Ep #28: Court Orders That Can Half Your Retirement

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Divorce is generally not a fun topic, but when you are considering retirement, it is a necessary discussion to have. For many people, the terms and conditions of a divorce can come back to haunt them—even decades later—if they are not completely settled upon in the beginning. So in this episode, Micah and Tammy will be discussing divorce and how to understand all the legal language within a court order so you can avoid any financial shocks later in life.

Listen in as they explain the common misconceptions around federal benefits and how they are divided throughout a divorce. You will learn why assumptions are never a good idea, how to properly fill out your retirement benefit, and what will absolutely cause a delay in your retirement plan.

What We Cover:

  • How a court order is going to impact your retirement benefit.
  • Why you should absolutely consult a financial advisor who understands federal benefits.
  • Common misconceptions around benefits and how they work throughout a divorce.
  • Why you must clarify everything.
  • How to fill out your retirement application.
  • What will cause a delay in your retirement plan.

Resources for this Episode:

Ideas Worth Sharing:

Assumptions are the number one killer of retirement plans. – Micah Shilanski Click To Tweet

Your attorney is just doing what you ask them to do. They are not necessarily doing what is in your or your ex-spouse's benefit. – Tammy Flanagan Click To Tweet

I have never met an attorney that understands federal benefits. – Micah Shilanski Click To Tweet

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Full Episode Transcript
With Your Hosts
Micah Shilanski and Tammy Flanagan

 You can spend. You can save. What is the right thing to do? Federal benefits, great savings plans too. You can save your own way, with help from Micah and Tammy. You can save your own way. Save your own way.

Micah Shilanski: Welcome back to the Plan Your Federal Retirement podcast. I’m your host, Micah Shilanski, and with me, as usual, is the amazing Tammy Flanagan. Hey, Tammy!

Tammy Flanagan: Hey, Micah! How are you doing today?

Micah Shilanski: Just another day in paradise. It’s a beautiful summertime in Alaska so I have a hard time complaining.

Tammy Flanagan: That’s right, Alaska, and the summer is very beautiful. I have to say it’s probably more beautiful than Florida in the summer, for sure.

Micah Shilanski: Absolutely. We don’t have to dodge or run as much for the air conditioning as you guys do.

Tammy Flanagan: That’s right. You don’t get those summer afternoon thunderstorms like we get here?

Micah Shilanski: No, not at all.

Well, we have some great things to be chatting about today about retirement planning. It’s a little bit of a tough subject, quite frankly, because we’re going to be talking about divorce and court orders. To be really clear, this is not an area that Tammy nor I specialize in, but it’s an area we’ve run across. We want to make sure we’re keeping the length of this podcast where it adds value to you, our listeners, and is an area of expertise. We don’t want to talk about things we’re not experts in, so we’re going to reference those and say, “Hey, look, you need to go find someone else because we don’t really understand it,” but we’re going to talk about what we have experience in.

Tammy, I don’t know about you, but a lot of the experience I have is when I’m meeting with clients that have been divorced years ago. The clients have a complete misconception on what actually their divorce decree says, and generally, it’s not in their favor.

Tammy Flanagan: Yeah, I find the same thing Micah. In fact, I’ve had clients who’ve had to delay their own retirement because they had an understanding that wasn’t correct about what their former spouse was entitled to. Unfortunately, in many cases, it was more than what they had bargained for. They didn’t realize what they agreed to at the time of the divorce, or specifically what that language said, so I think it’s really important if you’ve ever gone through a divorce in the past and you’re just not sure, and I find this to be a problem because when you talk to your HR specialist, they’re not lawyers; they don’t want to give any kind of information about the divorce decree. The best they can do for you is give you a retirement estimate. Your divorce decree was drafted in language of the law field, so it’s not always clear cut that you can really understand it and put the two together. I think one of the things we do a service for our clients is to help them understand how that court order is going to impact their retirement benefit. Once you understand that legal language that’s in there, it’s a fairly simple math problem to figure out, but you really have to understand what that court order is specifying.

