TSERS Domestic Relations Order (DRO) question


#1

The information from this forum has been tremendously helpful to me. Thanks very much for this excellent resource.

My wife and I are in the final stages of a separation agreement. By far, most things have been amicably resolved between us.

Since both of us are retired members of the Teachers and State Employees Retirement System (TSERS), a Domestic Relations Order (DRO) is being drawn up. We retired with the joint and survivor form of retirement benefits, each designating the other as beneficiary.

My retirement benefit is a little more than my wife’s, so basically the DRO equalizes this distribution.

My wife’s attorney received the following message from an attorney (from the AG’s office) representing the TSERS regarding a submitted draft DRO:

[color=#0000BF]“In addition, I should note that nothing to the contrary appearing in the order, a member such as Mr. [husband’s name deleted] who has elected a joint and survivor option at retirement and designated his then-spouse as his survivor beneficiary may, after divorce, revoke that option and elect a new benefit option. N.C.G.S.135-5(g). The order, however, would apply to whatever benefit option is payable.”[/color]

Subsequently, my wife’s attorney added the following paragraph to the draft DRO:

[color=#0000BF]“The member spouse [husband] has previously elected the joint and survivor form of retirement benefits. As the calculations herein are based upon that election, this Order prevents the member spouse from revoking that election and making any other designation in its place.”[/color]

I have 2 questions:

  1. In layman’s language, what am I “prevented” from doing? For example, am I prohibited from changing the beneficiary of my remaining retirement amount?

  2. In the DRO, can both parties voluntarily agree to make NO changes whatsoever in their joint and survivor benefit designations (i.e., make no changes to the beneficiary). If so, would this be binding until death?

Thanks again for any help!


#2
  1. Document review is beyond the scope of the forum.

  2. If each of you want the other bound not to make any changes in survivor benefits then that should be in writing to somewhere.