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Glossary of Terms
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Accrued Benefit - The benefit the participant has earned under the plan.

Actuarially Equivalent - Having the same value as of a given date using the same assumptions.

Alternate Payee - A participant's spouse, former spouse, child, or other dependent who, under a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, has a right to receive all, or a portion of, the participant's pension benefits under a plan.

Annuity - A form of benefit in which payments are made at regular intervals for a specified period of time. The most common form of annuity pays monthly benefits for life.

Beneficiary - The person named to receive benefits upon the death of a participant or alternate payee.

Contingent Alternate Payee - An Alternate payee whose benefit is contingent upon the death of another alternate payee or some other event.

Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) - Under most Defined Benefit Plans, the Plan will from time to time after the parties begin to receive benefits, increase the monthly benefit to adjust for inflation. Under California law the Former Spouse is entitled to their pro rata share of these Cost of Living Adjustments unless they are specifically waived by the Former Spouse.

Date of Dissolution - This is the date that the dissolution becomes final.

Date of Division of Account - For Defined Contribution Plans Only. For purposes of a QDRO this is usually the date of separation unless another agreement has been reached between the parties. Normally, the Former Spouse would then be entitled to participate in gains and losses on the amount determined at Date of Division until actual distribution to the Former Spouse.

Date of Hire - This is the date that the Participant began working for the employer. This date may be before date of marriage of the parties.

Date of Separation - This is the date that is used in the dissolution as the legal date of separation.

Defined Benefit Plan - A Defined Benefit Plan is one that provides a specific pre-determinable amount of benefits to a participant at that individual's projected date of retirement. Normally, the benefits are based upon a formula that incorporates the participant's projected years of service and final average compensation. This type of plan is what most people consider a "traditional" pension plan. It is more often found in large companies than small companies.

Defined Contribution Plan - A Defined Contribution plan is one that provides for contributions directly to individual accounts established and maintained for each plan participant. The contributions may consist of either employee or employer contributions, or both. The participant is generally entitled to receive the account balance (together with any interest accrued thereon, as well as investment gains and/or losses) when the employee retires or otherwise terminates employment with the company. There are several types of defined contribution plans, including profit sharing plans, thrift plans, 401(k) plans, retirement savings plans, stock bonus plans, and employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs).

Domestic Relations Order - Any judgment, decree, or order (including approval of a property settlement agreement) that (1) provides child support, alimony payments, or marital property rights to a spouse, former spouse, child, or other dependent of a participant, and (2) is made pursuant to a state domestic relations law.

Earliest Retirement Age - For purposes of the QDRO rules, earliest retirement age is the earlier of (1) the date the participant is entitled to a payment of benefits under the plan, or (2) the later of (a) the date the participant reaches age 50 or (b) the earliest date the participant could begin to receive benefits if he or she no longer worked for the company.

Early Retirement Subsidies - Employers offer Early Retirement Subsidies or other Retirement Enhancements. Under California law the Former Spouse is entitled to these Enhancements unless they are specifically waived by the Former Spouse.

Fixed Dollar Amount - You may have an agreement between the Participant and the Former Spouse as to a fixed dollar amount of the benefit that should go to the Former Spouse.

Fixed Percentage - You may have an agreement between the Participant the Former Spouse as to a fixed percentage of the benefit that should go to the Former Spouse.

Guaranteed Benefits - The amount of pension benefits insured by the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC)

Government Employer - This would apply to any governmental employer with the exception of the Military.

Gross Annuity - Under the Federal Plans this is the amount of monthly annuity payable after reducing the self-only annuity to provide survivor annuity benefits but before any other deductions. It also includes lump sum payments, if any, made to the retiree under section 8343a or 8420a of Title 5, United States Code, unless the court provides otherwise.

Joinder - During the dissolution proceedings it is possible that the retirement plan was "joined" as a party in the dissolution. This is done to provide the retirement plan with notice tht there is a potential claim against the retirement funds by the Alternate Payee. If the Plan was joined there will be a filing with the court that is date stamped by the Court.

Joint and Survivor Annuity - An annuity that pays benefits over the recipient's lifetime and over the lifetime of the person named as beneficiary.

Life Expectancy - The number of years a person is expected to live, on average, after a given age.

Lump Sum - A form of benefit payment in which the entire benefit is paid at one time.