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Healthcare Reference Materials

 

Overview

Federal Benefits FastFacts

The Federal Benefits FastFacts provides basic information about the Federal Benefits Programs administered by the Insurance Services Programs at OPM. We will issue FastFacts throughout the year so be sure to check back with us.

Federal Employees Health Benefits Handbook

The Handbook is a source of detailed guidance on the FEHB Program for both agency officials and enrollees.

Enrollment Form (SF 2809)

The Health Benefits Election Form.

Frequently Asked Questions

See the answers to many questions about the FEHB Program.

Benefits Administration Letters

Keep up to date with the Federal benefits programs.

Guide to Federal Benefits

The Guide includes information about the five Federal Benefits Programs. The Guide explains the relationship among the Programs, provides guidance on making enrollment decisions and has instructions for employees during Open Season.

Quick Guide to FEHB, FEDVIP, FLTCIP, FSAFEDS, and FEGLI

The Quick Guide provides answers to 37 common questions and enables you to see the similarities and differences of these programs.

The FEHB Program and Medicare Booklet

This booklet answers questions about how the FEHB Program and Medicare work together to provide health benefits coverage to active or retired Federal employees coverage by both programs.

Patients' Bill of Rights

In March of 1997, President Clinton appointed the Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry (Commission) to advise him on changes occurring in the health care system. He asked the Commission to recommend measures necessary to promote and assure health care quality and value, and protect consumers and workers in the health care system. The Patients' Bill of Rights is the result of that commission.

Regulations

See the regulations which govern the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

Legislation

Legislation for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

A Handbook for Attorneys on Court-ordered Retirement, Health Benefits and Life Insurance

Handbook to guide attorneys through court ordered retirement, health benefits and life insurance.

Directory of Agency Headquarters Benefits Officers

A list of the headquarters level agency Benefits Officers.

FedFlex Plan Document

The official plan document that governs pre-tax programs sponsored by OPM, including flexible spending accounts (FSAFEDS), health benefits premium conversion (FEHB), and dental and vision insurance (FEDVIP).

FEHB Program Handbook

Introduction

General Overview

The Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program became effective in 1960. It is the largest employer-sponsored group health insurance program in the world, covering over 8 million Federal employees, retirees, former employees, family members, and former spouses.

Law and Regulations

Public Law 86-382, enacted September 28, 1959, created of the FEHB Program; the current law governing the Program is chapter 89 of title 5, United States Code. The 1959 Act became effective generally on the first day of the first pay period that began on or after July 1, 1960. It authorized the Civil Service Commission (now the Office of Personnel Management) to write any regulations necessary to carry out the Act. These regulations are in part 890 of title 5 and chapter 16 of title 48, Code of Federal Regulations.

FEHB Handbook

This Handbook provides the policies and procedures of the FEHB Program and provides additional guidance to those enrolled in the FEHB Program and their employing offices. These policies and procedures reflect operations under title 5, United States Code. This guidance does not cover any authority that individual agencies, such as the U.S. Postal Service, may have under different laws.

Enrollment

As a Federal employee, you are entitled to enroll yourself and cover any eligible family members in a health plan offered under the FEHB Program, unless your position is excluded from coverage by law or regulation. If you meet the requirements, you will be eligible to continue group coverage into retirement.

There are two types of enrollment: Self Only and Self and Family. A Self and Family enrollment covers you, your spouse, and your children under age 26.

Premiums

Each health plan carrier under the FEHB Program charges a different premium. The Government pays up to 75% of the cost of your health benefits coverage, and you pay the remainder, based on a formula set by law.

Who Provides the Coverage?

Over 200 health plans choices are offered under the FEHB Program. Of the available fee-for-service plans, several are open to all enrollees, while others are available only to specific categories of employees. In addition, health maintenance organizations (HMOs) are available in most areas of the United States; you must live or work within a defined area to be eligible to enroll in a particular HMO.

Opportunities to Change Coverage

Each year, an Open Season is held for FEHB Program enrollees to change health plans and/or the type of enrollment they have. Eligible employees may also enroll during this time. Open Season runs from the Monday of the second full workweek in November through the Monday of the second full workweek in December.

There are limited opportunities to enroll, cancel your enrollment, or change your enrollment outside of an Open Season.

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Contractual Benefits

Each carrier contracts with the Office of Personnel Management to provide certain health benefits to all persons who enroll in its participating plan. Contract negotiation is a bilateral process, and both OPM and the carrier must approve the final contract. Contract periods are usually one year. Individual policies or contracts are not issued to FEHB Program enrollees.

Once benefits have been agreed upon, OPM and each carrier jointly prepare a brochure describing each plan approved under the FEHB Program. This brochure is intended to be a complete statement of benefits available to the enrollee, including the plan's benefits, limitations, and exclusions.

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Legal Actions

The District Courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, concurrent with the United States Court of Federal Claims, in any civil action or claim against the United States founded upon the law. Actions to recover on claims for health benefits must be brought against OPM. Actions to review the legality of OPM's regulations or a decision made by OPM must be brought against OPM. Actions to compel enrollment must be brought against the employing office that made the enrollment decision.

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Garnishment

Your plan's carrier may garnish your pay to collect debts you owe to it. Garnishment could occur, among other reasons, if you fail to pay deductibles and copayments or if the carrier overpaid claims in error. Federal employee retirement benefits may not be garnished for this purpose.

Your employing office must follow the provisions of 5 CFR part 582 to process a garnishment. These regulations protect some pay from garnishment, such as amounts to cover health benefits premiums and Basic life insurance withholdings. However, amounts to cover Optional life insurance withholdings are not protected. See the FEGLI Handbook for additional information about the effect of garnishment on life insurance coverage.

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OPM Responsibilities

OPM has the overall responsibility for the administration of the FEHB Program. This includes:

  • contracting for and approving or disapproving carriers for participation in the FEHB Program;
  • negotiating benefit and rate changes with carriers;
  • approving the certified text on benefits for the brochures;
  • publishing FEHB regulations, instructions, forms, and documents;
  • receiving and depositing premium withholdings and contributions, remitting premiums to carriers, and accounting for the Employees Health Benefits Fund;
  • making final determinations of the applicability of the FEHB law to specific employees or groups of employees;
  • studying and evaluating the operation and administration of the FEHB law and the plans offered under it, and reporting findings to Congress;
  • ordering corrections of administrative errors if it would be against equity and good conscience not to do so;
  • providing guidance to agencies;
  • auditing carriers' operations under the law;
  • resolving disputed health insurance claims between the enrollee and the carrier;
  • conducting employing agency FEHB responsibilities for retired employees and survivor annuitants.

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Agency Responsibilities

Headquarters Benefits Officer

The head of each agency must designate a person to serve as the headquarters benefits officer (Benefits Officer) for the agency. The agency head must notify OPM in writing of the designee's name or any change in the designation. The Benefits Officer is OPM's contact for agencywide insurance matters.

Agency heads can send their notification to Office of Personnel Management, Retirement and Insurance Service, Agency Services Division, P.O. Box 57, Washington DC 20044 or fax the notification to 202-606-1108.

Field Installation Responsibilities

The head of each agency must arrange for the designation of employees at the employing office level. This person will be responsible for explaining the FEHB Program to employees and other eligible persons. He/she will determine individual eligibility for enrollment, effective dates of health benefits actions, and other related matters.

An agency may also delegate responsibility for counseling and advising employees and maintaining records to decentralized local operating offices or field installations or provide the services in some other way.

Information and Counseling

Each agency has a responsibility to provide health insurance information and counseling to its employees. Agencies must become especially familiar with the participation requirements for continuing FEHB coverage into retirement and make this information available to employees, especially those considering retirement. OPM encourages agencies to develop counseling programs that meet the needs of their own employees. While these services must be provided, agencies are using many different approaches. Specific information on resources within your agency should be available to you at your work site.

Contacts between Employees and Carriers

Authorized agency insurance officials should develop contacts with carrier representatives to assist their employees. These contacts must be limited to agency personnel who have FEHB Program responsibilities and to those employees enrolled in the carrier's plan, except during an Open Season. An agency may allow carrier representatives on agency premises to help enrollees with claim or service problems.

A carrier representative may give information only about the plan's benefit provisions and claim procedures. Carrier representatives must be qualified to explain and assist with problems involving the plan's benefit structure and claims procedures and they must confine themselves to these matters. If you have any other questions, such as questions on the law, the regulations, or the FEHB Program in general, you should ask authorized agency insurance officials.

Carrier representatives may address groups of employees during Open Seasons about their plan's benefits structure, methods of obtaining services, and similar matters. An agency may allow the use of its facilities or services for the distribution of OPM-authorized, carrier-supplied information on health benefits plans. An agency must treat employee organization carriers in accordance with current policies on labor-management relations in the Federal service, found in chapter 71 of title 5, United States Code.

Distribution of materials is limited to official brochures and other carrier-supplied information on a health insurance plan that the carrier certifies are in compliance with OPM's supplemental literature guidelines.

Employing Office Questions

Employing office questions concerning the FEHB Program must be directed to the headquarters Benefits Officer. This person may refer questions to OPM's Insurance Services Program. Questions about the benefits or claims procedure of a specific plan should be directed to a local office of that plan.

Other Agency Responsibilities

Agencies also are responsible for:

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Carrier Responsibilities

Each carrier is responsible for:

  • adjudicating claims of, and providing health benefits to, enrollees and covered family members in accordance with its contract with OPM;
  • typesetting, printing, and distributing brochures;
  • furnishing each person enrolled in its health plan an identification card or other evidence of enrollment;
  • contacting and working with agency payroll offices to reconcile enrollment records;
  • acting on enrollee requests for reconsideration of disputed claims;
  • maintaining financial and statistical records and reporting on the operation of its plan;
  • developing and maintaining effective communication and control techniques to ensure that its subcontractors and local offices comply with regulations and OPM instructions.

Related Topics:

Identification Cards

Your plan carrier will mail your identification cards directly to you. You will receive a new identification card if you change the type of enrollment within your plan or if your name changes. You will not receive a new identification card if you retire or change payroll or employing offices without changing your enrollment.

If you want a duplicate identification card, you must request the card from your carrier. Include in the request your date of birth, social security number, and any additional identifying number the plan may use. Your carrier will not display your social security number on your identification card.

Claim Kits

Some carriers provide claim kits as a convenient way for you to maintain claims expense records. Generally, carriers issue the kits to their enrollees at the same time they issue identification cards. Employing offices wanting information copies of these kits may obtain them from the nearest office of the plan.

Enrollee Responsibilities

Your responsibilities include:

  • being aware of your plan's benefit package and premium charges;
  • being aware of your plan's exclusions and limitations;
  • reviewing the benefit and rate changes made to your plan during Open Season;
  • during Open Season, determining whether your plan will still meet your needs in the upcoming year;
  • filing the appropriate forms with your employing office on a timely basis to enroll, change, or cancel enrollment;
  • ensuring that the proper deduction has been recorded on your earnings and leave statement;
  • examining plan provider directories or checking directly with a health care provider to see if that provider participates or will continue to participate in any plan networks or preferred provider arrangements;
  • being aware of and following plan precertification and preauthorization requirements;
  • filing claims on a timely basis with the necessary documentation;
  • being aware of requirements for continuing your enrollment into retirement;
  • promptly asking your employing office for information about temporary continuation of coverage if a family member ceases to be eligible under your enrollment;
  • promptly requesting conversion to an individual contract when FEHB eligibility ends;
  • notifying the carrier of your plan when your address changes;
  • notifying the carrier of your plan when a new family member is added to your Self and Family enrollment.
  • notifying the carrier of your plan when a family member is no longer eligible under your Self and Family enrollment

Health Insurance Questions

If you are a current employee, a former employee or family member covered under temporary continuation of coverage (TCC), a compensationer, or a former spouse of a current employee, you must direct questions about the FEHB Program to your servicing employing office. If you are an annuitant or a former spouse whose divorce occurred after the enrollee left Federal service, you can direct your questions to OPM's Retirement Information Office at 1-88USOPMRET (1-888-767-6738) or (202) 606-0500 from the metropolitan Washington area, or you can write to OPM's Retirement Operations Center, P.O. Box 45, Boyers, PA 16017-0045.

Questions from agency personnel offices and field installations must be directed to the agency headquarters Benefits Officer.

Designated headquarters Benefits Officers can direct their questions to OPM, Center for Retirement and Insurance Service, Human Resources Products and Services Division, Insurance Services Program, Washington, DC 20415. Questions also may be sent through the email address on the OPM website.

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Customer Service Standards

Our customers include Federal employees and retirees, or their survivors, who are eligible to enroll in the FEHB Program. This is our commitment to our health benefits customers:

  • Your choice of health benefits plans will compare favorably for value and selection with the private sector.
  • When you use the FEHB Guide and plan benefit brochures, you will find they are clear, factual and give you the information you need.
  • When you change plans or options, your new plan will issue your identification card within 15 calendar days after it gets your enrollment form from your agency or retirement system.
  • Your fee-for-service plan should pay your claims within 20 work days; if more information is needed, it should pay within 60 calendar days.
  • If you ask us to review a claim dispute with your plan, our decision will be fair and easy to understand, and we will send it to you within 60 calendar days. If you need to do more before we can review a claim dispute, we will tell you within 14 work days what you still need to do.
  • When you write to us about other matters, we will respond within 30 calendar days after we get your letter. If we need time to give you a complete response, we will let you know.

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Benefits Administration Letters

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has Government wide responsibility and oversight for Federal benefits administration. These pages contain the Benefits Administration Letters (BALs) used for program administration. The BALs provide guidance to agencies on various aspects of Federal administration.

Benefits Administration Letters (BALs)
BAL NumberDateSubject
200 Series – Insurance Policy and Process Issues
14-206 06/2014 Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) Program: UPDATE on Insurance Misrepresentations and Deceptive Sales Practices
14-205 04/2014 Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program: Family Member Audit
14-204 03/2014 New Online Web Portal for Entering SF 2809 Forms for Temporary Continuation of Coverage (TCC) Enrollment
14-203 03/2014 Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program: Self Plus One Enrollment
14-202 03/2014 Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance Program: New Address for the Office of Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance (OFEGLI)
14-201 02/2014 Additional Operational Issues Concerning the Final Rule for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program Regarding Members of Congress and Congressional Staff
This BAL provides guidance for the Senate and House of Representatives benefits officers on the transition of Members of Congress and their designated staff to the DC Small Business Health Options Program.
400 Series – Federal Benefits Open Season Guidance
14-402 08/2014 2014 Federal Benefits Open Season: Rider Information
Attachment 1: Federal Benefits Open Season Rider Information
14-401 08/2014 2014 Federal Benefits Open Season: Announcement
Attachment 1: 2014 Open Season Checklist for 2015 Plan Year
Attachment 2: Open Season Resources
Attachment 3: Frequently Questioned Services
Attachment 4: Circle ‘Round Your Benefits
800 Series – Flexible Spending Account (FSA) Issues
14-801 08/2014 The Federal Flexible Spending Account Program (FSAFEDS) Changes: Adopting Carryover and Reducing Minimum Election for 2015

For prior year BALs, please visit our BAL pages.

Patients' Bill of Rights

What is the Patients' Bill of Rights?

In March of 1997, President Clinton appointed the Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry (Commission) to advise him on changes occurring in the health care system. He asked the Commission to recommend measures necessary to promote and assure health care quality and value, and protect consumers and workers in the health care system.

