The RRB's regulations implementing section 14(b)(2) of the RRA (45 U.S.C. § 231m(b)(2)) have been published as Part 295 of Chapter II of Title 20 of the Code of Federal Regulations. The RRB will honor a decree of divorce, legal separation or annulment (or a court-approved property settlement incident to such a decree) that complies with these regulations. The key provisions of the regulations are as follows:
- Final Decree. The decree or order must be final, and issued in accordance with the laws of the jurisdiction of that court (20 CFR § 295.2).
- Statutory Authority. The decree or order must provide for the division of the employee's benefits under the RRA, as distinguished from payments under a private pension plan (20 CFR § 295.3(a)(1)).
- Final Disposition of Property. The decree or order must provide for the division of the employee's benefits as part of a final disposition of property between the parties, rather than as an award of spousal support (20 CFR § 295.3).
Division of Certain Benefits Only
The decree or order may not divide the tier I amount (20 CFR §§ 295.1(b) and 295.5(a)). The RRB will apply a decree only to the employee's non-tier I benefits regardless of the wording of a decree (20 CFR § 295.4(b)).
Statement of Award
A decree or order may state the partition award as a percentage, dollar amount, or as a fraction of the employee's benefits subject to division (see Appendix B for sample language; also see the RRB's web site). The RRB will deduct any amount or fraction allowed under state law, but the RRB will not deduct an amount greater than the total benefits subject to division payable to the employee for any month.
Service of Certified Copy
A certified copy of any decree awarding a spouse or former spouse an interest in an employee's benefits must be forwarded to:
|Office of General Counsel
U.S. Railroad Retirement Board
844 North Rush Street
Chicago, IL 60611-1275
The accompanying correspondence must identify the employee by name and social security number and should include the current mailing addresses of both parties and/or their counsel.
Obligation of Spouse
The spouse or former spouse of an employee must complete an Agreement of Spouse or Former Spouse as a condition for receiving payment of the partition award.. The spouse or former spouse will also be required to complete a Direct Deposit sign-up form. It is also the responsibility of the spouse or former spouse to keep the RRB informed of any changes in his or her address. Such changes must include the employee's name and social security number, to assure proper filing and notification of the spouse or former spouse. If an employee is currently being paid an annuity, the spouse or former spouse's timely response upon receipt of such notice is very important. See RRB Action on Receipt of Decree or Court Order for additional information.
When Payments Begin
Payments from the employee's annuity pursuant to the decree may begin with the employee's annuity beginning date; a date specified in the decree; the month of the Office of General Counsel receives the decree; or the first month in which both parties attain (or would have attained) age 62, depending on the particular circumstances of the case.