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41.50.590  <<  41.50.600 >>   41.50.610

RCW 41.50.600

Mandatory assignment of retirement benefits — Duties of department.

(1) The director or the director's designee shall answer an order by sworn affidavit within twenty days after the date of service. The answer shall state whether the obligor receives periodic payments from the department of retirement systems, whether the obligor has requested a withdrawal of accumulated contributions from the department, whether the department will honor the mandatory benefits assignment order and if not, the reasons why, and whether there are other current court or administrative orders on file with the department directing the department to withhold all or a portion of the obligor's benefits.

     (2)(a) If any periodic retirement payments are currently payable to the obligor, the funds subject to the mandatory benefits assignment order shall be withheld from the next periodic retirement payment due twenty days or more after receipt of the mandatory benefits assignment order. The withheld amount shall be delivered to the clerk of the court that issued the mandatory benefits assignment order each month, but the first delivery shall occur no sooner than twenty days after receipt of the mandatory benefits assignment order.

     (b) The department shall continue to withhold the ordered amount from nonexempt benefits of the obligor until notified by the court that the mandatory benefits assignment order has been modified or terminated. If the department is initially unable to comply, or able to comply only partially, with the withholding obligation, the court's order shall be interpreted to require the department to comply to the greatest extent possible at the earliest possible date. The department shall notify the court of changes in withholding amounts and the reason for the change. When the obligor is no longer eligible to receive funds from one or more public retirement systems the department shall promptly notify the court.

     (3)(a) If no periodic retirement payments are currently payable to the obligor but the obligor has requested a withdrawal of accumulated contributions, the funds subject to the mandatory benefits assignment order shall be withheld from the withdrawal payment. The withheld amount shall be delivered to the clerk of the court that issued the mandatory benefits assignment order.

     (b) If the department is unable to comply fully with the withholding obligation, the court's order shall be interpreted to require the department to comply to the greatest extent possible.

     (4) The department may deduct a processing fee from the remainder of the obligor's funds after withholding under the mandatory benefits assignment order, unless the remainder is exempt under RCW 41.50.580. The processing fee may not exceed (a) twenty-five dollars for the first disbursement made by the department to the superior court clerk; and (b) six dollars for each subsequent disbursement to the clerk. Funds collected pursuant to this subsection shall be deposited in the department of retirement systems expense fund.

     (5) A court order for spousal maintenance governed by RCW 41.50.500 through 41.50.650 or 26.09.138 shall have priority over any other assignment or order of execution, garnishment, attachment, levy, or similar legal process authorized under Washington law, except for a mandatory wage assignment for child support under chapter 26.18 RCW, or an order to withhold and deliver under chapter 74.20A RCW.

     (6) If the department, without good cause, fails to withhold funds as required by a mandatory benefits assignment order issued under RCW 41.50.570, the department may be held liable to the obligee for any amounts wrongfully disbursed to the obligor in violation of the mandatory benefits assignment order. However, the department shall under no circumstances be held liable for failing to withhold funds from a withdrawal of accumulated contributions unless the mandatory benefits assignment order was properly served on the department at least thirty days before the department made the withdrawal payment to the obligor. If the department is held liable to an obligee for failing to withhold funds as required by a mandatory benefits assignment order, the department may recover such amounts paid to an obligee by thereafter either withholding such amounts from the available nonexempt benefits of the obligor or filing a legal action against the obligor.

     (7) If the department complies with a court order pursuant to RCW 41.50.500 through 41.50.650, neither the department, its officers, its employees, nor any of the retirement systems listed in RCW 41.50.030 may be liable to the obligor or an obligee for wrongful withholding.

     (8) The department may combine amounts withheld from various obligors into a single payment to the superior court clerk, if the payment includes a listing of the amounts attributable to each obligor and other information as required by the clerk.

     (9) The department shall mail to the obligor at the obligor's last known mailing address appearing in the department's files copies of the mandatory benefits assignment order and the department's answer within twenty days after receiving the mandatory benefits assignment order.

     (10) The department shall not consider any withholding allowance that is elective to the employee to be a mandatory deduction for purposes of calculating the member's disposable benefits subject to a mandatory benefits assignment order. The department shall withhold elective withholdings as elected by the employee after deducting from the benefit the amount owing to an obligee pursuant to a mandatory benefits assignment order.

[1991 c 365 § 9; 1987 c 326 § 11.]

Notes:

     Severability -- 1991 c 365: See note following RCW 41.50.500.