The Commission was comprised of 34 members, selected from the private sector. Members included representatives of consumers, institutional health care providers, health care professionals, other health care workers, health care insurers, health care purchasers, State and local government representatives, and experts in health care quality, financing, and administration.

The President asked the Commission to develop a "Consumer Bill of Rights" in health care and to provide him with recommendations to enforce those rights at the Federal, State, and local level. The Commission gave the President a report entitled the Consumer Bill of Rights (Patients' Bill of Rights) in November of 1997.

The President then asked the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Department of Labor, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Defense to assess the level to which their health care programs were in compliance with the Patients' Bill of Rights (PBR). After this compliance assessment, the President directed these agencies by Executive Memorandum to adopt any measures necessary to come into full compliance with the PBR. This Executive Memorandum required the FEHB Program to be in full contractual compliance with the PBR by the end of 1999. OPM worked with health carriers throughout 1998 and 1999 to fully implement the PBR. The FEHB Program is now in full compliance with the President's Patients' Bill of Rights.

Objectives of the Patients' Bill of Rights and Responsibilities

The Patients' Bill of Rights and Responsibilities has three major objectives:

First, to strengthen consumer confidence by assuring the health care system is fair and responsive to consumers' needs, provides consumers with credible and effective mechanisms to address their concerns, and encourages consumers to take an active role in improving and assuring their health.

Second, to reaffirm the importance of a strong relationship between patients and their health care professionals.

Third, to reaffirm the critical role consumers play in safeguarding their own health by establishing both rights and responsibilities for all participants in improving health status.

Eight Principle Areas of Rights and Responsibilities

I. Information Disclosure

Patients have the right to receive accurate, easily understood information to help them make informed decisions about their health plans, professionals and facilities. The FEHB Program provides extensive information about benefits, customer satisfaction, delivery systems, health plan operating procedures and review rights through enrollment guides, plan brochures, and on the OPM website. Your FEHB plans make even more information available to you through their websites, provider directories, telephone numbers, or information sheets. Your plan may also refer you to plan providers or facilities for some information. However, if you are unable to get the information, the plan will assist you.

So that you can make informed health care decisions, your plan will make available to you, or aid you in obtaining, the following information:

About the Plan and Care Management:

  • Accreditation status
  • Compliance with State or Federal licensing, certification, or fiscal solvency requirements, if applicable, including the date the requirements were met.
  • Disenrollment rate (FEHB Open Season losses / Dec 31 enrollment = %)
  • Years in existence (corporate)
  • Corporate form (profit/non-profit, private/public)
  • Compliance with standards (State, Federal, and private accreditation) that assure confidentiality of medical records and orderly transfer to caregivers
  • Methods of compensation, ownership or interest in health care facilities.
  • Disclosure of the credentials of the person, or persons, involved in reviewing the patient's appeal.
  • Experimental/investigational determination process
  • Customer satisfaction measures
  • Preauthorization and utilization review procedures used to approve care
  • Clinical protocols, practice guidelines and utilization review standards being used to direct a patient's care
  • Mandatory or voluntary disease management programs or programs for persons with disabilities and significant benefit differentials if any
  • Formulary drug inclusion and exception process
  • Whether a patient's medication is included in the plan's formulary, and if not, how the patient can request a waiver to allow coverage for the particular medication at preferred cost-sharing levels

About Networks and Providers:

  • Number of primary care and specialty providers
  • Name, education, board certification status and geographic location of all contracting primary and specialty care providers; whether they are accepting new patients; language(s) spoken and availability of interpreters (for non-English speaking and those with communication disabilities); and whether their facilities are accessible to the disabled
  • Provider compensation, including base payment method (e.g., capitation, salary, fee schedule) and additional financial incentives (e.g., bonus, withhold, etc.)

About All Professional Providers:

  • Corporate form of provider practice
  • Names of hospitals where physicians have admitting privileges
  • Years in practice as a physician and as a specialist if so identified
  • Accreditation status
  • Cancellation, suspension, or exclusion from participation in Federal programs or sanctions from Federal agencies; any suspension or revocation of medical licensure, Federal controlled substance license, or hospital privileges
  • Experience with performing certain medical or surgical procedures (e.g., volume of care/services delivered), adjusted for case mix and severity
  • Consumer satisfaction, clinical quality and service performance measures

About Facilities:

  • Names, accreditation status, and geographic location of hospitals, home health agencies, rehabilitation and long-term care facilities; whether they are accepting new patients; language(s) spoken, and availability of interpreters (for non-English speaking and those with communication disabilities), and whether they are accessible to the disabled
  • Corporate form
  • Consumer satisfaction, clinical quality and service performance measures
  • Whether facility specialty programs meet guidelines established by specialty societies or other bodies
  • Complaint procedures
  • Whether facility has been excluded from any Federal health programs
  • Volume of certain procedures performed
  • Numbers and credentials of providers of direct patient care
  • Whether the facility's affiliation with a provider network would make it more likely that a consumer would be referred to health professionals or other organizations in that network.

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II. Choice of Providers and Plans

Consumers have the right to a choice of health care providers that is sufficient to ensure access to appropriate high-quality health care.

With almost 300 plans with delivery systems that include managed fee-for-service, preferred provider organizations, health maintenance organizations and point-of-service products, FEHB enrollees can choose among a broad range of health plans and providers. In implementing the Bill of Rights, we have assured that all participating carriers have the appropriate procedures in place to ensure access to high-quality health care.

For example, all plans in the FEHB Program provide:

  • Direct access to women's health care providers for routine and preventative health care services.
  • Direct access to a qualified specialist within your network of providers if you have complex or serious medical conditions that need frequent specialty care. Authorizations, when required by a plan, will be for an adequate number of direct access visits under an approved treatment plan.
  • Transitional care. If you have a chronic or disabling condition and your health plan terminates your provider's contract (unless the termination is for cause), you may be able to continue seeing your provider for up to 90 days after the notice of termination. If you are in the second or third trimester of pregnancy, you may continue seeing your OB/GYN until the end of your postpartum care.

If you have a chronic or disabling condition or are in your second or third trimester of pregnancy and your health plan drops out of the FEHB Program, you may be able to continue seeing your provider if you enroll in a new FEHB plan. You may continue to see your current specialist after your old enrollment ends, even if he or she is not associated with your new plan, for up to 90 days after you receive the termination notice or through the end of postpartum care, and pay no greater cost than if your old enrollment had not ended.

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III. Access to Emergency Services

Consumers have the right to access emergency health care services when and where the need arises. Health plans use a "prudent layperson" standard in determining eligibility for coverage of emergency services. Coverage of emergency department services are available without authorization if you have reason to believe your life is in danger or you would be seriously injured or disabled without immediate care.

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IV. Participation in Treatment Decisions

Consumers have the right and responsibility to fully participate in all decisions related to their health care. Consumers who are unable to fully participate in treatment decisions have the right to be represented by parents, guardians, family members, or other conservators.

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V. Respect and Nondiscrimination

Consumers have the right to considerate, respectful care from all members of the health care system at all times and under all circumstances. An environment of mutual respect is essential to maintain a quality health care system.

Consumers must not be discriminated against in the delivery of health care services consistent with the benefits covered in their policy or as required by law.

Consumers who are eligible for coverage under the terms and conditions of a health plan or program or as required by law must not be discriminated against in marketing and enrollment practices based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, or source of payment.

FEHB statute and regulations prohibit discriminatory practices in the FEHB Program.

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VI. Confidentiality of Health Information

Consumers have the right to communicate with health care providers in confidence and to have the confidentiality of their individually identifiable health care information protected. Consumers also have the right to review and copy their own medical records and request amendments to their records.

The privacy provisions already in place ensure that patient confidentiality is protected under the FEHB Program. We have ensured that carriers arrange with all their contracting providers so that you can review, copy, and request amendment to your medical records.

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VII. Complaints and Appeals

All consumers have the right to a fair and efficient process for resolving differences with their health plans, health care providers, and the institutions that serve them, including a rigorous system of internal review and an independent system of external review.

The FEHB Program has had an external review process in place for the last 20 years. Our disputed claims process ensures an independent review of disputes between participating carriers and our enrollees.

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VIII. Consumer Responsibilities

In a health care system that protects consumers' rights, it is reasonable to expect and encourage consumers to assume reasonable responsibilities. Greater individual involvement by consumers in their care increases the likelihood of achieving the best outcomes and helps support a quality improvement, cost-conscious environment.

You as a consumer can make a significant contribution in these key areas:

  • Maximize healthy habits e.g., exercising, not smoking, and eating healthy diet.
  • Become involved in care decisions.
  • Work collaboratively with providers in developing and carrying out agreed-upon treatment plans.
  • Disclose relevant information and clearly communicate wants and needs.
  • Use the FEHB Program disputed claims process when there is a disagreement between you and your health plan. The process is described in your plan brochure.
  • Become knowledgeable about coverage and health plan options, including covered benefits, limitations, and exclusions, rules regarding use of network providers, coverage and referral rules, appropriate processes to secure additional information, and process to appeal coverage decisions. This information is in your plan brochure.
  • Show respect for other patients and health workers.
  • Make a good-faith effort to meet financial obligations.
  • Report wrongdoing and fraud to appropriate resources or legal authorities. The OPM Fraud Hot Line number is 202/418-3300.

FEHB enrollees should educate themselves with respect to specifics of benefit coverage and to learn how to access health care and services by using the information provided in FEHB enrollment information, plan brochures, and on the OPM website.

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FEHB Regulations

The U.S. Government Printing Office website will allow you to access the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program regulations and link Federal Employees Health Benefits Program regulations.

Once in this website, select Title 5; then select Chapter 1 Parts 700-1199; then select Part 890 for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program or Part 891 for Retired Federal Employees Hleath Benefits.

PDF documents downloaded from this site will be named "get-crf", and will not have the standard .PDF file ending. You will need to either tell your browser to use Adobe Acrobat to read the file, or save it to your hard disk and rename it, including adding the file extension "PDF", in order to view it.

Regulations Documents

Code of Federal Regulations
Title 5 - Administrative Personnel
Chapter I - Office of Personnel Management

Part 890 - Federal employees health benefits program

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Part 891 - Retired federal employees health benefits

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Legislation

A Handbook for Attorneys on Court-ordered Retirement, Health Benefits & Life Insurance

United States Office of Retirement and Insurance Service Personnel RI 38-116 Management

Revised July 1997

Under the

  • Civil Service Retirement Benefits
  • Federal Employees Retirement Benefits
  • Federal Employees Health Benefits
  • Federal Employees Group Life Insurance Program

Court Orders Affecting Civil Service Retirement Benefits
Federal Employees Retirement Benefits
Federal Employees Health Benefits and
Federal Employees Group Life Insurance Benefits
Statutes and Regulations

Introduction

This publication is for attorneys and others who are involved in the preparation of divorce and separation agreements that involve a current or former employee of the Federal Government.

This publication contains the Federal statutes and regulations applicable to court orders affecting retirement benefits under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). The United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) administers both of these retirement systems. CSRS covers most employees first hired before 1984. FERS generally covers employees first hired by the Federal Government after 1983, plus other Federal employees who elected to transfer from CSRS to FERS. The publication also includes the statutes and regulations describing the conditions under which a former spouse's Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) coverage may be continued after a divorce, as well as the statute under which an employee or former employee may make an irrevocable assignment of his or her Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) coverage.

This publication is for attorneys and others who are involved in the preparation of divorce and separation agreements that involve a current or former employee, including an annuitant, of the Federal Government who is or was covered by the CSRS or FERS.

The pocket at the end of this publication contains a 3.5 inch diskette containing the model language that may be used in drafting court orders. The diskette contains three files with the model language in three common word processor formats. COMODEL.WP is in WordPerfect format. COMODEL.WRD is in Word format. COMODEL.GEN is in a generic word processor format.

Certain individuals who may be covered by other retirement systems (such as the Foreign Service Retirement System) still participate in the FEHB and FEGLI programs. The rules concerning continuation of FEHB coverage for former spouses after divorce and assignment of FEGLI coverage to a former spouse also apply to this group of individuals.

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Retirement

Appendices to the regulations contain model paragraphs that attorneys can use to ensure that, in drafting orders, the language they select will both produce the intended result and meet OPM's processing requirements.

OPM published revised regulations on court orders affecting retirement benefits in the Federal Register on July 29, 1992. These regulations synthesize our experience in processing court orders since 1978. They are designed to make it easier for parties in a divorce to ensure that court orders will be acceptable to OPM for processing, and that OPM will divide CSRS or FERS benefits, or provide a survivor benefit, in accordance with their wishes.

The regulations . . . apply to court orders that OPM receives on or after January 1, 1993.

The new regulations, which are reproduced in this document, are very detailed as to what constitutes a court order that is acceptable for processing, and as to the exact meaning of court order terminology. The definitions in these regulations are designed to give the most commonly-used meaning to words most often encountered in court orders. This will allow OPM to accept as many court orders as possible rather than rejecting orders, which would require the parties to return to State court. To further facilitate preparation of acceptable orders, appendices to the regulations contain model paragraphs that attorneys can use to ensure that, in drafting orders, the language they select will both produce the intended result and meet OPM's processing requirements. While the regulations themselves apply to court orders that OPM receives on or after January 1, 1993, a court order prepared using them also will be acceptable under the regulations that apply to orders that OPM receives before January 1, 1993. In addition, OPM strongly encourages use of the model language to ensure that a court order will be acceptable for processing by OPM.

OPM's role is ministerial, rather than that of a mediator in marital property disputes.

OPM's role is ministerial, rather than that of a mediator in marital property disputes. This latter role belongs to the State courts. If a court order is so flawed that it is not sufficiently clear to satisfy our requirements, the appropriate action is for the parties to return to the State court to correct the problem. Likewise, if a party contends that the court intended its order to have a different meaning than the clear meaning it has under these regulations, the proper forum for the individual's complaint is the State court. OPM will require employees and former spouses to settle disputes in the State courts where they belong, not in Federal proceedings. The courts issuing the orders are in the best position to determine the meaning of their own orders.

Please note that this publication does not contain information on garnishment of pay or annuity of an employee or annuitant for alimony or child support. OPM's regulations governing garnishments may be found in Part 581 of title 5 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

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Preparing a Court Order

Exemption from ERISA

A substantial number of State court orders are drafted under the mistaken belief that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) (29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq.) applies to CSRS or FERS benefits. Sections 1003(b)(1) and 1051 of title 29, United States Code, exempt CSRS and FERS from ERISA, because CSRS and FERS are "governmental plans" as defined in section 1001(23) of title 29, United States Code.

An order labelled as a QDRO is not acceptable.

ERISA created the term "qualified domestic relations order" (QDRO) to describe a court order that summarizes the division of retirement benefits under ERISA plans. QDRO's are not acceptable to affect CSRS or FERS benefits. OPM has seen from experience that attorneys prepare these orders on the assumption that they can provide any benefits available under ERISA to CSRS and FERS. (For example, the most important difference between ERISA plans and CSRS and FERS is that under ERISA the former spouse's share of the benefit can begin when the employee reaches the minimum retirement age, even if the employee is still working. However, this benefit is not available under CSRS or FERS. The availability of this early benefit, or lack of availability, can seriously alter negotiations over a settlement agreement.)

