Pinnacle Personnel Services, LLC | Debbie Hatch
I want to talk for a moment about divorce. Specifically, if you’re a federal retiree.
In 2016, without any type of public notice, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) decided that a divorce decree apportioning a FERS retiree’s benefits to a former spouse should also automatically apply to the FERS Annuity Supplement (aka Special Retirement Supplement). Not only that, but they made the change retroactive which means annuitants started having larger sums of money deducted from their monthly retirement checks.
Prior to 2016, the supplement was not included unless specifically identified in the divorce decree. At that time, my business partner and I contacted OPM and asked for any written documentation of the “fact” that this was going to be the new procedure. It’s easier to tell people what the process is if you can give them something in writing. At that time, OPM could not provide anything. They said merely, “This is how it’s going to be done. It’s an internal policy.”
I’m glad the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association didn’t merely accept that answer. They complained to both the OPM Director, at the time, and the Acting Inspector General. The IG felt the complaint warranted investigation and ultimately decided, “OPM failed to meet its obligation to go through formal rule-making before carrying out the change, and OPM had no authority to apply its new policy retroactively.”
OPM management disagreed on both points; the IG in turn stuck to its position, leaving the two sides deadlocked and the revised policies still in place.
A court challenge is pending.
I’d love to hear about your challenges, concerns, and/or experiences with this.