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 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.

2021 Digital Almanac

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