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Frequently Asked Questions Benefits for LGBT Federal Employees and Annuitants

If you are retired, get married, are covered under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), and currently do not have survivor benefits, can you elect one due to your marriage? Do they start your survivor annuity deductions from the date of the marriage or does it go back to the date of retirement? In other words, when is the effective date?

If you are single when you retire under FERS and then marry after retirement, you may elect to provide a survivor annuity for your spouse.  You must tell OPM in writing within two years after your marriage that you want to elect a survivor annuity for your spouse.  Your annuity will be subject to two reductions beginning on the first day of the first month that begins after you have been married for nine months.  The first reduction is the reduction required to provide the survivor annuity, equal to 10 percent of your annuity if you elect to provide your spouse the maximum survivor annuity or equal to 5 percent of your annuity if you elect to provide your spouse the partial survivor annuity.  The second reduction is the reduction to cover the deposit that you are required to pay if you elect a survivor annuity for your spouse.  The deposit equals the difference between the amount of the annuity you received before the survivor election for your spouse is effective (retroactive to the commencing date of your annuity) and the amount of annuity that you would have received had your survivor election been in effect as of the commencing date of your annuity, plus interest.   The reduction for the deposit is a permanent reduction and is calculated to spread out the collection of the deposit over your lifetime.

If you are married when you retire under FERS, and your marriage subsequently ends, you may elect to provide a survivor annuity for another spouse whom you marry after retirement.  You have two years after your marriage to notify OPM in writing that you want to elect a survivor annuity for the spouse you married after retirement.  Your annuity will be subject to the two reductions described in the paragraph above – one reduction to reflect the reduction for the survivor election and the other reduction to cover the deposit required to make the election – and the reductions will be effective the first day of the second month after OPM receives your election, but not less than 9-months after the date of your post-retirement marriage.

You can find more information about benefits changes based on a marriage after retirement by going to the Life Events webpage on Marriage/Divorce. You can also contact OPM Retirement Services to talk about the specifics of your case.

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