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Frequently Asked Questions Retirement

Death Benefits

  • Refer to information about payments and about address and withholding changes.
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  • If you are a surviving child of the enrollee and the enrollee also has a surviving spouse or child eligible to receive a CSRS or FERS survivor annuity benefit, you can be covered under the survivor annuitant’s  Self and Family enrollment until age 26. You can continue coverage beyond age 26 if you are incapable of self-support because of a mental or physical disability that existed before age 26.  If you are a surviving child of the enrollee who is eligible for a CSRS or FERS survivor annuity benefit and the enrollee has no other survivors, the enrollment will be changed to a self only enrollment in your name. You will be responsible for paying the premiums either by having them withheld from your survivor annuity or through direct billing.  You can continue this FEHB coverage until your survivor annuity ends at age 18, or age 22 if you are a full-time student.  You can continue coverage beyond age 18 if you are incapable of self-support because of a mental or physical disability that existed before age 18. Your coverage will continue for 31 days after eligibility ends, unless the enrollment is cancelled. During that time, you may enroll in Temporary Continuation of Coverage (TCC) or convert to an individual policy offered by your FEHB plan.
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  • Unmarried children who are dependent upon the retiree may receive recurring monthly benefits. We consider a child dependent if he or she:
    • was born within marriage to the retiree:
    • is an adopted child who meets all of the following conditions:
      • the child lived with the deceased retiree, and
      • the deceased filed a petition to adopt the child, and
      • the child was adopted before the retiree’s death or by the surviving spouse after the retiree died;
    • is a stepchild or recognized child born out out-of-wedlock who was living with the retiree in a parent and child relationship when the retiree died; or
    • is a recognized child born out-of-wedlock for whom a judicial determination of support has been obtained.
    We consider the child dependent if there is proof that the deceased made regular and substantial contributions to the child's support. Refer to information about a child's continuing eligibility after age 18. See how the amount of children's benefits is determined.
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  • If you are the survivor of a deceased retiree who was receiving military retired pay at the time of death, credit for military service cannot be included in your survivor annuity unless the retired pay was:
    • Based on an disability incurred in combat with an enemy of the U.S. or caused by an instrumentality of war and incurred in the line of duty; or
    • Granted under the provisions of Chapter 1223, title 10, United States Code, for reserve retirement. This is formerly under Chapter 67, title 10.
    If you are the survivor of a deceased employee who was receiving military retired pay at the time of death, credit for military will be included in your survivor annuity unless you elect otherwise. However, if the military service is included in your survivor annuity, it will be reduced by the amount of your military survivor's benefit, excluding children's benefits. Post-56 Military Service Credited Under Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) Rules- Military service performed on/after January 1, 1957 must be applied toward social security benefits. However, under certain circumstances, it may also be used to determine the amount of your Civil Service Retirement System survivor annuity. If your survivor annuity is based on service that ended before September 9, 1982, and you are eligible for social security benefits upon proper application, you will receive the greater of:
    • an annuity reduced by eliminating the credit for military service performed after December 31, 1956, or
    • an annuity reduced by the amount of the social security benefit attributable to the military service after December 31, 1956.
    If you are not eligible for social security benefits, your survivor annuity will not be reduced. If your survivor annuity is based on service that ended after September 8, 1982, use of the deceased's post-1956 military service to determine the amount of your survivor annuity depends on when the deceased was first covered by the Civil Service Retirement System and whether or not a deposit was made to cover the service. If the deceased was first employed under the retirement system before October 1, 1982, and no deposit was made, we cannot use the post-1956 military service if you are eligible for social security benefits. If the deceased was first employed under the retirement system on/after October 1, 1982, and no deposit was made for the post-1956 military service, we cannot use the post-1956 military service to determine the amount of your survivor annuity regardless of whether or not you are eligible for social security benefits. Post-56 Military Service Credited Under Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) Rules- If the post-1956 military service is creditable under FERS rules, a post-1956 deposit must be paid in order to credit the service for eligibility for annuity and computation purposes. If your spouse retired under FERS and performed military service on/after January 1, 1957, his/her post-1956 military service was credited in their annuity if they paid a deposit for the service prior to retirement.   In this case, it will also be used to compute the amount of your survivor benefit.  If the deposit was not paid before your spouse retired, it will not be included in your annuity computation. If you are the survivor of a FERS employee who died while still employed, you must pay the deposit for the post-1956 military service in order to receive credit for any military service performed after 1956. If you are a survivor of a former FERS employee who was eligible for a deferred annuity at the time of death, but not yet receiving an annuity, you cannot pay the post-1956 military deposit to receive credit for the service.  The former employee must have paid the deposit before he/she separated from Federal employment. When Deposit Can Be Made for Post-1956 Military Service- The deposit for post-1956 military service must be made by the employee to his or her employing agency before retirement. A survivor may make the deposit if the employee died while working for the Federal Government.
