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QILDRO Frequently Asked Questions

What is a QILDRO?

A QILDRO (pronounced kwil-dro) is a Qualified Illinois Domestic Relations Order. A QILDRO is an Illinois court order that directs TRS to pay a designated portion of a TRS member’s retirement benefit or certain refunds to an alternate payee.

When did the QILDRO legislation take effect?

The original QILDRO law took effect July 1, 1999. Significant changes took effect July 1, 2006.

What does the QILDRO legislation do?

The QILDRO law allows TRS to pay an alternate payee when a divorce court has ordered division of a TRS member’s pension benefits.

Who is an alternate payee?

Typically the alternate payee is an ex-spouse or civil union partner, but may be a current spouse, child, or other dependent of the member. The court decides who is eligible to be an alternate payee.

Is a spouse always entitled to a QILDRO?

Under Illinois law, pension benefits accrued during a marriage are considered marital property. Often, a court will divide the marital portion of pension assets between the spouses. Depending on the circumstances, marital property could be allocated some other way. The divorcing couple should seek private legal advice about division of their pension assets.

What is the percentage of benefit due the member’s spouse?

That is up to the court. The divorcing couple should seek private legal advice about division of their pension benefits.

Is a QILDRO still needed if the dissolution papers award pension benefits to the ex-spouse?

Yes. TRS cannot pay an ex-spouse based on any order or document other than a QILDRO.

What is a Calculation Order?

A Calculation Order is an Illinois court order that tells TRS the amount of the benefit or refund to pay the alternate payee. The Calculation Order is a separate court order from the QILDRO, and is only needed for QILDRO percentages.

When should a Calculation Order be submitted?

The Calculation Order may be submitted with the QILDRO, or later when the amount of the affected benefit or refund is known. This two-step process may be useful when divorce occurs before the member retires.

What benefits may be paid through a QILDRO?

There are four blanks in the QILDRO form, any or all of which may be filled in: (1) monthly retirement benefit; (2) termination refund (or lump sum retirement benefit); (3) partial refund; and (4) lump-sum death benefit.

What benefits are not payable through a QILDRO?

Monthly survivor benefits, disability benefits, and health insurance cannot be reached through a QILDRO.

Will the alternate payee receive benefit increases?

Depends on what the QILDRO says. The QILDRO form allows a choice whether or not the alternate payee will receive a proportionate share of any annual increases due the member.

What is the consent requirement?

The member’s signed consent form must accompany the QILDRO if membership started before July 1, 1999. The consent form is available on this website along with the other QILDRO forms.

What about Social Security numbers?

Social Security numbers must either be provided to TRS on the QILDRO or Calculation Order, or on an accompanying Notice of Confidential Information Within Court Filing form. The SSN form is available on this website along with the other QILDRO forms.

What about death benefits?

A QILDRO alternate payee may receive a share of any lump sum death benefit payable when the member dies. Monthly survivor benefits are never payable through a QILDRO.

What about disability benefits?

Disability benefits are not payable through a QILDRO.

What about health insurance benefits?

A QILDRO does not provide any insurance coverage or make an alternate payee eligible to participate in the member’s insurance.

What about past or out-of-state divorces?

It may be possible to request an Illinois court to enter a QILDRO based on a past or out-of-state divorce. Please seek advice from your personal attorney.

Does the alternate payee pay federal income tax on QILDRO payments?

Yes, if the alternate payee is the member’s ex-spouse. No, if the alternate payee is the member’s child. If a child, the member will be taxed on the child’s portion as well as his or her portion. Please seek personal tax advice.

Is a QDRO the same as a QILDRO?

No. TRS honors QILDROs, but not QDROs. QDROs apply to pensions governed by federal ERISA law. TRS is a governmental plan, not an ERISA plan.

May any court order be a QILDRO?

No. A specific form must be used. TRS-required QILDRO forms are available on this website. 

Will TRS draft a QILDRO for me?

No. Helping to draft a court order would be giving legal advice, which TRS cannot do. The QILDRO forms and publication are available on this website. You and your attorney should carefully review this information.

May I draft my own QILDRO without the help of a lawyer?

TRS recommends anyone interested in obtaining a QILDRO retain competent personal legal counsel.

What benefit information will TRS provide for divorce?

TRS provides a Benefit Information for Divorce statement to help the parties value the benefit for divorce purposes. This statement provides all information required by the QILDRO law. Benefit estimates prepared for other purposes should not be relied on for divorce.

Will TRS figure the benefit attributable to the marital period only?

No. As required by law, TRS provides information about the entire benefit. You may choose to engage financial professionals to prepare marital or present value calculations using benefit information provided by TRS. 

What other information is available from TRS for divorce?

You and your attorney are urged to carefully review the QILDRO publication and other information on the TRS website. TRS does not testify in divorce proceedings or provide legal, financial, or other professional advice.

When will the alternate payee start receiving QILDRO payments?

A QILDRO takes effect with the first affected payment that occurs at least 30 days after TRS received it. Generally, expect about three months from the date TRS received the QILDRO, and Calculation Order if required, until the first QILDRO payment. Even with a QILDRO on file, nothing is payable until an affected benefit or refund is due the member. 

What if the alternate payee is missing?

The alternate payee must keep TRS informed of a current address to receive QILDRO payments. TRS will not search for a missing alternate payee.

What happens when the member dies?

The QILDRO ends.

What happens when the alternate payee dies?

The QILDRO ends. If the alternate payee was receiving a monthly QILDRO payment, that amount will revert to the member.

What happens if a retired member re-enters active TRS membership?

QILDRO payments to the alternate payee will be suspended until the member re-retires and resumes receiving retirement benefits. 

What terminates a QILDRO?

A QILDRO ends when the member or alternate payee dies. If the QILDRO specifies a fixed number of payments, it will end when all payments have been made. A QILDRO will also end when the member receives a refund that terminates participation in TRS, or when TRS receives a court order expressly terminating the QILDRO.

May an alternate payee designate a beneficiary to receive QILDRO payments?

No. A QILDRO ends when the alternate payee dies.