Divorce often brings many changes to your life. This includes changes to your benefits. The topics here will provide you with information on how divorce affects your benefits, and provides tips on actions that you may wish to consider taking.
If your name changes as the result of your divorce, you may wish to request a personnel action to change it in your official records. Also, you should notify the Social Security Administration. You can contact Social Security at 1-800-SSA-1213. You will need to provide to your supervisor a document that shows both your old and new names, such as a marriage certificate or divorce decree or two documents (one that shows the old name and one that shows the new name).
You are required to use our automated system called the National Finance System, Employee Personnel Page (EPP) to change your address, if applicable, for your earnings and leave statements, health insurance benefit, Thrift Savings Plan, PIN and passwords, etc.
You may wish to change your Federal, state or local tax withholding. The paragraphs below explain how to make the changes.
You are required to use the National Finance System, Employee Personnel Page (EPP) to change your marital status, number of exemptions, amount of additional deduction, file your W-4 form, or to file an exemption from withholding.
You are required to use the National Finance System, Employee Personnel Page (EPP) to change withholdings for your current state. You may NOT use EPP if you move to another state and want to file the initial state withholding form, file an exemption from state withholding, or claim more than 10 exemptions. If you have moved to another state, or want to make change that you may NOT make on EPP, contact your human resources office.
Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)
You are required to use the National Finance System, Employee Personnel Page (EPP) to change your bank or financial institution as the result of your divorce. You will need your Financial Institution's Routing Number, Account Number, and Account Type (Checking or Savings), which can be obtained from your financial institution. It is advisable to leave your old account open until you know that all your payments are going into your new account.
Your divorce decree may require that you:
- give your former spouse a part of your future retirement annuity or a survivor annuity; or
- designate your former spouse as the beneficiary of your life insurance; or
- assign your life insurance policy to your former spouse; or
- provide health insurance coverage to your children; or
- share the proceeds in your Thrift Savings Plan account.
Court orders that discuss your Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) coverage should be submitted to your human resources office so that it can be filed in your Official Personnel Folder.
Court orders that discuss your Civil Service Retirement should be submitted directly to:
Office of Personnel Management Office of Retirement Programs
Court Order Benefit Section
P.O. Box 17
Washington, DC 20044-0017
Court orders that affect your Thrift Savings Plan should be submitted directly to:
Thrift Savings Plan
Legal Processing Unit
Fairfax Post Office
CODIS – P.O. Box 4390
Fairfax, VA 22038-9998
If your attorney requests additional information pertaining to your Federal benefits, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has placed its "Attorney Handbook" and "Court Ordered Benefits for Former Spouses" on-line on its website at http://www.opm.gov/retire/pubs/pamphlets/other.asp.
Additionally, the Thrift Investment Board has issued a booklet entitled, "Court Orders and Powers of Attorney (PDF, 31 pages, 783 KB)," which is available on the TSP website.
When you divorce, your former spouse is not considered your family member and cannot be covered under your self-and-family plan, even though your children may continue to be covered. If a court order instructs you to continue to provide health benefits to your former spouse, that court order cannot supersede Federal law that provides coverage only for current family members. If you had self-and-family coverage and you do not have children, you should change to a self-only plan.
Additional changes you may consider based on your divorce are:
- if not enrolled, you may enroll;
- if enrolled for self-only, you may enroll for self-and-family;
- elect to change plans or options.
- waive or cancel your waiver of premium conversion (your election to pay your premiums with pre-tax dollars) at the same time.
To enroll or change your enrollment, you must complete a Health Benefits Registration Form, Standard Form 2809 (PDF, 6 pages, 868 KB), and submit it, along with a copy of the divorce decree to your human resources office the period beginning 31 days before and ending 60 days after the after your divorce. EPP does not accept enrollments or changes in enrollment because of a divorce, thus you must complete an enrollment form.
If a court order requires that you cover your children on your health insurance, your HR office is required by law to change your enrollment to self and family to provide such coverage. The health benefits law, however, will not permit coverage of your former spouse's children (your former stepchildren) who no longer live with you in a regular parent-child relationship.
If your former spouse was covered as a family member under your FEHB plan during the 18 months before the divorce or annulment, has a qualifying court order that awards a portion of your annuity or a survivor annuity; and does not remarry before age 55, your former spouse qualifies for "Spouse Equity" and can elect FEHB coverage in his/her own right.
