How to calculate portion of FERS retirement annuity for ex-spouse

1
0

Hi, so I am retiring in July after 23 years of federal service (including buy-back), under FERS. I was divorced in 2011 and my ex-wife was awarded 50% of my retirement at time of separation. at the time of separation I had 13 years of service. How much will she be entitled to? my salary was 120K

Blocked by moderator
Posted by (Questions: 1, Answers: 1)
Asked on March 2, 2017 1:48 am
24929 views

I have a couple of general questions on this same subject. I was married 20 years, and will be retirement eligible next year. The divorce decree simply states – “the Fed Govt annuity shall be evenly divided, upon retirement.” I was a federal employee for the entire duration of the marriage (for simplicity, 30 years federal service, 20 of those years married) Am I to assume that my ex-wife will receive 50% of my FERS annuity straight up? Or, is it standard practice to only count the years we were married, thus she will get a pro rata proportion of that 50%? Also, from the estimate of my gross FERS annuity – all of the deductions like FEHB, FEGLI, etc, will be mine of course, but what about taxes? Will I be responsible to pay all of the taxes on the gross annuity total, or only on my portion of the annuity? I’m trying to get a handle on bottom line net figure for annuity (and supplement…does it get divided too?). I received one estimate from OPM, but it came back without any of the court order related reductions. I didn’t yet send them a copy of the divorce decree, but I will when I officially file papers for retirement. Thanks!

( at August 14, 2019 5:53 pm)

Everything is dependent on how the decree is worded. On many occasions, the word “marital” is missing. Typically the decree is 50% of the marital share, not 50% of the entire annuity. So, to answer the question, it depends on how OPM reads it and if they accept the language. You will only be responsible for taxes on your portion of the annuity as each of you has their own CSA number and will receive individual 1099s at the end of the year. Currently, unless the divorce decree did not specifically state the FERS Retiree Supplement be excluded from the spouse’s share, the supplement will be divided under OPM’s current interpretation of 5 USC 8421(c). OPM is not permitted, nor is the agency allowed, to make any estimates for you of the share awarded to a former spouse. This will all be done when you have retired. Again, depending on the wording of the decree, OPM may not accept the decree as a Court Order Acceptable for Processing (COAP). If the decree states that a COAP or follow-on order will be drafted, then OPM is not supposed to make a determination of award until such order is received by OPM. If the language in your decree is specific enough, OPM may make a determination of award just off of the decree – it just depends on who is assigned to your case.

( at August 14, 2019 8:57 pm)

Thank you for your thorough response!

( at August 15, 2019 12:45 pm)
6
Private answer

Without seeing the order that was sent to OPM, I can only guess that your former spouse was awarded what OPM terms a pro-rata share award. Generally speaking, OPM will calculate your annuity at the time of your retirement in the same fashion as if you hadn’t been divorced. They will then develop a fraction that they will use to divide your annuity. The order could divide your self-only annuity or your gross annuity – all depends on the wording in the order. The numerator of the fraction is typically the number of months that you were married and a federal employee. In your case, it appears that the court order ended the marriage at the separation date. The denominator will be your total creditable service, including military time and unused sick leave (unless the order stated otherwise). Suppose your career length is determined by OPM to be 276 months and your marriage length was 156 months. The fraction is 156/276 = 56.52%. That represents the marital share of the annuity. If she was awarded 50%, then her award is 28.26%. If your annuity is $3,000 per month, she receives $847.80 per month.
We made a number of assumptions here, and there are other items that might have been addressed in the order, such a survivor annuity and its related cost as well as possibly using a high-3 based upon your date of separation. Orders also state a specific treatment of military deposit service.

Blocked by moderator
Posted by (Questions: 0, Answers: 575)
Answered on March 2, 2017 3:27 am

Thank you so much for that very thorough and thoughtful response! Looks like I have lots of research ahead of me.

( at March 6, 2017 7:20 pm)

You are more than welcome.

( at March 7, 2017 2:58 am)

thank you for the above calculation breakdown… Mine is similar and ended in 2003. It also was not as long and the judge only awarded my spouse 14% of my retirement.. My worry is the lack of experience my attorney had with dealing with FERS annuities and may not have used proper wording. Do I need to be worried this late in the game?

( at December 21, 2017 10:02 pm)

If the wording is unacceptable with OPM, you will be notified regarding what needs to be corrected. Good luck!

