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KPERS provides three statewide retirement plans for state and local public employees. They are the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System, the Kansas Police and Firemen’s Retirement System, and the Kansas Retirement System for Judges. KPERS also oversees the State’s Deferred Compensation Plan, a voluntary 457(b) savings plan.
KPERS is a qualified, governmental defined benefit pension plan under section 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code. KPERS has Internal Revenue Service Determination Letters attesting to the plan’s qualified status dated October 14, 1999, and March 5, 2001. KPERS is a “contributory” defined benefit plan, which means that employees make contributions to the plan. This is different from noncontributory pension plans, which are funded entirely by employer contributions and are more common in the private sector.
KPERS employers include the state of Kansas, all Kansas school districts, all Kansas counties and most municipalities, and other local government authorities and districts. When joining KPERS, employers become known as “participating” or “affiliated” employers; employees become “active” members. When employees leave their employer, but keep their contributions with KPERS, they become “inactive” members. The Kansas Retirement Act requires membership in KPERS asmandatory for all state employees in covered positions. Any governmental entity or instrumentality whose employees are covered by Social Security may also apply for KPERS coverage.
KPERS contributions that a member has accumulated during marriage are marital property. If a member divorces before or after retiring, a former spouse may be able to receive part of his or her benefit or contributions. The former spouse receive payment from KPERS under a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) when a member withdraws, retires or dies. A QDRO is a court order providing for maintenance, child support or property division. This means if the member ends his or her employment before he or she retires - and withdraws the contributions he or she made during his or her employment, the former spouse may be awarded part of the payment. When the member retires, his or her former spouse may be awarded either a lump-sum payment or a percent of each monthly benefit. If the member is already retired when he or she divorces, a QDRO may become effective immediately, with the former spouse receiving part of the member’s monthly benefit.
In some cases, retired members can cancel the joint annuitant option chosen at retirement. To do this, however, all of the following must be true: the member must have named his or her spouse a joint annuitant; the member must have divorced the spouse after the retirement date; and he or she must a have a court order that removes the ex-spouse as a joint annuitant. If the member dies before retirement, his or her former spouse may be awarded part of the contributions or death benefit. Learn more by reading our FAQs below.
A. Depending on the divorce decree, a spouse may be awarded a portion of the pension benefits.
A. If a member divorces, any annuity, benefit or accumulated contributions from KPERS may be subject to claims by a former spouse. Contributions are considered marital assets to the extent that they have accumulated during the marriage. A former spouse may not receive payment from KPERS under a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) until the member withdraws, retires, or dies.
A. No. KPERS payments are made only when the member spouse ends his employment, or applies for a benefit or refund, and his or her benefits become payable.
A. If the member decides on monthly payments, the former spouse must accept the same payment regime.
A. KPERS requires a certified copy of the marriage dissolution or separate order dividing the KPERS pension (or a temporary restraining order preventing the application for a refund) before dividing the monthly pension.
A. No. A pension benefit cannot be revoked or changed. For example, if a former spouse is named survivor, payments continue to him or her after the member’s death.
A. Yes. A portion of the pension benefits may be granted as a permanent division of marital property in lieu of liquid assets. Therefore, upon the former spouse’s death, payments continue to the estate until the death of the member spouse.
A. Yes, but the decree must be filed in Kansas before KPERS can administer it.
A. No. Under Kansas law, the marriage dissolution decree revokes the designation of the spouse as beneficiary. If the divorce decree requires that a former spouse be designated as a beneficiary, the member must complete a PERA Change Form.
A. No. If a member withdraws from KPERS, he or she receives the accumulated contributions plus interest. Employer contributions remain in the plan. A defined benefit retirement plan, such as KPERS, typically does not credit employer contributions to the accounts of individual members.
A. A member who joined before July 1, 1993 earns 8 percent interest on the accumulated contributions account. If he or she joined on July 1, 1993, or after, he or she earns 4 percent. The interest rate on the accumulated contributions is relevant only if the member withdraws from KPERS. If the member retires, the benefit is based on a formula set by statute and lasts for life; it does not depend on the amount of money in the account.
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