Pensions are generally considered marital property and subject to distribution at the time of divorce. The pension may need to be appraised to determine the marital value of the pension, specifically in an instance where the party began accruing the benefits prior to the marriage or the parties were separated for numerous years before a divorce action was commenced. There are also retirement benefits that are excluded from equitable distribution. For example, under 23 Pa. C.S. 3501(a)(6), veterans’ benefits are excluded from equitable distribution.
Other disability benefits besides veterans’ benefits may also be excluded from equitable distribution. The key is to consider the purpose of the benefit and whether it is being used to compensate for lost income. In other words, if the purpose of the benefits is to provide earnings in lieu of what the recipient would’ve made were they still able to work, those benefits will not be subject to distribution. If, however, a portion of the benefit also includes standard retirement benefits, the portion representing retirement benefits will still be subject to distribution.