( at December 21, 2017 10:44 pm)
-3
Private answer

Hi: Scenario– Married in 1987, Divorced in1995 with former military spouse. He has 92 months of marriage and 288 months of credible service. I was awarded 45% of disposal military pension and COLAs through end of service/retirement date (288 months), sample retirement annual annuity is $19,799 (disposal income). What is the calculation? I end up with 92/288 = 31.94% but can’t figure out how to get 45% of the $19,799 out of the 31.94%
Also FERS portion states spouse gets 50% of FERs annuity based only upon wife’s first five years of fed svc, and does not include COLAs after the marital separation date 7/95. Is the calculation a simple flat 50% of whatever the first five yrs High-three three x 5% divided by 2? or is the calculation the same as the military pension calculation above? Divorce decree language for military spouse division of military pension is the standard language to include COLAs applicable through retirement date (doesn’t stop at marital separation date). SBP was properly addressed, not an issue.
Appreciate your help.

Blocked by moderator
Posted by (Questions: 0, Answers: 1)
Answered on May 18, 2017 1:24 am
0
Private answer

With respect to the military retiree portion divorce of your question, I am unable to respond as that is not my area of expertise.  However, based on a statement within your question, you indicate you were only married 82 months or 7.6 years.  With that information, the following link might assist you in seeing how this payment will be made to you:  http://www.livesaymyers.com/10-year-rule-military-divorce/
As stated in my previous response to the original question above, without seeing the court order that was sent to OPM, it is impossible to determine how the FERS annuity is divided.  For example, you state “does not include COLAs after the marital separation.” Cost of Living Adjustments are not paid to employees, only to retirees.  So that statement would have no bearing on the FERS division of annuity.
And, FYI, OPM uses, as a default, the high-3 average salary at the time of retirement unless the divorce decree states otherwise.  This is just one example to help you appreciate why I am unable to be more specific in my response.

Blocked by moderator
Posted by (Questions: 0, Answers: 575)
Answered on May 18, 2017 6:26 pm

I was married 19 years and my husband is still serving in the Army and should retire In the next 2 years. He was active duty or 10 years and the rest he is Army reserve. We try to find out how much retirement portion I suppose to get. His attorney says I get 50% x 120 month (10 years) and the denominator will be determined at the time he retires. My attorney said I will get 27.5% for 10 years after he get retired. How can I find out who is right to get the right math on the amount what I would get monthly for 10 years. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you so much

( at July 17, 2017 8:15 pm)
0
Private answer

I apologize in advance as military retirements and their division are my within my knowledge base. When I get home Wednesday I will gladly do some research to send your way.

Blocked by moderator
Posted by (Questions: 0, Answers: 575)
Answered on July 17, 2017 9:51 pm
0
Private answer

What language do I use In a COAP so that my former wife’s share of my annuity is frozen as of the divorce filing date.

Blocked by moderator
Posted by (Questions: 0, Answers: 2)
Answered on October 13, 2017 12:28 am
1
Private answer

COAP language is best left to an experienced professional. There are a couple of ways that could be accomplished. You could calculate what the monthly amount of your retirement benefit would have been as of that date and order OPM to pay your former spouse a specified dollar amount per month based upon that result. The other way is to award the former spouse a prorata share under 5 CFR 838.621, but specify the end date of the marriage as the filing date and specify under 5 CFR 838.622(c)(1)(ii) that OPM is to calculate the award at your retirement using the high-3 that was in place at the time of filing. That will essentially hold your former spouse’s award to what was earned as of the filing date.

Blocked by moderator
Posted by (Questions: 0, Answers: 575)
Answered on October 13, 2017 3:16 pm
1
Private answer

Would the following language freeze the marital share of the former spouse or would OPM Interpret this as a pro-rata share?
“This Order assigns to Former Spouse an amount equal to Fifty Percent (50.00 %) of the Marital Portion of the Employee’s Gross Monthly Annuity (including any military benefits payable by the OPM and benefits accrued while covered under CSRS, if any) determined as of the date the marriage ended ( [Insert Marriage End Date] ). For purposes of calculating Former Spouse’s share of Employee’s benefit, the Marital Portion shall be determined by multiplying the Employee’s Gross Monthly Annuity earned through the date the marriage ended ([Insert Marriage End Date]) by a fraction (less than 1.0), the numerator of which is the total number of months of Creditable Service earned under the FERS during the marriage ( from [Insert Marriage Start Date] to [Insert Marriage End Date] ) , and the denominator of which is the total number of months of the Employee’s Creditable Service accrued under the Federal Employees Retirement System through [Insert Marriage End Date]. (The numerator and denominator shall include, as applicable, any military service credited to the CSRS and/or FERS and service credited under the CSRS if the Employee made an irrevocable one-time election to transfer from CSRS into FERS). The marriage began on [Insert Marriage Start Date].”

