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Tue Feb 26, 2013, 08:40 PM

Is there a lawyer in the house? QDRO

issues; promised one amount, now delivering half of that. Ex retired early; that's the reasoning.
So what is the point of a QDRO? I'm a tad peeved. I thought all the trouble I went to get a QDRO would help me avoid this crap. So a deal isn't any longer a deal via the courts? And how legal is it for his former company to determine this price?

QDRO=Qualified Domestic Relations Order

He retired 5 years early after about 24 years of work for this company.

Did I mention

59 replies, 2391 views

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Arrow 59 replies Author Time Post
Reply Is there a lawyer in the house? QDRO (Original post)
babylonsister Feb 2013 OP
ChairmanAgnostic Feb 2013 #1
babylonsister Feb 2013 #4
elleng Feb 2013 #8
treestar Feb 2013 #25
ChairmanAgnostic Feb 2013 #43
treestar Feb 2013 #49
elleng Feb 2013 #2
babylonsister Feb 2013 #6
elleng Feb 2013 #7
southernyankeebelle Feb 2013 #3
babylonsister Feb 2013 #5
southernyankeebelle Feb 2013 #9
marybourg Feb 2013 #54
southernyankeebelle Feb 2013 #55
marybourg Feb 2013 #56
leftstreet Feb 2013 #10
babylonsister Feb 2013 #12
leftstreet Feb 2013 #13
M0rpheus Feb 2013 #11
babylonsister Feb 2013 #14
M0rpheus Feb 2013 #18
babylonsister Feb 2013 #19
M0rpheus Feb 2013 #27
elleng Feb 2013 #28
LiberalFighter Feb 2013 #39
ProgressiveProfessor Feb 2013 #15
babylonsister Feb 2013 #16
ProgressiveProfessor Feb 2013 #20
OldHippieChick Feb 2013 #17
TomClash Feb 2013 #21
babylonsister Feb 2013 #24
M0rpheus Feb 2013 #29
babylonsister Feb 2013 #33
TomClash Feb 2013 #32
treestar Feb 2013 #22
babylonsister Feb 2013 #23
treestar Feb 2013 #26
llmart Feb 2013 #30
babylonsister Feb 2013 #34
BlueCollar Feb 2013 #36
treestar Feb 2013 #38
babylonsister Feb 2013 #48
treestar Feb 2013 #50
babylonsister Feb 2013 #51
LiberalFighter Feb 2013 #41
LiberalFighter Feb 2013 #40
babylonsister Feb 2013 #47
OutNow Feb 2013 #31
Blue_In_AK Feb 2013 #35
BlueCollar Feb 2013 #37
babylonsister Feb 2013 #45
msanthrope Feb 2013 #42
babylonsister Feb 2013 #44
msanthrope Feb 2013 #46
Skittles Feb 2013 #52
babylonsister Feb 2013 #57
Skittles Feb 2013 #59
Xipe Totec Feb 2013 #53
babylonsister Feb 2013 #58

Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 08:46 PM

1. there is an unfortunate mix of state and federal law, ergo,

i don't dare give you advice. your former atty would be best suited to see what can be done.. Usually, in my state, when a qdro is entered, the funds are segregated at that time. It should not have affected the benefits that you end up with.

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Response to ChairmanAgnostic (Reply #1)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 08:58 PM

4. My former atty lives in another state (I moved), and this was

determined over 2 years ago. Someone suggested I write the judge, but may still call the atty.
I haven't signed anything yet.
The state is TX where this transpired.

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Response to babylonsister (Reply #4)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 09:02 PM

8. DO contact the attorney,

whether you've signed or not.

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Response to babylonsister (Reply #4)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 10:02 PM

25. Writing to the judge is a waste of time

The judge is not allowed to read letters from one party. I'd hound the attorney! The one who drafted it or advised you when you signed it!

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Response to treestar (Reply #25)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 10:44 AM

43. they will read them, but toss them away.

They cannot have contact with one side only, unless both parties are in agreement or there is a pretrial underway. Contacting the judge will accomplish nothing.

Most states require that attorneys maintain their files for 5,7, even 10 years, or longer if there is a need (probate, kiddie involvement, etc.)

But do NOT hound the attorney. Sugar and "please" work a hell of a lot better than, "I WANT IT NOW, ASSHOLE!" Trust me on that.

