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Notice

Proposed Submission of Information Collection for OMB Review; Comment Request; Qualified Domestic Relations Orders Submitted to the PBGC

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

ACTION:

Notice of intention to request extension of OMB approval.

SUMMARY:

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (“PBGC”) intends to request that the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) extend approval, under the Paperwork Reduction Act, of an information collection (OMB control number 1212-0054; expires July 31, 2000) relating to model forms contained in the PBGC booklet, Divorce Orders & PBGC. The booklet provides guidance on how to submit a proper qualified domestic relations order (a “QDRO”) to the PBGC. This notice informs the Start Printed Page 16673public of the PBGC's intent and solicits public comment on the collection of information.

DATES:

Comments should be submitted by May 30, 2000.

ADDRESSES:

Comments may be mailed to the Office of the General Counsel, suite 340, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, 1200 K Street, NW., Washington, DC 20005-4026, or delivered to that address between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on business days. Written comments will be available for public inspection at the PBGC's Communications and Public Affairs Department, suite 240 at the same address, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on business days.

Copies of the collection of information may be obtained without charge by writing to the PBGC's Communications and Public Affairs Department at the address given above or calling 202-326-4040. (For TTY and TDD users, call the Federal relay service toll-free at 1-800-877-8339 and ask to be connected to 202-326-4040.)

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

James L. Beller, Attorney, Office of the General Counsel, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, 1200 K Street, NW., Washington, DC 20005-4026, 202-326-4024. (For TTY and TDD users, call the Federal relay service toll-free at 1-800-877-8339 and ask to be connected to 202-326-4040.)

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The PBGC intends to request a three-year extension of the paperwork approval relating to model forms contained in the PBGC booklet, Divorce Orders & PBGC. The collection of information has been approved through July 31, 2000, by OMB under control number 1212-0054.

A defined benefit pension plan that does not have enough money to pay benefits may be terminated if the employer responsible for the plan faces severe financial difficulty, such as bankruptcy, and is unable to maintain the plan. In such an event, the PBGC becomes trustee of the plan and pays benefits, subject to legal limits, to plan participants and beneficiaries.

The benefits of a pension plan participant generally may not be assigned or alienated. Title I of ERISA provides an exception for domestic relations orders that relate to child support, alimony payments, or marital property rights of an alternate payee (a spouse, former spouse, child, or other dependent of a plan participant). The exception applies only if the domestic relations order meets specific legal requirements that make it a qualified domestic relations order.

When the PBGC is trustee of a plan, it reviews submitted domestic relations orders to determine whether the order is qualified before paying benefits to an alternate payee. For several years the PBGC has provided the public with model QDROs (and accompanying guidance) in the booklet, Divorce Orders & PBGC, that attorneys and other professionals who are preparing QDROs for plans trusteed by the PBGC may submit to the PBGC after receiving court approval. The models and the guidance assist parties by making it easier to comply with ERISA's QDRO requirements in plans trusteed by the PBGC.

Before providing the model forms and the QDRO booklet, the PBGC received many inquiries on the requirements for QDROs. Furthermore, many domestic relations orders, both in draft and final form, did not meet the applicable requirements. The PBGC worked with practitioners on a case-by-case basis to ensure that their orders were amended to meet applicable requirements. This process was time-consuming for practitioners and for the PBGC.

Since making the booklet and the model forms available, the PBGC has experienced a decrease in (1) the number of inquiries about QDRO requirements, (2) the number of orders that do not meet the applicable requirements, and (3) the amount of time practitioners and the PBGC need to spend to ensure that the orders meet the applicable requirements.

The requirements for submitting a QDRO are established by statute. The model QDROs and accompanying guidance do not create any additional requirements and will result in a reduction of the statutory burden. The PBGC estimates that it will receive 300 QDROs each year from prospective alternate payees; that the average burden of preparing a QDRO with the assistance of the guidance and model QDROs in PBGC's booklet will be 1/4 hour of the alternate payee's time and $400 in professional fees if the alternate payee hires an attorney or other professional to prepare the QDRO, or 10 hours of the alternate payee's time if the alternate payee prepares the QDRO without hiring an attorney or other professional; and that the total annual burden will be 104.25 hours and $118,800.

The PBGC is soliciting public comments to—

  • Evaluate whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility;
  • Evaluate the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;
  • Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and
  • Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses.
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Issued in Washington, DC, this 23rd day of March, 2000.

Stuart Sirkin,

Director, Corporate Policy and Research Department, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

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[FR Doc. 00-7713 Filed 3-28-00; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 7708-01-P