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Frequently Asked Questions Benefits for LGBT Federal Employees and Annuitants

A federal employee with a partner is going to retire in the next couple of years. Does the spouse have automatic rights to pension and benefits even if employee does not elect the spouse as a beneficiary?

Generally, if you are married at the time of retirement, you are required to provide full survivor annuity benefits for your spouse unless your spouse consents to a lesser amount or no survivor benefits.

If no survivor benefit is payable, OPM will pay a lump-sum death benefit under the statutory order of precedence. Under the order of precedence, OPM must pay the lump-sum to any beneficiary the employee/retiree has designated as the recipient of that benefit. If the employee/retiree did not designate a beneficiary, then the next person entitled under the order of precedence is the surviving spouse.

As for Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) benefits, the experts at the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board provided this answer: “A participant can designate any individual, organization, a trust or will as a beneficiary without spousal consent. However the spouse must consent to withdrawal that it is in any form other than a joint life survivor annuity with the spouse as the joint annuitant.”

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