Surviving Spouse Benefits and Divorce IMRF

March 27, 2020

If you participate in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund or IMRF, if you divorce after retirement and were married for at least 1 year before terminated IMRF participation, your ex-spouse remains eligible for surviving spouse pension. This is so even if the Member remarries. However, you want to make sure that the Member keeps the Alternate Payee ex-spouse listed as the only primary beneficiary.

Here is what the IMRF website says:

 

Retired Members

 

If you divorce after you retire and were married for at least one year before you terminated IMRF participation (and were still married on the effective date of your retirement), your ex-spouse remains eligible for your surviving spouse pension, even if you remarry.

 

The IMRF Manual states:

 

5.30 A. Types and Amounts of IMRF Death Benefits

  1. Divorce After Retirement

When a member retires and has a spouse eligible for a surviving spouse benefit, a joint and survivor pension is established for the member and the spouse. Even though they are divorced after retirement, that spouse remains eligible for the surviving spouse pension if the spouse survives the retired member. https://www.imrf.org/AAmanual/Online_AA_Manual/5.30_a._4.htm

 

5. 30 B. Types and Amounts of IMRF Death Benefits

 

The legal or designated beneficiary receives the death benefits payable when a member or beneficiary dies.

 
1.Members can designate a Beneficiary
 

A member may designate any person, persons, organization or trust as the beneficiary (ies).  However, to ensure a spouse can select a surviving spouse pension if the member dies before retiring, (and if a surviving spouse pension is otherwise payable), the member must have a valid designation of beneficiary form on file with IMRF naming the spouse as the only primary beneficiary.

 

If a member names his or her spouse as co-beneficiary with other beneficiaries, the spouse would share in the lump sum death benefit. Under this arrangement, the spouse would not be eligible for a surviving spouse pension. https://www.imrf.org/AAmanual/Online_AA_Manual/5.30_b.htm

 

Therefore, if you or your spouse retired from IMRF, you have a great benefit that is not available for most former spouses, the surviving spouse annuity. These are payments for the rest of the surviving ex-spouse’s life. It is potentially a huge benefit, bargaining chip, protection, etc., depending on your 

vantage point.most former spouses, the surviving spouse annuity. These are payments for the rest of the surviving ex-spouse’s life. It is potentially a huge benefit, bargaining chip, protection, etc., depending on your vantage point.

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