Life Events and Changes
You and your family may experience many different life events that affect your SERS retirement account. Events such as marriage, birth or adoption of a child, divorce, and death should be reported to SERS so we can keep your retirement records up to date.
Marriage During Your Working Career
Marriage after Retirement
If you are single at retirement, select Plan B, and then marry after retirement, you can select a new plan providing for your new spouse.
Or, if you were married at retirement, but later divorced and were able to select Plan B, and then remarried, you can select a new plan providing for your new spouse.
The plan can be Plan A, C, D, or F. You must make this change within one year of the marriage.
Birth/Adoption of a Child
Congratulations on the new addition to your family!
Please complete a Member Beneficiary Designation Form to update your family records.
Retirement benefits earned during a marriage are considered by Ohio courts to be marital property that may be divided upon termination of marriage.
Divorce (before retirement)
If you divorce your spouse before you retire, the termination of marriage automatically revokes the member’s last beneficiary designation. SERS survivor benefits are paid as authorized in Ohio Revised Code sections 3309.44 and 3309.45.
SERS has no legal duty or authority to require a SERS member to comply with the terms of a divorce or dissolution decree or separation agreement in relation to a SERS account. However, under Ohio Revised Code section 3309.46(B)(1) and Ohio Administrative Rule 3309-1-62, SERS must require a member to elect a joint life retirement plan with the former spouse as beneficiary if prior to retirement: (1) SERS has been provided with a copy of a court order requiring such election, and (2) the order specifies the percentage of the member’s retirement allowance to continue to the former spouse after the member’s death.
Please refer to the Domestic Relations Guide for more details.
Divorce (after retirement)
If a SERS member was married at the time of retirement and elected a joint life retirement plan with the spouse as beneficiary, upon divorce or dissolution, the retirement plan and beneficiary do not automatically change as a matter of law.
Under Ohio Revised Code section 3309.46(E)(2), the retired member may only remove the former spouse as beneficiary with either: (1) an order from the court with jurisdiction over the divorce that authorizes the retired member to change the retirement plan of payment, or (2) the written consent of the former spouse. Once you have this consent, you must fill out a Member Beneficiary Designation form.
Upon termination of marriage after retirement, the former spouse is no longer eligible for SERS’ health care program. COBRA coverage is available for those who qualify.
For more information about how divorce impacts your SERS account, please read the Domestic Relations Guide.
Division of Property Orders (DOPOs)
Your future benefit payments, including any PLOP amount, can be subject to an Ohio Division of Property Order that requires you to pay a portion of your pension to a former spouse for purposes of dividing your marital property.
Your ex-spouse cannot receive payment until your payment begins, and payment must be in the same manner you receive (lump sum or monthly). Payment to your ex-spouse ceases when you stop receiving a payment. Regardless of the number of DOPOs SERS receives, the total amount deducted from your benefit cannot exceed 50% of your original benefit amount.
You should discuss these matters with your attorney if you find yourself going through a divorce.
Support Withholding Orders
If you are subject to a court order to provide support for your spouse, former spouse, or children, the court can order SERS to withhold from your pension benefit payments.
Regardless of the number of support orders that SERS receives or the total amount of support ordered to be paid, the total amount deducted from your pension cannot exceed 50% of your original payment amount.
Plan of Payment Required
You may be required by a court order to select a retirement plan that provides a continuing benefit to your ex-spouse in the event of your death.
This order must be issued as part of your divorce proceedings, provide for payment of a specified amount to your spouse, and be received by SERS prior to the effective date of your retirement. If this type of order is issued, you must select a payment plan that complies with the court order.
You should discuss these matters with your attorney if you are in the process of filing for a divorce.
Please send SERS a copy of your court-ordered DOPO if your divorce decree requires it.
A $1,000 lump-sum death benefit will be paid to your designated beneficiary upon your death. If you have multiple beneficiaries, this will be distributed equally among them. By law, if you do not designate a beneficiary, statutory succession will apply. Payment will be made only upon receipt of a death certificate and evidence of qualification, as required by SERS.
SERS is required to pay an amount of benefits equal to the contributions in your SERS account. To learn more about refunding the deceased member’s account, or applying for a benefit if eligible, read the Member Benefits Guide or call Member Services toll-free at 866-280-7377.
Death of Your Spouse
If your spouse dies, it changes the beneficiary structure of your account. Please fill out a Member Beneficiary Designation Form, to update your SERS account information.
Death of Your Beneficiary (before retirement)
If the account beneficiary designated by you dies before you retire, you should select a new beneficiary. You must designate a new beneficiary in writing on a form provided by SERS. Please fill out a Member Beneficiary Designation Form to update your SERS account records.
Death of Your Beneficiary (after retirement)
If you choose Plan A, C or D, and your beneficiary dies before you do, then your benefit may be changed to a Plan B (Single Life Allowance) with an adjustment in your benefit.
If you choose Plan F and a beneficiary dies before you do, your benefit will be adjusted on the basis of the remaining beneficiary or beneficiaries.