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Frequently Asked Questions Retirement

Family Benefits

  • The IRS is responsible for the changes to the Federal income tax withholding tables. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has no control over the Federal income tax withholding tables. OPM used the tables provided by the IRS, which are set in law by the United States Congress.
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  • If you get married after retirement, you can elect a reduced annuity to provide a survivor annuity for your spouse. You must make this election within two years of the date of your marriage. Under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), you can elect any portion of your annuity as a basis for the survivor benefit payable in the event of your death. Under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), a full benefit is 50 percent of your unreduced annual basic annuity and a partial benefit is 25 percent of your unreduced annual basic annuity. If you remarry the same person to whom you were married at retirement, you cannot elect a survivor annuity greater than the one you elected at retirement. There will be two reductions in your annuity if you elect to provide the survivor benefit. One will be the reduction to provide the survivor benefit. The first reduction depends the amount you elect for the survivor annuity. Your annuity is also reduced by a permanent actuarial reduction equal to the difference between the new annuity rate with the survivor benefit and the old one without the survivor benefit since your retirement, plus 6 percent interest. In most cases, the actuarial reduction amount is less than 5 percent of your annuity. The actuarial reduction continues even if the marriage ends. When you contact us, we will send you a statement describing the cost of the election and ask you to confirm your election.
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  • A court order following annulment of marriage, legal separation, or divorce can divide or apportion your annuity. The order must expressly direct OPM to pay a portion of your monthly benefit. The spouse's share must be stated as a fixed amount, a percentage or fraction of your annuity, or by a formula with a readily apparent value. The amount cannot exceed the money payable to you after deductions for taxes and insurance. A court order may provide for payment of all or part of a refund of your retirement contributions. It may also block the refund payment, but only if the order directs us not to pay the refund and grants a survivor annuity or a portion of your annuity to a legally separated current spouse or former spouse.
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  • Under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) Offset program, a survivor annuity for your spouse is computed in the same manner as a survivor annuity would be computed based on full CSRS coverage. However, under CSRS-Offset, your spouse's annuity may be reduced if he or she is eligible for social security benefits based on your federal service. If he or she is not eligible for social security benefits, the civil service annuity is not reduced. See additional information about death benefits.
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  • You should call us at (202) 606-0222. If we do not have a court order for child support, alimony, or bankruptcy, you can send a facsimile to us at (202) 606-7958 when a garnishment is involved. We need a certified copy of the court order and other supporting documents when an apportionment or survivor annuity is involved.
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  • Your family enrollment covers yourself, your current husband or wife, and your eligible unmarried children under age 22.
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  • Yes, but not under your family enrollment. There are two possible options for your former spouse to remain enrolled. First, all former spouses are eligible for a Temporary Continuation of Coverage enrollment that lasts for 36 months. Second, former spouses eligible for a monthly court-ordered benefit (either a portion of your monthly benefit, or a survivor benefit upon your death) are eligible for former spouse Federal health insurance. You may wish to review the health benefits information in the Attorney's Handbook or view additional information about Health Insurance.
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  • If you retire under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), the maximum survivor benefit payable is 55 percent of your unreduced annual benefit. If you retire under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), the maximum survivor benefit payable is 50 percent of your unreduced annual benefit.
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  • Survivor benefit elections for current and/or former spouses can be made only at retirement, or based on a qualifying event after retirement. The applications for retirement provide detailed information and instructions about these elections. If the marriage terminates after retirement, you must contact us and tell us that they want to elect to provide a survivor benefit for a former spouse. We will send the necessary explanation and forms to elect the benefit if you are eligible to make the election.
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  • Under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), the maximum benefit payable after your death to survivors other than children is 55 percent of your annual benefit. Under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), the maximum is 50 percent. So, the benefit payable to your husband or wife would equal the difference between the court-ordered benefit for your ex-spouse and the maximum benefit payable. For example, if the court awarded your former spouse a benefit equal to 35 percent of your Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) annuity, your husband or wife could only receive a benefit equal to 20 percent. If your former spouse was awarded the maximum survivor benefit, you can elect a survivor benefit for your spouse on a contingency basis. In this case, your spouse would be paid the survivor benefit upon your death if your former spouse becomes ineligible for the survivor benefit. If you do not provide a survivor benefit for your husband or wife, he or she will not receive a monthly benefit payment after your death. Your spouse would not be able to continue coverage under the Federal Employees' Health Benefits (FEHB) program. If a court-ordered benefit for a former spouse will prevent a spouse from receiving a benefit that is sufficient to meet anticipated needs, you may want to provide an insurable interest benefit for your spouse. In order to elect the insurable interest benefit, both you and your spouse must jointly waive the benefit which could be elected as spouse. Your annuity will be reduced to provide the court-ordered benefit and the insurable interest's benefit. If the ex-spouse loses entitlement to the court-ordered benefit, you can request that the insurable interest benefit be changed to a fully reduced annuity to provide a benefit for the spouse within two years after the ex-spouse loses entitlement.
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