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OPM makes annuity policy change without public notice

The Office of Personnel Management in 2016 changed a policy on divorced former federal employees’ annuity supplements without making a public notice, a recent Inspector General report finds.

The Office of Personnel Management in 2016 changed a policy on divorced former federal employees’ annuity supplements without making a public notice, a recent Inspector General report finds.

The OIG initiated a review after receiving a complaint from the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, and released the findings on Feb. 5.

Specifically, OPM decided that a former spouse is entitled to not only a portion of a retired law enforcement officer’s basic annuity, but that former spouse is also entitled to a portion of the former LEO’s annuity supplement, even if the divorce decree does not mention issue.

“Further, OPM had applied this policy retroactively, resulting in the creation of a new debt that the retired LEOs now owed their former spouses,” the IG report states, adding, “We determined the issue warranted examination.”

Historically, OPM applied the state court-ordered marital share to the basic annuity (known as the gross monthly annuity) only, and not also to the annuity supplement.

In July 2016, the agency began applying the state court-ordered marital share to both annuities, even in cases where the state court order did not address the annuity supplement.

And those retirees and the former spouses learned of the change only when their annuity amounts changed, “many years after the parties had divorced, after a state court had ordered a former spouse’s marital share, and after OPM had accepted the state court order for processing,” the report notes.

The OIG recommended that OPM stop implementing the policy, reverse such decisions and examine whether it has a legal requirement to make updated guidance available.

OPM disagreed with all three recommendations.

Reader comments

Wed, Feb 14, 2018

The OIG is nothing more than a toothless barking dog.

Tue, Feb 13, 2018

As long as they don’t take it away from the federal employees that earned it. I don’t care about the ex they should not get it in my opinion anyway.

Tue, Feb 13, 2018

It’s ridiculous that OPM would change a policy in place for 30 years on a whim without taking it through proper channels and no regard of the impact to retirees who in some cases may have to go back to work. So much for retirement planning when OPM can change something this significant on a whim. What actions should a retiree who’s been impacted by this ridiculous change (can’t call it a policy because it wasn’t vetted) be taking?

Tue, Feb 13, 2018 Jack

There are retired FAA and Postal Service annuitants quoted in this article -- so no, it's not just LEOs. I am currently receiving my FERS Supp *and* have a court order filed with OPM from my divorce. Naturally I'm concerned if I'm on their radar now too. Hopefully this can be litigated.

Tue, Feb 13, 2018

The pendulum has swung too far in the wrong direction. Arrogant, bitter people in the wrong positions are creating an oppressive, totalitarian, government bent on revenge, control and usurping power. Now retirees who are already at an economic disadvantage have to band together, hire an attorney and pay for a class action law suite to reign in OPM which will take years to reverse this nonsense. Hopefully congress Senators and Representatives will help.

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