Seriously, though, most QDRO orders split the moneys and assets at the time of the judgment and entry of QDRO order. The thing is, your rights to his pension end at that time. Let's say that you and hubbie split in 2000, after a 20 year marriage. He worked the entire time at one company. He retires at 2010. He has earned an additional 10 years of pension WITHOUT benefiting your account any longer. Those 10 years of bennies are his, and his alone. What you do have is (presumably) a 50-50 split of the first 20 years of pension. Anything he earns and sets aside after judgment no longer can benefit you.

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Response to ChairmanAgnostic (Reply #43)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 07:53 PM

49. The idea of writing to a judge

Comes from the mistaken idea that a judge personally has power to make any order they want to if they just knew the "right" stuff.

The only way to get before a judge is invoke a legal procedure. And then abide by the evidence rules.

I once had a judge return my client's letter unopened. It does not constitute admissible evidence.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 08:54 PM

2. Sorry, b'sis, I'm not familiar with QDRO.

PM me, tho not sure how helpful I'll be. WITH YOU!

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Response to elleng (Reply #2)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 08:59 PM

6. Thanks, my friend! Need to talk to

you soon!

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Response to babylonsister (Reply #6)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 09:00 PM

7. Yup.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 08:57 PM

3. I never heard of this. Is it for a divorce settlement? Just wondering.

 

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Response to southernyankeebelle (Reply #3)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 08:58 PM

5. Yes-retirement benefits. nt

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Response to babylonsister (Reply #5)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 09:06 PM

9. I have a friend whose husband was about 17 yrs older than his wife. She was a good

 

wife and gave him 4 sons. He did nothing around the house. She did everything plus work full time. When he retired he had it done where he didn't take anything out on retirement for his wife. I was shocked by that because they were married well over 30 yrs. It upsets me because he just didn't think enough of his wife to make sure she would be ok. I don't get men like him. In his younger years he was abusive towards her. Then I had another friend and when her husband retired from the army she didn't want him to set her up with the retirement in case he died. Her point was if she died she didn't want anyone getting her benefits. I told her she was nuts. The world can be crazy.

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Response to southernyankeebelle (Reply #9)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 08:21 PM

54. The law in effect for many years requires the wife to sign off

to a pension that will exclude her. Either this happened many years ago, like more than 25, or there was some hanky panky involved. If this happened recently, she should see a lawyer or save enough of his pension that she can buy herself an annuity. Many people do handle such an age gap situation that way, but she was supposed to be part of the decision.

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Response to marybourg (Reply #54)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 08:26 PM

55. He has been dead about 5 yrs now. She is retired herself now and is as happy as a

 

honey bee buzzing around doing what she wants to do in life. No one to answer to.

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Response to southernyankeebelle (Reply #55)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 08:31 PM

56. "All's well that end's well"

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 09:13 PM

10. Date of divorce may predetermine

vs date of retirement

Depends on the original wording though

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Response to leftstreet (Reply #10)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 09:20 PM

12. Really?

He didn't know he'd retire early when we got a divorce, but I'm still grappling with why that should affect what the court ordered.
And the company who's determining what I get; pisses me off, but it's David v. Goliath here, a huge airline.

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Response to babylonsister (Reply #12)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 09:23 PM

13. That sucks

That's a big Goliath

But it also depends on the state, the contract language, etc

I agree with person above - contact your atty

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 09:18 PM

11. It sounds like you're talking about a pension.

Normally with the QDRO the funds are segregated as of the date of the order taking effect.
However, dependent on the plan, what you receive is still tied to the employee's service with the company.

For pensions, there is a calculation that determines the amount based on several factors (service time and other stuff).
The amount you were originally quoted, was likely assuming his normal retirement age or a specified retirement date. Taking into account employer contributions and interest up to his retirement date. Since he retired early, you're missing that 5 years of contributions and interest.

I hate to say it, but if all the rules were followed by the benefits administrator, his retiring early is the biggest factor in your receiving less than you expected.

The only advice I'd be able to give you is to request information on the actual calculation. The administrator should be able to provide it to you, though it may take several attempts.

I'm simplifying it a good deal, as most of this depends on the rules of the plan, and each plan can be substantially different even for people in the same company.

I don't deal with this regularly any longer (I quit that life-sucking job after 7 years), but I'll offer what help I can.

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Response to M0rpheus (Reply #11)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 09:24 PM

14. Thanks-I was afraid of that.

And what threw me for a loop was the ex telling me if I waited for a few years, I could collect the full monthly amt. His company told me 'no', this figure is all I'll ever be eligible for.
So, the QDRO is in effect null and void, at least compared to its original intention (by me).
I appreciate the help, from you and everyone. I don't even know if it's worth arguing about, though I hate getting screwed yet again by this guy.

