Divorce and Your Benefits

Violating the Terms of a DRO

Divorce and Your Benefits

If NYSLRS has a DRO on file that requires a member to elect a specific pension payment option and name the ex-spouse as beneficiary, the terms of that DRO will supersede any other designation.

Problems can occur when a DRO is not on file at the time of a member’s retirement. If the member elects an option or designates a beneficiary in violation of a pre-existing DRO, separation agreement, or stipulation of settlement, the Comptroller, at their discretion, may change the option election or designation to comply with the pre-existing order or agreement (RSSL Section 803-a). NYSLRS must receive a new DRO requesting the Comptroller make this change.

Changing elections or designations in accordance with RSSL Section 803-a is case specific and involves a review of all relevant matrimonial action documents including the judgment of divorce, stipulation of settlement and/or separation agreement, and all filed DROs.

If the member’s pension payment option election is changed, the retirement benefit will be recalculated. Any overpayments made to the member and ex-spouse (if applicable) prior to the recalculation must be recouped by NYSLRS from the member, the member’s estate and/or the ex-spouse (if applicable).

RSSL Section 803-a can also be used if the member failed to designate the ex-spouse as beneficiary for an available death benefit.


Rev. 2/23