Marketing and Regulatory Programs
The following information may help you and your attorney understand your Federal benefits and avoid costly mistakes in preparing court orders to divide benefits. The way to avoid mistakes is for your attorney to use the publication RI 83-116, A Handbook for Attorneys on Court-ordered Retirement, Health Benefits, and Life Insurance Under the Civil Service Retirement System, Federal Employees Retirement System, Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, and Federal Employees Group Life Insurance Program.
Court orders that effect private sector pensions are governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). However, ERISA does NOT apply to Federal pensions, such as the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS).
If your attorney requests a copy of your benefits statement, you may provide the Personal Benefits Statement issued to you by the USDA National Finance Center (NFC) each spring. If you did not keep a copy of your last statement, you may obtain another copy by using your personal page at this website: https://www.nfc.usda.gov/personal. You need to have your Social Security number and your NFC personal identification number (PIN) to this website. If you do not have this PIN, you may request one at this website. Once you have entered this secure website, you can click on Personal Benefits to view and print the information. Other useful documents at the NFC Personal Page are copies of your Statements of Earnings and Leave, and W-2’s for prior years.
If your attorney requests information on the amount in your Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) account, you may provide a copy of your latest TSP Participant statement, issued quarterly by the TSP Office. To obtain your current account balance, or copies of previous TSP Participant statements, you may access your account at TSP’s web site, www.tsp.gov, or call the Thriftline at 1-877-968-3778. You will need your Social Security number and your TSP Personal Identification Number (PIN). If you do not have a TSP PIN, you may request one at this web site or phone number, and it will be mailed to your address on record.
Your attorney will need to use the TSP Court Order booklet to develop the court order for the division of TSP benefits.
When you divorce, your spouse is no longer a family member and cannot be covered under your FEHB family enrollment. If you do not have dependent children who will remain covered under your plan, you must complete an SF-2809, Health Benefits Registration Form (http://www.opm.gov/forms/html/sf.asp), to change to a self only enrollment when you become divorced. If you do have dependent children who will remain covered under your plan, you are required to notify your health plan that your former spouse is no longer an eligible family member effective the date of divorce.
If you lose health benefits coverage as a result of divorce, you may be eligible to enroll in the FEHB program by submitting a completed SF-2809, Health Benefits Registration Form (http://www.opm.gov/forms/html/sf.asp), to your servicing Benefits Specialist (PDF) within 60 days of the divorce. Proof of divorce or loss of coverage is required with the SF-2809. See http://www.opm. gov/insure/health for complete information on FEHB.
If you are covered by FEGLI, be aware that Option C Family coverage on your spouse ends at divorce, and if you do not have eligible children who are covered, you must elect to cancel Option C coverage. To elect to cancel some or all of your optional insurance, you must complete the SF-2817, Life Insurance Election Form (PDF), signing only for Basic life, and options you wish to keep. Please note that opportunities to increase your life insurance are limited.
You may wish to consider changing designations of beneficiary for your various benefits. If you previously designated your ex-spouse and you now want payments to go to someone else, you need to file new designations because a divorce does not automatically affect any designations you made at an earlier date.
Questions concerning Social Security benefits payable to divorced spouses should be referred to your local Social Security office, or call Social Security's toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 any business day between 7:00 am and 7:00 pm. For more information, go to http://www.ssa.gov/.
Divorce may be a qualifying life event to make a change to your FSAFEDS account (within 60 days after the divorce). Go to https://www.fsafeds.com/fsafeds/index.aspand read the Qualified Status Changes Fact Sheet under Forms and Literature. Call an FSAFEDS expert at 1-877-372-3337 if you have any questions.
If your name changes as a result of divorce, ask your supervisor or administrative office to submit an SF-52, Request for Personnel Action, to change your name on your personnel/payroll records.
(For employees of USDA Marketing and Regulatory Programs and the Merit Systems Protection Board)
Last Modified: March 22, 2012