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Response to babylonsister (Reply #14)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 09:41 PM

18. I'm sorry to be the downer here. :(

I'd say speaking to your attorney is a valid course of action but, based on the information you've given it may be much more frustrating than fruitful.
Any miscalculation of the benefit would likely be a small one, but you can always ask them how they got to that number.

From experience, I'll tell you it could have been worse... The things I've seen people do to people they once loved is, in a word... sobering.

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Response to M0rpheus (Reply #18)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 09:51 PM

19. I hear you.

We've been quite civil considering 28 years of marriage... except for this!

Can you explain this to me? Verbatim from QDRO...

If the participant retires prior to his or her normal retirement date and is eligible to begin receiving subsidized early retirement pension benefits under the Plan, after the participant retires, the amount of any benefit to the alternate payee will be increased by a proportionate share of any such early retirement subsidy.


Gobbledygook to me...

Thanks!

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Response to babylonsister (Reply #19)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 10:26 PM

27. Essentially...

If he retires early and there is an additional amount due to him by the company (reasons will vary by plan), on top of his "regular" pension benefit, that amount would be split as per the QDRO.

Generally, additional amounts and subsidies in DB pensions are not a common occurrence, at least in the several that I've administered.
Those are generally, one-off/short term deals to encourage retirement.

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Response to babylonsister (Reply #19)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 10:32 PM

28. Very importantl to learn how 'proportionate share' is determined,

as 'will be increased' is mandatory. Sounds like good 'gobbledygook' for you. This is why you've got to contact your attorney.

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Response to babylonsister (Reply #14)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 09:43 AM

39. Warning. I know too late. But accepting what the spouse says in a divorce? Sorry

You might find a better understanding here DOL_QDROS Especially under Chapter 3 Drafting QDROs although there is other information in addition to this. Chapter 3 may lift your heart a bit also and may require careful reading to see it.

Did you do a comparison of what you were expecting to receive when he should had retired vs when he terminated his employment? Was it a big difference? Have you looked to see how Social Security will play into this? You need to find out when you can start collecting those benefits. That may help out. There are other factors to consider. If you have the house and the mortgage is paid off a big help.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 09:33 PM

15. I have seen this kind of thing in divorces where defined benefit pensions are being split

In those cases it was a % of the pension payment. The spouse had no say in when the pension earner retired and the court assumed earliest possible date. If they left earlier and took a financial penalty, the spouse took a pro rata hit.

This is different than a divorce where a spouse who could make $$$ but chooses to make pennies. In that case the court can under some circumstances assign imputed income and use in in calculations.

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Response to ProgressiveProfessor (Reply #15)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 09:37 PM

16. I was supposed to get a percentage

of his pension; 1/2 as of when we split (approx. 20 years in?). He stayed on 2 more years, retired 5 years early, and I get screwed for half.
Sigh.

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Response to babylonsister (Reply #16)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 09:54 PM

20. That is the Shared Benefit approach which is the most common

and preferred by retirement plans for their simplicity and ease. However, things like retirement date are purely based on the whim of the participant. The Separate Interest Division is more complex but might have protected you. Hard to tell. QRDOs are specialized docs and vary state to state.

You could return to court, check with your lawyer. He could give you an honest estimate of your chances. IIRC it would hinge if the agreement was made in good faith at the time.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 09:41 PM

17. Back in the day

about 25 years ago, lawyers did prepare simple QDRO's, but that changed when benefits administrators of major companies started taking over. QDRO's then became the province of specialized attorneys who could navigate the complex system set up by various benefits administrators in the HR depts. of the corporations. So, in a word, yes, the corporation is in charge of how much you get, when you get it, etc. Take some solace in the fact that had you not had a QDRO, you would have been entitled to nothing.

You must go back to your original attorney for answers. He/she may have screwed up if they didn't get a specialist to prepare the QDRO. Either that, or you didn't have it explained to you very well.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 09:54 PM

21. The QDRO

Assures you will get a percentage of his retirement benefits. Read the QDRO, and then read the judgment or settlement docs, which are more important. Then call his company's plan administrator and then your matrimonial lawyer. In that order.

I'm no lawyer. I just play one on TV.

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Response to TomClash (Reply #21)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 10:02 PM

24. The same amt is

mentioned in QDRO and divorce decree; spoke to plan admin today; they're the ones who are halfing it. Have yet to talk to my divorce lawyer. Or should I say 'our' lawyer; we split her services to save money. Neither of us were fighting it.

