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Frequently Asked Questions Retirement

Can I provide a survivor annuity payable after my death for my husband or wife when a court has awarded benefits for an ex-spouse?

Under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), the maximum benefit payable after your death to survivors other than children is 55 percent of your annual benefit. Under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), the maximum is 50 percent. So, the benefit payable to your husband or wife would equal the difference between the court-ordered benefit for your ex-spouse and the maximum benefit payable. For example, if the court awarded your former spouse a benefit equal to 35 percent of your Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) annuity, your husband or wife could only receive a benefit equal to 20 percent.

If your former spouse was awarded the maximum survivor benefit, you can elect a survivor benefit for your spouse on a contingency basis. In this case, your spouse would be paid the survivor benefit upon your death if your former spouse becomes ineligible for the survivor benefit.

If you do not provide a survivor benefit for your husband or wife, he or she will not receive a monthly benefit payment after your death. Your spouse would not be able to continue coverage under the Federal Employees' Health Benefits (FEHB) program.

If a court-ordered benefit for a former spouse will prevent a spouse from receiving a benefit that is sufficient to meet anticipated needs, you may want to provide an insurable interest benefit for your spouse.

In order to elect the insurable interest benefit, both you and your spouse must jointly waive the benefit which could be elected as spouse. Your annuity will be reduced to provide the court-ordered benefit and the insurable interest's benefit.

If the ex-spouse loses entitlement to the court-ordered benefit, you can request that the insurable interest benefit be changed to a fully reduced annuity to provide a benefit for the spouse within two years after the ex-spouse loses entitlement.

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