In the case of Navas v. Navas (a published opinion), the Virginia Court of Appeals ruled that a wife was entitled to have a QDRO entered granting her 50% of a husband's disability benefits where the parties' divorce decree gave wife 50% of the husband's pension. In this case, the husband was an employee of the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority. After the parties divorced, husband sustained a debilitating eye injury. The WMTA pension plan gave a vested employee three ways to receive benefits from the plan: (1) normal retirement; (2) early retirement; or (3) by disability. The wife successfully argued that the terms of the plan rendered disability benefits part of husband's pension. The VCA relied on the case of Asgari v. Asgari in agreeing with the wife's argument.
ANALYSIS: I believe this is a heavily fact dependent case. Had the WMTA plan not specifically stated that pension benefits could be received for disability, the wife may not have been successful.
-Rob Hagy, Virginia Family and Divorce Attorney