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Response to babylonsister (Reply #24)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 10:44 PM

29. Might I ask who the administrator is?

I'm just curious, as it's a fairly small pool full of big fish.

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Response to M0rpheus (Reply #29)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 03:46 AM

33. It's a

benefit center for a major airline. I'm David, they're Goliath any way you slice it.

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Response to babylonsister (Reply #24)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 03:28 AM

32. I was thinking

. . . of what the divorce decree said about retirement benefits, not the amount.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 09:57 PM

22. Probably in the QDRO

It should cover what happens if he retires early, dies, etc.

They are interpreting it that you've already agreed to take that amount if he retired early - it's provided for in the agreement.

Maybe read it or have a lawyer read it - just because the company is interpreting it in a particular way does not mean it is written in stone - could be open to challenge.

Did you have a lawyer when you signed it? They should have advised on what it provided for in various scenarios, again, he dies first, he retires early, late, or what have you.

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Response to treestar (Reply #22)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 10:00 PM

23. My lawyer insisted on it; she was a divorce atty.

This is in the QDRO, but I don't know what it means.

If the participant retires prior to his or her normal retirement date and is eligible to begin receiving subsidized early retirement pension benefits under the Plan, after the participant retires, the amount of any benefit to the alternate payee will be increased by a proportionate share of any such early retirement subsidy.

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Response to babylonsister (Reply #23)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 10:05 PM

26. Sounds like you need to know

What does the plan do for a "subsidized early retirement pension benefit" - how is that calculated? He might be getting more for retiring early. Your share is supposed to be increased by the same proportion.

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Response to treestar (Reply #26)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 11:05 PM

30. I agree with treestar and another poster upthread..

The term "subsidized early retirement benefit" seems to mean that if the company offered a bonus of some sort to encourage your ex to take early retirement, then you would get 1/2 of that "bonus" (subsidized early retirement benefit). However, if your ex just up and decided to take early retirement of his own accord, well, you will only get 1/2 of what his monthly retirement check is under those circumstances.

Just because your attorney was a divorce attorney doesn't mean she/he knew how to do a proper QDRO that would cover all extenuating circumstances. As someone else on this thread pointed out, nowadays even the best divorce attorneys tell you that you have to have any QDROs done by a professional QDRO firm. I had to pay the QDRO firm $175 and so did my ex just for having them draw up the QDRO. However, it was worth it to me because I have read the QDROs and they cover everything such as what happens if he dies first, etc.

Also, I have no idea what ages you and your ex are and what age is considered full retirement at his employer. With my QDRO, I could have started taking my half at age 62, but it would be reduced permanently if I did, just like he could have applied to take his early and then his would be reduced (he didn't do that). So I will wait until he turns 65 and apply and then I'll get more.

So much depends on each company and how their pension plan is set up and administered. I have a small pension that I was already collecting on (my full retirement age was set at 60 at this particular employer). The ex was awarded 1/2 of my pension, but because he was too stupid to know or ask when full retirement age was, he didn't apply for his 1/2 until one year after the divorce. I called my pension administrator and they said, "Oh, well. Too bad for him because he just lost a whole year's worth of pension because he didn't apply right after the divorce."

I got an extreme amount of pleasure out of that

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Response to treestar (Reply #26)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 03:48 AM

34. Ah.

Last edited Wed Feb 27, 2013, 04:52 PM - Edit history (1)

No, he's getting less for retiring early; it was his decision. He also got a bunch of $$ for retiring, severance pay.

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Response to babylonsister (Reply #34)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 06:35 AM

36. Sounds like the "Silver Bird" HR group



If I'm reading it right.

1) Ex is not yet 67 but over 55
2) Ex had 25+ years of time in
3) Opted for early-out $$$. They paid one-time lump sum of $XX,XXX.00
4) Additionally he received "severance pay"...Amount determined by Contract Group (APA/APFA/TWU)

As he decided to retire early at age XX vs. 67 he is eligible to begin drawing his pension now.

This pension amount is reduced based upon the fact that he decided to retire early. The amount of reduction is also based upon his contract group.

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Response to BlueCollar (Reply #36)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 08:58 AM

38. The possible bright side

He retires early, he starts collecting earlier, but lower payments.

Babylonsister could save up her half and collect it from herself in larger amounts at the age she'd have wanted him to retire.

The company presumably can't lower his entire benefit, just how it is spread out.

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Response to treestar (Reply #38)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 04:51 PM

48. Nope. I was told I HAVE to take the lower amount, and

can't wait a few years to accrue more. This is IT.

