Divorce is a qualifying life event that permits you to change benefits elections, covered eligible family members, and beneficiaries (if applicable). The member must log on to Benefits Connect to report a divorce within 60 days of the divorce date to be eligible to make such changes. (From the member's Benefits Connect home page, choose About Me, then Life Events.) If the divorce is not reported within the 60 days, the member will not be able to make benefits changes until the next annual enrollment, usually in the fall, unless he or she has another qualifying life event.
However, members must report a divorce as soon as possible to avoid being responsible for any Medical Plan costs after former spouses and affected dependents lose eligibility for coverage. Under Pastor's Participation, former spouses and affected dependents lose medical coverage as of the divorce date; under menu options, they lose medical coverage as of the last day of the month in which the divorce is final. Both lose dental coverage as of the divorce date.
Additional Information and Key Documents
The Board will contact you regarding additional information, required supporting documentation, and next steps. Information you will need includes
- a draft of any court order dividing your pension and other benefits (you will need to obtain the Board's approval before submitting the document to the court);
- a court order stating the date of termination of the marriage;
- a domestic relations order, if applicable, which establishes your former spouse's legal right to receive a designated percentage of your qualified plan account balance or benefits payments;
- a qualified medical child support order, if applicable, which requires you to provide medical, dental, and/or vision coverage to a child who might not otherwise be covered.
When you are notified, you will be able to change your contact information, elect or change benefits, change covered eligible family members (if needed), and update beneficiary information through Benefits Connect.
Effects on Your Pension Benefit
Divorce may affect how pension benefits are paid. Members should be aware that
- pension and survivor benefits cannot be paid to a former spouse unless the Board of Pensions has accepted a court order assigning a portion of the benefit to the former spouse (a domestic relations order, or DRO);
- preapproval by the Board of Pensions of any court order is required;
- if the court order so provides, an alternate payee (spouse, former spouse, or dependent) may begin to receive assigned retirement benefits any time after the member reaches the earliest retirement age allowed under the plan.
The Benefits Plan and Divorce describes the effects this event can have on an individual's benefits under the plan. The booklet also includes sample court orders that will assist counsel in preparing an appropriate domestic relations order to assign pension and survivor's pension benefits to your former spouse, if applicable.