Micah Shilanski: You do, that’s the big thing. Tammy, what you said, a lot of times, federal employees are a little bit lost because I think some of the assumptions, I’m just going to run through those real fast, is one, that you’re an attorney, or your attorney that you had with divorce understands federal benefits. I will say I have never met an attorney, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist, this is just my personal anecdotal experience. I have never met an attorney that understands federal benefits when they’re going through this. Tammy, have you?

Tammy Flanagan: No. Unfortunately, even the guidance that OPM provides for attorneys, to me it’s just a mishmash of different things that they’ve cobbled together. A lot of it hasn’t been updated, and probably doesn’t really need to be updated, but it just looks like it’s an old document. It was drafted back in the 80s, some of it. Some of it in the 1990s, when this Spouse Equity Law came into play. I don’t think anybody’s really looked much at it since then. It’s still what’s being used to draft court orders. It’s really important that the attorneys get a hold of this. They call it “The Handbook for Attorneys”. You can find it on OPM’s website, and it has model language in there. If you want there to be a cost of living or not to be a cost of living, or you want this based on your high three at the time of the divorce, instead of at the time of retirement, it gives your attorneys specific language to make sure that’s what happens. Otherwise, there are certain assumptions that are made based on the language that is used in that divorce decree.

Micah Shilanski: Yeah, very much so. A couple of things that get out there, assumptions, misconceptions by your attorney and how benefits work, misconceptions on your end on how they work. One of the ways that I really like to spell this out whenever we’re talking to clients is dollars and cents, not
your X or Z, the X percentage and your current spouse receives, percentage, that means you’re going to get Z. That’s a marshmallow; that doesn’t make any sense. If you’re working through this, you need to sit down and put the math into it to agree, how much is this actually going to be? Tammy, another challenging part that comes from this is really from the federal employees’ side. There’s no official guidance that comes to them until after they retire. Until OPM reviews and your retirement’s certified, that’s the official thing about what you’re actually going to get, but up until then, it’s a bit of an unknown.

Tammy Flanagan: Yeah. This is really one of your biggest assets that get divided in the divorce decree. Besides your house, if you own a house together, this is a really important thing to consider. I don’t know that employees realize that your attorney is just doing what you ask them to do, they’re not necessarily doing what’s in your or your ex-spouse’s best interest.

Micah Shilanski: Great point.

Tammy Flanagan: You really have to look at this from a financial point of view, as far as “How is this going to play out into my future?” The former spouse obviously has a stake in this, as well, because it can create income for them that can last literally their whole lifetime once you’ve retired. This is a really important thing that I guess is oftentimes misunderstood. I don’t know if we have time, but I have a quick story I could tell about a couple who obviously didn’t understand how this works, but it’s a good example.

This couple were both high-level federal employees, I believe they were both senior execs in the government. They went through a late-in-life divorce before they both retired. In the divorce agreement, she made sure that she got half of his retirement, and likewise, he made sure that he got half of her retirement because they both had really good retirements.

Micah Shilanski: Well, that’s equal, right? When you look at it, great, it’s 50-50. What could possibly go wrong?

Tammy Flanagan: Of course, as it turned out, he decided he’s just going to keep on working because he understood that if he didn’t retire, she would never get half of his. Unfortunately, she was now in her 70s, decided it was time to retire, and very soon realized that she would be living on half of her earned benefit because guess where the other half was going, to her ex-husband. She could not force retirement on him, so as long as he kept working, she can only get half, and she couldn’t afford to retire on half. How silly was that? They weren’t obviously thinking of the … of that. The attorney didn’t warn them about what they were about to do was not making perfect sense, and it was done. Unfortunately, she just had to keep on working.

Micah Shilanski: I had something similar. This was back when I used to work on divorce cases, I do not do this anymore, so please don’t contact—do not do that.

I was sitting in a courtroom and there was a 10-year age difference between my client and his younger spouse that were getting divorced. That’s what both attorneys proposed, and the judge agreed, is a 50-50 split would be fair. I was like, “No, that is not fair. My client’s going to retire 10 years before the other one is. This doesn’t make any financial sense.” I went through and did the math for him real quick, saying, “Look, she’s gonna get up $80,000 more than he’s ever going to get, and then you haven’t even put in life expectancies on this thing.” The look in their eyes were like, “Never thought about that.” We ended up retooling it.

