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Divorce and Your Benefit Payment Options

[Posted on 07/18/2016 at 11:27 AM]

Marriage and divorce are two life-changing events that can impact a family’s future financial decisions. If you are vested, your retirement benefit from MOSERS is considered “marital property.” If you have been married at any time while an active member of MOSERS and are considering a divorce, your spouse may be legally entitled to receive a portion of your retirement benefit. Any amount up to 50% of the benefit accrued during marriage may go to your ex-spouse. Your benefit is not automatically divided, though. MOSERS will need a certified Division of Benefits Order (DBO) from a court of competent jurisdiction. Complete a Division of Benefits Order Request for Estimate form and submit it to MOSERS before the court date.

Your ex-spouse’s benefits will not begin until the month following the date the DBO is issued, or the date of retirement, whichever is later. Benefit payments will not be paid retroactively. The benefit for service accrued before marriage or after the date on the DBO cannot be divided. The ex-spouse benefit will be based upon the formula of the plan to which you belong on the date of dissolution. Your ex-spouse’s payments are eligible for cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs), based on which plan you belong to. He/she is not eligible to receive any formula increases, a temporary benefit, or any portion of your BackDROP payment. For more information, see the Divorce and Your MOSERS Benefit brochure on MOSERS’ website.

The DBO will terminate automatically in the event of the death of either person. If your ex-spouse dies first, your benefit will increase by the amount otherwise payable to your ex-spouse on the first of the month following his/her death.

Divorce and Your Benefit Payment Options

In the event of a divorce, you should know how your benefits will be distributed to your eligible survivors. If you chose a joint and survivor option under either the MSEP, MSEP 2000 or MSEP 2011, survivor benefits will be paid to the eligible beneficiary named on your Application for Retirement which could include your ex-spouse if you divorced after you began to receive your retirement benefits. (regardless of your marital status at the time of your death).

Generally, the benefit payment option on your Retirement Election Form is irrevocable after the first benefit payment is mailed or electronically transferred by MOSERS. There are only two exceptions to allow a change in the benefit payment option or to re-elect a new spouse:

  1. If you were not married upon retirement and you chose the Life Income Annuity payment option, you may change your benefit payment option to a joint and survivor annuity and name your spouse as beneficiary if you later marry. (You have one year from the date of marriage to make this election), or
  2. You were married at retirement and elected a joint and survivor benefit payment option and your spouse died,* resulting in your benefit reverting to the Life Income Annuity. If you remarry, you have one year from the date of remarriage to reelect a joint and survivor option and name your new spouse as beneficiary.

If you meet one of these criteria and marry after you retire and make your election within one year of your marriage, you may designate your new spouse as the beneficiary under a joint and survivor option. You may do this by submitting the Designation of New Spouse as Beneficiary for Retirement Benefits form online. You must submit a copy of your spouse’s proof-of-age document and marriage certificate with this form.

*If your spouse dies, please notify MOSERS as soon as possible. You may be eligible for the “pop-up” provision, which would increase your monthly retirement benefit.


Please note: This information primarily applies to general state employees. If you are a judge, administrative law judge, statewide elected official or legislator, please refer to your MOSERS handbook or contact a MOSERS benefit counselor for specific guidelines.

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Missouri State Employees' Retirement System
Address: 907 Wildwood Dr., Jefferson City, MO 65102 Phone: 800.827.1063 URL: Email: Founded On: September 1, 1957