Widow Wins Posthumous QDRO Claim

September 17, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The ex-wife of a now-deceased worker was entitled to a QDRO distribution - even though that designation followed her spouse's death.

In its ruling, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a decision by a US District Judge in the Northern District of Iowa that Beverly Hogan should have received surviving spouse pension payments from former husband Robert’s plan.

According to the appeals ruling, the Hogans divorced in June 1997 in Tennessee. The judge in that case awarded Beverly Hogan 50% of her ex-husband’s pension. Two days after Robert Hogan died in March 1998, the Tennessee court named Beverly Hogan an “alternate payee” for the benefits.

Raytheon declined to make the benefit payment to Beverly Hogan who filed suit against the company.

The case before the appeals judges was Raytheon’s appeal of both the lower court’s awarding of the case to Beverly Hogan as well as the district judge’s award of $6,600 in attorney’s fees.

Among other things, Raytheon argued that Beverly Hogan wasn’t entitled to the money because she didn’t have a valid Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) in hand before her ex-husband’s death.

Appeals judges turned that argument aside, pointing out that the Tennessee judge’s “alternate payee” ruling meets the QDRO requirements because Raytheon was notified that it had been issued. The higher court also said that order came out within the 18-month period allowed under ERISA to get a QDRO.

The case is Hogan v. Raytheon Co., 01-2932/01-3709.