If you are facing government retirement or a divorce, or if you are married to someone thinking along those lines, be advised of a change this month in survivor benefit rules for ex-spouses.
The Office of Personnel Management has just published interim regulations that spell out how the complex Spouse Equity Act approved last year by Congress applies to survivor benefits for ex-spouses of government retirees.
The 20 pages of regulations define which former spouses of U.S. retirees may be eligible for all, or a portion, of the civil servants survivor pension benefit and how to get it.
A full survivor benefit is equal to about 55 percent of the retiree's pension.
In most instances the law applies only to retirements and divorces that have taken place since May 7 of this year. The law says that: Survivor benefits are automatically provided unless the spouse of the retiree agrees in advance, in writing, to waive the benefit. Previously, retirees only had to state that their spouses had been notified that they were not going to get a survivor benefit. When a divorce is granted, a court may order that a survivor benefit be provided to a former spouse. When employes leave government and ask for refunds of their retirement contributions (7 percent of salary), any current or former spouses must be notified of the request. Special forms for the notification will be provided by the government. In cases where a retiree has not been ordered by a court to provide a survivor benefit for an ex-spouse, the retiree may elect to provide the benefit anyway. Any current spouse must agree to the action.
OPM is about to issue regulations to implement one of the act's other major provisions, which provides health benefits for certain former spouses of federal employes and retirees.
Copies of the regulations are being distributed to federal personnel offices. That information is in Federal Personnel Manual Letter 831-151 of May 23.
If you have general questions on this very complicated subject, call OPM at 632-5582. That number is going to become very popular. The best bet is to get a copy of the FPM letter and regulations from your personnel office or OPM. People:
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American University has given its Roger W. Jones executive leadership award to Robert L. Trachtenberg, deputy administrator of the Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration, and to Robert J. Eichelberger, director of Army's Ballistic Research Laboratory.