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Frequently Asked Questions Retirement

Family Benefits

  • If you get married after retirement, you can elect a reduced annuity to provide a survivor annuity for your spouse. You must make this election within two years of the date of your marriage.

    Under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), you can elect any portion of your annuity as a basis for the survivor benefit payable in the event of your death.

    Under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), a full benefit is 50 percent of your unreduced annual basic annuity and a partial benefit is 25 percent of your unreduced annual basic annuity.

    If you remarry the same person to whom you were married at retirement, you cannot elect a survivor annuity greater than the one you elected at retirement.

    There will be two reductions in your annuity if you elect to provide the survivor benefit. One will be the reduction to provide the survivor benefit. The first reduction depends the amount you elect for the survivor annuity.

    Your annuity is also reduced by a permanent actuarial reduction equal to the difference between the new annuity rate with the survivor benefit and the old one without the survivor benefit since your retirement, plus 6 percent interest. In most cases, the actuarial reduction amount is less than 5 percent of your annuity. The actuarial reduction continues even if the marriage ends.

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

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  • You should call us at (202) 606-0222. If we do not have a court order for child support, alimony, or bankruptcy, you can send a facsimile to us at (202) 606-7958 when a garnishment is involved. We need a certified copy of the court order and other supporting documents when an apportionment or survivor annuity is involved.
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  • Under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) Offset program, a survivor annuity for your spouse is computed in the same manner as a survivor annuity would be computed based on full CSRS coverage. However, under CSRS-Offset, your spouse's annuity may be reduced if he or she is eligible for social security benefits based on your federal service. If he or she is not eligible for social security benefits, the civil service annuity is not reduced. See additional information about death benefits.
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  • A court order following annulment of marriage, legal separation, or divorce can divide or apportion your annuity. The order must expressly direct OPM to pay a portion of your monthly benefit. The spouse's share must be stated as a fixed amount, a percentage or fraction of your annuity, or by a formula with a readily apparent value. The amount cannot exceed the money payable to you after deductions for taxes and insurance.

    A court order may provide for payment of all or part of a refund of your retirement contributions. It may also block the refund payment, but only if the order directs us not to pay the refund and grants a survivor annuity or a portion of your annuity to a legally separated current spouse or former spouse.

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  • The IRS is responsible for the changes to the Federal income tax withholding tables. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has no control over the Federal income tax withholding tables. OPM used the tables provided by the IRS, which are set in law by the United States Congress.
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  • Your family enrollment covers yourself, your current spouse, and your eligible children under age 26.
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  • If you retire under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), the maximum survivor benefit payable is 55 percent of your unreduced annual benefit.

    If you retire under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), the maximum survivor benefit payable is 50 percent of your unreduced annual benefit.

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  • If you were enrolled in a self and family plan at the time of your death AND a monthly survivor benefit is payable your spouse and eligible dependents can continue your health insurance.  If a monthly benefit is not payable, your spouse and eligible family members will have a one-time opportunity to enroll in private health coverage with the carrier.

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  • Yes, but not under your family enrollment. There are two possible options for your former spouse to remain enrolled. First, all former spouses are eligible for a Temporary Continuation of Coverage enrollment that lasts for 36 months. Second, former spouses eligible for a monthly court-ordered benefit (either a portion of your monthly benefit, or a survivor benefit upon your death) are eligible for former spouse Federal health insurance. You may wish to review the health benefits information in the Attorney's Handbook or view additional information about Health Insurance.
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  • When you die, the Office of Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance (OFEGLI) will pay life insurance benefits in a particular order, set by law:

    • If you assigned ownership of your life insurance, OFEGLI will pay benefits in the following order of precedence:

        • First to the designated beneficiary(ies) designated by your assignee(s), if any;
        • Second, if there is no such beneficiary, to your assignee(s).
    • If you did not assign ownership and there is a valid court order on file, OFEGLI will pay benefits in accordance with that court order;
    • If you did not assign ownership and there is no valid court order on file, OFEGLI will pay benefits in the following order of precedence:
        • First, to the beneficiary you designated;
        • Second, if there is no such beneficiary, to your widow or widower;
        • Third, if none of the above, to your child or children, with the share of any deceased child distributed among the descendants of that child (a court will usually have to appoint a guardian to receive payment for a minor child);
        • Fourth, if none of the above, to your parents in equal shares or the entire amount to your surviving parent;
        • Fifth, if none of the above, to the executor or administrator of your estate; or
        • Sixth, if none of the above, to your other next of kin as determined under the laws of the State where you lived.

    You can download the Standard Form (SF) 2823 [119 KB], Designation of Beneficiary, and instructions, or contact us and ask that they be sent to you.

    You need to keep your designated beneficiaries' addresses current. Failure to do so may mean that your beneficiary cannot be located and therefore benefits will not be paid to that person. The preferred way is to file a new Designation of Beneficiary when a beneficiary's address changes. A new address cannot be added directly to the Designation of Beneficiary form itself, since any cross outs, erasures, or alterations in your form may make it invalid.

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