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Former-Spouse FAQs

Under a defined benefit plan, IPERS Members earn a retirement benefit based on a formula. The benefit formula uses three factors: the Member’s age at retirement, the Member’s service credit (quarters of covered employment), and the Member’s final average salary. IPERS retirement benefits are paid as a monthly, lifetime annuity.

Pre-retirement QDROs: No. If the IPERS pension is divided, the money in the Member’s account does not get transferred into a separate account for you. Although you have been awarded a shared payment in a divorce decree, your right to a payment from IPERS occurs when there is a distribution from the account.  

Shared payments from IPERS may be made to you only when the Member terminates employment with a covered employer and initiates a distribution by applying for a monthly pension benefit or a lump-sum refund.  Or, if the Member passes away before applying for either of the above, and a share has been awarded in the QDRO, you may receive payment as part of the lump-sum pre-retirement death benefit.

Post-retirement QDROs: Yes. If the Member is already receiving monthly retirement benefits, once there is a qualified QDRO and the required 30-day appeal period passes following qualification of the QDRO, IPERS may begin making shared payments to you, prospectively from that date. 

Please note the following important points in both cases:

  • IPERS does not split accounts. Alternate Payees do not have their own accounts at IPERS. 
  • There is no money segregated for you at IPERS. The award in the QDRO is an award of a share of a future distribution when paid to the Member (or the Member’s beneficiaries).
  • You have no individual rights of election and cannot name beneficiaries. 
  • Neither you nor the Member has a right to take an early distribution or withdraw.

Without a QDRO you receive nothing from your former spouse’s IPERS account. Timely entry of the QDRO is critical to protect your rights to a shared payment when a distribution occurs from the Member’s account at a future date. Even more important is entry prior to the death of the Member. 

Remember, the only document that can assign a share of benefits to you is a QDRO. A divorce decree is not sufficient.

Once the QDRO is qualified and you become an Alternate Payee, you must at all times keep IPERS apprised of your contact information or you may lose shared benefit payments. IPERS will not search for you.

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