Blocked by moderator
Posted by (Questions: 0, Answers: 2)
Answered on October 13, 2017 3:53 pm
0
Private answer

It appears you have just copied the sample paragraph from The Attorney Handbook RI-38-116.  As this matter is very important to properly memorialize, the assistance of an experienced professional from this area of expertise is essential in developing the proper language for your settlement agreement and neither this forum nor the FAQ section of the attorney handbook is that forum.

Blocked by moderator
Posted by (Questions: 0, Answers: 575)
Answered on October 13, 2017 4:28 pm

The court order must have provided you with either an apportionment, a survivor benefit, or both. Without an award from the court, nothing is due to you. With your comment about being married for 10 years, it sounds like you are asking about Social Security and not the federal retirement system.

( at June 6, 2018 2:37 pm)
-4
Private answer

My ex-husband recently retired. I remarried after our divorce. My spouse recently passed away. Do I now qualify for a portion of my ex-husband’s retirement? We were married for 10 years.

Blocked by moderator
Posted by (Questions: 0, Answers: 1)
Answered on May 7, 2018 1:17 am

In my divorce settlement agreement,the FERS portion of the benefits I agreed to pay to my ex-spouse was expressed as a dollar amount, about $98,000, not as a percentage of benefits or annuities. I have not yet retired. I am getting ready to have someone draft an order to effectuate our settlement agreement, and i am realizing I don’t know how it will be done. At the time of the agreement, we envisioned that amount of money sitting in an account for my ex-spouse or possibly available to take out from my remaining account. Any idea how this is going to be effectuated, or if there is anything I need to do with regard to the order that will be drafted?

( at August 7, 2018 10:10 pm)

Emmett, stated dollar amounts are not commonly encountered in regard to CSRS or FERS annuities, as the federal system is very different from many other private, state or municipal plans. This type of award is typically seen when the author of the settlement or decree does not understand how CSRS or FERS operates. There is no “account balance” that OPM will dip into and pay out to your former spouse, which magically lowers your annuity by a proportionate amount. When OPM receives your division order, called a Court Order Acceptable for Processing (COAP), they must follow federal regulations in implementing the COAP. This uncommon situation is governed by the regulations at 5 CFR 838.235, which states, “If a court order acceptable for processing awards a former spouse a lump-sum amount from the employee annuity and does not state the monthly rate at which OPM should pay the lump-sum, OPM will pay the former spouse equal monthly installments at 50 percent of the gross annuity (subject to the limitations under § 838.211) at the time of retirement or the date of the order, whichever comes later, until the lump-sum amount is paid.”

What does that mean? Let’s suppose you have a CSRS Gross Annuity of $4,000 per month. OPM will lower your Gross Annuity by $2,000 per month for 49 months until the $98,000 has been paid to your former spouse. If that’s too steep, and your former spouse is amenable to a longer payout of a small amount, you may submit and Amended COAP that directs OPM to pay your former spouse an agreed-upon amount for a set number of periods.

If you and your former spouse are amenable, you could hire a professional to amend the settlement agreement to reflect a $98,000 award from your TSP instead and obtain an order to vacate the existing COAP. It’s taxable in the same fashion regardless of whether the $98,000 was sourced from OPM or from the TSP.

( at August 8, 2018 12:54 pm)

I was divorced in 2001 and in the divorce decree it states I had bought out my wife’s access to any future retiree payments by buying that through surrendering equity in the house we owned at the time. When I retire will I have to take action to ensure that money would not automatically be taken out for her even though it’s in the decree that she surrendered her access to my retirement in the decree or is it not automatic and I wouldn’t have to worry about anything unless she tried to access it. Secondly, is my ex wife notified when I retire?

