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The MSRPS includes the Employees’ and Teachers’ Pension System, which has four components: the Reformed, Alternate Contributory, Contributory and Non-Contributory Pension Systems. Provisions for these four systems are largely the same. However, important distinctions exist in the areas of member contributions, retirement eligibility and benefit calculations. The State Retirement and Pension System (SRPS) administers death, disability and retirement benefits on behalf of more than 350,000 members. These include active and former State employees, teachers, State police, judges, law enforcement officers, correctional officers, and legislators.
MSRPS is exempt from Title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) because it is a government-sponsored plan. Unlike ERISA plans, in the absence of an appropriate court order, a participant may take any action with regard to his or her benefits without any notice or consent. Additionally, an alternate payee’s rights are entirely derivative of the participant’s rights, which means the alternate payee may not elect beneficiaries or choose retirement options. 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. No. MSRPS payments are made only when the member spouse ends his or her 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. MSRPS requires a certified copy of the marriage dissolution or separate order dividing the MSRPS 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. No, MSRPS does not offer advice, nor does it advise members, alternate payees, or attorneys about how to draft a DRO that best suits the wishes and intentions of the parties. MSRPS is ministerial. The requirements that must be satisfied for MSRPS to honor a DRO are set out in Division II of the State Personnel and Pensions Article (“SPP”), Md. Code Ann., and in COMAR 22.01.03.
A. The DRO must clearly identify the types of plan benefits to be divided by the court. There are more than 11 separate systems and subsystems in the MSRPS, so the regulations and model DRO cannot address each type of benefit that may be available to a participant in a particular system.
A. The Alternate Payee’s share of a plan benefit may be expressed as a fixed dollar amount, a fixed percentage, or a formula that clearly divides the plan benefit.
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