Alaska State, Major City & Public School Retirement Systems

In Alaska, all retirement benefits are considered to be jointly “owned” by members and their spouses. Upon a divorce or dissolution of marriage, the following retirement plans may be divided between the participant and his or her spouse, or awarded to the member only. The plans include: Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) Tiers I, II, and III; Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) Tiers I, and II; Judicial Retirement System (JRS); the National Guard Naval Militia Retirement System (NGNMRS); the Alaska Supplemental Annuity Plan (SBS-AP), and Alaska Deferred Compensation Plan (DCP).

(The PERS Defined Benefit plan applies only to Tiers I, II, and III. The PERS defined benefit plan is for employees who began prior to July 1, 2006. Employees who began after that date participated in the PERS Tier IV, the Defined Contribution Retirement Plan. The TRS Defined Benefit plan applies only to Tiers I and II. The TRS defined benefit plan is for employees who began prior to July 1, 2006. Employees who began after that date participate in the TRS Tier III in the Defined Contribution Retirement Plan.) Learn more by reading our FAQs below.


QDRO State of Alaska Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS)
(Alaska Qualified Domestic Relations Order)
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QDRO State of Alaska Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS)
(Alaska Qualified Domestic Relations Order)
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QDRO State of Alaska Judicial Retirement System (JRS)
(Alaska Qualified Domestic Relations Order)
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QDRO State of Alaska National Guard and Naval Militia Retirement System (NGNMRS)
(Alaska Qualified Domestic Relations Order)
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QDRO State of Alaska Supplemental Annuity Plan (SAP)
(ERISA Qualified Domestic Relations Order)
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QDRO State of Alaska Deferred Compensation Plan (DCP)
(ERISA Conforming Equitable Distribution Order)
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Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. In a divorce or dissolution in Alaska, do benefits have to be split between the participant and his or her spouse?
A. Although retirement benefits are considered jointly owned like the house, the car, and bank accounts, at times benefits are not divided. Sometimes the spouses agree to exchange other assets instead of splitting the retirement benefits.
Q. When spouses agree not to divide retirement accounts, what must be done?
A. If a spouse retains ownership of his or her benefit, the property settlement must clearly state that the account is not to be divided and the participant retains ownership. This means specifying the account and the retirement plan by name.
Q. What about a party who has multiple accounts?
A. If a party has multiple accounts such as PERS, SBS-AP, and DCP each account should be individually named in the divorce or dissolution documents. The agreement should state the terms of which a former spouse may or may not have a claim against a specific account or accounts. Accounts should not be grouped together under a generic term such as "Retirement Benefits."

In a divorce or dissolution, the participant must submit to the court certified copies of the divorce or dissolution documents, including any attachments that address retirement plans. If the documents show your benefits are not divided, the accounts are clear from any attachment from the divorce or dissolution; if your benefits are divided, however, additional information will be needed.

Q. What is a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)?
A. A qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) is a specialized court order that authorizes the Division of Retirement and Benefits to make payments to both the participant and the alternate payee. One QDRO is needed for each benefit.
Q. How important is a QDRO?
A. The Division of Retirement and Benefits cannot make any payments until it has an approved QDRO. No funds can be paid even if the responsibility to file the necessary documents rests with the former spouse.
Q. What rules apply to the division of PERS, TRS, JRS, or NGNMRS benefits in a divorce?
A. PERS, TRS, JRS, and NGNMRS give a former spouse, who is called the alternate payee, an entitlement to a portion of the member’s benefit. However, certain rules apply, including:
> The accounts are not divided at the time of the divorce or dissolution;
> The participant retains the right to decide when to retire and has great latitude in deciding the form of the benefit payment;
> The alternate payee is entitled to only some portion of the member’s monthly benefit payment;
> The alternate payee’s portion is paid only when the member receives benefits; and
> The alternate payee may not name beneficiaries for continued payments after his or her death.
Q. When does the participant select survivor benefits?
A. The QDRO normally requires the participant to select one of the survivor options when he or she applies for retirement benefits. In this routine, the alternate payee receives a pro-rated survivor benefit if he or she survives the participant. In most cases the "cost" of providing the survivor benefits to the former spouse is shared, but can be assigned to either the participant or the former spouse. The "cost" is expressed as an actuarial reduction to the benefit and is based on his or her age, the age of the alternate payee, and the pro-rata share of the benefits set out in the QDRO.
Q. Can a QDRO be filed with the Division of Retirement and Benefits in advance of retirement?
A. Yes, for those not yet retired, under the PERS, TRS, JRS, and NGNMRS, a QDRO may be filed that divides future benefits once the participant receives those benefits. The alternate payee receives payments directly from the retirement system. However, the participant’s retirement contribution account is not split, and the alternate payee does not have a choice in benefit options. The future payments may be expressed as a specified amount; a percentage of the total benefit; or a formula using years of marriage or dates of the marriage.

A QDRO authorizes the Division of Retirement and Benefits to take money out of the participant’s account and set up a separate account for the former spouse. QDROs are necessary only if the benefit is divided.

Q. What happens when the divorced participant remarries before he or she retires?
A. The survivor’s benefit may be split between your former spouse and your spouse at the time of retirement. The alternate payee’s survivor benefit is calculated on the percent granted by the QDRO. The participant’s current spouse would be entitled to the remainder.

If the participant remarries before applying for retirement benefits, he or she can elect survivor coverage for the spouse, and can even select a different option than the one covering the former spouse.

Q. What happens when the SBS-AP or DCP benefits are divided?
A. The alternate payee has full ownership of his or her own separate account and may withdraw funds from that account as soon as it has been established, and can designate beneficiaries to his or her separate account as long as the State of Alaska maintains that account.
Q. How can the SBS-AP or DCP benefits are divided?
A. The SBS-AP and the DCP both require a separate interest QDRO. Once accepted by the Division, the participant’s SBS-AP or DCP accounts are divided and a new account is set up in the alternate payee’s name. He or she may keep his or her account invested through the State of Alaska, or may begin receiving payments under one or more of the payment options, have the entire account paid directly to him or her, or roll the account balance into an approved private individual retirement account (IRA).

The separate interest QDRO specifies an amount transferred from the participant’s account to the alternate payee’s account that is expressed as 1) a particular set dollar figure as of a certain date; 2) a percentage of the account as of a certain date; or 3) a formula based on years or dates of the marriage. (It is important to remember the balances in both the SBS-AP and the DCP change on a daily basis. The QDRO must allow for these changes in value. )

Q. What is an advantage of leaving the account with the state of Alaska?
A. If the account is left with the State, the alternate payee can control the investments and name beneficiaries to the account in the event of his or her death.
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