Since CSRS and FERS are exempt from ERISA, some provisions that ERISA plans must honor do not apply to CSRS and FERS. For OPM to be able to process court orders in the way intended by the parties, OPM and the court must be speaking the same language. To assure that the court has used our terminology, rather than ERISA's terminology, an order labelled as a QDRO is not acceptable. However, this prohibition against labelling the order as a QDRO does not apply if court orders also expressly state that they are written in conformity with OPM's regulations. This exception will guarantee that the purpose of the ban‑‑that the court understands that we are exempt from ERISA and that the court is using the terminology as provided in the regulations‑‑is satisfied by requiring that any QDRO mention the regulations. Model paragraph &001 in appendix A to subpart F of the regulations provides the required language. (See page 74.)

A substantial number of State court orders are drafted under the mistaken belief that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) (29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq.) applies to CSRS or FERS benefits. Sections 1003(b)(1) and 1051 of title 29, United States Code, exempt CSRS and FERS from ERISA.

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Benefits payable

In preparing a court order, attorneys should keep in mind that we consider each of the three types of awards as separate and independent of the other two, and should exercise great care in each type of benefit they intend to affect.

A court order may affect any of three types of retirement benefits paid by OPM. The regulations treat each of the three‑‑employee annuities, refunds of employee contributions, and survivor annuities‑‑independently. In preparing a court order, attorneys should keep in mind that we consider each of the three types of awards as separate and independent of the other two, and should exercise great care in each type of benefit they intend to affect. Our requirement that the award of each type of benefit be independent does not mean that the court award of one type of benefit cannot affect another. For example, awarding a former spouse survivor annuity requires a reduction in the employee annuity. If the former spouse has also been awarded a portion of the gross or net employee annuity, the former spouse's portion of the employee annuity will be affected.

A complete court order requires three separate provisions--one addressing each type of benefit that the court can affect.

A complete court order requires three separate provisions‑‑one addressing each type of benefit that the court can affect. However, frequently, courts intend to award only a portion of the employee annuity or a survivor annuity, rather than a complete retirement package. A court that intends only to divide an employee annuity needs to consider only subparts A, B, C, and F of these regulations. Similarly, if the court intends to award only a survivor annuity, only subparts A, G, H, and I of these regulations apply. To provide a former spouse with a share of an employee annuity or refund of employee contributions and a survivor annuity, the order must include the language required by the appropriate subparts and, preferably, the model language appendices. Note that if the employee receives a refund of retirement contributions, the former spouse's future annuity entitlement will be voided. The court may wish to prevent payment of the refund of retirement contributions or award the former spouse a portion of the refund. Subparts A, D, E, and F apply to refunds of retirement contributions. Paragraph 401 in appendix A to subpart F contains language that may be used to prevent a refund of retirement contributions. (See pages 80-81.) The complete regulatory structure is addressed in section 838.102 of regulations. (See page 31.)

State court orders cannot affect several types of benefits payable under CSRS and FERS. OPM must pay any accrued annuity that is not paid before a retiree's death and any unexpended balance of an employee's retirement contributions that are paid as a death benefit in accordance with the order of precedence established by Federal law. Similarly, eligibility for children's survivor benefits is governed entirely by Federal law and cannot be affected by State court orders.

The employing agency is the proper source for employment and pay information about a current employee's service with that agency.

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Information Available From the Federal Government

Information available on current employees

The employing agency is the proper source for employment and pay information about a current employee's service with that agency. OPM does not receive records until after an employee leaves an agency's employment. With regard to requests for an individual's employment and pay records, agency personnel must comply with Privacy Act rules and applicable regulations before disclosing the information.

However, if a current employee has previous employment with a different Federal agency (for example, someone who currently is a civilian employee with the Department of the Army, but who previously worked for the U.S. Postal Service), information about the employee's contributions to the Retirement Fund during the prior service is only available from OPM.

Commonly requested information, which agencies can provide in response to a subpoena signed by a judge or a release signed by the employee, includes a statement of retirement system coverage (CSRS or FERS), the amount of money withheld by that agency to the employee's credit in the retirement fund, and an annuity estimate using the employee's service history to date. The exact requirements for obtaining information vary among agencies. Information about the agency's procedures for obtaining such information should be obtained from the agency involved. If an agency provides an annuity estimate--as agencies generally do for employees at or near retirement--that benefit calculation is only an estimate, and is not binding on the Government. Agencies should not provide estimates that would require speculation about future promotions, program changes, or any other non-factual information and should avoid giving annuity estimates for employees who are not close to retirement. Official computations are made by OPM only at the time benefits become payable.

Information on retirees and former employees

OPM is the proper source of information about retirees and former employees.

OPM is the proper source of information about retirees and former employees. OPM has information available on former employees and retirees similar to the information, described in the previous paragraph, available from agencies on current employees. In addition, OPM has annuity rate information on retirees. OPM can release this information only in response to a subpoena signed by a judge or a release signed by the retiree or former employee. The subpoena or release should be sent to:

Associate Director for Retirement and Insurance

U.S. Office of Personnel
Management
Post Office Box 16
Washington, DC 20044-0016

Please note that a different agency, the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (the Board) administers the Thrift Savings Plan for Federal employees. The Board's regulations governing court orders are in subparts G and I of part 1650 of Title 5, Code of Federal Regulations. Questions about an individual's thrift account or the Board's rules governing court orders should be directed to the

Office of General Counsel
Federal Retirement Thrift
Investment Board
805 15th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005-2207

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Information Not Available From the Government

Federal agency personnel do not advise an employee, an employee's spouse, or an attorney about how to draft a court order to award CSRS or FERS benefits. This is the task of the attorneys involved. The requirements that must be satisfied for OPM to honor a court order are set out in the law and regulations provided in this publication. The regulations contain two appendices that provides model language recommended for use in court orders. An agency's efforts to advise individuals in legal matters involving domestic disputes can, despite good intentions, harm more than help.

It is not appropriate for agency personnel to attempt a "present value" computation of an employee's future benefits. Also, agencies should not attempt to determine the proper division of benefits between the employee and spouse. Present value computations should be prepared by a qualified private actuary. Such computations of the total actuarial value of retirement benefits require application of various economic and mortality assumptions, and are beyond the scope of an employing agency's or OPM's responsibility.

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CSRS Statutory Provisions

Section 8346(a) of title 5, United States Code, exempts CSRS benefits from most State court proceedings. It provides:

' 8346. Exemption from legal process; recovery of payments

(a)The money mentioned by this subchapter is not assignable, either in law or equity, except under the provisions of subsection (h) and (j) of section 8345 of this title, or subject to execution, levy, attachment, garnishment, or other legal process, except as otherwise may be provided by Federal laws.

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Section 8345(j) of title 5, United States Code, permits State courts to award a former spouse certain CSRS benefits. Only benefits that would otherwise be payable to the employee and that are based on the employee's service may be awarded under this provision. Section 8345(j) provides:

(j)(1) Payments under this subchapter which would otherwise be made to an employee, Member, or annuitant based upon his service shall be paid (in whole or in part) by the Office to another person if and to the extent expressly provided for in the terms of any court decree of divorce, annulment, or legal separation, or the terms of any court order or court-approved property settlement agreement incident to any court decree of divorce, annulment, or legal separation. Any payment under this paragraph to a person bars recovery by any other person.
(2) Paragraph (1) shall only apply to payments made by the Office under this subchapter after the date of receipt in the Office of written notice of such decree, order, or agreement, and such additional information and documentation as the Office may prescribe.
(3) As used in this subsection, "court" means any court of any State, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, or the Virgin Islands, and any Indian court.

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Section 8341(h) of title 5, United States Code, permits State courts to award a former spouse entitlement to a survivor annuity in the event that the employee predeceases the former spouse. Special attention should be given to the restriction on modifications provided in paragraph (h)(4). Section 8341(h) provides:

(h)(1) Subject to paragraphs (2) through (5) of this subsection, a former spouse of a deceased employee, Member, annuitant, or former Member who was separated from the service with title to a deferred annuity under section 8338(b) of this title is entitled to a survivor annuity under this subsection, if and to the extent expressly provided for in an election under section 8339(j)(3) of this title, or in the terms of any decree of divorce or annulment or any court order or court-approved property settlement agreement incident to such decree.
(2)(A) The annuity payable to a former spouse under this subsection may not exceed the difference between‑‑
(i) the amount applicable in the case of such former spouse, as determined under subparagraph (B) of this paragraph, and
(ii) the amount of any annuity payable under this subsection to any other former spouse of the employee, Member, or annuitant, based on an election previously made under section 8339(j)(3) of this title, or a court order previously issued.
(B) The applicable amount, for purposes of subparagraph(A)(i) of this paragraph in the case of a former spouse, is the amount which would be applicable‑‑
(i) under subsection (b)(4)(A) of this section in the case of a widow or widower, if the deceased was an employee or Member who died after retirement;
(ii) under subparagraph(A) of subsection (d) of this section in the case of a widow or widower, if the deceased was an employee or Member described in this first sentence of such subsection; or
(iii) under subparagraph(A) of subsection (f) of this section in the case of a surviving spouse, if the deceased was a Member described in the first sentence of such subsection.
(3) The commencement and termination of an annuity payable under this subsection shall be governed by the terms of the applicable order, decree, agreement, or election, as the case may be, except that any such annuity‑‑
(A) shall not commence before‑‑
(i) the day after the employee, Member, or annuitant dies, or
(ii) the first day of the second month beginning after the date on which the Office received written notice of the order, decree, agreement, or election, as the case may be, together with such additional information or documentation as the Office may prescribe,
whichever is later, and
(B) shall terminate‑‑
(i) in the case of an annuity computed by reference to clause (i) or (ii) of paragraph (2)(B) of this subsection, no later than the last day of the month before the former spouse remarries before becoming 55 years of age or dies; or
(ii) in the case of an annuity computed by reference to clause (iii) of such paragraph, no later than the last day of the month before the former spouse remarries or dies.
(4) For purposes of this subchapter, a modification in a decree, order, agreement, or election referred to in paragraph (1) of this subsection shall not be effective‑‑
(A) if such modification is made after the retirement or death of the employee or Member concerned, and
(B) to the extent that such modification involves an annuity under this subsection.
(5) For purposes of this subchapter, a decree, order, agreement, or election referred to in paragraph (1) of this subsection shall not be effective, in the case of a former spouse, to the extent that it is inconsistent with any joint designation or waiver previously executed with respect to such former spouse under section 8339(j)(1) of this title or a similar prior provision of law.
(6) Any payment under this subsection to a person bars recovery by any other person.
(7) As used in this subsection, "court" means any court of any State, the District of Columbia, and Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, or the Virgin Islands, and any Indian court.

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Section 8342(j)(1)(B) of title 5, United States Code, permits State courts to block payments of refunds of employee contributions but only if a former spouse has been awarded a portion of the employee annuity or a survivor annuity. Section 8342(j)(1)(B) provides:

' 8342. Lump-sum benefits; designation of beneficiary; order of precedence

(j)(1) Payment of the lump-sum credit under subsection (a) of this section--
(B) shall be subject to the terms of a court decree of divorce, annulment, or legal separation or any court order or court approved property settlement agreement incident to such decree if--
(i) the decree, order, or agreement expressly relates to any portion of the lump-sum credit involved; and
(ii) payment of the lump-sum credit would extinguish entitlement of the employee's or Member's spouse or former spouse to a survivor annuity under section 8341(h) of this title or to any portion of an annuity under section 8345(j) of this title.

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FERS Statutory Provisions

Section 8470(a) of title 5, United States Code, exempts FERS benefits from most State court proceedings. It provides:

' 8470. Exemption from legal process; recovery of payments

(a) An amount payable under subchapter II, IV, and V of this chapter is not assignable, either in law or equity, except under the provisions of section 8465 or 8467, or subject to execution, levy, attachment, garnishment or other legal process, except as otherwise may be provided by Federal laws.

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Section 8467 of title 5, United States Code, permits State courts to award a former spouse certain FERS benefits. Only benefits that would otherwise be payable to the employee and that are based on the employee's service may be awarded under this provision. Section 8467 provides:

' 8467. Court orders

(a) Payments under this chapter which would otherwise be made to an employee, Member, or annuitant (including an employee, Member, or annuitant as defined under section 8331) based on the service of that individual shall be paid (in whole or in part) by the Office or the Executive Director (as the case may be), to another person if and to the extent that the terms of any court decree of divorce, annulment, or legal separation, or the terms of any court order or court-approved property settlement agreement incident to any court decree of divorce, annulment, or legal separation expressly provide. Any payment under this subsection to a person bars recovery by any other person.
(b) Subsection (a) shall apply only to payments made by the Office or the Executive Director under this chapter after the date on which the Office or the Executive Director (as the case may be) receives written notice of such decree, order, or agreement, and such additional information and documentation as the Office or the Executive Director may require.

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Section 8445 of title 5, United States Code, permits State courts to award a former spouse entitlement to a survivor annuity in the event that the employee predeceases the former spouse. Special attention should be given to the restriction on modifications provided in paragraph (d). Section 8445 provides:

' 8445. Rights of a former spouse

(a) Subject to subsections (b) through (e), a former spouse of a deceased employee, Member, or annuitant (or of a former employee or Member who dies after having separated from the service with title to a deferred annuity under section 8413 but before having established a valid claim for annuity) is entitled to an annuity under this section, if and to the extent expressly provided for in an election under section 8417(b), or in the terms of any decree of divorce or annulment or any court order or court-approved property settlement agreement incident to such decree.
(b)(1) The annuity payable to a former spouse under this section may not exceed the difference between‑‑
(A) the amount applicable in the case of such former spouse, as determined under paragraph (2); and
(B) the amount of any annuity payable under this section to any other former spouse of the employee, Member, or annuitant, or former employee or Member, based on an election previously made under section 8417(b), or a court order previously issued or agreement previously entered into as described in subsection (a).
(2) The applicable amount, for purposes of paragraph (1)(A) in the case of a former spouse, is the amount of the annuity which would be payable under the provisions of section 8442 (including subsection (f) of such section, but without regard to subsection (h) of such section) if such former spouse were a widow or widower entitled to an annuity under such provisions based on the service of the deceased employee, Member, or annuitant, or former employee or Member.
(c) The commencement and termination of an annuity payable under this section shall be governed by the terms of the applicable order, decree, agreement, or election, as the case may be, except that any such annuity‑‑
(1) shall not commence before‑‑
(A) the day after the employee, Member, or annuitant, or former employee or Member, dies; or
(B) the first day of the second month beginning after the date on which the Office received written notice of the order, decree, agreement, or election as the case may be together with such additional information or documentation as the Office may prescribe;
whichever is later, and
(2) shall terminate no later than the last day of the month before the former spouse remarries before becoming 55 years of age or dies.
(d) For purposes of this chapter, a modification in a decree, order, agreement, or election referred to in subsection (a) shall not be effective‑‑
(1) if such modification is made after the retirement or death of the employee, Member, or annuitant, or former employee or Member, concerned; and
(2) to the extent that such modification involves an annuity under this section.
(e) For purposes of this chapter, a decree, order, agreement, or election referred to in subsection (a) shall not be effective, in the case of a former spouse, to the extent that it is inconsistent with any joint waiver previously executed with respect to such former spouse under section 8416(a).
(f)(1) Any amount under section 8442(b)(1)(A) which would otherwise be payable to a widow or widower based on the service of another individual shall be paid (in whole or in part) by the Office to a former spouse of such individual if and to the extent expressly provided for in the terms of a court decree of divorce, annulment, or legal separation, or the terms of a court order or court-approved property settlement incident to any decree of divorce, annulment, or legal separation.
(2) Paragraph (1) shall apply only to payments made by the Office after the date of receipt in the Office of written notice of such decree, order, or agreement, and such additional information and documentation as the Office may prescribe.
(g) Any payment under this section to a person bars recovery by any other person.

