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Retirement FAQs

Family Benefits

  • If you are married when you retire and you chose not to provide a spousal survivor benefit, you must obtain your spouse's consent to the election. The consent form, which is part of the application for (Civil Service (CSRS) [930 KB] or Federal Employees (FERS) [448 KB] Retirement Systems) benefits, must be completed before a notary public or other official authorized to take oaths. The spousal consent requirement may be waived if it is shown that the spouse's whereabouts cannot be determined. A request for a waiver must be accompanied by:
    • a judicial determination that the spouse's whereabouts cannot be determined, or
    • affidavits by the employee and two other persons, at least one of whom is not related to the employee, attesting to the efforts made to locate the spouse and the inability to do so. The employee should submit other documentary evidence, such as newspaper stories about the spouse's disappearance.
    The spousal consent requirement can be waived based on exceptional circumstances if the employee presents a judicial determination that exceptional circumstances warrant a waiver. The order must state that:
    • state that the case before the court involves a Federal employee who is retiring;
    • the employee's spouse was given notice and an opportunity to be heard in the matter;
    • the court considered 5 USC 8339(j)(1) and 5 CFR 831.618(b) as it relates to a waiver of the spousal consent requirements for a married Federal employee to elect an annuity without reduction to provide a survivor benefit to a spouse at retirement; and
    • the court finds that exceptional circumstances justify waiver of the spousal consent requirement.
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  • A former spouse survivor annuity and an apportionment are two distinct benefits payable to a former spouse.  The former spouse annuity is payable after the death of an employee or retiree.  An apportionment is based on a portion of the retiree’s gross or net annuity and is generally payable during the period of retirement.  In order to qualify for one or both benefits, the court order must be specific in the type of benefit awarded.   A former spouse survivor annuity terminates: ·         In accordance with the terms of the court order; or ·         Upon remarriage before age 55; or ·         Death of the retiree or the former spouse.   A portion of a retiree’s annuity stops at the earliest of: ·         The date specified in a court order which requires termination; ·         The last day of the first month before OPM receives a court order that invalidates, vacates or sets aside the court order submitted by the former spouse. ·         The last day of the first month after OPM receives an amended court order ·         The last day of the first month before the death of the retiree ·         The last day of the month before the former spouse’s death, unless the order provides for continuation of the apportionment.
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  • You do not have to do anything. Benefits to eligible children are automatically provided by law. To be eligible, a child must be unmarried, under age 18, and dependent on you. To continue to be eligible for benefits after age 18, a child must be unmarried and a full-time student or incapable of self-support due to a disability which onset before age 18.
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  • Yes, there are several ways to provide for payment of life insurance benefits to your former spouse, as follows:   File a SF-2818 Designation of Beneficiary Form, Office of Federal Employees Group Life Insurance Program with the OPM naming your former spouse to receive all or a percentage of your insurance proceeds.  A designation can be cancelled at any time as long as the form is received in the OPM before your death.   Assignment of Insurance: You may assign some or all of your life insurance to your former spouse.  However, an assignment of insurance is permanent and not irrevocable.  A court order filed after July 22, 1998 can direct that the individual make an irrevocable assignment to his/her former spouse. To assign your life insurance, you must complete form RI 76-10, Assignment of Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance. An assignment automatically cancels an individual’s prior designation of beneficiary.  After making an assignment, you cannot designate a beneficiary. The right to designate beneficiaries transfers to the assignee.  In addition, the right to cancel or reduce insurance transfers to the assignee.  If you own more than one type of coverage, you must assign all the insurance because you cannot assign only a portion of the coverage.  Only Option C- Family Optional coverage cannot be assigned.    Court Order received in OPM on or after July 22, 1998.  The order must be received in OPM prior to the death of the insured. The court can order that a former spouse is named as beneficiary in the divorce decree, annulment, or legal separation.  A certified copy of the decree must be received by the employing agency for active employees on/after July 22, 1998.  For retirees, the court order must be received by that date.  By law, a court order on file before the above effective date is not valid for designating a former spouse as beneficiary.  Any orders which are filed before July 22, 1998 and designate a former spouse as beneficiary of Office of Federal Employees Group Life Insurance will not be honored. 
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  • Under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), a retiree can elect to provide less than the maximum survivor benefit. A partial survivor election is based on 55% of the annual base amount you choose.  For example, if you choose a survivor base of $3,600, the benefit will be 55% of $3,600 for a survivor benefit of $1,980 per year or $165 per month.  By law, you must attach SF-2801-2, Spouse’s Consent to Survivor Election to your CSRS application.  The SF-2801-2 must be signed by your spouse in the presence of a notary.   Under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), individuals can elect a partial survivor benefit which is based on 25% of one’s unreduced annual base annuity.  Your spouse must complete and attach SF-3107-2, Spouse’s Consent to Survivor Election, to your retirement application. 
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  • The types of benefits payable are current spouse survivor annuities, former spouse annuities voluntarily elected or awarded by court order in divorces granted on/after May 7, 1985; or a one-time lump sum benefit. Under FERS, a basic employee death benefit may be payable to the surviving widow or widower of an employee who dies while employed.
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  • A child’s entitlement to receive a benefit ends on the last day of the month before any of the following events:  
    • Becomes age 18 unless he/she is a full-time student at a recognized school or is incapable of self support;
    • Becomes capable of self-support after becoming age 18 unless he/she is a full-time student at a recognized school;
    • Becomes age 22 if he/she is a student and capable of self-support;
    • Stops attending school on a full-time basis after age 18 unless deemed incapable of self-support; or
    • Dies or marries
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  • There is no cost to provide a survivor benefit for an unmarried dependent child.  
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  • The employing office has 14 days to notify you of your TCC rights and send you an election form.  You must return the election form and a certified copy of your divorce decree within 60 days from your divorce date or 65 days after the date of the employing office notice, whichever is later.  Your coverage will be effective the day after your 31-day extension of coverage as a family member ends.
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  • Generally, if you cancel your spouse equity enrollment, you may not reenroll.  However, if you cancel because you: • become covered as an employee or a family member under another person’s FEHB enrollment, or • become covered under a Medicare HMO or Medicaid, you may reenroll if you lose the other coverage.  You must provide documentation of the other coverage when you cancel your spouse equity enrollment.
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  • Only you and the unmarried dependent children born to or adopted by you and your former spouse (the Federal employee or annuitant) are covered.
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  • Generally, an unmarried dependent child who is over age 18 can receive a survivor benefit if incapable of self-support due to an injury or medical condition which occurs before turning age 18.  After turning age 18, an unmarried dependent child can receive a survivor benefit if enrolled in a recognized school on a full-time basis until age 22.
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  • You must apply within 60 days of: • the date your marriage ended, or • the date the employing office notified you that your qualifying court order (or your former spouse’s election) entitled you to coverage, whichever is later.
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  • Spouse Equity: 1. If you qualify for spouse equity, you can elect FEHB coverage in your own right. 2. Your coverage continues indefinitely, as long as you continue to meet the requirements and pay your premiums. 3. You must pay both the employee and government shares of your plan’s FEHB premium. TCC: 1. Your coverage is limited.  It will end 36 months after your divorce or annulment, or earlier if you do not pay your premiums. 2. You must pay both the employee and government shares of your plan’s FEHB premium, plus an administrative charge equal to 2% of total plan premiums.
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  • No.  According to the FEHB law, if you or your former spouse didn’t notify the employing office within the 60-day limit, your opportunity to elect TCC ends 60 days after your divorce or annulment.
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Total Count: 67, Number of Pages: 5, Page: 3
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