New Government Accountability Office report looks at barriers women face in obtaining paperwork required to divide pensions or retirement accounts following a divorce
Murray wrote to GAO in 2018 urging them to look at the process for obtaining Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs)
While more than a third of adults over 50 have experienced divorce, few successfully obtain a QDRO
Experts interviewed warned cost of legal fees can deter women with low incomes from obtaining assets they are entitled to
Applications to split retirement assets most commonly rejected due to lack of basic information
Murray: “We have to address the reality that too many people going through divorce face barriers that make it difficult to use the tools that could strengthen their financial futures.”
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) which looks at the barriers people face when seeking to obtain a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), which allows for pensions or retirement accounts to be divided following a divorce or legal separation. The report sheds new light on how few people seek and obtain QDROs, how legal fees can prevent people from seeking retirement resources they are entitled to, and how missing information can cause efforts to obtain a QDRO to be rejected.
“We already know that because the economic inequalities women face compound over the course of a lifetime, they face a huge retirement gap and higher likelihood of struggling with poverty in retirement. This report sheds an important light on part of the challenge in closing that gap that is too often overlooked—how do we ensure women aren’t financially disadvantaged in divorce. We have to address the reality that too many people going through divorce face barriers that make it difficult to use the tools that could strengthen their financial futures. I’m going to be looking at how we address the issues raised here, as well as what other steps are needed to make sure getting a divorce doesn’t mean giving up retirement security,” said Senator Murray.
In addition to requesting GAO conduct its investigation on QDRO access in 2018, last year Senator Murray introduced the Women’s Retirement Protection Act. Among other steps to strengthen women’s retirement security, the legislation would help women with low incomes and survivors of domestic abuse seeking retirement benefits by establishing a grant program within the Department of Labor that would support community-based organizations that assist them in obtaining QDROs. A similar provision was also recently included the House-passed HEROES Act.
See the full GAO report HERE.