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Section 8401(7) defines the term "court" as that term is used in FERS. It provides:

' 8401. Definitions

(7) [T]he term "court" means any court of any State, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, or the Virgin Islands, and any Indian court[.]

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Section 8424(b)(1)(B) of title 5, United States Code, permits State courts to block payments of refunds of employee contributions but only if a former spouse has been awarded a portion of the employee annuity or a survivor annuity. Section 8424(b)(1)(B) provides:

' 8424. Lump-sum Benefits; designation of beneficiary; order of precedence

(b)(1) Payment of the lump-sum credit under subsection (a)‑‑
(B) in any case in which there is a former spouse, shall be subject to the terms of a court decree of divorce, annulment, or legal separation issued with respect to such former spouse if‑‑
(i) the decree expressly relates to any portion of the lump-sum credit involved; and
(ii) payment of the lump-sum credit would affect any right or interest of the former spouse with respect to a survivor annuity under section 8445, or to any portion of an annuity under section 8467.

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How the Regulations Are Organized

Subpart A of the regulations contains definitions and other material of significance to all types of court orders affecting CSRS or FERS. The rest of the regulations are divided into three major units depending on whether the court order applies to employee annuities, refunds of employee contributions, or former spouse survivor annuities. For each unit, separate subparts cover procedures for processing, requirements that court orders must satisfy, and definitions of terms frequently used in court orders. (The terminology section for employee annuities and refunds of employee contributions are combined to avoid excessive duplication.)

The subparts (B, D and G) regulating procedures contain rules relating to former spouse filing requirements and to our actions upon receipt of court orders. In addition, they contain rules and limitations that the State court cannot change such as when benefits are paid. The subparts (C, E, and H) regulating requirements that court orders must satisfy contain rules pertaining to the requirements that a court order must meet to be acceptable for processing. The subparts (F and I) defining terms explain our understanding of the meaning of terms commonly used in court orders. By choosing the correct term, the State court can tell us exactly what to do. We assume that State courts are familiar with our assigned meanings of these terms and have used them in the way that they are defined in these subparts.

Paragraphs (b) through (i) of section 838.102 contain cross references to other regulations concerning court orders or former spouse benefits. This information may assist in identifying areas in which research may be necessary.

Part 838‑‑Court Orders Affecting Retirement Benefits

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Subpart A--Court Orders Generally

' 838.101 Purpose and scope.

(a)(1) This part regulates the Office of Personnel Management's handling of court orders affecting the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), both of which are administered by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Generally, OPM must comply with court orders, decrees, or court‑approved property settlement agreements in connection with divorces, annulments of marriage, or legal separations of employees, Members, or retirees that award a portion of the former employee's or Member's retirement benefits or a survivor annuity to a former spouse. (2) In executing court orders under this part, OPM must honor the clear instructions of the court. Instructions must be specific and unambiguous. OPM will not supply missing provisions, interpret ambiguous language, or clarify the court's intent by researching individual State laws. In carrying out the court's instructions, OPM performs purely ministerial actions in accordance with these regulations. Disagreement between the parties concerning the validity or the provisions of any court order must be resolved by the court. (b) This part prescribes‑‑ (1) The requirements that a court order must meet to be acceptable for processing under this part; (2) The procedures that a former spouse must follow when applying for benefits based on a court order under sections 8341(h), 8345(j), 8445 or 8467 of title 5, United States Code; (3) The procedures that OPM will follow in honoring court orders and in making payments to the former spouse; and (4) The effect of certain words and phrases commonly used in court orders affecting retirement benefits. (c)(1) Subparts A through I of this part apply only to court orders received by OPM on or after January 1, 1993. (2) Subpart J of this part applies only to court orders received by OPM before January 1, 1993. (d) This part has no application to the Thrift Savings Plan described in subchapter III of chapter 84 of title 5, United States Code.

' 838.102 Regulatory structure.

(a) This part is organized as follows:
(1) Subpart A contains information and rules of general application to all court orders directed at CSRS or FERS retirement benefits. (2) Subparts B and C of this part contain information about court orders directed at ongoing employee annuity payments. (3) Subparts D and E of this part contain information about court orders directed at refunds of employee contributions. (4) Subpart F of this part contains information about the effect of words and phrases commonly used in court orders affecting ongoing employee annuity payments and refunds of employee contributions. (5) Subparts G, H, and I of this part contain information about court orders awarding former spouse survivor annuities. (6) Subpart J of this part contains the rules applicable to court orders filed under procedures in effect prior to the implementation of this part. These rules continue to apply to court orders received by OPM before January 1, 1993. (b) Part 890 of this chapter contains information about coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. (c) Part 581 of this chapter contains information about garnishment of Government payments including salary and CSRS and FERS retirement benefits. (d) Parts 294 and 297 of this chapter and sections 831.106 and 841.108 contain information about disclosure of information from OPM records. (e) Subpart V of part 831 of this chapter and subpart G of part 842 of this chapter contain information about how court orders affect eligibility to make an alternative form of annuity election. (f) Part 1600 of this title contains information about court orders affecting the Federal Employees Thrift Savings Plan. (g) Subpart F of part 831 of this chapter, subpart F of part 841 of this chapter, and part 843 of this chapter contain information about entitlement to survivor annuities. (h) Subpart T of part 831 of this chapter and subpart B of part 843 of this chapter contain information about refunds of employee contributions and lump‑sum death benefits. (i) Parts 870, 871, 872, and 873 of this chapter contain information about the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance Program.

' 838.103 Definitions.

In this part (except subpart J)‑‑

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Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS)
the retirement system for Federal employees described in subchapter III of chapter 83 of title 5, United States Code.
Court order
any judgment or property settlement issued by or approved by any court of any State, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, The Northern Mariana Islands, or the Virgin Islands, or any Indian court in connection with, or incident to, the divorce, annulment of marriage, or legal separation of a Federal employee or retiree.
Court order acceptable for processing
a court order as defined in this section that meets the requirements of subpart C of this part to affect an employee annuity, subpart E of this part to affect a refund of employee contributions, or subpart H of this part to award a former spouse survivor annuity.
Employee
an employee or Member covered by CSRS or FERS.
Employee annuity
the recurring payments under CSRS or FERS made to a retiree. "Employee annuity" does not include payments of accrued and unpaid annuity after the death of a retiree under section 8342(g) or section 8424(h) of title 5, United States Code.
ERISA
the Employees Retirement Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq.
Federal Employees Retirement System or FERS
the retirement system for Federal employees described in chapter 84 of title 5, United States Code.
Former spouse
(1) in connection with a court order affecting an employee annuity or a refund of employee contributions, a living person whose marriage to an employee has been subject to a divorce, annulment of marriage, or legal separation resulting in a court order, or (2) in connection with a court order awarding a former spouse survivor annuity, a living person who was married for at least 9 months to an employee or retiree who performed at least 18 months of civilian service covered by CSRS or who performed at least 18 months of civilian service creditable under FERS, and whose marriage to the employee or retiree was terminated prior to the death of the employee or retiree.
Former spouse survivor annuity
a recurring benefit under CSRS or FERS, or the basic employee death benefit under FERS as described in part 843 of this chapter, that is payable to a former spouse after the employee's or retiree's death.
Gross annuity
the amount of monthly annuity payable after reducing the self‑only annuity to provide survivor annuity benefits, if any, but before any other deduction. Unless the court order expressly provides otherwise, "gross annuity" also includes any lump‑sum payments made to the retiree under section 8343a or section 8420a of title 5, United States Code.
Member
a Member of Congress covered by CSRS or FERS.
Net annuity
the amount of monthly annuity payable after deducting from the gross annuity any amounts that are (1) owed by the retiree to the United States, (2) deducted for health benefits premiums under section 8906 of title 5, United States Code, and '' 891.401 and 891.402 of this chapter, (3) deducted for life insurance premiums under section 8714a(d) of title 5, United States Code, (4) deducted for Medicare premiums, (5) properly withheld for Federal income tax purposes, if the amounts withheld are not greater than they would be if the retiree claimed all dependents to which he or she was entitled, or (6) properly withheld for State income tax purposes, if the amounts withheld are not greater than they would be if the retiree claimed all dependents to which he or she was entitled. Unless the court order expressly provides otherwise, "net annuity" also includes any lump‑sum payments made to the retiree under section 8343a or section 8420a of title 5, United States Code.
Reduction to provide survivor benefits
the reduction required by section 8339(j)(4) or section 8419(a) of title 5, United States Code.
Refund of employee contributions
a payment of the lump‑sum credit to a separated employee under section 8342(a) or section 8424(a) of title 5, United States Code. "Refund of employee contributions" does not include lump‑sum payments made under section 8342(c) through (f) or section 8424(d) through (g) of title 5, United States Code. "Retiree" means a former employee or Member who is receiving recurring payments under CSRS or FERS based on his or her service as an employee. "Retiree" does not include a person receiving an annuity only as a current spouse, former spouse, child, or person with an insurable interest. "Self‑only annuity" means the recurring payments to a retiree who has elected not to provide a survivor annuity to anyone. Unless the court order expressly provides otherwise, "self‑only annuity" also includes any lump‑sum payments made to the retiree under section 8343a or section 8420a of title 5, United States Code.
Separated employee
a former employee or Member who has separated from a position in the Federal Government covered by CSRS and FERS under subpart B of part 831 of this chapter or subpart A of part 842 of this chapter, respectively, and is not currently employed in such a position, and who is not a retiree.

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Statutory Limit On Court's Authority

' 838.111 Exemption from legal process except as authorized by Federal law.

(a) Employees, retirees, and State courts may not assign CSRS and FERS benefits except as provided in this part.
(b) CSRS and FERS benefits are not subject to execution, levy, attachment, garnishment or other legal process except as expressly provided by Federal law.

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Division Of Responsibilities

' 838.121 OPM's responsibilities.

OPM is responsible for authorizing payments in accordance with clear, specific and express provisions of court orders acceptable for processing.

' 838.122 State courts' responsibilities.

State courts are responsible for‑‑
(a) Providing due process to the employee or retiree;
(b) Issuing clear, specific, and express instructions consistent with the statutory provisions authorizing OPM to provide benefits to former spouses and the requirements of this part for awarding such benefits;
(c) Using the terminology defined in this part only when it intends to use the meaning given to that terminology by this part;
(d) Determining when court orders are invalid; and
(e) Settling all disputes between the employee or retiree and the former spouse.

' 838.123 Claimants' responsibilities.

Claimants are responsible for‑‑
(a) Filing a certified copy of court orders and all other required supporting information with OPM; (b) Keeping OPM advised of their current mailing addresses; (c) Notifying OPM of any changes in circumstances that could affect their entitlement to benefits; and
(d) Submitting all disputes with employees or retirees to the appropriate State court for resolution.

' 838.124 Employees' and retirees' responsibilities.

Employees and retirees are responsible for‑‑
(a) Raising any objections to the validity of a court order in the appropriate State court; and
(b) Submitting all disputes with former spouses to the appropriate State court for resolution.

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Procedures Applicable To All Court Orders

' 838.131 Computation of time.

(a) The rules applicable for computation of time under '' 831.107 and 841.109 of this chapter apply to this part. (b)(1) Appendix A of this subpart lists the proper addresses for submitting court orders affecting CSRS and FERS benefits. (2) A former spouse should submit the documentation required by this part to the address provided in Appendix A of this subpart. The component of OPM responsible for processing court orders will note the date of receipt on court orders that it receives. (3) If a court order is delivered to OPM at an address other than the address in Appendix A of this subpart, the recipient will forward the court order to the component of OPM responsible for processing court orders. However, OPM is not considered to have received the court order until the court order is received in the component of OPM responsible for processing court orders.

' 838.132 Payment schedules.

(a) Under CSRS and FERS, employee annuities and survivor annuities are payable on the first business day of the month following the month in which the benefit accrues. (b) In honoring and complying with a court order, OPM will not disrupt the payment schedule described in paragraph (a) of this section, despite any provision in the court order directing a different schedule of accrual or payment of amounts due the former spouse.

' 838.133 Minimum awards.

Payments under this part will not be less than one dollar per month. Any court order that awards a former spouse a portion of an employee annuity or a former spouse survivor annuity in an amount of less than one dollar per month will be treated as an award of an annuity equal to one dollar per month.

' 838.134 Receipt of multiple court orders.

(a) Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, for court orders affecting employee annuities or awarding former spouse survivor annuities, in the event that OPM receives two or more court orders acceptable for processing‑‑ (1) When the court orders affect two or more former spouses, the court orders will be honored in the order in which they were issued to the maximum extent possible under ' 838.211 or ' 838.711. (2) When two or more court orders relate to the same former spouse or separated spouse, the one issued last will be honored. (b)(1) Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, for court orders affecting refunds of employee contributions, in the event that OPM receives two or more court orders acceptable for processing‑‑ (i) When the court orders affect two or more former spouses‑‑ (A) The refund will not be paid if either court order prohibits payment of the refund of contributions; otherwise, (B) The court orders will be honored in the order in which they were issued until the contributions have been exhausted. (ii) When two or more court orders relate to the same former spouse, the one issued last will be honored first. (2) In no event will the amount paid out exceed the amount of the refund of employee contributions. (c) With respect to issues relating to the validity of a court order or to the amount of payment‑‑ (1) If the employee, separated employee, retiree, or other person adversely affected by the court order and former spouse submit conflicting court orders from the same jurisdiction, OPM will consider only the latest court order; or (2) If the employee, separated employee, retiree, or other person adversely affected by the court order and former spouse submit conflicting court orders from different jurisdictions‑‑ (i) If one of the court orders is from the jurisdiction shown as the employee's, separated employee's, or retiree's address in OPM's records, OPM will consider only the court order issued by that jurisdiction; or (ii) If none of the court orders is from the jurisdiction shown as the employee's, separated employee's, or retiree's address in OPM's records, OPM will consider only the latest court order.

' 838.135 Settlements.

(a) OPM must comply with the terms of a properly filed court order acceptable for processing even if the retiree and the former spouse agree that they want OPM to pay an amount different from the amount specified in the court order. Information about OPM's processing of amended court orders is contained in '' 838.225 and 838.806. (b)(1) OPM will not honor a request from the former spouse that an amount less than the amount provided in the court order be withheld from an employee annuity or a refund of employee contributions. (2) OPM will not honor a request from the retiree that an amount greater than the amount provided in the court order be withheld from an employee annuity or a refund of employee contributions.

' 838.136 Administrative appeal rights.

(a) Issues concerning application of these regulations are not appealable to the Merit Systems Protection Board. OPM's actions to apply these regulations are not subject to further administrative review. (b)(1) Issues concerning the validity of these regulations are appealable to the Merit Systems Protection Board. Such an appeal must be filed in accordance with the procedures established by the Board and may not be filed before OPM has issued its final decision, including a notice of the right to appeal, on the validity of the regulation. Such an appeal is limited to the issue of the validity of the regulation. (2) Any claim that a provision of these regulations is invalid, must be presented to the Merit Systems Protection Board before the validity of the regulation may be reviewed in the Federal courts.

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Address For Filing Court Orders With OPM

Appendix A to Subpart A of Part 838‑‑Addresses for Serving Court Orders Affecting CSRS or FERS Benefits.

