The Arizona State Retirement System is a defined benefit plan for certain employees for the State of Arizona. Because ASRS is a state plan, it is not controlled by the QDRO rules under the IRS code or under ERISA; nevertheless, ASRS can be divided. ASRS benefits of a member can be divided pursuant to special order. Oddly enough, ASRS refers to this special order as a “QDRO”.
It is important that your pension attorney be sophisticated enough to deal with the intricacies of the benefits under the ASRS. In determining how these benefits are to be divided, special consideration must be given to whether or not the member has “purchased” additional retirement credits as a result of military service, a leave of absence, or other public service. Your pension attorney must know how to deal with preretirement death benefits and post retirement death benefits. Your pension attorney must also know how to account for monies if the member leaves ASRS employment before retirement and withdraws all contributions. At the time of retirement, a member could take up to 36 months of monthly payments as a partial lump sum withdrawal, and your QDRO attorney must be aware of this option and deal with it appropriately in the QDRO.
There are many issues your pension attorney must be aware of in order to adequately represent you in entering an order that best protects your interest. This should not be left to chance.