Had that intervention not been there it would have been your case right there. All of a sudden, this dramatically changes your retirement plan, and I bet the clients’ perspectives were, “Hey, I’m getting half, she’s getting half. Fifty plus fifty equals a hundred. Great, everybody’s whole! It’s the same.” It’s not the same. Assumptions are the number one killers of retirement plans in so many ways, especially when it comes to a court order.

Tammy Flanagan: Yeah, I always consult like, if you already have a financial advisor, like if Micah is your financial advisor, always consult with them before you sign any court order agreement just to make sure it makes sense financially. I know you don’t want to get involved and get subpoenaed into court, but if you have a client, you’re certainly going to help review their court order and make sure it makes sense. If you don’t have a financial advisor, there are some who specialize in divorce financial planning; there’s a certification for that. Find someone who really wants to get into that with you and help you make sure that this is equitable, that this makes sense financially.

Micah Shilanski: Tammy, let’s say you’re already in that case. This is the case where it would come up in my office in real life, a new client comes in and they say, “I got divorced 5, 10, 20 years ago,” whatever that time period is, one of the first things that I’m going to ask them for is a copy of the court order. I almost never ask how it’s going to be split, it’s not because I don’t care about their opinion, 9 times out of 10, it’s just wrong. I want to read the court order for myself then the client will voluntarily tell me exactly how it’s supposed to be split. Once I ask for the court order, I say, “Thank you so much for that. Please get me the court order. I will do no benefits planning, no estimates until I have that court order, because I don’t like to be wrong.” A really good way to be wrong is make an assumption on what a court order says, because I have seen them all over the place.

Tammy Flanagan: Yes, absolutely. I do the same thing when I counsel somebody on their benefits, because what good is a very nice civil service offers retirement, if you have to give half of it to your former spouse? That’s going to affect your ability to retire when you had planned. You may decide now that you need to work a little bit longer so that not only your former spouse’s share goes up, but your share also increases. This is a big deal issue and it can be an unsettling time when you’re trying to sort this all out.

Micah Shilanski: Tammy, let’s go do a little example real quick of something I went through a couple years ago with a client, and then let’s pivot a little bit to saying, “Great. What do we do with these things?” Is that going to be okay.?

Tammy Flanagan: Yeah, absolutely.

Micah Shilanski: One of the things I was reviewing for a client, he was under CSRS retirement. It was a bit of a crap shoot in his court order because it was very vague, and I don’t like vague court orders because now, we’re guessing at what they’re going to say. He was divorced a long time ago. It said that this was the date of the separation; therefore, this is, to date, all the benefits calculated, and the access to receive 50% of his benefits while he was working, up until this date. That’s what it said. It did not mention anything about the high three. Now, it’s a big question. We’re doing benefits, this is great. The spouse is eligible for 50% of benefits for this first 20 years of his career. Now, he has a second 20 years of his career, and his high three has doubled in the second 20 years. How do you calculate the excess portion of this benefit?

We were talking about this a little bit off air, this is a flip of the coin on where OPM is going to land, because it doesn’t specify in the court order. We lobbied, and it took months for this thing to go through, back and forth, with OPM. They finally agreed to our opinion that because the dates were calculated based on the date of separation, that’s the date of the high three we should use. I got to say, I think that was a long shot. I think we happened to find someone that was just really kind-hearted to us in OPM, because they very easily could have said, “Nope, that’s not what the divorce decree says. She gets 50% of the benefits for those years. and we’re going to use today’s high three.”

Tammy Flanagan: Yeah, you did get lucky. I think because if it’s not specific in the divorce decree, they’ll usually use the retirement calculation at the time of retirement, then split the marital share. You got someone who really took mercy on your client. That happens. Sometimes, they look back and say, “Well, this was the intent. We’re going to go along with the intent,” but there is specific language in that handbook for court order. If you haven’t gone through this yet and you’re about to, be sure that your attorney’s using those specific words. The people at OPM who process these cases and deal with this, they’re not attorneys; they’re clerks who work at OPM that have to read these court orders and divvy up the benefits based on what they say, so that language has to be very clear.