(a) The mailing address for delivery of court orders affecting CSRS or FERS benefits by the United States Postal Service is‑‑
Office of Personnel Management
Retirement and Insurance Group
P.O. Box 17
Washington DC 20044-0017. (b) The address for delivery of court orders affecting CSRS or FERS benefits by process servers, express carriers, or other forms of handcarried delivery is‑‑
Court‑ordered Benefits Section
Allotments Branch
Retirement and Insurance Group
Office of Personnel Management
1900 E Street, N.W.
Washington, DC.

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Subpart B‑‑Procedures for Processing Court Orders Affecting Employee Annuities

Regulatory Structure

' 838.201 Purpose and scope.

(a) This subpart regulates the procedures that the Office of Personnel Management will follow upon the receipt of claims arising out of State court orders directed at employee annuities under CSRS or FERS. OPM must comply with qualifying court orders, decrees, or court‑approved property settlements in connection with divorces, annulments of marriages, or legal separations of employees or retirees that award a portion of an employee annuity to a former spouse.
(b) This subpart prescribes‑‑
(1) The circumstances that must occur before employee annuities are available to satisfy a court order acceptable for processing; and
(2) The procedures that a former spouse must follow when applying for a portion of an employee annuity based on a court order under section 8345(j) or section 8467 of title 5, United States Code.
(c)(1) Subpart C of this part contains the rules that a court order must satisfy to be a court order acceptable for processing to affect an employee annuity.
(2) Subpart F of this part contains definitions that OPM uses to determine the effect on employee annuity of a court order acceptable for processing.

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Availability Of Funds

' 838.211 Amounts subject to court orders.

(a)(1) Employee annuities are subject to court orders acceptable for processing only if all of the conditions necessary for payment of the employee annuity to the former employee have been met, including, but not limited to‑‑ (i) Separation from a position in the Federal service covered by CSRS or FERS under subpart B of part 831 of this chapter or subpart A of part 842 of this chapter, respectively; (ii) Application for payment of the employee annuity by the former employee; and (iii) The former employee's immediate entitlement to an employee annuity. (2) Money held by an employing agency or OPM that may be payable at some future date is not available for payment under court orders directed at employee annuities. (3) OPM cannot pay a former spouse a portion of an employee annuity before the employee annuity begins to accrue. (b) Payment to a former spouse under a court order may not exceed the net annuity. (c) Waivers of employee annuity payments under the terms of section 8345(d) or section 8465(a) of title 5, United States Code, exclude the waived portion of the annuity from availability for payment under a court order if such waivers are postmarked or received before the date that OPM receives a court order acceptable for processing.

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Application And Processing Procedures

' 838.221 Application requirements.

(a) A former spouse (personally or through a representative) must apply in writing to be eligible for a court‑awarded portion of an employee annuity. No special form is required.
(b) The application letter must be accompanied by‑‑
(l) A certified copy of the court order acceptable for processing that is directed at employee annuity;
(2) A certification from the former spouse or the former spouse's representative that the court order is currently in force and has not been amended, superseded, or set aside;
(3) Information sufficient for OPM to identify the employee or retiree, such as his or her full name, CSRS or FERS claim number, date of birth, and social security number;
(4) The current mailing address of the former spouse; and
(5) If the employee has not retired under CSRS or FERS or died, the mailing address of the employee.
(c)(1) When court‑ordered payments are subject to termination (under the terms of the court order) if the former spouse remarries, no payment will be made until the former spouse submits to OPM a statement in the form prescribed by OPM certifying‑‑
(i) That a remarriage has not occurred;
(ii) That the former spouse will notify OPM within 15 calendar days of the occurrence of any remarriage; and
(iii) That the former spouse will be personally liable for any overpayment to him or her resulting from a remarriage.
(2) OPM may subsequently require periodic recertification of the statements required under paragraph (c)(1) of this section.

' 838.222 OPM action on receipt of a court order acceptable for processing.

(a) If OPM receives a court order acceptable for processing that is directed at an employee annuity that is in pay status, OPM will inform‑‑
(1) The former spouse‑‑
(i) That the court order is acceptable for processing;
(ii) Of the date on which OPM received the court order, the date on which the former spouse's benefit begins to accrue, and if known, the date on which OPM commences payment under the order;
(iii) Of the amount of the former spouse's monthly benefit and the formula OPM used to compute the monthly benefit; and
(iv) That, if he or she disagrees with the amount of the monthly benefits, he or she must obtain, and submit to OPM, an amended court order clarifying the amount; and
(2) The retiree‑‑
(i) That the former spouse has applied for benefits under this subpart;
(ii) That the court order is acceptable for processing and that OPM must comply with the court order;
(iii) Of the date on which OPM received the court order, the date on which the former spouse's benefit begins to accrue, and if known, the date on which OPM commences payment under the court order;
(iv) Of the amount of the former spouse's monthly benefit and the formula OPM used to compute the monthly benefit;
(v) That, if he or she contests the validity of the court order, he or she must obtain, and submit to OPM, a court order invalidating the court order submitted by the former spouse; and
(vi) That, if he or she disagrees with the amount of the former spouse's monthly benefits, he or she must obtain, and submit to OPM, an amended court order clarifying the amount.
(b) If OPM receives a court order acceptable for processing that is directed at an employee annuity but the employee has died, or if a retiree dies after payments from an employee to a former spouse have begun, OPM will inform the former spouse that the employee or retiree has died and that OPM can only honor court orders dividing employee annuities during the lifetime of the retiree.
(c) If OPM receives a court order acceptable for processing that is directed at an employee annuity that is not in pay status, OPM will inform‑‑
(1) The former spouse‑‑
(i) That the court order is acceptable for processing;
(ii) That benefits cannot begin to accrue until the employee retires;
(iii) To the extent possible, the formula that OPM will use to compute the former spouse's monthly benefit; and
(iv) That, if he or she disagrees with the formula, he or she must obtain, and submit to OPM, an amended court order clarifying the amount; and
(2) The employee, separated employee, or retiree‑‑
(i) That the former spouse has applied for benefits under this subpart;
(ii) That the court order is acceptable for processing and that OPM must comply with the court order;
(iii) To the extent possible, the formula that OPM will use to compute the former spouse's monthly benefit;
(iv) That, if he or she contests the validity of the court order, he or she must obtain, and submit to OPM, a court order invalidating the court order submitted by the former spouse; and
(v) That, if he or she disagrees with the amount of the former spouse's monthly benefits, he or she must obtain, and submit to OPM, an amended court order clarifying the amount.
(d) The failure of OPM to provide, or of the employee, separated employee, or retiree or the former spouse to receive, the information specified in this section prior to the commencing date of a reduction or accrual does not affect‑‑
(1) The validity of payment under the court order; or
(2) The commencing date of the reduction in the employee annuity or the commencing date of the accrual of former spouse benefits as determined under ' 838.231.

' 838.223 OPM action on receipt of a court order not acceptable for processing.

If OPM receives an application from a former spouse not based on a court order acceptable for processing, OPM will inform the former spouse that OPM cannot approve the application and provide the specific reason(s) for disapproving the application. Examples of reasons for disapproving an application include that the court order does not meet the definition of court order in ' 838.103 or does not meet one or more of the requirements of subpart C of this part.


' 838.224 Contesting the validity of court orders.

(a) An employee, separated employee, or retiree who alleges that a court order is invalid must prove the invalidity of the court order by submitting a court order that‑‑
(1) Declares the court order submitted by the former spouse is invalid; or
(2) Sets aside the court order submitted by the former spouse.
(b) OPM must honor a court order acceptable for processing that appears to be valid and that the former spouse has certified is currently in force and has not been amended, superseded, or set aside, until OPM receives a court order described in paragraph (a) of this section or a court order amending or superseding the court order submitted by the former spouse.

' 838.225 Processing amended court orders.

(a) If the employee, separated employee, retiree, or former spouse submits an amended court order pertaining to payment of a portion of the employee annuity, OPM will process the amended court order prospectively only, effective against employee annuity accruing beginning the first day of the second month after OPM receives the amended court order.
(b) A court order is not effective to adjust payments prior to the first day of the second month after OPM receives the court order unless‑‑
(1) The court order‑‑
(i) Expressly directs OPM to adjust for payment made under the prior court order; and
(ii) Determines the total amount of the adjustment or the length of time over which OPM will make the adjustment; and
(iii) Provides a specific monthly amount of the adjustment or a formula to compute the amount of the monthly adjustment; and
(2) Annuity continues to be available from which to make the adjustment.

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Payment Procedures

' 838.231 Commencing date of payments.

(a) A court order acceptable for processing is effective against employee annuity accruing beginning the first day of the second month after OPM receives the court order.
(b)(1) OPM will not begin payments to the former spouse until OPM receives all the documentation required by ' 838.221(b) and (c).
(2) If payments are delayed under paragraph (b)(1) of this section, after OPM receives all required documentation, it will authorize payment of the annuity that has accrued since the date determined under paragraph (a) of this section but the payment of which was delayed under paragraph (b)(1) of this section.

' 838.232 Suspension of payments.

(a) Payments from employee annuities under this part will be discontinued whenever the employee annuity payments are suspended or terminated. If employee annuity payments to the retiree are restored, payments to the former spouse will also resume subject to the terms of any court order acceptable for processing in effect at that time.
(b) Paragraph (a) of this section will not be applied to permit a retiree to deprive a former spouse of payment by causing suspension of payment of employee annuity.

' 838.233 Termination of payments.

A former spouse portion of an employee annuity stops accruing at the earliest of‑‑
(a) The date on which the terms of the court order require termination;
(b)(1) The last day of the first month before OPM receives a court order invalidating, vacating, or setting aside the court order submitted by the former spouse if OPM receives the latest court order no later than 20 days before the end of the month; or
(2) The last day of the month in which OPM receives a court order invalidating, vacating, or setting aside the court order submitted by the former spouse if OPM receives the latest court order later than 20 days before the end of the month; or
(c) The last day of the first month after OPM receives an amended court order;
(d) The last day of the first month before the death of the retiree; or
(e) Except as provided in ' 838.237, the date on which the former spouse dies.

' 838.234 Collection of arrearages.

Specific instructions are required before OPM may pay any arrearage. Except as provided in ' 838.225(b), OPM will not increase a former spouse's share of employee annuity to satisfy an arrearage due the former spouse. However, under ' 838.225, OPM will prospectively honor the terms of an amended court order that either increases or decreases the former spouse's entitlement.


' 838.235 Payment of lump‑sum awards.

If a court order acceptable for processing awards a former spouse a lump‑sum amount from the employee annuity and does not state the monthly rate at which OPM should pay the lump‑sum, OPM will pay the former spouse equal monthly installments at 50 percent of the gross annuity (subject to the limitations under ' 838.211) at the time of retirement or the date of the order, whichever comes later, until the lump‑sum amount is paid.


' 838.236 Court orders barring payment of annuities.

(a) State courts lack authority to prevent OPM from paying employee annuities as required by section 8345(a) or section 8463 of title 5, United States Code. OPM will not honor court orders directing that OPM delay or otherwise not pay employee annuities at the time or in the amount required by statute.
(b) Except as otherwise provided in this subpart, OPM will honor court orders acceptable for processing that direct OPM to pay the employee annuity to the court, an officer of the court acting as a fiduciary, or a State or local government agency during the pendency of a divorce or legal separation proceeding.

' 838.237 Death of the former spouse.

(a) Unless the court order acceptable for processing expressly provides otherwise, the former spouse's share of an employee annuity terminates on the last day of the month before the death of the former spouse, and the former spouse's share of employee annuity reverts to the retiree.
(b) Except as otherwise provided in this subpart, OPM will honor a court order acceptable for processing or an amended court order acceptable for processing that directs OPM to pay, after the death of the former spouse, the former spouse's share of the employee annuity to‑‑
(1) The court;
(2) An officer of the court acting as a fiduciary;
(3) The estate of the former spouse; or
(4) One or more of the retiree's children as defined in section 8341(a)(4) or section 8441(4) of title 5, United States Code.

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Procedures For Computing The Amount Payable

' 838.241 Cost‑of‑living adjustments.

Unless otherwise provided in the court order, when the terms of the court order or ' 838.621 provide for cost‑of‑living adjustments on the former spouse's payment from employee annuity, the cost‑of‑living adjustment will be effected at the same time and at the same percentage rate as the cost‑of‑living adjustment in the employee annuity.


' 838.242 Computing lengths of service.

(a)(1) The smallest unit of time that OPM will calculate in computing a formula in a court order is a month, even where the court order directs OPM to make a more precise calculation.
(2) If the court order states a formula using a specified simple or decimal fraction other than twelfth parts of a year, OPM will use the specified number to perform simple mathematical computations.
(b) Unused sick leave is counted as "creditable service" on the date of separation for an immediate CSRS annuity; it is not apportioned over the time when earned. Unused sick leave is not countable as "creditable service" in a FERS annuity (except in a CSRS component for an employee who transferred to FERS) or in a deferred CSRS annuity.


' 838.243 Minimum amount of awards.

OPM will treat any court order that awards a former spouse a portion of an employee annuity equal to less than $12 per year as awarding the former spouse $1 per month.

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Subpart C‑‑Requirements for Court Orders Affecting Employee Annuities

' 838.301 Purpose and scope.

This subpart regulates the requirements that a court order directed at employee annuity must meet to be a court order acceptable for processing.

' 838.302 Language not acceptable for processing.

Qualifying Domestic Relations Orders.

(a) Qualifying Domestic Relations Orders. (1) Any court order labeled as a "qualified domestic relations order" or issued on a form for ERISA qualified domestic relations orders is not a court order acceptable for processing unless the court order expressly states that the provisions of the court order concerning CSRS or FERS benefits are governed by this part.
(2) When a court order is required by paragraph (a)(1) of this section to state that the provisions of a court order concerning CSRS or FERS benefits are governed by this part the court order must expressly‑‑
(i) Refer to part 838 of Title 5, Code of Federal Regulations, and
(ii) State that the provisions of the court order concerning CSRS or FERS benefits are drafted in accordance with the terminology used in this part.
(3) Although any language satisfying the requirements of paragraph (a)(2) of this section is sufficient to prevent a court order from being unacceptable under paragraph (a)(1) of this section, OPM recommends the use of the language provided in &001 in appendix A to subpart F of this part to state that the provisions of the court order concerning CSRS or FERS benefits are governed by this part.
(4) A court order directed at employee annuity that contains the language described in paragraph (a)(2) of this section must also satisfy all other requirements of this subpart to be a court order acceptable for processing.

Benefits for the lifetime of the former spouse.

(b) Benefits for the lifetime of the former spouse. Any court order directed at employee annuity that expressly provides that the former spouse's portion of the employee annuity may continue after the death of the employee or retiree, such as a court order providing that the former spouse's portion of the employee annuity will continue for the lifetime of the former spouse, is not a court order acceptable for processing.

' 838.303 Expressly dividing employee annuity.

(a) A court order directed at employee annuity is not a court order acceptable for processing unless it expressly divides the employee annuity as provided in paragraph (b) of this section.
(b) To expressly divide employee annuity as required by paragraph (a) of this section the court order must‑‑
(1) Identify the retirement system using terms that are sufficient to identify the retirement system as explained in ' 838.611; and
(2) Expressly state that the former spouse is entitled to a portion of the employee annuity using terms that are sufficient to identify the employee annuity as explained in ' 838.612.

' 838.304 Providing for payment to the former spouse.

