GEPF change rules regarding pension debt on divorce
Following the gazetting of the Government Employees Pension Law Amendment Bill on 23rd May 2019, the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) will, once the amended rules are implemented, no longer subject a member to a debt model in executing a divorce settlement. Instead the new amendment provides for the reduction of pensionable service of the GEPF member that is equal to the value of the divorce settlement amount paid.
This amendment to the law removes the pension debt that accrued to the GEPF member when a portion of their pension was paid out by the GEPF as a divorce settlement. This pension debt calculation created the perception that members could find themselves owing money to the GEPF when they retired.
The amendment now ensures that rather than creating a debt, there will be an adjustment to the member’s pensionable service following the payment of a divorce settlement by the GEPF. This means that the benefit that will be paid to the member upon retirement will now be decreased by reducing the members’ years of pensionable service to take into account the pension interest of the member that was given to the spouse upon divorce.
Therefore, members will receive their full benefit after the reduced pensionable service has been affected. Members who have more than ten years of pensionable service will still be entitled to a lump sum and a monthly pension upon existing the fund, however at a reduced value. Following this law change, the GEPF is currently developing and gazetting rules that will govern the implementation. It is expected that this process will be finalised in July 2019 and the implementation of the new rules will come into effect as of the 01st August 2019.
Parallel to the process above, the GEPF will be writing to all affected GEPF members in July 2019 to inform them about how these changes are going to affect their pensions and service period and allow them the opportunity to opt from the old divorce debt model into the service reduction model. The affected members will have up until the 22nd May 2020 to indicate their choice of either remaining with the debt and interest model or move to the service adjustment model approach. Currently affected members who fail to indicate their choice by 22 May 2020 will automatically be converted into the new approach. Post 22 May 2020 all members who have a legal divorce claim against their pension will be subjected to the service reduction model.