Domestic Relations/Support Orders

A court may issue an official order requiring payment from your SERS retirement benefit for spousal and child support, or for equitable distribution of marital assets.

While courts may order payment while you are an active member, payments cannot be made until your benefit enters a "pay status" -- in other words, payments cannot be made until you submit your application for annuity or you die.

Court-ordered payments will stop if you return to work for an employer that offers the SERS benefit, if you forfeit your pension, if you are receiving a temporary SERS disability benefit and your disability benefit is discontinued, or if you die.

Support Orders
The court's order must include your name, Social Security number, amount of attachment, Pennsylvania Automated Child Support Enforcement System case number (when support is for a minor), judge's signature, and the date. The court must send order to:

SERS-Benefits Determination Division
30 North 3rd Street, Suite 150
Harrisburg PA 17101-1716
fax: 717.237.0393

Once an order is received by SERS, we send payments directly to the Pennsylvania State Collection and Disbursement Unit, which then forwards the payment to the appropriate county Domestic Relations Office or Family Court Division, or to the address stated on the support order.

A support order cannot exceed 50% of your retirement income, unless support payments are more than 12 weeks past due at the time the order is filed by the court.

The cost to administer a support order is 2% of the attachment, which is deducted from the balance of your annuity.

Domestic Relations Orders (DRO)
Download the Guidelines for drafting a SERS-approved DRO and Sample DRO for you and your attorney to use in drafting your DRO. All DROs must be approved by SERS for compliance with the Retirement Code before they become effective. As such, your attorney is encouraged to send a draft of your DRO to SERS - Legal Office for review before filing with the court:

SERS-Legal Office
30 North 3rd Street, Suite 150
Harrisburg PA 17101-1716
fax: 717.787.5751

The portion of a SERS retirement benefit earned during marriage is marital property. A SERS-approved DRO will specify how much of your retirement benefit (a portion or all) we are to pay to an alternate payee for the equitable distribution of marital assets. It will also specify in what form these payments are to be made.

Requirements contained in federal pension statutes such as the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and the Retirement Equity Act of 1984 regarding qualified domestic relations orders (QDROs) and spousal consent do not apply to governmental pension plans like SERS.

Unlike ERISA plans, this means that in the absence of an appropriate court order, you may take any action with regard to your SERS benefit without providing notice to or requesting consent from any person, including your spouse.