Once a divorce is finalized, you should submit the relevant signed court order including the divorce settlement agreement addressing UNJSPF benefits to the Fund as soon as possible. The Fund will then update your records accordingly. You or your legal representative(s) may contact the Fund’s Client Services Section in regard to divorce proceedings or any issues in the disposition of the UNJSPF pension benefits as part of the divorce settlement.
A divorced surviving spouse could be eligible for a divorced surviving spouse’s benefit if he/she fulfills the requirements in Article 35 bis(b). Furthermore, pursuant to Article 45 of the UNJSPF Regulations, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Pension Fund has the discretion to remit a portion of a periodic pension benefit to a former or estranged spouse in order to fulfill a legal obligation on the part of a former participant or retiree (e.g. alimony or child support payment) arising from a marital or parental relationship and evidenced by an order of a court. For more information on these requirements or other questions about divorce, check out our comprehensive divorce page.
Updating in Case of Non-Traditional Unions
The Fund recognizes unions/partnerships lawfully entered into and legally recognized by the competent authority of the location where the status was established as long as the union confers similar legal effects as marriage, specifically including pension rights.
Marital status is updated the same way, irrespective of the nature of the marriage or relationship. You should report any change in personal status to your employing organization so your employing organization can then report all changes to the Fund. For more information on eligibility for spousal benefits and determining what kinds of unions recognized by the Fund, check out Article 34 and Article 35 of the Fund’s Regulations & Rules and Guidelines to determine eligibility for spousal benefits.
If you are getting married after separation from service, there is no eligibility for a widow(er) benefit unless you elect to purchase an annuity within one year of the marriage (Article 35 ter of the Fund’s Regulations). Such election will be effective 18 months after the date of your marriage. For more information about the option to purchase an annuity for a spouse you married after separation from service, please contact the Fund or check out our comprehensive booklet on Survivor’s Benefits.
(a) A widow’s benefit shall, subject to article 41 and to (b) below, be payable to the surviving female spouse of a participant who was entitled to a retirement, early retirement, deferred retirement or disability benefit at the date of his death, or who died in service, if she was married to him at the date of his death in service or, if he was separated prior to his death, she was married to him at the date of separation and remained married to him until his death.
(b) A benefit shall nevertheless not be payable if the participant had commuted his widow’s prospective benefit under article 28 or 29.
(c) The benefit shall, if the participant died in service or during entitlement to a retirement, early retirement or disability benefit, be payable at the standard annual rate of half the retirement or disability benefit which would have been payable to the participant had he become entitled thereto at the date of his death, or of half of his retirement, early retirement or disability benefit including such part thereof as may have been commuted, as the case may be, provided that the rate shall not be less than the smaller of:
(i) 750 dollars [increased to 4,314.48 dollars under the UNJSPF Pension Adjustment System, effective 1 April 2014] subject to subsequent adjustments in accordance with the movement of the United States CPI under the Pension Adjustment System (Click here)1 or
(ii) Twice the standard annual rate above.
(d) The annual rate of the benefit shall, notwithstanding (c) above, not be less, when no other benefit is payable on account of the participant under these Regulations, than the smaller of 500 dollars [increased to 2,741.04 dollars under the UNJSPF Pension Adjustment System, effective 1 April 2014] subject to subsequent adjustments in accordance with the movement of the United States CPI under the Pension Adjustment System (Click here)1 or the final average remuneration of the participant.
(e) The benefit shall, if the participant died after the commencement of a deferred retirement benefit which had not been commuted under article 30(c), be payable at half the annual rate of such benefit and, if he died before its commencement, at the rate of half the actuarial equivalent at the date of death of the annual rate of the benefit at the normal retirement age.
(f) The benefit shall be payable at periodic intervals for life, provided that a benefit payable at an annual rate of less than 600 dollars may be commuted by the widow into a lump sum which is the actuarial equivalent of the benefit at the standard annual rate under (c) above, or the annual rate under (e) above, as the case may be.
(g) The benefit shall, where there is more than one surviving spouse, be divided equally between the spouses, and upon the death of each such spouse shall be equally divided among the remainder.
(h) Notwithstanding the provisions of (a) and (f) above, with respect to a surviving spouse who had remarried prior to 1 April 1999 the benefit under (a) above shall be payable as from 1 January 2001, subject to recovery (with interest) of the lump sum payment that had been made to that surviving spouse upon remarriage, as provided in the Regulations then in effect.
(a) Any divorced spouse of a participant or former participant, separated on or after 1 April 1999, who was entitled to a retirement, early retirement, deferred retirement or disability benefit, or of a participant who died in service on or after that date, may, subject to the provisions of article 34(b) (applicable also to widowers), request a former spouse’s benefit, if the conditions specified in paragraph (b) below are fulfilled.