(a) A court order directed at employee annuity is not a court order acceptable for processing unless it provides for OPM to pay the former spouse a portion of an employee annuity as provided in paragraph (b) of this section.
(b) To provide for OPM to pay the former spouse a portion of an employee annuity as required by paragraph (a) of this section the court order must‑‑
(1) Expressly direct OPM to pay the former spouse directly;
(2) Direct the retiree to arrange or to execute forms for OPM to pay the former spouse directly; or
(3) Be silent concerning who is to pay the portion of the employee annuity awarded to the former spouse.
(c) Except when the court order directed at employee annuity contains a provision described in paragraph (b)(2) of this section, a court order directed at employee annuity that instructs the retiree to pay a portion of the employee annuity to the former spouse is not a court order acceptable for processing.
(d) Although paragraphs (b)(2) and (b)(3) of this section provide acceptable methods for satisfying the requirement that a court order directed at employee annuity provide for OPM to pay the former spouse, OPM strongly recommends that any court order directed at employee annuity expressly direct OPM to pay the former spouse directly.

' 838.305 OPM computation of formulas.

(a) A court order directed at employee annuity is not a court order acceptable for processing unless the court order provides sufficient instructions and information that OPM can compute the amount of the former spouse's monthly benefit using only the express language of the court order, subparts A, B, and F of this part, and information from normal OPM files.
(b)(1) To provide sufficient instructions and information for OPM to compute the amount of the former spouse's share of the employee annuity as required by paragraph (a) of this section the court order must state the former spouse's share as‑‑
(i) A fixed amount;
(ii) A percentage or a fraction of the employee annuity; or
(iii) A formula that does not contain any variables whose values are not readily ascertainable from the face of the court order directed at employee annuity or normal OPM files.
(2) Normal OPM files include information about‑‑ (i) The dates of employment for all periods of creditable civilian and military service;
(ii) The rate of basic pay for all periods of creditable civilian service;
(iii) The annual rates of basic pay for each grade and step under the General Schedule since 1920;
(iv) The amount of premiums for basic and optional life insurance under the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance Program;
(v) The amount of the Government and the employee shares of premiums for any health insurance plan under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program;
(vi) The standard Federal income tax withholding tables;
(vii) The amount of cost‑of‑living adjustments under section 8340 or section 8462 of title 5, United States Code, and the amount of the percentage change in the national index on which the adjustment is based;
(viii) The amount of pay adjustments to the General Schedule under section 5303 (or section 5305 prior to November 5, 1990) of title 5, United States Code, and the amount of the percentage change in the national index on which the adjustment is based;
(ix) The provision of law under which a retiree has retired; and
(x) Whether a retiree has elected to provide survivor benefits for a current spouse, former spouse, or a person with an insurable interest.
(c)(1) A court order directed at employee annuity is not a court order acceptable for processing if OPM would have to examine a State statute or court decision (on a different case) to understand, establish, or evaluate the formula for computing the former spouse's share of the employee annuity.
(2) A court order directed at employee annuity is not a court order acceptable for processing if it awards the former spouse a "community property" fraction, share, or percentage of the employee annuity and does not provide a formula by which OPM can compute the amount of the former spouse's share of the employee annuity from the face of the court order or from normal OPM files.
(d) A court order directed at employee annuity is not a court order acceptable for processing if the court order awards a portion of the "present value" of an annuity unless the amount of the "present value" is stated in the court order.
(e) A court order directed at employee annuity is not a court order acceptable for processing if the court order directs OPM to determine a rate of employee annuity that would require OPM to determine a salary or average salary, other than a salary or average salary actually used in computing the employee annuity, as of a date prior to the date of the employee's separation and to adjust that salary for use in computing the former spouse share unless the adjustment is by‑‑
(1) A fixed amount or fixed annual amounts that are stated in the order;
(2) The rate of cost‑of‑living or salary adjustments as those terms are described in ' 838.622;
(3) The percentage change in pay that the employee actually received excluding changes in grade and/or step; or
(4) The percentage change in either of the national indices used to compute cost‑of‑living or salary adjustments as those terms are described in ' 838.622.

' 838.306 Specifying type of annuity for application of formula, percentage or fraction.

(a) A court order directed at employee annuity that states the former spouse's share of employee annuity as a formula, percentage, or fraction is not a court order acceptable for processing unless OPM can determine the type of annuity on which to apply the formula, percentage, or fraction.
(b) The standard types of annuity to which OPM can apply the formula, percentage, or fraction are net annuity, gross annuity, or self‑only annuity, which are defined in ' 838.103. Unless the court order otherwise directs, OPM will apply the formula, percentage, or fraction to gross annuity. Section 838.625 contains information on other methods of describing these types of annuity.

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Subpart D‑‑Procedures for Processing Court Orders Affecting Refunds of Employee Contributions

Regulatory Structure

' 838.401 Purpose and scope.

(a) This subpart regulates the procedures that the Office of Personnel Management will follow upon the receipt of claims arising out of State court orders that affect refunds of employee contributions under CSRS or FERS. OPM must comply with court orders, decrees, or court‑approved property settlements in connection with divorces, annulments of marriages, or legal separations of employees or retirees that‑‑
(1) Award a portion of a refund of employee contributions to a former spouse; or
(2) If the requirements of '' 838.431 and 838.505 are met, bar payment of a refund of employee contributions.
(b) This subpart prescribes‑‑
(1) The circumstances that must occur before refunds of employee contributions are available to satisfy a court order acceptable for processing; and
(2) The procedures that a former spouse must follow when applying for a portion of a refund of employee contributions based on a court order under section 8345(j) or section 8467 of title 5, United States Code.
(c)(1) Subpart E of this part contains the rules that a court order directed at a refund of employee contributions must satisfy to be a court order acceptable for processing.
(2) Subpart F of this part contains definitions that OPM uses to determine the effect on a refund of employee contributions of a court order acceptable for processing.

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Availability Of Funds

' 838.411 Amounts subject to court orders.

(a)(1) Refunds of employee contributions are subject to court orders acceptable for processing only if all of the conditions necessary for payment of the refund of employee contributions to the separated employee have been met, including, but not limited to‑‑
(i) Separation from a covered position in the Federal service;
(ii) Application for payment of the refund of employee contributions by the separated employee; and
(iii) Immediate entitlement to a refund of employee contributions.
(2) Money held by an employing agency or OPM that may be payable at some future date is not available for payment under court orders directed at refunds of employee contributions.
(b) Payment under a court order may not exceed the amount of the refund of employee contributions.

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Application And Processing Procedures

' 838.421 Application requirements.

(a) A former spouse (personally or through a representative) must apply in writing to be eligible for a court‑awarded portion of a refund of employee contributions. No special form is required.
(b) The application letter must be accompanied by‑‑
(l) A certified copy of the court order acceptable for processing that is directed at a refund of employee contributions.
(2) A certification from the former spouse or the former spouse's representative that the court order is currently in force and has not been amended, superseded, or set aside;
(3) Information sufficient for OPM to identify the employee or separated employee, such as his or her full name, date of birth, and social security number;
(4) The current mailing address of the former spouse; and
(5) If the employee or separated employee has not applied for a refund of employee contributions, the current mailing address of the employee or separated employee.

' 838.422 Timeliness of application.

(a) Except as provided in ' 838.431 and paragraph (b) of this section, a court order acceptable for processing that is directed at a refund of employee contributions is not effective unless OPM receives the documentation required by ' 838.421 not later than‑‑
(1) The last day of the second month before payment of the refund; or
(2) Twenty days after OPM receives the Statement required by ' 831.2007(c) or ' 843.208(b) of this chapter if the former spouse has indicated on that Statement that such a court order exists.
(b) If OPM receives a copy of a court order acceptable for processing that is directed at a refund of employee contributions but not all of the documentation required by ' 838.421, OPM will notify the former spouse that OPM must receive the missing items within 15 days after the date of the notice or OPM cannot comply with the court order.

' 838.423 OPM action on receipt of a court order acceptable for processing.

(a) If OPM receives a court order acceptable for processing that is directed at a refund of employee contributions, OPM will inform‑‑
(1) The former spouse‑‑
(i) That the court order is acceptable for processing;
(ii) Of the date on which OPM received the court order;
(iii) Whether OPM has a record of unrefunded employee contributions on the employee;
(iv) That the former spouse's share of the refund of employee contributions cannot be paid unless the employee separates from the Federal service and applies for a refund of employee contributions;
(v) To the extent possible, the formula that OPM will use to compute the former spouse's share of a refund of employee contributions; and
(vi) That, if the former spouse disagrees with the formula, the former spouse must obtain, and submit to OPM, an amended court order clarifying the amount; and
(2) The employee or separated employee‑‑
(i) That the former spouse has applied for benefits under this subpart;
(ii) That the court order is acceptable for processing and that OPM must comply with the court order;
(iii) Of the date on which OPM received the court order;
(iv) That the former spouse's share of the refund of employee contributions cannot be paid unless the employee separates from the Federal service and applies for a refund of employee contributions;
(v) To the extent possible, the formula that OPM will use to compute the former spouse's share of the refund of employee contributions;
(vi) That, if he or she contests the validity of the court order, he or she must obtain, and submit to OPM, a court order invalidating the court order submitted by the former spouse; and
(vii) That, if he or she disagrees with the formula, he or she must obtain, and submit to OPM, an amended court order clarifying the amount.
(b) The failure of OPM to provide, or of the employee or separated employee or the former spouse to receive, the information specified in this section does not affect the validity of payment under the court order.

' 838.424 OPM action on receipt of a court order not acceptable for processing.

If OPM receives an application from a former spouse not based on a court order acceptable for processing, OPM will inform the former spouse that OPM cannot approve the application and provide the specific reason(s) for disapproving the application. Examples of reasons for disapproving an application include that the order does not meet the definition of court order in ' 838.103 or does not meet one or more of the requirements of subpart E of this part.


' 838.425 Contesting the validity of court orders.

(a) An employee or separated employee who alleges that a court order is invalid must prove the invalidity of the court order by submitting a court order that‑‑
(1) Declares invalid the court order submitted by the former spouse; or
(2) Sets aside the court order submitted by the former spouse.
(b) OPM must honor a court order acceptable for processing that appears to be valid and that the former spouse has certified is currently in force and has not been amended, superseded, or set aside, until the employee or separated employee submits a court order described in paragraph (a) of this section or a court order amending or superseding the court order submitted by the former spouse.

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Payment Procedures

' 838.431 Correcting failures to provide required spousal notification.

The interests of a former spouse with a court order acceptable for processing that is directed at a refund of employee contributions who does not receive notice of an application for refund of employee contributions because the employee or separated employee submits fraudulent proof of notification or fraudulent proof that the former spouse's whereabouts are unknown are protected if, and only if‑‑
(a) The former spouse files a court order acceptable for processing that affects or bars the refund of employee contributions with OPM no later than the last day of the second month before the payment of the refund; or
(b) The former spouse submits proof that‑‑
(1) The evidence submitted by the employee was fraudulent; and
(2) Absent the fraud, the former spouse would have been able to submit the necessary documentation required by ' 838.421 within the time limit prescribed in ' 838.422.

' 838.432 Court orders barring payment of refunds.

A court order, notice, summons, or other document that attempts to restrain OPM from paying a refund of employee contributions is not effective unless it meets all the requirements of ' 838.505 or part 581 of this chapter.

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Procedures For Computing The Amount Payable

' 838.441 Computing lengths of service.

(a) The smallest unit of time that OPM will calculate in computing a formula in a court order is a month, even where the court order directs OPM to make a more precise calculation.
(b) If the court order states a formula using a specified simple or decimal fraction other than twelfth parts of a year, OPM will use the specified number to perform simple mathematical computations.

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Subpart E‑‑Requirements for Court Orders Affecting Refunds of Employee Contributions

' 838.501 Purpose and scope.

This subpart regulates the requirements that a court order directed at or barring a refund of employee contributions must meet to be a court order acceptable for processing.
(a) A court order is directed at a refund of employee contributions if it awards a former spouse a portion of a refund of employee contributions.
(b) A court order bars a refund of employee contributions if it prohibits payment of a refund of employee contributions to preserve a former spouse's court‑awarded entitlement to a portion of an employee annuity or to a former spouse survivor annuity.

' 838.502 Expressly dividing a refund of employee contributions.

(a) A court order directed at a refund of employee contributions is not a court order acceptable for processing unless it expressly awards a former spouse a portion of a refund of employee contributions as provided in paragraph (b) of this section.
(b) To expressly award a former spouse a portion of a refund of employee contributions as required by paragraph (a) of this section, the court order must‑‑
(1) Identify the retirement system using terms that are sufficient to identify the retirement system as explained in ' 838.611; and
(2) Expressly state that the former spouse is entitled to a portion of a refund of employee contributions using terms that are sufficient to identify the refund of employee contributions as explained in ' 838.612.

' 838.503 Providing for payment to the former spouse.

(a) A court order directed at a refund of employee contributions is not a court order acceptable for processing unless it provides for OPM to pay a portion of a refund of employee contributions to the former spouse as provided in paragraph (b) of this section.
(b) To provide for OPM to pay a portion of a refund of employee contributions to the former spouse as required by paragraph (a) of this section, the court order must‑‑
(1) Expressly direct OPM to pay the former spouse directly;
(2) Direct the employee or separated employee to arrange or to execute forms for OPM to pay the former spouse directly; or
(3) Be silent concerning who is to pay the portion of the refund of employee contributions awarded to the former spouse.
(c) Although paragraphs (b)(2) and (b)(3) of this section provide acceptable methods for satisfying the requirement that the court order provide for OPM to pay the former spouse, OPM strongly recommends that the court order expressly direct OPM to pay the former spouse directly.

' 838.504 OPM computation of formulas.

(a) A court order directed at a refund of employee contributions is not a court order acceptable for processing unless the court order provides sufficient instructions and information so that OPM can compute the amount of the former spouse's share of the refund of employee contributions using only the express language of the court order, subparts A, D, and F of this part, and information from normal OPM files.
(b) To provide sufficient instructions and information that OPM can compute the amount of the former spouse's share of the refund of employee contributions as required by paragraph (a) of this section requires that the court order state the former spouse's share as‑‑
(1) A fixed amount;
(2) A percentage or a fraction of the refund of employee contributions; or
(3) A formula that does not contain any variables whose values are not readily ascertainable from the face of the court order or normal OPM files.
(c) A court order directed at a refund of employee contributions is not a court order acceptable for processing if OPM would have to examine a State statute or court decision (on a different case) to understand, establish, or evaluate the formula for computing the former spouse's share of the refund of employee contributions.

' 838.505 Barring payment of refunds.

A court order barring payment of a refund of employee contributions is not a court order acceptable for processing unless‑‑
(a) It expressly directs OPM not to pay a refund of employee contributions;
(b) It awards, or a prior court order acceptable for processing has awarded, the former spouse a former spouse survivor annuity or a portion of the employee annuity; and
(c) Payment of the refund of employee contributions would prevent payment to the former spouse under the court order described in paragraph (b) of this section.

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Subpart F‑‑Terminology Used in Court Orders Affecting Employee Annuities or Refunds of Employee Contributions

Regulatory Structure

' 838.601 Purpose and scope.

