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34-34. Certain retirement benefits exempt.

A. For the purposes of this section:

"Alternate payee" shall have the same meaning as provided under 206 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). In the case of a retirement plan that is not subject to ERISA, the term "alternate payee" means an individual who has an interest in a retirement plan pursuant to a judgment, decree, or order, including approval of a property settlement agreement, that would be described in 206(d)(3)(B) of ERISA if the retirement plan were subject to ERISA.

"Annual benefit" means an amount payable as an annuity for the lifetime of the individual who claims the exemption provided under this section, assuming that annuity payments will commence upon the individual's attainment of age sixty-five or, if the individual attained age sixty-five on or before the exemption provided under this section is claimed, the individual's age on the date that the exemption is claimed.

"Retirement plan" means a plan, account, or arrangement that is intended to satisfy the requirements of United States Internal Revenue Code 401, 403 (a), 403 (b), 408, 408 A, 409 (as in effect prior to repeal by United States P.L. 98-369), or 457. Whether a plan, account, or arrangement is intended to satisfy the requirements of one of the foregoing provisions shall be determined based on all of the relevant facts and circumstances including, but not limited to, the issuance of a favorable determination letter by the United States Internal Revenue Service, reports or returns filed with United States or state agencies, and communications from the plan sponsor to participants.

B. Except as otherwise provided in this section, the interest of an individual under a retirement plan shall be exempt from creditor process to the same extent permitted under federal bankruptcy law for such a plan. The exemption provided by this section shall be available whether such individual has an interest in the retirement plan as a participant, beneficiary, contingent annuitant, alternate payee, or otherwise.

C. The exemption provided under subsection B shall not apply to claims made against an individual by the alternate payee of such individual or to claims made against such individual by the Commonwealth in administrative actions pursuant to Chapter 19 ( 63.2-1900 et seq.) of Title 63.2 or any court process to enforce a child or child and spousal support obligation.

D. If two individuals who are married or were married are entitled to claim the exemption provided under subsection B of an interest under the same retirement plan or plans and such individuals are jointly subject to creditor process as to the same debt or obligation and the debt or obligation arose during the marriage, then the exemption provided under subsection B as to such debts or obligations shall not exceed, in the aggregate, the exemption permitted under federal bankruptcy law for such a plan. The exemption permitted under federal bankruptcy law shall be allocated among such persons in the same proportion as their respective interests in the retirement plan or plans.

E. The exemption provided under this section must be claimed within the time limits prescribed by 34-17.

(1990, c. 425; 1992, c. 716; 1996, c. 330; 1999, cc. 766, 796; 2005, c. 284; 2007, c. 302.)


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