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Response to babylonsister (Reply #48)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 07:54 PM

50. How will it add up?

Then you would have gotten more in the future, monthly, but then you'd wait until then to get that higher payment.

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Response to treestar (Reply #50)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 08:05 PM

51. I'm now

Pissed Off that I'm not getting a court-ordered amount b/c some schmo in corporate 'determined' what I should be getting...for the rest of my life.
Not my fault he retired early; this order was made before he knew what he was doing with his career. Why should I be penalized?

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Response to BlueCollar (Reply #36)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 09:50 AM

41. So wouldn't babylonsister collect on the severance pay and lump sum too

based on her qdro?

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Response to babylonsister (Reply #23)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 09:48 AM

40. Was he offered an early retirement?

Or did he just decide to retire?

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Response to LiberalFighter (Reply #40)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 04:50 PM

47. He was eligible to retire b/c he had

over 20 years in, I think he retired with about 22.5 (we were married for 20 of those years) years, but he turned 60 last year, didn't stay until 65.
He got lots of severance pay, so don't know how this is technically considered.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 02:37 AM

31. QDRO - changes to pensions - watch out!

I was the employee with the good pension when I got divorced. My spouse had a QDRO as specified in the divorce settlement in 1990. The formula was 1/2 of the pension for the years we were married. If you did a calculation at that time based on expected salary, expected retirement date, etc. you would arrive at a nice monthly sum.

But the whole world changed since 1990 as far as pensions are concerned. In 1999, my company decided to change from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan for most employees. You can read elsewhere for how that works, but the net effect is that you get about 60% of the expected defined benefit annuity if you still retire at the expected retirement date. Next the company did massive layoffs of US employees and moved the work to Asia. A very high percentage of employees were over 50 - much too young to really retire but much too old to get a new job at the old salary. Many were forced to begin their pension payments at a reduced rate (a reduction of the 60%). The "new" defined contribution plan was done via a 401K. This year the company decided that rather than add money to your 401K every pay check, it would wait until the end of the year and add it all at once. It you left before the end of the year - too bad.

There were some employees that were able to keep their old defined benefit pensions, due to their older age and being too close to retirement to add enough to their 401Ks. A few years ago the company froze the amount in their defined benefit pension.

All these changes to our pensions were legal via various loopholes and fine print. Many employees don't pay much attention to pensions during their working years. I'll bet former spouses with a QDRO pay even less attention to what is happening to the pension they expected to get. I can assure you that both employees and former spouses are in for a very rough time when they retire.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 03:54 AM

35. I had a QDRO issue, too.

When my husband retired, he was married to another woman. When they divorced, she gave up all interest in his pension, but his union continued to take out money for survivor benefits. They said they couldn't change anything. When he married me, he wanted to substitute me in to get the survivor benefits. They said we'd need a QDRO, so we paid a guy to draft it for us, but they're still denying me the benefit. Still taking the money out of the monthly pension, too.

It doesn't seem right to me, but we've taken it as far as we can without spending a lot of money to take it to court.


I should add that the ex won't get any survivor benefit either. We're just paying into something that no one will ever benefit from. It doesn't make sense.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 06:58 AM

37. PM sent...n/t

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Response to BlueCollar (Reply #37)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 02:52 PM

45. Thanks so much! Wading through that.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 09:52 AM

42. Does the QDRO specify an amount? Or a percentage? Also, did he get a payout

for early retirement?

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Response to msanthrope (Reply #42)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 02:52 PM

44. Yes. QDRO and divorce decree have

the specific amt I am/was entitled to. He did get severance pay, paid for vacations not taken, etc., so yes.

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Response to babylonsister (Reply #44)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 02:55 PM

46. Is the monthly benefit less than than amount? on edit---

upthread, you said the decree specifies a percentage.

Can you post or pm me exactly what the clause is?

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 08:06 PM

52. so you're getting some pension for work your husband did?

nice - that's more than I will be getting after working 36 years

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Response to Skittles (Reply #52)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 09:19 PM

57. Wow. You just discounted

28 years of marriage and all that was involved with that, without knowing a thing about this relationship. Good job.

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Response to babylonsister (Reply #57)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 10:01 PM

59. so sorry about your discount

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 08:09 PM

53. Think of it this way: How much would both of you together get if you were still married,

and he retired early?

Divide that in half and that's what you get.

It is no different.

I'm sorry. You have my sympathy.

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Response to Xipe Totec (Reply #53)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 09:21 PM

58. If it's no different,

I would be making substantially more, not 1/2 of what the divorce decree and QDRO indicated. That would work for me, but it is different.

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