(a) This subpart regulates the meaning of terms necessary to award benefits in a court order directed at an employee annuity or a refund of employee contributions. OPM applies the meanings to determine whether a court order directed at an employee annuity or a refund of employee contributions is a court order acceptable for processing and to establish the amount of the former spouse's share of an employee annuity or a refund of employee contributions.
(b)(1) This subpart establishes a uniform meaning to be used for terms and phrases frequently used in awarding a former spouse a portion of an employee annuity or a refund of employee contributions.
(2) This subpart informs the legal community about the definitions to apply terms used in drafting court orders so that the resulting court orders contain the proper language to accomplish the aims of the court.
(c)(1) To assist attorneys and courts in preparing court orders that OPM can honor in the manner that the court intends, Appendix A of this subpart contains model language to accomplish many of the more common objectives associated with the award of a former spouse's share of an employee annuity or a refund of employee contributions.
(2) By using the language in Appendix A of this subpart, the court, attorneys, and parties will know that the court order will be acceptable for processing and that OPM will treat the terminology used in the court order in the manner stated in the Appendix.

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Identification Of Benefits

' 838.611 Identifying the retirement system.

(a) To satisfy the requirements of ' 838.303(b)(1) or ' 838.502(b)(1), a court order must contain language identifying the retirement system to be affected. For example, "CSRS," "FERS," "OPM," or "Federal Government" benefits, or benefits payable "based on service with the U.S. Department of Agriculture," etc., are sufficient identification of the retirement system.
(b) Except as provided in paragraphs (b)(1) and (b)(2) of this section, language referring to benefits under another retirement system, such as military retired pay, Foreign Service retirement benefits or Central Intelligence Agency retirement benefits, does not satisfy the requirements of ' 838.303(b)(1) or ' 838.502(b)(1).
(1) A court order that mistakenly labels CSRS benefits as FERS benefits and vice versa satisfies the requirements of '' 838.303(b)(1) and 838.502(b)(1).
(2) Unless the court order expressly provides otherwise, for employees transferring to FERS, court orders directed at CSRS benefits apply to the entire FERS basic benefit, including the CSRS component, if any. Such a court order satisfies the requirements of '' 838.303(b)(1) and 838.502(b)(1).
(c) A court order affecting military retired pay, even when military retired pay has been waived for inclusion in CSRS annuities, does not award a former spouse a portion of an employee annuity or a refund of employee contributions under CSRS or FERS. Such a court order does not satisfy the requirements of ' 838.303(b)(1) or ' 838.502(b)(1).

' 838.612 Distinguishing between annuities and contributions.

(a) A court order using "annuities," "pensions," "retirement benefits," or similar terms satisfies the requirements of '' 838.303(b)(2) and 838.502(b)(2) and may be used to divide an employee annuity and a refund of employee contributions.
(b)(1) A court order using "contributions," "deductions," "deposits," "retirement accounts," "retirement fund," or similar terms satisfies the requirements of ' 838.502(b)(2) and may be used only to divide the amount of contributions that the employee has paid into the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund.
(2) Unless the court order specifically states otherwise, when an employee annuity is payable, a court order using the terms specified in paragraph (b)(1) of this section satisfies the requirements of ' 838.303(b)(2) and awards the former spouse a benefit to be paid in equal monthly installments at 50 percent of the gross annuity at the time of retirement or the date of the court order, whichever comes later, until the specific dollar amount is reached.

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Computation Of Benefits

' 838.621 Prorata share.

(a) "Prorata share" means one‑half of the fraction whose numerator is the number of months of Federal civilian and military service that the employee performed during the marriage and whose denominator is the total number of months of Federal civilian and military service performed by the employee.
(b) A court order that awards a former spouse a prorata share of an employee annuity or a refund of employee contributions by using the term "prorata share" and identifying the date when the marriage began satisfies the requirements of '' 838.305 and 838.504 and awards the former spouse a prorata share as defined in paragraph (a) of this section.
(c) A court order that awards a portion of an employee annuity as of a specified date before the employee's retirement awards the former spouse a prorata share as defined in paragraph (a) of this section.
(d) A court order that awards a portion of the "value" of an annuity as of a specific date before retirement, without specifying what "value" is, awards the former spouse a prorata share as defined in paragraph (a) of this section.

' 838.622 Cost‑of‑living and salary adjustments.

(a)(1) A court order that awards adjustments to a former spouse's portion of an employee annuity stated in terms such as "cost‑of‑living adjustments" or "COLA's" occurring after the date of the decree but before the date of retirement provides increases equal to the adjustments described in or effected under section 8340 or section 8462 of title 5, United States Code.
(2) A court order that awards adjustments to a former spouse's portion of an employee annuity stated in terms such as "salary adjustments" or "pay adjustments" occurring after the date of the decree provides increases equal to the adjustments described in or effected under section 5303 of title 5, United States Code until the date of retirement.
(b)(1) Unless the court order directly and unequivocally orders otherwise, a court order that awards a former spouse a portion of an employee annuity either on a percentage basis or by use of a fraction or formula provides that the former spouse's share of the employee annuity will be adjusted to maintain the same percentage or fraction whenever the employee annuity changes as a result of‑‑
(i) Salary adjustments occurring after the date of the decree and before the employee retires; and
(ii) Cost‑of‑living adjustments occurring after the date of the decree and after the date of the employee's retirement.
(2) A court order that awards a former spouse a specific dollar amount from the employee annuity prevents the former spouse from benefiting from salary and cost‑of‑living adjustments after the date of the decree, unless the court expressly orders their inclusion.
(c)(1)(i) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, a court order that contains a general instruction to calculate the former spouse's share effective at the time of divorce or separation entitles the former spouse to the benefit of salary adjustments occurring after the specified date to the same extent as the employee.
(ii) To prevent the application of salary adjustments after the date of the divorce or separation, the court order must either state the exact dollar amount of the award to the former spouse or specifically instruct OPM not to apply salary adjustments after the specified date in computing the former spouse's share of the employee annuity.
(2)(i) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, a court order that requires OPM to compute a benefit as of a specified date before the employee's retirement, and specifically instructs OPM not to apply salary adjustments after the specified date in computing the former spouse's share of an employee annuity provides that the former spouse is entitled to the application of cost‑of‑living adjustments after the date of the employee's retirement in the manner described in ' 838.241.
(ii) To award cost‑of‑living adjustments between a specified date and the employee's retirement, the court order must specifically instruct OPM to adjust the former spouse's share of the employee annuity by any cost‑of‑living adjustments occurring between the specified date and the date of the employee's retirement.
(iii) To prevent the application of cost‑of‑living adjustments that occur after the employee annuity begins to accrue to the former spouse's share of the employee annuity, the decree must either state the exact dollar amount of the award to the former spouse or specifically instruct OPM not to apply cost‑of‑living adjustments occurring after the date of the employee's retirement.

' 838.623 Computing lengths of service.

(a) Sections 838.242 and 838.441 contain information on how OPM calculates lengths of service.
(b) Unless the court order otherwise expressly directs‑‑
(1) For the purpose of describing a period of time to be excluded from any element of a computation, the term "military service" means military service as defined in section 8331(13) of title 5, United States Code, and does not include civilian service with the Department of Defense or the Coast Guard; and
(2) For the purpose of describing a period of time to be included in any element of a computation, the term "military service" means all periods of military and civilian service performed with the Department of Defense or the Coast Guard.
(c)(1) When a court order contains a formula for dividing employee annuity that requires a computation of service worked as of a date prior to separation and using terms such as "years of service," "total service," "service performed," or similar terms, the time attributable to unused sick leave will not be included.
(2) When a court order contains a formula for dividing employee annuity that requires a computation of "creditable service" (or some other phrase using "credit" or its equivalent) as of a date prior to retirement, unused sick leave will be included in the computation (involving a CSRS employee annuity or the CSRS component of a FERS employee annuity) as follows:
(i) If the amount of unused sick leave is specified, the court order awards a portion of the employee annuity equal to the monthly employee annuity at retirement times a fraction, the numerator of which is the number of months of "creditable service" as of the date specified plus the number of months of unused sick leave specified (which sum is rounded to eliminate partial months) and whose denominator is the months of "creditable service" used in the retirement computation.
(ii) If the amount of unused sick leave is not specified, the court order awards a portion of the employee annuity equal to the monthly rate at the time of retirement times a fraction, the numerator of which is the number of months of "creditable service" as of the date specified (no sick leave included) and whose denominator is the number of months of "creditable service" used in the retirement computation (sick leave included).
(d)(1) General language such as "benefits earned as an employee with the U.S. Postal Service . . ." provides only that CSRS retirement benefits are subject to division and does not limit the period of service included in the computation (i.e., service performed with other Government agencies will be included).
(2) To limit the computation of benefits to a particular period of employment, the court order must‑‑
(i) Use language expressly limiting the period of service to be included in the computation (e.g., "only U.S. Postal Service" or "exclusive of any service other than U.S. Postal Service employment"); or
(ii) Specify the number of months to be included in the computation; or
(iii) Describe specifically the period of service to be included in the computation (e.g., "only service performed during the period Petitioner and Defendant were married" or "benefits based on service performed through the date of divorce").

' 838.624 Distinguishing between formulas and fixed amounts.

(a) A court order that contains both a formula or percentage instruction and a dollar amount is deemed to include the dollar amount only as the court's estimate of the initial amount of payment. The formula or percentage instruction controls.
(b) A court order that awards a portion of the "present value" of an employee annuity and specifically states the amount of either the "present value" of the employee annuity or of the award is deemed to give the former spouse "a specific dollar amount" that is payable from a monthly employee annuity and will be paid as a lump‑sum award in accordance with ' 838.235.

' 838.625 Types of annuity.

(a) Terms that are synonymous with net annuity are‑‑
(1) Disposable annuity; and
(2) Retirement check.
(b) Terms that are synonymous with self‑only annuity are‑‑
(1) Life rate annuity;
(2) Unreduced annuity; and
(3) Annuity without survivor benefit.
(c) All court orders that do not specify net annuity or self‑only annuity apply to gross annuity.

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Model Paragraphs

Appendix A to Subpart F of Part 838‑‑Recommended Language for Court Orders Dividing Employee Annuities.

This appendix provides recommended language for use in court orders attempting to divide employee annuity. A court order directed at employee annuity should include five elements:
! Identification of the benefits;
! Instructions that OPM pay the former spouse;
! A method for computing the amount of the former spouse's benefit;
! Identification of the type of annuity to which to apply a fraction, percentage or formula; and
! Instructions on what OPM should do if the employee leaves Federal service before retirement and applies for a refund of employee contributions.
The court order may also include instructions for disposition of the former spouse's share if the former spouse dies before the employee. By using the model language, courts will know that the court order will have the effect described in this appendix.
The model language in this appendix does not award a benefit that is payable after the death of the employee. A separate, distinct award of a former spouse survivor annuity is necessary to award a former spouse a benefit that is payable after the death of the employee. Appendix A to subpart I of this part contains model language for awarding survivor annuities and contains some examples that award both a portion of an employee annuity and a survivor annuity.
The model language uses the terms "[former spouse]" to identify the spouse who is receiving a former spouse's portion of an employee annuity and "[employee]" to identify the Federal employee whose employment was covered by the Civil Service Retirement System or the Federal Employees Retirement System. Obviously, in drafting an actual court order the appropriate terms, such as "Petitioner" and "Respondent," or the names of the parties should replace "[former spouse]" and "[employee]."
Similarly, the models are drafted for employees covered by the Civil Service Retirement System. The name of the retirement system should be changed for employees covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System.

Series

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000 Series‑‑Special Technical Provisions.

&001 Language required in Qualified Domestic Relations Orders.

Using the following paragraph will expressly state that the provisions of the court order concerning CSRS or FERS benefits are governed by this part. A court order directed at employee annuity (or awarding a survivor annuity) that is labelled a "Qualified Domestic Relations Order" or is issued on an ERISA form will not be automatically rendered unacceptable under ' 838.302(a) or ' 838.803(a) if the court order contains the following paragraph. "The court has considered the requirements and standard terminology provided in part 838 of Title 5, Code of Federal Regulations. The terminology used in the provisions of this order that concern benefits under the Civil Service Retirement System are governed by the standard conventions established in that part."

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100 Series‑‑Identification of the benefits and instructions that OPM pay the former spouse.

&101 Identifying retirement benefits and directing OPM to pay the former spouse.

Using the following paragraph will expressly divide employee annuity to satisfy the requirements of ' 838.303 and direct OPM to pay the former spouse a share of an employee annuity to satisfy the requirements of ' 838.304. "[Employee] is (or will be) eligible for retirement benefits under the Civil Service Retirement System based on employment with the United States Government. [Insert language for computing the former spouse's share from 200 series of this appendix.] The United States Office of Personnel Management is directed to pay [former spouse]'s share directly to [former spouse]."


&102‑110 [Reserved].

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&111 Protecting a former spouse entitled to military retired pay.

Using the following paragraph will protect the former spouse interest in military retired pay in the event that the employee waives the military retired pay to allow crediting the military service under CSRS or FERS. The paragraph should be used only if the former spouse is awarded a portion of the military retired pay. "If [Employee] waives military retired pay to credit military service under the Civil Service Retirement System, [insert language for computing the former spouse's share from 200 series of this appendix.]. The United States Office of Personnel Management is directed to pay [former spouse]'s share directly to [former spouse]."

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200 Series‑‑Computing the amount of the former spouse's benefit.

Paragraphs 201 through 204 contain model language for the most common types of awards that court orders make to former spouses. Subsequent paragraphs in the 200 series contain model language for less common, more complex awards. Awards other than fixed amounts require that the court order specify the type of annuity ("gross," "net," or self‑only) on which the award is computed. The types of annuity are defined in ' 838.103. Variations on type of annuity are covered by the 300 series of this appendix.

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&201 Award of a fixed monthly amount.

Using the following paragraph will award the former spouse a fixed monthly amount. OPM will not apply COLA's to a fixed monthly amount unless the court order expressly directs that OPM add COLA's using the language in &231 of this appendix or similar language. "[Employee] is (or will be) eligible for retirement benefits under the Civil Service Retirement System based on employment with the United States Government. [Former spouse] is entitled to $[insert a number] per month from [employee]'s civil service retirement benefits. The United States Office of Personnel Management is directed to pay [former spouse]'s share directly to [former spouse]."


&202 Award of a percentage.

Using the following paragraph will award the former spouse a stated percentage of the employee annuity. Unless the court order expressly directs that OPM not add COLA's to the former spouse's share of the employee annuity, OPM will add COLA's to keep the former spouse's share at the stated percentage. Paragraph 232 of this appendix provides language for excluding COLA's. "[Employee] is (or will be) eligible for retirement benefits under the Civil Service Retirement System based on employment with the United States Government. [Former spouse] is entitled to [insert a number] percent of [employee]'s [insert "gross," "net," or "self‑only"] monthly annuity under the Civil Service Retirement System. The United States Office of Personnel Management is directed to pay [former spouse]'s share directly to [former spouse]."


&203 Award of a fraction.

Using the following paragraph will award the former spouse a stated fraction of the employee annuity. Unless the court order expressly directs that OPM not add COLA's to the former spouse's share of the employee annuity, OPM will add COLA's to keep the former spouse's share at the stated percentage. Paragraph 232 of this appendix provides language for excluding COLA's. "[Employee] is (or will be) eligible for retirement benefits under the Civil Service Retirement System based on employment with the United States Government. [Former spouse] is entitled to [insert fraction]ths of [employee]'s [insert "gross," "net," or "self‑only"] monthly annuity under the Civil Service Retirement System. The United States Office of Personnel Management is directed to pay [former spouse]'s share directly to [former spouse]."


&204 Award of a prorata share.