Micah Shilanski: Yeah. Attorneys hate it when I was making them do this. No, I want an example in that court order. In 20 years, when we all forget, what do these things mean? That’s what we deal with, 20 years later, their dust is coming off of them because I haven’t looked at them, and really reading these documents.

Number one, if you have one out there and yet there’s a divorce decree either on your spouse’s benefits, you remarried someone that has a divorce decree on their benefits and you’re expecting to get some of that, “Great! Go read that divorce decree so you can see what you’re actually going to get,” and if you have one in your own benefits, you need to pull that thing out.

Another misconception I’m going to think out there, Tammy, is survivor benefits, and how survivor benefits work with a court order.

Tammy Flanagan: Yeah, I’ve got an example for that one that is kind of an interesting one. It’s a sad story, but it’s one that will leave an impression.

There was a couple who was married. The man in the couple was the federal employee for many years, probably 35 years or more. He was married to the same woman the whole time. She never worked outside the home. She kind of followed him all around the world with his federal job, and they ended up in retirement. Once he retired, they ended up going through a divorce. On his retirement application, when he was married to her, he elected maximum survivor benefits because she wasn’t going to sign the waiver. She didn’t have any income of her own, and he never paid Social Security. He was CSRS, so this was very important to her. When they went through the divorce, they divided up his retirement. Since they were married his whole career, she got half of his retirement and he got the other half, and they went their separate ways. A year after the divorce was final, the ex-husband passed away. The ex-wife went to OPM to claim her right to the survivor benefit he elected at the time of retirement. Guess what? She gets nothing because in the divorce decree, the only thing that was mentioned was his retirement. There was no mention of a survivor benefit. OPM says, “That’s not your spouse anymore. That’s your ex-spouse.That had to be put into divorce decree in order to be payable.” She ended up destitute.

Micah Shilanski: Yeah, these are little things that we take for granted. Assumptions is what this all goes back to. We make the assumption, “I’m getting a survivor benefit; therefore, in the future, I will get a survivor benefit.” No! If things change in your life, that means you have to revisit all of these things because of these horror stories.

Tammy, let’s pivot a little bit, if that’s okay. I’m just reeling from that. It’s a huge impact.

Tammy Flanagan: It’s a sad story. It’s not the only story like that; there’s many that are very much the same.

Micah Shilanski: Yeah, we could spend hours going through dozens of just our own stories, much less what we’ve read about court orders in court cases that we’ve seen.

Let’s say you have an ex-spouse. You have a court order, I’m going to say against you, to leave some ex-spouse benefits, comes a time to fill out your retirement application. We’re talking about a pre-game about this. There’s a lot of misconceptions on how to do that. When you go to fill out your retirement application, “I have a spouse. I’ll have an ex-spouse that gets a court order. How do I fill out my retirement application?”

Tammy Flanagan: There’s one question on your retirement application, whether you’re CSRS or FERS, there’s one question that’s very important. I got this one memorized because I’ve read it in class so many times. It says, “Do you have a living, as opposed to a deceased, former spouse to whom a court order gives a portion of your retirement, and or survivor benefits?” It’s one, long question. The answer to that question is, “Yes, I do,” or, “No, I don’t.” You do, if you have a court order and your ex-spouse is still living that splits either your retirement or survivor benefits, or both. Many of them will say both. You don’t, if you have a former spouse who is getting nothing. If your court order is silent, if it doesn’t even mention your retirement, your former spouse has no entitlement. They had their chance to be entitled at the time of the divorce, it could have been put into that language of the divorce decree. If it wasn’t, “You go your way, I go my way, forever. Our retirements never mix.” That’s what you hope you have, if all went well. If there’s something in there that provides a part of your retirement or survivor benefit to your former spouse, OPM is obliged by law to honor what it says. They’re going to pay it out, regardless of what else you put on that retirement application.

