact your Senator. You should not be adversely impacted because OPM cannot follow their own rules. If you do not get relief soon, let me know please. Are you tracking tour retirement status via the web?

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Answered on April 12, 2019 4:45 pm
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Hi Ms Lumsden, encouraging news! I called OPM and was fortunate to speak with someone knowledgeable on this matter. She concurred with your opinion that I exposed myself to unnecessary scrutiny by sending my court order for evaluation. She told me that she use to work in the Court Order Processing Unit and knows exactly what’s happening. Because I sent in a court order my application was immediately flagged and sent to the Court Order Unit in DC and my interim pay automatically reduced to 50%. That said, the court order has to be reviewed by a paralegal to ensure that nothing has changed since the first time I sent it in a year ago. She stated that all they’re going to do is compare the one just received to the one on file and ensure no changes have been made. Furthermore, OPM cannot apportion any part of my annuity to anyone without a specific court order. I read her the letter that I received stating that my court order is acceptable for processing and that my ex-spouse waives any interest in my FERS annuity, and she advised that is my proof that the court order has been accepted. Had there been an issue, I would have received a letter stating that the court order IS NOT ACCEPTABLE for processing. She said that this will cause a minor delay and “you’re in good shape!”. She checked the system and told me that everything is moving smoothly and did not see any reason for me to worry. She concluded that I did what was morally correct, but unnecessary. I hope someone else sees this post BEFORE they make the same mistake. I will keep you informed of any developments (hopefully good ones!). Best, Doug.

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Answered on April 12, 2019 11:13 pm

How long did it take to get your full annuity monthly check? I, too, am only getting about 30% as my interim pay. It concerns me that every potential retiree is not told this. I am thankful I had put aside some money for these potential delays. I am hoping that it takes no more than 6 months for OPM to work through the red tape.

( at June 5, 2019 1:58 pm)
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That is just fantastic news. I am glad you reached the right person and your fears were for naught. I appreciate the update.

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Answered on April 12, 2019 11:38 pm