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The Nebraska Public Employees Retirement Systems (NPERS), under the direction of the Public Employees Retirement Board (PERB), administers several statewide retirement systems and a deferred compensation plan for the State of Nebraska. NPERS administers retirement plans for school employees, state employees, judges, the state patrol, and county employees.
The three defined benefit plans are the Nebraska School Employees’ Retirement System, the Nebraska Judge’s Retirement System, and the Nebraska State Patrol Retirement System. The two cash balance/defined contribution plans are the State Employees Retirement System and the County Employees Retirement System. The deferred compensation plan is the Deferred Compensation Plan (DCP).
The Spousal Pension Rights Act of 1996 codified the rights of divorced spouses and children to a share of a plan member’s retirement account. To claim this share, proper language must be included in the divorce decree and be qualified by NPERS.
A qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) is a domestic relations order (DRO) that has been approved by NPERS and it divides a participant’s account. Unless it includes a QDRO, the divorce decree and/or property settlement does not divide a retirement account.
Once a judge approves a DRO, it must be sent to NPERS to be qualified. After NPERS approves the order, the benefits are divided. When a domestic order is signed, it should be sent to NPERS as quickly as possible, because if NPERS pays out benefits or a refund and later receives an order that would have affected these payments, NPERS is legally held harmless for making the earlier payments.
The person who receives a share of a member’s account through a QDRO is called the alternate payee. Becoming an alternate payee gives the former spouse certain rights to the benefits, but does not mean he/she will have immediate access to the money. If a member is under age 50 and working, the alternate payee cannot gain access to the account. When the alternate payee gains access to the account, the method of payment depends on the options the member is entitled to at the time the alternate payee makes the application.
There are two ways an alternate payee can gain access to the retirement account. They are when the member terminates employment, or when the member is age 50 or older.
Under current law, a participant’s account is exempt from attachment (as in garnishment of wages) and is unassignable (for example, as loan collateral). Learn more by reading our FAQs below.
Consists of Six Retirement Plans:
A. Depending on the divorce decree, a spouse may be awarded a portion of the Nebraska Public Employees Retirement Systems (NPERS) pension benefits. In lieu of sharing or splitting the pension benefits often times this asset is often offset by another asset in the property distribution award.
A. No. NPERS 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. NPERS requires a certified copy of the marriage dissolution or separate order dividing the NPERS pension (or a temporary retraining 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, but the decree must be filed in Nebraska before NPERS can administer it.
Visit the QDRO Info Center
Read Our Article in thePA Family Lawyer
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