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Retirement FAQs

Death Benefits

  • 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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  • Yes. Currently every survivor receives a Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) effective each December first. It will be first reflected in the January payment which pays annuity for the month of December. We will send a Notice of Annuity Adjustment showing how much the benefit was increased. See more information about Cost-of-Living Adjustments.
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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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  • Generally, your income from employment with the Government or any other employer will not affect your survivor annuity.
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  • Unmarried children who are dependent upon the employee may receive recurring monthly benefits. Refer to information about the demonstration of dependency for benefit payment purposes. See how the amount of children's benefits is determined.
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  • If you are enrolled for family life insurance, and a covered member of your family dies, you can contact us in one of three ways: U.S. Office of Personnel Management Retirement Services Program Post Office Box 45 Boyers, PA 16017-0045. You can download the necessary claim form and instructions, or contact us and ask that they be sent to you.
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  • Under these circumstances, there are no recurring monthly benefits payable under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). If there is an unpaid balance of retirement contributions by the former employee, the person(s) eligible for payment under the order of precedence should complete the "Application for Death Benefits," Standard Form (SF) 2800 [806 KB] and attach any other forms and/or evidence as the application or circumstances require. Attach a copy of the employee’s death certificate and send the application to us at this address. Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS)- If the former employee was covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), the current spouse may be eligible for a monthly benefit if…
    • The current spouse was married to the deceased at the time of his/her separation from Federal civilian service, and
    • The current spouse was married to the deceased for a total period of at least nine months (the nine month requirement does not apply if the death was accidental or if the current spouse is the parent of a child born of the marriage.)
    If there is an unpaid balance of retirement contributions by the former employee and no one is eligible for a monthly survivor benefit, the person(s) eligible for payment under the order of precedence should complete the "Application for Death Benefits," Standard Form (SF) 3104 [741 KB] and attach any other forms and/or evidence as the application or circumstances require. Attach a copy of the employee’s death certificate and send the application to us at this address.
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  • The survivor annuity payable to the spouse of a deceased retiree who was covered by the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) Offset program is computed in the same manner as the annuity for the spouse of a deceased annuitant with full CSRS coverage. However, if you are the surviving spouse of a deceased retiree who was covered by CSRS-Offset, your annuity will be reduced if you are eligible upon proper application for social security benefits based on the deceased annuitant's Federal service. If social security survivor benefits are payable:
    • You will receive full Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) benefits until you become entitled to social security benefits, generally at age 60. However, benefits may begin earlier if you are disabled or care for a minor child.
    • When you become entitled to social security survivor benefits, your Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) survivor annuity will be reduced by the amount of the social security benefit that is attributable to the deceased's employment under CSRS-Offset coverage. The reduction begins on the first day of the month in which you are entitled to the CSRS-Offset annuity and eligible, upon application, for social security survivor benefits.
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  • Recurring monthly payments may be made to the former spouse of a deceased employee 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]." See how the amount of the former spouse survivor benefit is determined.
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Total Count: 27, Number of Pages: 2, Page: 2
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