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  • A monthly survivor annuity may be payable to a former spouse after the death of the employee or annuitant if it is provided by a court order or the annuitant's election. If the survivor annuity is based on an annuitant's election, the amount is determined in the same manner as the amount due a current surviving spouse. However, if the employee has remarried, this election may only be made if the current spouse consents to it. The amount of a court-ordered survivor annuity is based on the court order. A court order may provide the maximum survivor annuity, a lesser amount, or a fraction of the maximum survivor annuity.
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  • If deceased died while covered under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS): If you are the surviving spouse of a deceased employee, recurring monthly payments may be made to you if your spouse completed at least 18 months of creditable civilian service and was covered under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). To qualify for the monthly benefit, you must have been married to the employee for at least nine months. A survivor annuity may still be payable if the employee's death occurred before nine months if the death was accidental or there was a child born of your marriage to the employee. If deceased died while covered under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS): If you are the surviving spouse of a deceased employee who was covered under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), you may be eligible for one or both of the following benefits- Basic Employee Death Benefit
    • If the employee who died completed at least 18 months of creditable civilian service, and
    • The employee who died was covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) when he/she died, and
    • You were married to the employee for at least nine months (if the death was accidental or there was a child born of your marriage to the employee, the nine month requirement does not apply).
    Monthly Benefit
    • The employee who died completed at least 10 years of creditable service (18 months of which must be creditable civilian service), and
    • The employee who died was covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) when he/she died, and
    • You were married to the employee for at least nine months (if the death was accidental or there was a child born of your marriage to the employee, the nine month requirement does not apply.)
    If a former spouse was awarded part of the total survivor CSRS or FERS annuity, you will receive the remainder. If the former spouse loses entitlement because of death or remarriage before age 55, you may begin to receive the full annuity. If the employee's death was job-related, workers' compensation benefits may be payable. See how the amount of the monthly survivor benefit is determined.
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  • You may receive a survivor annuity and a separate benefit that is based on your own service. Generally, if you are the surviving spouse of more than one retiree, you must elect one of the benefits. We cannot pay you two survivor annuities. However, under certain circumstances, it is possible for a widow or widower to receive more than one survivor annuity simultaneously. If, after age 55, you marry a Federal employee and you are again widowed, you may be eligible to receive annuities based on the service of both of your spouses.
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  • Recurring monthly payments may be made to the former spouse of a deceased retiree if the retiree elected a reduced annuity to provide the benefit or the benefit is payable under a court order. A former spouse must also meet the nine month marriage requirement. For additional information about court-ordered benefits, refer to the pamphlet, "Court-Ordered Benefits for Former Spouses [7 MB],"and see family benefits for information about survivor benefit elections. See how the amount of the former spouse survivor benefit is determined.
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  • A child can continue to receive benefits after reaching age 18 if he or she is incapable of self-support because of a disability which began before age 18. If the disabled child is under age 18 when you apply for benefits, we do not need additional information. However, when the child is within three months of reaching age 18 or over age 18, you should send us the information described in disabling conditions for children. A child can also continue to receive benefits until age 22 if he or she is a full-time student. If the child is listed on the application for benefits as a full-time student who is age 18 or more, we will send a request for certification of school attendance to be completed by the person who expects to receive payments and the school. See more information about the eligibility of full-time students. Annuity payments continue between school years unless the break is more than five months or the student does not plan to return to school on a full-time basis. If the student plans to be out of school for more than five months, we cannot pay benefits. If he or she plans to return to school within five months, but does not do so, benefits stop at the end of the month before the change of plans.
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  • The children's survivor benefit is a specific dollar amount established by a formula in the governing United States Code and is increased by Cost-of-Living Adjustments. Each child's rate is determined individually based on the circumstances described below. When the child has a living parent who was married to the employee or retiree, the benefit payable to the child is the lesser of:
    • $469 per month per child; or
    • $1,409 per month divided by the number of eligible children.
    When the child does not have a living parent who was married to the employee or retiree, the benefit payable to the child is the lesser of:
    • $563 per month per child; or
    • $1,691 per month divided by the number of eligible children.
    The rates quoted above are payable from December 1, 2009 through November 30, 2010. They will be increased by future Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) Cost-of-Living Adjustments. If the deceased retired under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) or was an employee covered under FERS at the time of death, the combined benefit of all the children is reduced by the total amount of child’s benefits that are payable (or would, upon proper application, be payable) under Title II of the Social Security Act for the same month to all children of the deceased based on the total earnings of the deceased.  In many cases, the FERS children’s benefit is reduced to $0.
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