Spouse Equity coverage continues indefinitely, as long as your former spouse continues to meet the above criteria and continues to pay both the employee and government shares of the FEHB premium. The costs of Spouse Equity coverage is slightly less than under Temporary Continuation of Coverage because the 2% administrative fee does not apply.
Even if your former spouse is enrolled in FEHB as a Federal employee, it is still recommended that he/she establish eligibility for Spouse Equity coverage within the required time frame in order to preserve future entitlement.
Coverage under a Spouse Equity enrollment does not begin until the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has reviewed the court order to determine if it is "qualifying." Therefore, your former spouse should send the request for determination to:
Office of Personnel Management
Retirement and Insurance Group
Office of Retirement Programs
P.O. Box 17
Washington, DC 20044
The request must include the following information:
- A certified copy (not a photocopy of a certified copy) of the divorce decree, property settlements, and/or court order (if applicable); and
- the employee's name, date of birth, social security number, and last employing agency, (if applicable).
Once OPM has reviewed all the information, they will send a written decision to your former spouse. If eligible, your former spouse would contact us for guidance on submitting the OPM determination and the SF 2809. Your former spouse may also submit the required information to OPM.
Your former spouse is also entitled to enroll in Temporary Continuation of Coverage while awaiting OPM's determination.
Temporary Continuation of Coverage (TCC)
If your former spouse does not qualify for Spouse Equity, he/she may qualify for Temporary Continuation of coverage (TCC). This type of coverage continues for a maximum of 36 months after the divorce or annulment, as long as your former spouse continues to pay the employee's share, the government's share, plus a 2% administrative charge.
You or your former spouse must contact RABAS to apply for TCC coverage within 60 days after the divorce. To enroll, your former spouse must complete the Standard Form 2809 (PDF, 6 pages, 868 KB), and submit it, along with a copy of the divorce decree to your human resources office.
If your divorce decree states that you must keep a certain amount of life insurance and name your former spouse as beneficiary, you can:
- Give a certified copy of the divorce decree to HRM for filing in your Official Personnel Folder (OPF). If the employing office receives the certified copy before you die, it will take precedence over a designation of beneficiary or the normal order of precedence.
- Make an irrevocable assignment of your FEGLI. An assignment automatically cancels a prior designation of beneficiary. Under the FEGLI law, an insured person may change his or her designation of beneficiary at any time. Assignment of FEGLI coverage to a former spouse, however, provides a means for ensuring that the FEGLI benefits awarded to a former spouse cannot be circumvented by a change in beneficiary.
- Consider purchasing private life insurance in the dollar amount required.
You may cancel Basic, Option A, B or C or reduce the multiples of Option B coverage at any time unless you have assigned your insurance or a legal document (e.g., court order) exists that requires you to give all, or a portion, of the proceeds to a specific individual(s). If you already have Basic, you may elect Option B or increase your multiples of Option B and/or elect Option C, or increase your multiples of Option C.
NOTE: You cannot elect Basic or Option A based on a life event, you can elect them by getting a physical exam. If a life event occurred during the year following your waiver of Basic, you should contact RABAS to request the Request for Life Insurance Form, SF 2822 (PDF, 4 pages, 280 KB), which will require a physical to be determine eligibility for FEGLI. To make an election, you must complete a Life Insurance Election Form, SF 2817 (PDF, 5 pages, 1.0 MB). You may also obtain the form from OPM's website at www.opm.gov/forms under Standard Forms.
Employee Support Programs
Counselors can help with issues such as co-parenting, helping children deal with a divorce, and with other issues that may arise due to a divorce. Your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides employees and their eligible family members with up no cost counseling and legal and financial consultation. All services are confidential. View contact information for your Component EAP.
Your EAP worklife services provider can help you access to attorneys for legal advice and consultation for such matters as:
- Housing/real estate
- Civil and criminal law
- Family law
- Consumer/contract law
- Estate planning
- Personal injury and automobile issues
Your component EAP worklife services provider also includes financial consultation benefit. Employees and their spouses can contact the provider for an initial financial planning consultation to explore the parameters and issues involved in either long-range general financial planning, or implementing a specific goal-oriented financial plan. These consultations will be up to 30 minutes per topic, and will include follow-up sessions, if the member needs additional guidance.