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Frequently Asked Questions Retirement

May I receive benefits if I am the surviving spouse of someone who died while working for the Federal Government?

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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