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Frequently Asked Questions Retirement

Family Benefits

  • Yes, the provisions of the law, along with the retirement and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program regulation are in A Handbook for Attorneys on Court-Ordered Retirement, Health Benefits, and Life Insurance Under the Civil Service Retirement System, Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, and Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance (FEGLI), RI 38-116. [446 KB]

    You can also order it from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Superintendent of Documents, P.O.Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. The order processing code is 7612 and the document number is S/N 006-000-01408-9. You can order by telephone at (202) 512-1800.

    The regulations covering both the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) benefits are in part 838 of title 5, Code of Federal Regulations. The regulations contain extensive model language that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) encourages attorneys to use in preparing court orders.

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  • 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.

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  • A court order dividing your retirement benefits can be modified by either party at any time. However, survivor annuity benefits cannot be approved based on modifications to a court order made after your retirement or death.
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  • If your marriage ends after retirement, you can elect a reduced annuity to provide a survivor benefits for your former spouse. To make an election, you must notify us in writing within two years of the date the marriage ended. You should include a court-certified copy of the decree effecting the dissolution of the marriage, and any property or marital settlement agreement. See where to send the court order.

    If you were married to the former spouse when you retired and he or she consented to an election of less than the maximum survivor benefit, you cannot provide a benefit that is larger than your original election. The calculation of the reduction in your annuity to provide the benefit for an ex-spouse is the same as the reduction for a benefit for a spouse.

    When you contact us, we will send you a statement describing the cost of the election and ask you to confirm your election.

    If you are electing to provide a survivor annuity for an ex-spouse and you remarried, your current spouse must consent to the election.

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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 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • The time limit for notification is 60 days from your divorce or annulment.  Either you or your former spouse must notify the employing office in writing that you want TCC.  If your former spouse is retired, notify the retirement system.
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