Please consult legal counsel about your circumstances.
Divorce and KPERS Benefits
Many life events can affect your KPERS benefits. And divorce is one of them. If you’re going through a divorce, be sure to discuss KPERS benefits with your legal counsel as a part of the process. These assets might be considered marital property and could be divided with a former spouse. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is a special court order that says how pension assets are divided.
Let KPERS be a resource for both you and your attorney. We can’t serve as legal counsel, but we want to provide any info you need. We can also do a “pre-review” at no cost before a QDRO is filed. For questions, contact Kathleen Billings at (785) 296-6963 or [email protected].
We have 3 suggested QDRO samples. They can be used with assets in KPERS, KP&F and the Judges Retirement System. Your legal counsel will know what the best fit is for you.
- If you're not getting benefit payments yet QDRO Type A Sample Form, QDRO Type B Sample Form
- If you're retired or receiving disability benefits QDRO Type C Sample Form
Someone who is recognized by a QDRO as having a right to receive at least some of your benefit is called an "alternate payee." You'll see that term a lot.
Plan Administrator. Kansas Public Employees Retirement System, 611 S. Kansas Ave., Suite 100, Topeka, KS 66603-3803. We’re not a 401(k). KPERS is a 401(a) governmental defined benefit plan. As a governmental plan, KPERS is exempt from ERISA.
K.S.A. 74-4923(b) is the Kansas law covering QDROs at KPERS.
Certification. KPERS must receive a copy of a QDRO that has been signed and stamped certified by the Clerk of the District Court. If QDROs are submitted to KPERS via fax or email, the signatures and certification stamp must be clearly visible.
Social Security Numbers. KPERS must have full Social Security numbers for the member and the alternate payee. They don’t need to be in the QDRO, but we do need them.
Interest. Interest will accrue on the alternate payee's award, from and after the date of division, at the same rate and in the same manner as it accrues on the member's remaining portion of the accumulated contribution account. Under current Kansas law, 7.75% interest (or 4%, if the membership date is July 1, 1993, or later) is credited to members' accumulated contributions accounts each June 30, based on the balance as of the previous December 31.
No separate account. When a QDRO is accepted by KPERS, the alternate payee's award is maintained, in essence, as a lien on the member's account. No separate account is maintained.
No immediate distribution The Alternate Payee will receive their specified distribution upon the member’s (1) retirement, (2) death, or (3) termination from employment and withdrawal of contributions. The Alternate Payee may not elect to receive their distribution earlier, and may not elect to leave their award on account with KPERS.
Alternate Payee beneficiary. The alternate Payee may not name a beneficiary. If he or she dies before the member, the QDRO is void.
Information regarding the alternate payee. The Alternate Payee is responsible for providing KPERS with current contact information. When a distribution is ready to be made, KPERS will contact the Alternate Payee. The Alternate Payee will be asked to complete appropriate paperwork, and may be asked to submit supporting documentation including birth certificates and/or proof of name change.
What's the value of my account?
KPERS cannot provide specific value for an account. The long-term value of your account depends on the options you may choose at retirement and how long you live.
If you are not yet receiving KPERS benefits, your account balance includes your contributions and the interest they’ve earned. This amount is important if you leave employment and withdraw, or if you die before retirement. In those situations, your account balance is the payable amount considered in a QDRO.
However, your future retirement benefit is more than just your account balance. In fact, many members receive more in retirement benefits than the amount of contributions they made. For that reason, the value of your account could be more than your account balance.
In a divorce situation, it is up to the parties to decide the value of your benefits. KPERS cannot provide assistance in valuing an account.
Can my ex-spouse get their distribution immediately?
No. The Alternate Payee may only receive their distribution when the member either (1) retires, (2) dies, or (3) terminates employment and withdraws their own account.
What if my ex-spouse dies before I retire?
Please send a certified death certificate to KPERS. The QDRO will be voided.
Do I have to change my beneficiaries?
It depends. If a Type A QDRO is submitted, you may name whomever you wish as a beneficiary. If a Type B QDRO is submitted, you may be required to name your ex-spouse as a beneficiary.
Can I see how each scenario will affect my benefit?
KPERS will be happy to provide you with benefit estimates after a valid QDRO is accepted, upon request. However, we cannot produce estimates that reflect numerous possible scenarios before receiving a QDRO.
Do I have to retire/withdraw on a certain date?
No. The QDRO cannot require you to retire or withdraw on a certain date.
Method of Payment. At the time of the member’s retirement, death, or withdrawal of contributions, the Alternate Payee will receive a lump-sum distribution equal to the specified portion of the member’s Accumulated Contributions Account, plus interest. At that time, the Alternate Payee will have the opportunity to roll the distribution into a qualified plan.
When Appropriate. A Type A QDRO may be appropriate when the parties are farther from retirement, the Alternate Payee has their own means for retirement, or the parties wish to provide the Alternate Payee with a lump-sum payment instead of monthly benefits.
