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Frequently Asked Questions Retirement

  • Recurring monthly payments may be made to the former spouse of a deceased employee under a court order. A former spouse must also meet the nine month marriage requirement. For additional information about court-ordered benefits, refer to the pamphlet, "Court-Ordered Benefits for Former Spouses [7 MB]."

    See how the amount of the former spouse survivor benefit is determined.

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  • You may receive a survivor annuity and a separate benefit that is based on your own service. Generally, if you are the surviving spouse of more than one retiree, you must elect one of the benefits. We cannot pay you two survivor annuities. However, under certain circumstances, it is possible for a widow or widower to receive more than one survivor annuity simultaneously. If, after age 55, you marry a Federal employee and you are again widowed, you may be eligible to receive annuities based on the service of both of your spouses.
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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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  • Your family enrollment covers yourself, your current spouse, and your eligible children under age 26.
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  • Your benefit will be computed in the same manner as if it were not subject to offset. However, it will be reduced when you become eligible for Social Security benefits. The offset applies when the basic requirements for Social Security are met, generally at age 62, even if you do not apply for those benefits. If you are not eligible for Social Security benefits at age 62, there is no offset unless you become eligible later.

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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 deceased died while covered under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS):

    If you are the surviving spouse of a deceased employee, recurring monthly payments may be made to you if your spouse completed at least 18 months of creditable civilian service and was covered under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). To qualify for the monthly benefit, you must have been married to the employee for at least nine months. A survivor annuity may still be payable if the employee's death occurred before nine months if the death was accidental or there was a child born of your marriage to the employee.

    If deceased died while covered under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS):

    If you are the surviving spouse of a deceased employee who was covered under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), you may be eligible for one or both of the following benefits-

    Basic Employee Death Benefit

    • If the employee who died completed at least 18 months of creditable civilian service, and
    • The employee who died was covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) when he/she died, and
    • You were married to the employee for at least nine months (if the death was accidental or there was a child born of your marriage to the employee, the nine month requirement does not apply).

    Monthly Benefit

    • The employee who died completed at least 10 years of creditable service (18 months of which must be creditable civilian service), and
    • The employee who died was covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) when he/she died, and
    • You were married to the employee for at least nine months (if the death was accidental or there was a child born of your marriage to the employee, the nine month requirement does not apply.)

    If a former spouse was awarded part of the total survivor CSRS or FERS annuity, you will receive the remainder. If the former spouse loses entitlement because of death or remarriage before age 55, you may begin to receive the full annuity.

    If the employee's death was job-related, workers' compensation benefits may be payable.

    See how the amount of the monthly survivor benefit is determined.

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  • If you need to contact us before you receive your claim number, first contact your former payroll office to find the date your records were transferred to OPM. Your payroll office should provide you with the number and date of the Register of Separations and Transfers. You will also need your Payroll Identification Number.
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  • You can reduce your premiums by reducing your coverage. However, if you reduce coverage, you cannot increase it again at a later date.

    See our answer to a frequently asked question about coverage after age 65 and our web pages at http://www.opm.gov/insure/life/index.asp to obtain more information about the Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) program.

    To change your coverage, write us.

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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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