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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.
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:
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:
While all military service may potentially be used in the computation of civil service survivor annuity benefits, military service performed after December 31, 1956, is subject to social security (FICA) taxes and is primarily creditable for social security benefits. However, military service performed after December 31, 1956, can be used for the computation of both the social security and civil service annuity benefit if you pay a deposit before retirement.
Using military service to compute the civil service survivor annuity may also be affected by the waiver of military retired pay for civil service retirement purposes. If you are a retiree and have not waived your military retired pay, military service generally cannot be used in the computation of your benefit or that of your survivor's.
If an employee has not waived military retired pay for civil service retirement purposes, and dies while still in Federal service on or after April 25, 1987, military service must be used to compute the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) survivor annuity if the military deposit has been paid. However, survivors may elect to exclude such service based on certain factors. Refer to our section on death benefits for additional information.
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.
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.
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.
A child’s entitlement to receive a benefit ends on the last day of the month before any of the following events:
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