( at April 2, 2019 1:25 pm)
0
Private answer

Steven, the retirement application will ask you if you have a former spouse to whom the court order gives them a portion of your federal pension or a survivor benefit, if the response is “NO” then you do not need to attach a copy of the divorce decree and your former spouse does not need to be notified.

Blocked by moderator
Posted by (Questions: 0, Answers: 575)
Answered on April 3, 2019 1:43 am

Hello, my name is Tony, I have recently separated from my wife in Nov 2018, we have married for 14 years, I am schedule to retire in Dec, 2019, I have approximately 39 years of federal service. My high three is around 126000. What would be her part of my federal retirement, my rough calculation on monthly salary after retirement is 3200 a month and that is with 100 percent survivor, with 50 percent survivor my monthly salary is 3500 a month. Two questions, how much will she get based on a 50 (percent judgement) and what I provided and how is the survivor benefit calculated into the what she gets when we divorce? Thanks

( at May 1, 2019 1:43 pm)
1
Private answer

I am unable to calculate what would be provided to your former spouse as the court will determine that. Having said that, some information that might be helpful to you. If your former spouse is awarded what OPM terms a pro-rata share award. Generally speaking, OPM will calculate your annuity at the time of your retirement in the same fashion as if you hadn’t been divorced. They will then develop a fraction that they will use to divide your annuity. The order could divide your self-only annuity or your gross annuity – all depends on the wording in the order. The numerator of the fraction is typically the number of months that you were married and a federal employee. The denominator will be your total creditable service, including military time and unused sick leave (unless the order stated otherwise). Suppose your career length is determined by OPM to be 276 months and your marriage length was 156 months. The fraction is 156/276 = 56.52%. That represents the marital share of the annuity. If she was awarded 50%, then her award is 28.26%. If your annuity is $3,000 per month, she receives $847.80 per month. There are other items that might be addressed in the order, such a survivor annuity and its related cost as well as possibly using a high-3 based upon your date of separation. Orders also state a specific treatment of military deposit service. Be sure your COAP is clear in what is to be provided and who pays for what.

Blocked by moderator
Posted by (Questions: 0, Answers: 575)
Answered on May 1, 2019 3:35 pm
0
Private answer

I’ve read through the questions and excellent answers, Elaine, but didn’t see an answer to a question I have: is the OPM calculation for for annuity division just based on years married during my federal service (we were married for nearly 12 years of my 37+ years federal service), or does it factor in that my salary was much higher during my later years of service (when we were married) than during my earlier years? Thanks.

Blocked by moderator
Posted by (Questions: 0, Answers: 1)
Answered on September 11, 2019 12:45 am

The answer is always what Is awarded in the decree. Unless the decree specified to use a high-3 other than the one used for your retirement calculation, that is the default OPM will use.

( at September 11, 2019 2:22 am)

My daughter and her FERS participant husband are getting a divorce. She is not asking for a marital claim to his FERS annuity, but for her portion of the value of his account at the time of separation to be paid to her using other means: home equity, vehicles, other property. There have been several discussions regarding how they can determine this amount, He contacted his HR department and they gave him an amount of his contributions which is way to little to be the accurate value. They have been married 17 years and he has been participating in FERS for 13. Suggestions please?

( at October 9, 2019 12:53 am)
0
Private answer

It appears the agency HRO has provided the FERS participant the amount that he has paid into the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund during his 13 years of federal service. If he were to resign federal service and filed for a refund of these contributions, this is the amount he would receive plus interest. However, since he has 10 or more years of federal service, if he resigned his federal position prior to becoming eligible for an immediate retirement and did not apply for a refund of his contributions, he would be eligible for a deferred annuity. This annuity would be calculated based on his years of service x his high-3 average salary x 1%. Thirteen years of service would produce a 13% x high-3 average salary pension for life. Advise on this should be obtained from a qualified individual who deals with the division of federal retirement benefits pursuant to divorce.

Blocked by moderator
Posted by (Questions: 0, Answers: 575)
Answered on October 9, 2019 3:22 pm

My divorce papers State That my ex will get her portion of 159 months of my government retirement. when I retire I will have 41 years 6 months. Can anyone tell me a percent of my retirement she will get?

( at December 23, 2019 5:46 pm)
0
Private answer

Your court order must state what she gets, a percentage or a dollar amount. OPM is the only one that can tell you unless it states it in the court order.