When you get down to the section of the application where you’re electing your retirement, you have 5 choices. First 2 choices are for your current spouse. You’re going to elect your current spouse if you have remarried to get whatever it is you want them to get, assuming that you don’t have that former spouse. If they’re going to get that, it’s because the former spouse lost entitlement, and that, very well, could happen. Your former spouse could die first, and now, your current spouse takes the place of the full spousal benefit, or your former spouse may have remarried before they turned 55, meaning, they forfeited their right to a survivor benefit. You’re always going to make that election for your current spouse as if the former spouse didn’t exist.

The other part of that section of the retirement application allows you to elect a spousal survivor benefit for your former spouse. If it’s already in the divorce decree, you don’t have to elect it. Leave that question blank.

Micah Shilanski: You should. If it’s in the divorce decree, just leave it out entirely.

Tammy Flanagan: Right, leave it out entirely. Otherwise, it just confuses the whole issue.

Let’s say there’s nothing in the divorce decree to provide a survivor benefit for your former spouse, and for whatever reason, you want to leave them on, maybe you realize that, “Oh, my goodness, they’re going to be destitute if they don’t get that. I want to put that in my retirement,” that’s when you make the election. If you want to, out of the goodness of your heart, because no one’s saying you have to, but in that case, you could do it. If you have a current and a former spouse, you’re not going to be able to do that because you would have to get your current spouse’s permission to share their survivor benefit with your former spouse. If you get that, you’ll have 2 former spouses.

Micah Shilanski: Sorry-

Tammy Flanagan: If you don’t have a current spouse and you want to leave something, you could. In 35 years of doing this, I’ve never seen somebody voluntarily elected for their former spouse to get a survivor benefit. It’s only if it’s in the court order that usually, that happens. That’s the place where this is going to come into play. When you’re filing for retirement, you really got to pull out that divorce decree, see exactly what it says, let OPM know, include a copy of it with your retirement application. They’re going to want to copy of it. They should already have a copy of it, of course, because it was filed at the time of your divorce.

This can really cause you to stop and think. It should cause delays in your retirement processing because it has to go through another step of processing, and has to go to the court order section.

Micah Shilanski: What happens to health insurance, your federal employee health benefits, if you have a divorce decree, and let’s just say that has to leave a full survivor benefit to your ex, and you have a current wife, what happens?

Tammy Flanagan: You’re saying I’ve already gone through the divorce, it’s final?

Micah Shilanski: Yes. Divorce is final, there’s a court order that says you have to leave a full 50% survivor benefit to your ex-spouse.

Tammy Flanagan: If you don’t mind, let’s back up for a minute to the separation. Let’s go before you get remarried before you go through the final divorce. We’re just separated; we can’t live together. You live over there, I live over here. We’re going to go through a legal separation. During that time, you are still technically married, so you can keep your former spouse or soon-to-be former spouse on your health benefit plan while you’re separated. That’s okay. Once that divorce is final, get on the phone, call Blue Cross or whoever you have your federal health insurance with, and let them know that you now have a former spouse as of this date. If you don’t, and your former spouse continues to make claims as if they were your spouse, because Blue Cross doesn’t know, then you’ll be held liable for those claims in the future, once it’s all figured out that they’re no longer entitled to make those claims. Let your former spouse know that they’re no longer your spouse on your health benefit form. Let your health plan know that you have a former spouse, then you won’t get into any trouble along those lines.

Micah Shilanski: Good point.

Tammy Flanagan: Once you go through the divorce and it’s final, your former spouse probably needs health insurance, because they just lost it through your account. The government allows them to have temporary continuation of coverage, I think it lasts 18 months, don’t hold it. It could be 36. I use 18 months, but during that temporary coverage period, they’re paying the full freight. They’re paying the employer and the employee’s share of a self-only plan. If they’re awarded part of your retirement, even if it’s $10, or part of a survivor benefit, even if that’s $1, they would be entitled to lifetime federal health coverage, but again, they’re paying the full freight. They’re going to be considered as a former spouse who has entitlement to FEHB under these spouse equity provisions, but it’s not the best of everything because they’re not getting the government contribution to the premium. It’s probably, in most cases, still cheaper than going out on the affordable, unaffordable health insurance market.They might choose that as the lesser of 2 evils, but their better option would be to have employer coverage, or if they’re a federal employee, transfer the coverage to their name so they can carry it and get the employee’s share.

