Divorce and Your Benefits

Disability Retirement

Divorce and Your Benefits

NYSLRS’ retirement plans provide for several different types of disability retirement benefits. However, NYSLRS does not decide if a particular disability benefit constitutes marital or separate property in a matrimonial action. Whether a member’s disability retirement benefit is subject to equitable distribution is an issue for the Court.

Many disability benefits administered by NYSLRS do not use service credit at retirement to determine a member’s pension benefit. Instead, the pension is a fixed percentage of the member’s final average earnings. This means there is no “service” portion and “disability” portion of the retirement benefit.

If the DRO does not specifically address a disability retirement, then the ex-spouse’s equitable distribution percentage will be applied to the member’s actual disability retirement.

If directed by the DRO, NYSLRS will calculate a hypothetical service retirement benefit based on earnings and service accrued to the date of the disability award (without reductions for early retirement). This calculation would limit the ex-spouse’s share to what a service retirement would have provided. Under certain circumstances, a hypothetical service retirement benefit may pay a greater monthly benefit than a disability benefit. If directed by the DRO, NYSLRS will calculate an ex-spouse’s share based on the lesser of the two benefits.

It is important to note that a disability retirement benefit does not revert to a service retirement benefit when the member reaches the service retirement eligibility age.


Rev. 2/23