Blocked by moderator
Posted by (Questions: 0, Answers: 575)
Answered on December 23, 2019 9:27 pm

Can any part/portion of FERS be awared before I retire?

( at December 29, 2019 3:05 pm)
No! Title 5 USC states no monies can be court-ordered to be paid by OPM to your former spouse until you actually retire or resign and request a refund.
( at December 29, 2019 3:41 pm)
0
Private answer

Hi Elaine: Here is my scenario - married in 1990. Me - about 2 years of federal service prior to marriage. Him - about 10 years military service prior to marriage. He converted to civilian federal service in 1990. In 1993 we "bought back" his military retirement with joint marital funds and had it applied to his FERS. We both resigned from federal service in 2000. So his years of creditable service were almost 20 when he resigned.
In December of 2018 we got divorced. We agreed in the MSA that we would each get 50% of the other's FERS. Our intention was "entire" FERS. Court Order says that "The Former Spouse's "Share" shall be a "pro rata share" which means one half the fraction whose numerator shall be the total number of months of creditable service performed prior to the parties' date of divorce, and the denominator shall be the total number of months of the Employee's Federal Government creditable service performed at retirement."
But OPM responded with "By court order your marital share of your former spouse's retirement benefit is 50% of months years of service during the marriage (date of marriage - date of divorce) divided by the the total number of months of Federal service to be credited when your former spouse retires..." They added "during the marriage" even though the court order did not include that phrase.
My question: How do I get this fixed? I have the name and email of the paralegal at OPM who processed the court order.

Blocked by moderator
Posted by (Questions: 0, Answers: 1)
Answered on January 4, 2020 9:25 pm
1
Private answer

OPM is the agency that interprets the language in the decree. If you feel they are interpreting it incorrectly as written, you need to contact them. Possibly your decree is not written as you had hoped? In that case you would have to have the decree corrected.

Blocked by moderator
Posted by (Questions: 0, Answers: 575)
Answered on January 5, 2020 8:30 pm
0
Private answer

How do I calculate what I have in FERS to date (financial advisor is requesting)? Additionally, I was recently divorced - court order states Alternate payee (my x) is awarded 50% of my FERS accrued from June 11, 2002 through January 1, 2016 based on my high 3 yrs average of pay as of January 1, 2016, in addition increases, to include COLA, etc. Do I need to send my divorce papers to OPM to figure this out? When will my x start receiving this money? Is there a person at OPM that I can speak with?

Blocked by moderator
Posted by (Questions: 0, Answers: 1)
Answered on January 8, 2020 1:22 pm
0
Private answer

If you have not changed agencies, a box on your Leave and Earnings Statement entitlement “retirement contributions this agency” will give you that amount however, that means nothing when it comes to retirement. Your retirement is based on your high-3 average salary x your length of service x your percentage. The money in the retirement fund serves no purposes for calculating your retirement. When you retire, your retirement application will ask if you have a former spouse entitled to a portion of your annuity or a survivor benefit and since the answer is yes, you will need to submit a certified copy of the divorce decree with your retirement application. Your former spouse is not entitled to your FERS until you retire. There are people at OPM however they will not talk to you until you retire and it applies to you.

Blocked by moderator
Posted by (Questions: 0, Answers: 575)
Answered on January 8, 2020 5:42 pm
My divorce decree states "Wife will receive 50% of the marital portion accrued during the marriage" COAP states "Wife will receive a pro-rata share" OPM is paying ex-wife 50% of my gross annuity, they cut it straight down the middle. How could this be right?
( at March 4, 2020 9:28 am)
0
Private answer

I am a FERS retiree considering divorcing my husband. Started fed work in 1989, retired in 2017. All FERS. My question is, will OPM freeze my monthly retired pay during the divorce? I do not bring in much and it would be devestating if they did. Please respond

Blocked by moderator
Posted by (Questions: 0, Answers: 1)
Answered on March 9, 2020 2:33 pm
0
Private answer

My divorce decree states "Wife will receive 50% of the marital portion accrued during the marriage" COAP states "Wife will receive a pro-rata share" OPM is paying ex-wife 50% of my gross annuity, they cut it straight down the middle. How could this be right?

Blocked by moderator
Posted by (Questions: 0, Answers: 2)
Answered on March 16, 2020 11:39 am