It can cause a big question mark when it comes to health benefit. Some people neglect to notify everybody that they’ve gone through the divorce and they end up with this big problem later on, when the health plan finds out that they’ve been divorced for 14 years and never took the former spouse off.

Micah Shilanski: That’s a great point. In that example, we talked about the ex-spouse. What about the current spouse, what happens to them? Federal employee dies, there’s an ex-spouse that gets the full survivor benefit. When the federal employee retired, he said, “Hey, I want my current spouse to get my full survivor benefit.” Does the current spouse get any benefit if the ex-spouse is getting the whole benefit?

Tammy Flanagan: Yeah. It could end up that the current spouse may not get any monetary benefit, so there’s nothing there to pay for the health insurance, but that doesn’t mean they’re not entitled to keep the health insurance. They’re just going to have to make payments directly to the government to keep that insurance going. You don’t necessarily have to receive the money for the survivor benefit, you just have to be entitled to it. That current spouse wouldn’t lose their coverage under FEHB as the current surviving spouse, they’re just going to have a little trouble paying for it because they may not get the survivor annuity to deduct it from. They’ll get a bill, they’ll have to make payments every month to keep that health benefits going, and maybe someday down the road, if the former spouse predeceases them, then they’ll have the survivor annuity to deduct it from.

Micah Shilanski: Perfect. Even if the court order says to leave a full survivor to your ex-spouse, you would still want to fill out your retirement application to say you leave your current spouse a maximum survivor benefit, because just to that point, if the ex passes away, where does that extra survivor benefit go? It can’t go to the ex’s estate. That’s not how survivor benefits work, right? It would be redirected to your current spouse.

Tammy Flanagan: That’s right. That’s another area of big confusion because it just seems like anywhere you look for information about that, it’s not clearly spelled out. Just double check, triple check that before you make a decision that some day, you or your current spouse might regret that you made.

Micah Shilanski: This is all going back to the underlying theme, assumptions. Tammy, we talked about this on the investment side, is when we get emotionally attached, sometimes we’re not making the best financial decisions. The stock market falls 30% RTSP, went from over a million dollars to 700,000 in a couple of days, and all of a sudden, we start emotionally freaking out; we’re not going to make the best decisions. When a loved one passes away, we’re not making the best decisions. When you’re going through divorce, you’re not making the best decisions. This is a time where you need to trust a counsel, someone else to come in to say, “Hey, let’s really make sure, dollars and cents, you’re making the best decisions and you understand what those are.” Again, these assumptions, I have just seen them time and time again, really rock people’s retirement in a very negative way.

Tammy Flanagan: Yeah. Just like you said, these are emotional times, but unfortunately, there’s time limits, so be sure to get that counsel right away. I’ve seen people lose their spouse and three days later, the bank is trying to repossess their vehicles because it was in the spouse-who-just-died’s name. These things happen, and unfortunately, you got to face this business. My one friend calls it “the business of death”, because there is a lot of paperwork, there’s all this stuff you got to do that you just don’t feel like dealing with. It can be overwhelming; it’s nice if you have an advocate or someone who can be there with you to help you through this.

Micah Shilanski: Another thing to think about real fast, as well, that never gets brought up in divorce is social security because court orders cannot separate or give social security benefits or income that’s going to be there. They don’t have to, but this can really make an impact, though, on your retirement benefits.

