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Life Event Changes and Your Responsibilities

Changes to Your Personal Information

To ensure that you earn full benefits and that benefits are provided as you intend, it is your responsibility to make sure CPF receives accurate and up-to-date personal information regarding:

  • Earnings; and/or
  • Major life events (such as marriage, divorce, or birth/adoption of a child); and/or
  • Any change in beneficiaries (including their contact information).

You should also review your annual Personal Information Summary (because it reflects the information on file with CPF) as well as your current Earnings and projected retirement benefits.

Monitoring Assessments

Your participating employer is required to regularly pay Assessments on your behalf. You should make sure that your employer is paying Assessments in full and on time. If Assessments are not paid, you will not earn Credited Service and may lose eligibility for certain benefits (such as disability benefits, the preretirement survivor benefit, and the lump sum death benefit). In addition, overdue Assessments may accrue interest. See Employer Assessments and Member Status for more information.

Monitoring Assessments

If You Divorce Before You Retire

If you divorce before retiring, the court that has jurisdiction over the dissolution of your marriage may require that your retirement benefit be divided with your former spouse because it constitutes marital property. The division of your retirement benefit may be determined by a divorce decree or marital property settlement agreement. In either case, if your former spouse is entitled to a share of your retirement benefit, and you would like CPF to pay that share directly to your former spouse, then you and your former spouse must file a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) with the appropriate court. The QDRO also must be approved by CPF. Your divorce decree and/or marital property settlement agreement generally will not act as a QDRO because a QDRO must meet certain specific requirements before CPF will approve and implement it.

CPF has developed two different types of model QDROs that you may use as a template when preparing your own. (The type that you use will depend on your own personal situation.) Using a model can greatly speed approval of the QDRO by CPF, saving you both time and legal fees. We strongly recommend that you submit a draft QDRO to CPF for pre-approval before signing it and filing it with the appropriate court. If we receive an order that has been executed by both you and your former spouse (or your attorneys) or an order that has been certified by a court, CPF will place a hold on your account to prevent the payment of any retirement benefits until we either approve the order or the order is withdrawn.

Once a QDRO has been approved by CPF, you will not have to pay income taxes on any amounts paid from the Plan to your former spouse in accordance with the terms of the QDRO.

Unless a QDRO has been approved, CPF will not pay any portion of your retirement benefit to your former spouse. However, even if you do not have an approved QDRO, you may still be legally obligated to pay a portion of your retirement benefit directly to your former spouse, if required by your divorce decree and/or marital property settlement agreement.

If you are about to enter or have entered the divorce process, we recommend that you contact our Client Services group well before your court date. In addition, in the event of your divorce, you should also consider whether to update your beneficiary designation for the lump sum death benefit, if necessary.

If You Divorce Before You Retire

If You Divorce After You Retire

If you divorce after retiring, the person whom you designated as your beneficiary (if any) remains eligible for the survivor’s benefit elected at retirement. This cannot be changed.

You may enter into a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) in order to divide your retirement benefit with your former spouse, as described above.

If You Divorce After You Retire

If You Marry After You Retire

If you marry after retirement, your new spouse is not considered a beneficiary of the Plan and will not be entitled to a benefit. You may not change the form of payment that you elected at retirement under any circumstances; therefore, whomever you designated as your beneficiary at that time, if you did so, will receive the survivor benefit that you elected in the event of your death.

If your beneficiary predeceases you and you marry after retirement, you cannot substitute your new spouse as the beneficiary, even though the person whom you designated at retirement is no longer living. In this case, no survivor benefit is payable following your death.

In addition, because your eligibility for the Death Benefit Plan ends at retirement, a new spouse whom you marry after retirement will not be entitled to a lump sum death benefit following your death.

If You Marry After You Retire