When facing divorce, both federal civilian government employees and their spouses need to be familiar with how their retirement accounts are structured, funded, and, ultimately, how they could be affected by a divorce. Most federal civilian employees these days are covered by FERS, the Federal Employee Retirement System. FERS consists of three components: the Basic Benefit Plan, Thrift Savings Plan and Social Security. If you or your spouse are a federal employee, here is what you need to know about the treatment of FERS benefits in Virginia divorce:
BASIC BENEFIT PLAN
The Basic Benefit Plan is the defined benefit plan component of FERS. It is a monthly annuity that employees are eligible to receive upon retirement.
Eligibility: All federal government civilian employees, with very few exceptions, hired after December 31, 1983 are automatically enrolled in the Basic Benefit Plan.
Vesting: In order to be vested in the Basic Benefit Plan, … Read More »
Where a couple was married 10 or more years and then divorce, each party will be paid the greater of his/her own Social Security benefit or a spousal benefit. Spousal benefits generally are equal to 50% of the primary wage earner’s benefit. The gender of the spouse is irrelevant, although historically this has had a greater impact on ex-wives.
It is important to understand that there is no impact on the primary wage earner’s benefit. If an ex-wife chooses spousal benefits based on her marriage to a former husband, it will not reduce the amount the ex-husband receives in Social Security.
For an example: assume Suzy and John are married over 10 years, then divorce. Suzy then marries Edward, stays married to him for over 10 years, then divorces Edward as well.
At retirement, Suzy will be entitled to choose the greatest of … Read More »