Using the following paragraph will award the former spouse a prorata share of the employee annuity. Prorata share is defined in ' 838.621. To award a prorata share the court order must state the date of the marriage. Unless the court order specifies a different ending date, the marriage ends for computation purposes on the date that the court order is filed with the court clerk. Unless the court order expressly directs that OPM not add COLA's to the former spouse's share of the employee annuity, OPM will add COLA's to keep the former spouse's share at the stated percentage. Paragraph 232 of this appendix provides language for excluding COLA's. "[Employee] is (or will be) eligible for retirement benefits under the Civil Service Retirement System based on employment with the United States Government. [Former spouse] is entitled to a prorata share of [employee]'s [insert "gross," "net," or self‑only] monthly annuity under the Civil Service Retirement System. The marriage began on [insert date]. The United States Office of Personnel Management is directed to pay [former spouse]'s share directly to [former spouse]."


&205‑210 [Reserved].

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&211 Award based on a stated formula.

Using the following paragraphs will award the former spouse a share of the employee annuity based on a formula stated in the court order. The formula must be stated in the court order (including a court‑approved property settlement agreement). The formula may not be incorporated by reference to a statutory provision or a court decision in another case. If the court order uses a formula, the court order must include any data that is necessary for OPM to apply the formula unless the necessary data is contained in normal OPM files. "[Employee] is (or will be) eligible for retirement benefits under the Civil Service Retirement System based on employment with the United States Government. [Former spouse] is entitled to a share of [employee]'s [insert "gross," "net," or self‑only] monthly annuity under the Civil Service Retirement System to be computed as follows: "[Insert formula for computing the former spouse's share.] "The United States Office of Personnel Management is directed to pay [former spouse]'s share directly to [former spouse]."


&212‑230 [Reserved].

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&231 Awarding COLA's on fixed monthly amounts.

Using the following paragraph will award COLA's in addition to a fixed monthly amount to the former spouse. The model awards COLA's at the same rate applied to the employee annuity. "[Employee] is (or will be) eligible for retirement benefits under the Civil Service Retirement System based on employment with the United States Government. [Former spouse] is entitled to $[insert a number] per month from [employee]'s civil service retirement benefits. When COLA's are applied to [employee]'s retirement benefits, the same COLA applies to [former spouse]'s share. The United States Office of Personnel Management is directed to pay [former spouse]'s share directly to [former spouse]."


&232 Excluding COLA's on awards other than fixed monthly amounts.

Using the following paragraph will prevent application of COLA's to a former spouse's share of an employee annuity in cases where the former spouse has been awarded a percentage, fraction or prorata share of the employee annuity, rather than a fixed dollar amount. "[Employee] is (or will be) eligible for retirement benefits under the Civil Service Retirement System based on employment with the United States Government. [Insert language for computing the former spouse's share from &202, &203, &204, or &211 of this appendix.] The United States Office of Personnel Management is directed to determine the amount of [former spouse]'s share on the date [insert "when [employee] retires" if the employee has not retired, or "of this order" if the employee is already retired] and not to apply COLA's to that amount. The United States Office of Personnel Management is directed to pay [former spouse]'s share directly to [former spouse]."

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300 Series‑‑Type of annuity.

Awards of employee annuity to a former spouse (other than awards of fixed dollar amounts) must specify whether OPM will use the "gross," "net," or self‑only annuity as defined in ' 838.103 in determining the amount of the former spouse's entitlement. The court order may contain a formula that has the effect of creating other types of annuity, but the court order may only do this by providing a formula that starts from "gross," "net," or self‑only annuity as defined in ' 838.103.

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&301 Awards based on benefits actually paid.

The court order may include a formula that effectively uses the court's definition of net annuity rather than the one provided by ' 838.103. For example, using the following paragraph will award the former spouse a prorata share of the employee annuity reduced only by the amount deducted as premiums for basic life insurance under the Federal Employee Group Life Insurance Program. "[Employee] is (or will be) eligible for retirement benefits under the Civil Service Retirement System based on employment with the United States Government. [Former spouse] is entitled to a prorata share of [employee]'s monthly annuity under the Civil Service Retirement System, where monthly annuity means the self‑only annuity less the amount deducted as premiums for basic life insurance under the Federal Employee Group Life Insurance Program. The marriage began on [insert date]. The United States Office of Personnel Management is directed to pay [former spouse]'s share directly to [former spouse]."


&302‑310 [Reserved].

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&311 Awards of earned annuity in cases where the actual annuity is based on disability.

Using the following paragraph will award a former spouse a prorata share of what the employee annuity would have been based on only the employee's actual service in cases where the actual employee annuity is based on disability. The paragraph also allows the court order to provide for the former spouse's share to begin when the employee reaches a stated age, using age 62 as an example. As with all other formulas the court order must specify whether the computation applies to "gross," "net," or self‑only annuity. OPM will apply COLA's that occurred after the date of the disability retirement to the former spouse's share. The following paragraph should be used only for disability retirees under CSRS. Under FERS, section 8452 of title 5, United States Code, provides a formula for recomputation of disability annuities at age 62 to approximate an earned annuity. Therefore to award a portion of the "earned" benefit under FERS add the introductory phrase, "Starting when [employee] reaches age 62," to the paragraph describing how to compute the amount. "[Employee] is (or will be) eligible for retirement benefits under the Civil Service Retirement System based on employment with the United State's Government. Starting when [employee] reaches age 62, [former spouse] is entitled to a prorata share of [employee]'s [insert "gross," "net," or self‑only] monthly annuity under the Civil Service Retirement System, where monthly annuity means the amount of [employee]'s monthly annuity computed as though [employee] had retired on an immediate, nondisability annuity on the commencing date of [employee]'s annuity based on disability. In computing the amount of the immediate annuity, the United States Office of Personnel Management will deem [employee] to have been age 62 at the time that [employee] retired on disability. The marriage began on [insert date]. The United States Office of Personnel Management is directed to pay [former spouse]'s share directly to [former spouse]."

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400 Series‑‑Refunds of employee contributions.

Court orders that award a former spouse a portion of a future employee annuity of an employee who is not then eligible to retire should include an additional paragraph containing instructions that tell OPM what to do if the employee separates before becoming eligible to retire and requests a refund of employee contributions. The court order may award the former spouse a portion of the refund of employee contributions or bar payment of the refund of employee contributions.

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&401 Barring payment of a refund of employee contributions.

Using the following paragraph will bar payment of the refund of employee contributions if payment of the refund of employee contributions would extinguish the former spouse's entitlement to a portion of the employee annuity. "The United States Office of Personnel Management is directed not to pay [employee] a refund of employee contributions."


&402 Dividing a refund of employee contributions.

Using the following paragraph will allow the refund of employee contributions to be paid but will award a prorata share of the refund of employee contributions to the former spouse. The sentence on the beginning date of the marriage is unnecessary if the beginning is stated elsewhere in the order. The award of a prorata share is used only as an example; the court order could provide another fraction, percentage, or formula, or a fixed amount. Note that a refund of employee contributions voids the employee's rights to an employee annuity and the former spouse's right to any portion of that annuity. "If [employee] becomes eligible and applies for a refund of employee contributions, [former spouse] is entitled to a prorata share of the refund of employee contributions. The marriage began on [insert date]. The United States Office of Personnel Management is directed to pay [former spouse]'s share directly to [former spouse]."

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500 Series‑‑Death of the former spouse.

&501 Full annuity restored to the retiree.

No special provision is necessary to restore the entire annuity to the retiree upon the death of the former spouse. Unless the court order expressly provides otherwise, OPM will pay the former spouse's share to the retiree after the death of the former spouse.


&502 Former spouse share paid to children.

Using the following paragraph will award the former spouse's share of an employee annuity to the children, including any adopted children, of the employee and former spouse. "If [former spouse] dies before [employee], the United States Office of Personnel Management is directed to pay [former spouse]'s share of [employee]'s civil service retirement benefits to surviving children of the marriage including any adopted children, in equal shares. Upon the death of any child, that child's share will be distributed among the other surviving children." The language may be modified to terminate the payments to the children when they reach a stated age. A court order that includes such a provision for termination must include sufficient information (such as the children's dates of birth) to permit OPM to determine when the children's interest terminate. OPM will not consider evidence outside the court order (and normal OPM files) to establish the children's dates of birth.


503 Former spouse share paid to the court.

Using the following paragraph will provide for payment of the former spouse's share of an employee annuity to the court after the death of the former spouse. This would allow a court officer to administer the funds. "If [former spouse] dies before [employee], the United States Office of Personnel Management is directed to pay [former spouse]'s share of [employee]'s civil service retirement benefits to this court at the following address: "[Insert address where checks should be sent. The address may be up to six lines and should include sufficient information for court officials to credit the correct account.]

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Subpart G‑‑Procedures for Processing Court Orders Awarding Former Spouse Survivor Annuities

Regulatory Structure

' 838.701 Purpose and scope.

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Health Information Technology

Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program Health Information Technology and Price/Cost Transparency Leaders

Over the past few years, OPM has encouraged FEHB health benefits plans to increase their use of health information technology (HIT). HIT can help your health plan and healthcare providers deliver safer more efficient care. Using HIT, your health plan can offer you tools to help you organize your health information, access information targeted to your health needs, and determine the quality and price/cost of the doctors, hospitals and other providers that you and your family use for day-to-day healthcare needs.

HIT based on broadly accepted standards, allows patients, healthcare providers and health plans to share information securely, driving down costs by avoiding duplicate procedures and manual transactions. More importantly, HIT reduces medical errors; for instance, from misread handwritten prescriptions, and emergency care medical decisions made without complete and accurate health information. HIT can also help you find appropriate health information to aid you and your doctor in making appropriate clinical decisions regarding your care. Since privacy and security considerations are vitally important, safeguards have been established to keep your records safe from inappropriate disclosure.

Personal Health Records

The health plans listed below have made a commitment to offer you and your family access to internet based personal health records (PHR). PHRs come in a variety of forms but what they all have in common is that they give you a convenient way to track, view, and manage your personal health information. PHRs also allow you to share your health information with your healthcare providers so they have a better picture of your health history. When providers know your health history they can make more accurate diagnoses and provide you with safer more efficient care.

Quality and Price/Cost Transparency On-line Tools

The health plans listed here have also made a commitment to offer you and your family access to healthcare quality and price/cost information so you can make more informed choices on which providers to use to receive care. The web site information available includes online decision tools with cost estimators and quality indicators for physician and hospital services and prescription drugs used to treat common or chronic illnesses and conditions. These health plans describe the sources of this health information and any limitations so you can understand what the information means. Some examples of the types of surgical procedures for which you can obtain cost and quality information include: arthroscopy knee/shoulder, breast biopsy, cataract repair, cesarean delivery, colonoscopy, corneal surgery, gall bladder removal, heart catheterization, hysterectomy, inguinal hernia repair, knee replacement, and tonsillectomy. This information helps you understand the true price/cost and quality of your healthcare and enhances your ability to compare hospital, physician, prescription and other provider value as you make healthcare choices. FEHB health plans are working to expand the price/cost and quality information they provide to you.

The health plans listed on this page met OPM's HIT, quality and price/cost transparency standards at the time this report went to press. As other plans bring these tools on line, we will add them to the list on our web site. So, please check the updated information at www.opm.gov/insure before you make your healthcare decisions.

The following 38 health plans have demonstrated their commitment to efficiency, safety and quality through computer system enhancements that offer PHRs, quality information, and price/cost transparency decision support tools:

Health Plans

  • Aetna, Inc.
  • Altius Health Plans
  • Anthem Blue Cross Select HMO
  • APWU Health Plan
  • APWU Health Plan CDHP
  • AvMed Health Plans, Inc.
  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield
  • Blue Preferred Plus POS
  • Capital Health Plan, Inc.
  • CareFirst BCBS
  • CDPHP Universal Benefits Inc.
  • Coventry Health Care
  • Fallon Community Health Plan
  • Foreign Service Benefit Plan
  • Geisinger Health Plan
  • GHI
  • Government Employees Health Association (GEHA)
  • Hawaii Medical Service Association
  • Health Net of California
  • HealthAmerica
  • HealthPartners
  • HealthPlus of Michigan
  • HIP Health plan of New York
  • Humana
  • Kaiser
  • KPS Health Plans
  • M.D. IPA
  • Mail Handlers Benefit Plan (MHBP)
  • NALC Health Benefit Plan
  • Optima Health Plan
  • Physicians Health Plan of Northern Indiana
  • Rural Carrier Benefit Plan
  • Special Agents Mutual Benefit Association (SAMBA)
  • UnitedHealthcare Benefits of Texas, Inc.
  • UnitedHealthcare of California
  • UnitedHealthcare of the Midwest
  • UnitedHealthcare of the River Valley
  • UPMC Health Plan

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Premium Conversion

Allowing Federal Employees to Pay their Health Benefits Premiums with Pre-tax Dollars

Federal employees can use pre-tax dollars to pay health insurance premiums to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program under the "Premium Conversion" program. Premium conversion uses Federal tax rules to let employees deduct their share of health insurance premiums from their taxable income, thereby reducing their taxes. This plan is similar to the private sector, which has allowed their employees to deduct health insurance premiums from their taxable incomes for many years.

Premium conversion for Federal Employees enrolled in the FEHB Program went into effect in October 2000.

Fact Sheet

A brief description of the program and its tax implications.

Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to many questions about the Premium Conversion program.

FedFlex Plan

This Plan provides Employees a choice between cash and pre-tax coverage under a Medical Plan, Health Care Flexible Spending Arrangement (HCFSA) and Dependent Care Flexible Spending Arrangement (DCFSA). It qualifies as a "cafeteria plan" under Section 125 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.


Fact Sheet

Premium Conversion is a "pre-tax" arrangement, meaning that the part of your salary that goes for health insurance premiums will become non-taxable. This means that you save on Federal income tax and FICA taxes (Social Security and Medicare taxes). In most cases, you'll also save on State income tax and local income tax.

How much? You save a percentage of your premium. If your annual premium is $1800, and you pay 35% in taxes on that amount of salary, you save 35% of $1800. That's $630, or $24.23 every two weeks.

Do I have to pay a tax later? No. Don't confuse premium conversion with the deferred taxation of Thrift Savings Plan contributions, which are taxed when you receive the money.

How do I sign up? The payroll office will sign you up for Premium Conversion automatically. You don't need to fill out a form. You do have a choice, though, to waive premium conversion despite the savings. It's a personal decision.

Why would I not want the tax savings? It's possible but extremely unlikely. The potential reasons fall under two headings: Flexibility and Social Security.

Flexibility: An employee participating in premium conversion generally has all the same flexibility as a person who chooses not to participate. Because of the tax laws, there are two exceptions. If you waive premium conversion you will have the flexibility, without giving any reason whatsoever, either to drop your health insurance altogether or change from a Self and Family enrollment to Self Only. If you are participating in premium conversion, you will be allowed to drop coverage, or change to Self Only, only if your decision to do so comes at the time of a "qualifying life event," such as when you get married or your spouse gets a job that covers you under your spouse's health insurance. This flexibility is generally of little or no value compared to the tax savings of premium conversion.

Social Security: If you pay Social Security taxes on your salary, then premium conversion may result in somewhat lower Social Security benefits. In rare situations, it may be advantageous to pay full Social Security taxes rather than the lower Social Security taxes you pay under premium conversion. These unusual cases do not involve employees covered by the old Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or the CSRS-Offset plan. If you are covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and you pay no Federal income tax, you may wish to investigate further.

In any case, this is a decision only you can make.

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