(b) (b) Subject to paragraph (d) below, the divorced spouse is entitled to the benefit set out in paragraph (c) below, payable prospectively following receipt of the request for a divorced surviving spouse’s benefit, if, in the opinion of the Chief Executive Officer of the Fund, all of the following conditions are fulfilled:
(i) The participant had been married to the former spouse for a continuous period of at least ten years, during which contributions were paid to the Fund on account of the participant or the participant was awarded a disability benefit under article 33 of the Regulations;
(ii) The participant’s death occurred within 15 years of the date when the divorce became final, unless the former spouse proves that at the time of death the participant was under a legal obligation to pay maintenance to the former spouse;
(iii) The former spouse has reached the age of 40. Otherwise the benefit entitlement shall commence on the day immediately following the day that age is reached; and
(iv) Evidence is provided that a divorce settlement does not have an express renouncement of UNJSPF pension benefit entitlements;
(c) A former spouse who, in the opinion of the Chief Executive Officer, has met the conditions set out in paragraph (b) above shall be entitled to the widow’s or widower’s benefit under article 34 or 35 as the case may be; however, if the participant is survived by both one or more such former spouses and/or by a spouse entitled to a benefit under article 34 or 35, the benefit payable under article 34 or 35 shall be divided between the spouse and former spouse(s) in proportion to the duration of their marriages to the participant.
(d) Article 34(f) and (g) shall apply mutatis mutandis.
(e) The divorced spouse of a former participant who separated before 1 April 1999 and, in the opinion of the Chief Executive Officer, met all the other eligibility conditions in paragraphs (a) and (b) above shall be entitled to a benefit equal to twice the minimum surviving spouse’s benefit under article 34(c), payable as of 1 April 1999 or from the first day of the month succeeding the death of the former participant, whichever is later, subject to the proviso that the amount of such benefit cannot exceed the amount payable to a surviving spouse of the former participant.
(a) A former participant receiving a periodic benefit may elect to provide a periodic benefit for life in a specified amount (subject to paragraph (b) below) to a spouse who was not married to him or her at the date of separation. Such election shall be made within one year of the date of marriage and shall become effective 18 months after the date of marriage. The benefit shall be payable as of the first day of the month following the death of the former participant. When the election becomes effective, the benefit payable to the former participant shall be reduced in accordance with actuarial factors to be determined by the Fund’s Consulting Actuary. An election under this subsection may not be revoked after it becomes effective, except by an explicit request in writing by the former UNJSPF retiree who has divorced the new spouse or by the death of the spouse, in which case it will be considered terminated as from that date. The UNJSPF retiree may rescind his or her decision to provide a periodic benefit for life to a spouse married after separation by providing the Fund with a final divorce decree issued by a competent national court. Payments made for the annuity before such a cancellation will not be refunded to a UNJSPF retiree, neither do such payments convey to the divorced spouse a benefit entitlement from the Fund.
(b) Any election made under paragraph (a) shall be subject to the following:
(i) The amount of the periodic benefit payable to the former participant, after reduction owing to elections made pursuant to paragraph (a) above, shall be at least one half of the benefit that would have been payable without any such elections; and
(ii) The amount of the benefit payable to the spouse shall not be larger than the amount of the benefit payable to the retired participant after reduction for the elections.
(a) A participant or beneficiary may not assign his or her rights under these Regulations. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Fund may, to satisfy a legal obligation on the part of a participant or former participant arising from a marital or parental relationship and evidenced by a final and executable order of a court or by a settlement agreement incorporated into a divorce or other court order, remit a portion of a benefit payable by the Fund to such participant for life to one or more former spouses and/or a current spouse from whom the participant or former participant is living apart. Such payment shall not convey to any person a benefit entitlement from the Fund or (except as provided herein) provide any rights under the Regulations of the Fund to such person or increase the total benefits otherwise payable by the Fund.
(b) To be acted upon, the requirement under the court order must be consistent with the Regulations of the Fund, as determined by the Chief Executive Officer of the Fund to be beyond any reasonable doubt, and on the basis of the available evidence. Once implemented, the assignment shall normally be irrevocable; however, a participant or former participant may request, upon satisfactory evidence based on a court order or a provision of a settlement agreement incorporated into a court decree, a new decision by the Chief Executive Officer that would alter or discontinue the payment or payments. Furthermore, such payment or payments shall cease following the death of the participant or former participant. If a designee predeceases the participant or former participant, the payments shall not commence, or if they have commenced, shall cease upon the designee’s death. In the event that the payment or payments have been diminished, discontinued, or have failed to commence or have ceased, the amount of the benefit payable to the participant or former participant shall be duly adjusted.
Guidelines & Annex
Effective date: 01 September 2016
Guidelines to determine eligibility for spousal benefits under
articles 34 and 35 of the UNJSPF Regulations (Rev.1)