About Author

Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to fedexperts@federaltimes.com.

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  1. There are 2 publications on OPM’s site that you should download and read. One is RI84-1, “Court Ordered Benefits for Former Spouses, “https://www.opm.gov/retirement-services/publications-forms/pamphlets/ri84-1.pdf.” The other is RI38-116, “A Handbook for Attorneys on Court Ordered Retirement, Health Benefits, and Life Insurance,” https://www.opm.gov/retirement-services/publications-forms/pamphlets/ri38-116.pdf.

    The court order granting you Survivor Benefits (and Health Benefits, etc.) needs to be prepared in accordance with OPM’s requirements. A typical Divorce Decree or QDRO (Qualified Domestic Relations Order) usually doesn’t meet these. OPM refers to a “Court Order Acceptable for Processing,” COAP, to award you benefits as a former spouse. Please take the time and get these Handbooks and read them. Your future can depend on it.

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