Effect on Member's Benefit. At retirement, the member’s benefit is actuarially reduced (the Plan’s actuary provides the Plan with factor tables for permanently reducing the members monthly benefit) to account for the lump-sum distribution from the member’s accumulated contributions account. After the approval of the QDRO, the member may wish to request an estimate from KPERS, which will reflect the reduction.
Method of Payment. At the time of the member’s retirement, the Alternate Payee will receive a portion of the member’s ongoing monthly retirement benefits. In the event of the member’s death or withdrawal of contributions prior to retirement, the Alternate Payee will receive a lump-sum distribution equal to the specified portion of the member’s Accumulated Contributions Account, plus interest. The Alternate Payee does not have the option of receiving monthly benefits unless the member actually retires.
PLSO. In the event the member opts to take a partial lump-sum option (PLSO) at retirement, the formula will be applied to the lump-sum payout. The Alternate Payee will receive the same percentage of the PLSO in a lump-sum, and the same percentage of the reduced monthly benefit.
When appropriate. A Type B QDRO may be appropriate when the parties are closer to retirement age, the marriage is of long standing, the Alternate Payee has no other means of retirement income, or the parties wish to provide the Alternate Payee with monthly retirement income. The Type B QDRO provides the highest level of protection for the Alternate Payee, but can be modified to provide a lesser level of protection.
Possible modifications to the Type B QDRO might include:
Ex: Paragraph 8 of the model requires the member to name the Alternate Payee as joint and one-half survivor to receive lifetime benefits in the event of the member’s death after retirement. Another retirement option available to the member is a Life-certain Option that can protect the Alternate Payee for a specified period of time.
Ex: Paragraph 7 of the model requires the member to name the Alternate Payee as at least co-primary beneficiary to receive one-half of the accumulated contributions account and group term life insurance proceeds, should the member die before retirement. Another option is to create a paragraph similar to the Type A model, where the Alternate Payee is not named beneficiary, but receives a percentage of the marital portion of the accumulated contributions account.
Effect on member's benefit. At retirement, the member’s benefit is reduced according to the formula provided in the QDRO. After the approval of the QDRO, the member may wish to request an estimate from KPERS, which will reflect the reduction.
Members Receiving Benefits
Method of payment. The Alternate Payee will receive a portion of the member’s ongoing monthly benefits. When a member is retired and receiving benefits, an Alternate Payee cannot receive a lump sum.
When appropriate. A Type C QDRO is appropriate when the member is already receiving monthly benefits from KPERS.
Effect on member's benefit. Beginning with the next month following the receipt of an acceptable QDRO, the member’s benefit will be reduced.
2012 Legislation Allows for Removal of the Joint-Survivor Option in Some Cases
Joint Annuitant In some cases, retired KPERS members can cancel the joint annuitant option chose at retirement. All three must be true: (1) named your spouse as a joint annuitant, (2) divorced spouse after retirement date, (3) have a court order to remove your ex-spouse as a joint annuitant. When a joint annuitant is removed, your benefit will “pop-up” to the amount you would have received if you hadn’t chosen a survivor option. You cannot name someone else to receive the benefit, and you will not receive retroactive reimbursement.
QDRO - Step-by-Step
- Discuss your retirement account during your divorce. Know that it is considered marital property, and may be divided. If a QDRO will be entered, consider specifying the type of QDRO in the Divorce Decree or Property Settlement Agreement.
- Draft the appropriate QDRO. KPERS has included sample QDROs on the website to assist you with the drafting process. If you would like KPERS to review a draft prior to having it signed and certified, you can fax it to 785-296-2422 or email to [email protected].
- Submit the QDRO to the court to be signed by the Judge and stamped certified.
- Send the signed and certified QDRO to: Kansas Public Employee Retirement System | Attention: Kathleen Billings | 611 S. Kansas Ave., Suite 100 Topeka, KS 66603
- All parties will receive a letter confirming the acceptance of the QDRO. KPERS will work with you to ensure a valid QDRO is approved.
- As you approach retirement, consider requesting an estimate. Your Annual Statements will not reflect the QDRO reduction. Before you retire, it may be beneficial to have an idea of how the QDRO will reduce your benefit.
- At the time of your retirement, KPERS will contact the Alternate Payee. The Alternate Payee will be asked to complete some paperwork before receiving the distribution.
If you have additional questions, contact Kathleen Billings at 785-296-6963 or [email protected].
KPERS 457 Accounts
Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDRO) dividing a KPERS 457 account should be submitted to: Empower Retirement | PO Box 173764 | Denver, CO 80217-3764 | Fax 866-745-5766
Contact Empower Member Services at 866-360-1192, option 1, with questions.
KPERS 457 sample QDRO form
If you have additional questions, contact Kathleen Billings at 785-296-6963 or [email protected].