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Notice

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.

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ACTION:

Notice of request for extension of OMB approval.

SUMMARY:

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) is requesting that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) extend approval, under the Paperwork Reduction Act, of the collection of information (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 public of the PBGC's request and solicits public comment on the collection of information.

DATES:

Comments should be submitted by July 24, 2000.

ADDRESSES:

Comments should be mailed to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs of the Office of Management and Budget, Attention: Desk Officer for Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, Washington, DC 20503. Copies of the request for extension (including the collection of information) may be obtained by writing the Communications and Public Affairs Department, suite 240, 1200 K Street, NW., Washington, DC 20005-4026, or visiting that office between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on business days.

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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, call the Federal relay service toll-free at 1-800-877-8339 and request connection to 202-326-4024.)

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

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 requesting 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. An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number.

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Issued in Washington, D.C., this 20th day of June, 2000.

Stuart Sirkin,

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

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[FR Doc. 00-15921 Filed 6-22-00; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 7708-01-P