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Attorney FAQs

No. Any QDRO sent to IPERS invoking ERISA will be rejected and returned.

There are three ways to divide pension benefits in an IPERS QDRO: the straight percentage or dollar amount method, the service factor percentage method, or a sum certain

In deciding how to divide a participant's pension benefits in an IPERS QDRO, it is important to consider two aspects of a participant's pension benefits: the benefit payable directly to the Member (the gross monthly retirement benefit or gross lump-sum refund), and any benefit that might be payable, on behalf of the Member, to someone else after the Member dies (pre- and/or post-retirement death benefit payments to beneficiaries).

It is your responsibility to understand how IPERS works and how the shared payments will affect your client’s IPERS benefits. You may want to provide specifics regarding the IPERS QDRO in the divorce decree itself, and therefore you must understand how IPERS works before the decree is entered.

Internal Revenue Code § 414(p)(11), Iowa Code § 97B.39, and the administrative rules 495 IAC Chapter 16.

An order is not designated as a QDRO until IPERS approves or “qualifies” it, even if it is already signed by the judge. In addition to the general legal requirements, IPERS requires the QDRO to include specific language and provisions. If IPERS rejects an order already signed by the court, you will have to file an amended order with the court.

IPERS provides Model QDRO templates in Microsoft Word and a QDRO Instruction Packets in a PDF (to be used in conjunction with the IPERS Model QDROs). There are separate documents depending on your client’s retirement status. People still working in IPERS-covered employment should use the Pre-Retirement Model QDRO with the Pre-Retirement QDRO Instruction Packet. Retired IPERS members should use the Post-Retirement Model QDRO with the Post-Retirement QDRO Instruction Packet.

You must discuss with your client several times the details of the IPERS QDRO you are drafting, and make sure your client knows how it will affect the client’s retirement in the future. If you don’t understand how it will affect your client, educate yourself or associate yourself with someone who does. 

You are ultimately responsible for the order that is filed with the court under your signature, even if you use a third-party QDRO preparer to draft your order. It is your responsibility to understand the meaning of the QDRO and ensure your client does as well.

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