GAO wants better benefits information for divorced spouses

The Government Accounting Office has recommended that the Department of Labor improve information about claiming retirement benefits in order to help divorced spouses.

In a new report, the GAO said that many Americans don’t have enough savings for a secure retirement — and divorce can make it worse if one spouse can’t claim some of the other spouse’s retirement benefits. It says that a legal tool called a qualified domestic relations order can be used to establish such a claim, but getting an order can be complex and costly.

“Many aren’t approved — largely because the submitted orders lack basic information needed for approval,” the GAO said in a release. “Fees can be unaffordable for people with low incomes and information from the Department of Labor may be insufficient to facilitate the order process or determine reasonable fees.”

The GAO recommends improving the information available.

“Without additional outreach by DOL, divorcing parties may spend unnecessary time and resources drafting orders that are not likely to be qualified, resulting in unnecessary expenditures of time and money,” the GAO said.

[More: On death, divorce and retirement]

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