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General FAQs

A QDRO is a special court order obtained following a divorce that specifies how a Member’s IPERS pension assets will be divided at the time of distribution with a former spouse, known as an Alternate Payee.

If a divorce decree awards an Alternate Payee a share of an IPERS Member’s benefits, the IPERS QDRO is subsequently filed to outline to IPERS how shared payments are to be made at the time of distribution to the Member or the Member’s beneficiaries. 

An IPERS QDRO is needed to implement shared payments to the Alternate Payee. Without a QDRO, IPERS cannot legally make payments to an Alternate Payee.

A QDRO is not always necessary in every divorce settlement. If you and your ex-spouse agree to divide other marital property equitably, then IPERS benefits may not need to be divided and there may not be a need for a QDRO.

IPERS provides shared benefit payments to the Member and the Alternate Payee according to the terms of the QDRO. IPERS does not pay anyone until there is a distribution from the Member’s account.

IPERS does not split accounts. Alternate Payees do not have their own accounts or have any funds segregated as their own. The Alternate Payee cannot receive any payments until the Member, or the Member’s beneficiaries, receive a distribution. The Member and Alternate Payee are sharing the benefit payment, according to the percentage or dollar amount and period of payment the Alternate Payee was awarded in the QDRO.

There are four distribution events (payment types) that a QDRO can cover when awarding a shared payment to an Alternate Payee. A QDRO must explain how each potential distribution event will be shared, or the Alternate Payee will not be eligible to receive any portion of the related payment(s).

A QDRO can direct IPERS to share the following two distribution events with the alternate payee after the member applies for one of them:

  • Monthly retirement benefit (both parties receive a share of the monthly payments)
  • Lump-sum refund (both parties receive a share of the one-time lump-sum payment)

A QDRO can also direct IPERS to share the following two distribution events with the alternate payee after the member’s death, if a benefit becomes payable to the member’s beneficiary(ies):

  • Lump-sum preretirement death benefit
  • Postretirement death benefit

No. The benefits are shared; accordingly, a QDRO cannot give an Alternate Payee the right to receive a portion of the Member’s retirement benefit at a time or in a form different from that elected by the Member. For example, if the Member takes a monthly pension payment, an Alternate Payee cannot take a lump-sum payment.

No. Once the Member receives the first monthly benefit payment, the option cannot be changed.

An IPERS QDRO can give an Alternate Payee any part or all of the benefits payable with respect to a Member’s IPERS account. However, the IPERS QDRO cannot require IPERS to provide increased benefits (determined on the basis of actuarial value), nor can a QDRO require IPERS to provide a type or form of benefit, or any option, not otherwise provided under IPERS. 

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