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Can I lose the rights to the pension money?


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You have to know what the plan says and what the QDRO says. As a general  principle, a remarriage by either the participant or the participant’s former spouse after the plan approves and recognizes the QDRO will not cause an alternate payee to lose the awarded interest. For example, most plans will not qualify an order that provides for lapse of interest upon remarriage. However, especially with government plans, what happens in any particular case depends on plan terms and the terms of the QDRO. And many things can affect the actual amount received under the interest awarded under the QDRO. See the most recent message before yours in this category.

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FWIW, I have seen governmental QDRO's where the AP forfeits benefits if they remarry.  As QDROphile said, you need to review your QDRO to know if your remarriage would impact your benefits.

The material provided and the opinions expressed in this post are for general informational purposes only and should not be used or relied upon as the basis for any action or inaction. You should obtain appropriate tax, legal, or other professional advice.

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The first questions are: (i) was  the QDRO was submitted to the trial judge; (ii) was it signed by the trial judge; (iii) was a certified copy submitted to the Plan Administrator; (iv) was the QDRO approved by the Plan Administrator.  You need to check  the Courthouse file and with your attorney and with the Plan Administrator for the answer to these questions. 

The next question is what benefits are you talking about.  You will normally have a share of your ex-husband's retirement benefits and that will normally not terminate on his remarriage or your remarriage unless that outcome is set forth in the QDRO or is a requirement of the underlying Plan documents.  You should be able to contact the Plan Administrator and ask them if you will still receive your share of his retirement benefits and if any events could change that outcome.

You may also be entitled to a survivor benefit (that you will receive after his death) if that is set forth in the QDRO, however in the case of survivor annuity you can lose your entitlement if: (i) you remarry; or (ii) you remarry prior to a certain age, usually 55; (iii) or if he remarries.  It will all depend on the language of the QDRO and the underlying Plan document, and once again you should be able to find out the answers from the Plan Administrator.  

Many municipal plans for police, firefighters or correctional officers do not provide for survivor annuity benefits for former spouses, unless the employee retired during the marriage and elected such survivor annuity benefits and if such election survives the divorce pursuant to the plan documents.  Once again, the Plan Administrator will be able to help you. 

You need to know that Plan Administrators owe a fiduciary duty to the employee/Participant and to the former spouse/Alternate Payee so they should answer any questions you may have.   

Note that employees of the City seem to contribute to 4 plans: 

Municipal Employees' Annuity & Benefit Fund of Chicago (MEABF)
Laborers' & Retirement Board Employees' Annuity & Benefit Fund (LABF)
Policemen’s Annuity & Benefit Fund
Firemen's Annuity & Benefit Fund

so you need to know exactly what plan is involved and that should be set forth in the Court Order.  

See this page - https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/fin/supp_info/pension_funds.html

Note that the Court Order is not a "QDRO" but a  Qualified Illinois Domestic Relations Order (QILDRO).  

See the attached pamphlet that describes more the 4 plans.

Also find attached a QILDRO Booklet and a Model QILDRO Order. 

Also a Fact Sheet that describes more than the four plans mentioned above. 

I hope this is helpful.  

DSG 11-20-23
  

QILDRO_BOOKLET_20211019 (1).pdf QILDRO_FORMS_2012_04.pdf QIDDRO - Chicago.pdf

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HI Chgo Mom,

I am a court qualified expert in Cook County in the actuarial valuation of retirement benefits and I often work on QILDRO issues.  Illinois statute prevents any former spouse from having a survivor benefit unless previously elected at retirement (and that's only for ERISA plans for which the City of Chicago is not).  So remarriage would not prevent you from sharing in the monthly pension while you and your former husband are both alive, but if you die first your interest stops pursuant to Illinois law, and if he dies first your interest stops as you are not permitted to have or share in any survivor benefit payment.  This is very different than in other states like California, but it's how Illinois works.   As referenced by fmsinc above, some plans like FERS/CSRS say if a former spouse remarries prior to 55 then there is no survivor benefit available...but City of Chicago is not a federal plan obviously and therefore not afforded a survivor benefit.  Hope that helps. 

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4 hours ago, fmsinc said:

You need to check ... with your attorney ... 

This is your first step.

I'm a retirement actuary. Nothing about my comments is intended or should be construed as investment, tax, legal or accounting advice. Occasionally, but not all the time, it might be reasonable to interpret my comments as actuarial or consulting advice.

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