I actually had one client, when she got divorced, of course, we weren’t involved with that, we came in after the fact, but she had to give half of her pension up, but she worked and she’s getting no social security. Her ex is fully eligible for social security, but she is not. From the income side, even though both paying social security taxes from a marital standpoint in that time period, she’s really losing out on benefits because the court had no idea how this stuff worked, neither did her attorney. Fifteen years later, she’s like, “Can we amend it?” I said, “Look, anything’s possible to the court order, but I don’t think your ex is going to sign off on this.” We tried, he said, “Absolutely not. There’s no way I’m going to do this,” which it makes no sense for him to do it. It’s a misunderstanding.

Tammy Flanagan: That’s right. Social security provides pretty much automatic payments to a former spouse if you meet the requirements. That means you’ve been married for at least 10 years, and you haven’t remarried. Now, you can claim benefits on your work record or on your former spouse’s work record, whichever is the higher of the 2.

For instance, a friend of mine, she turned 62 recently and she is eligible for social security from her own work, which it ends up being about $1,100 a month. She didn’t have a big, high-paying career, but yet, she’s entitled to about 1,100 a month. Her former spouse, he’s entitled to social security right now. They were married for a little bit over 10 years. Luckily, they made it past the 10-year mark. When she filed for her social security, she also filed under his name. Half of his is 1,050 a month, $50 less than her own. In this case, she’s just going to get her own. However, the nice representative at social security told her, “Make sure you tell us, or hopefully we’ll be notified upon his death, because then, you take over getting his $2,100 benefit, which is almost double what you’re entitled to on your own right.” If he dies first, that’s going to be another chance for her to increase her benefit, based on his work record. Always realize you have that second chance at it if the former spouse predeceases you.

Micah Shilanski: There’s so many things in this subject. We just don’t even have time to get into it and talk about TSPs and IRAs, et cetera.

If this is a topic you want more information about, shoot us an e-mail so we know, because getting feedback from you is really how we design a lot of this content. There’s some experts out there that specialize in this for federal employees. If it’s of interest to our listeners, we’re happy to bring them on to give you more information. You can e-mail us at [email protected]. I know it’s a long URL, but it’s amazing results. Planyourfederalretirement.com and send us an e-mail. Let us know you’d like more information on this. We’ll see if we can get some more things on the podcast.

Tammy, let’s transition real fast as some action items that’s really important. I’ll kick off the first one. Action item number one, for our listeners, if this affects you in some way, have someone else that understands finances that is not emotionally involved in your situation, read your divorce decree, read those court orders, and have them spell out what’s going to happen.

Tammy Flanagan: It’s a good idea when you give that to someone to look over to have an annuity estimate, your retirement estimate to give them, as well, because they can do the math. You can do the math if you understand what it says, so that you really see, dollars and cents, what you’re getting, what your ex-spouse is, or isn’t getting.

Another thing is to know your retirement income before you make plans to retire. Time and time again, I’ve seen people, “Oh yeah, I’m going to retire. I’ve got 35 years of service. Everything’s looking good. Oh, by the way, I forgot about my former spouse who’s getting half of the marital share of my retirement, and we were married 25 of those 35 years.” Be sure that you get good estimates of your benefits. That kind of ties in with your action item about having somebody review it. Review it with those numbers; have those numbers available.

Micah Shilanski: I love it. Last action item which may be the most important, maybe not, give us 5 stars on iTunes. That really helps us grow. Share this with a friend. The more reviews we get that you guys liked this information which we’re getting a ton, Tammy’s sure to be in another testimonial which is just outstanding, so I love the impact that we’re making. We can only make that impact with your help by sharing this podcast and making it grow. Thank you so much for all of that feedback and input; we really appreciate it. Until next time, happy planning.

Hey, before you go, a few notes from our attorneys. Opinions expressed
herein are solely those of Shilanski & Associates, Incorporated, unless
otherwise specifically cited. Material presented is believed to be from
reliable sources, and no representations are made by our firm as to other
parties, informational accuracy, or completeness. All information or ideas
provided should be discussed in detail with an advisor, accountant, or legal
counsel prior to implementation.

Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should
not be used or construed as investment advice or recommendation
regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that
any forward-looking statements or opinions provided will prove to be
correct. Securities investing involves risk, including the potential loss of
principle. There is no assurance that any investment plan or strategy will be

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