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If an employee dies with at least 18 months of creditable civilian service under FERS, a survivor annuity may be payable if:
The spouse may be eligible for the Basic Employee Death Benefit, which is equal to 50% of the employee‘s final salary (average salary, if higher), plus $15,000 (increased by Civil Service Retirement System cost-of-living adjustments beginning 12/1/87). The $15,000 has increased to $32,423.56 for deaths after December 1, 2016.
The Basic Employee Death Benefit may be payable to a former spouse (in whole or in part), if a qualifying court order, awarding a benefit, is on file at OPM and the former spouse was married to the deceased for a total of at least nine months and did not remarry before reaching age 55.
If a FERS employee dies, recurring monthly payments may be made to the surviving spouse if the deceased employee completed at least 10 years of creditable service (18 months of which must be civilian service)
To qualify for the monthly benefit
If the death occurred before nine months, a survivor annuity may still be payable if
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.’
Unmarried children who are dependent upon the employee may receive monthly benefits until they reach age 18, marry, or die. Monthly survivor annuity payments for a child can continue after age 18, if the child is a full-time student attending a recognized school. Benefits can continue until age 22.
Unmarried disabled dependent children may receive recurring monthly benefits, if the disability occurred before age 18.
We consider a child dependent if he/she:
We consider the child dependent if there is proof that the deceased made regular and substantial contributions to the child’s support.
The combined benefit of all the children is reduced by the total amount of child’s insurance benefits that are payable (or would, upon proper application, be payable) under Title II of the Social Security Act for the same month to all children of the deceased (including those of a former marriage who may not be living with the current spouse) based on the total earnings of the deceased. In many cases, the FERS children’s benefit is reduced to $0.
If no survivor annuity is payable upon the employee/former employee’s death, a lump sum may be payable of the unpaid balance of retirement contributions made by the employee. This lump sum is payable under the order of precedence.
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If a former employee who dies with at least 10 years of creditable service (5 years of which must be creditable civilian service) is survived by a spouse who was married to the deceased at the time of his/her separation from Federal civilian service AND who:
the spouse may be eligible for a monthly survivor benefit. The benefit begins on the date the deceased former employee would have been eligible for an unreduced annuity, unless the survivor chooses to have it begin at a lower rate on the day after the employee’s death. The former employee would have been eligible for an unreduced annuity with a minimum of 10 years of creditable service and less than 20 years of service at age 62, with 20 or more years of service at age 60, or with 30 years of service at his/her Minimum Retirement Age (MRA), according to the following schedule;
Instead of a survivor annuity, the eligible spouse can elect to receive a lump sum payment of the contributions remaining to the deceased person’s credit in the retirement fund.
The monthly survivor benefit may be paid in whole or in part to a former spouse if a qualifying court order is on file at OPM and it awards a benefit.
No monthly benefits are payable to children of deceased former FERS employees if the death occurs after leaving Federal employment under FERS and before retirement.
If a former employee dies and no survivor annuity is payable, the retirement contributions remaining to the deceased person’s credit in the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund, plus applicable interest, are payable. This lump sum is payable under the order of precedence.
If a court order awards part of the total survivor annuity to a former spouse, the current spouse will receive the remainder. If the former spouse loses entitlement because of death or remarriage before age 55, the current spouse may begin to receive the full annuity.
If the employee's death was job-related, workers' compensation benefits may be payable.
The combined benefit of all the children is reduced by the total amount of child’s insurance benefits that are payable (or would, upon proper application, be payable) under Title II of the Social Security Act for the same month to all children of the deceased based on the total earnings of the deceased. In many cases, the FERS children’s benefit is reduced to $0.
If an employee dies and no survivor annuity is payable based on his/her death, the retirement contributions remaining to the deceased person’s credit in the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund, plus applicable interest, are payable.
If a lump sum benefit is payable, it is paid to the first person eligible under the following order of precedence:
Contact the personnel office of the Federal agency where the employee worked. You should complete the Application for Death Benefits, Standard Form (SF) 3104 and attach any other forms and/or evidence as the application or circumstances require. Attach a copy of the employee’s death certificate and a copy of the certificate of the marriage to the widow or widower. Give the application to the personnel office. If you are the surviving spouse or former spouse, you and deceased person’s employing agency should also complete Form (SF) 3104B Standard Documentation and Elections in Support of Application for Death Benefits when Deceased was an Employee at the Time of Death.
A widow or widower who is claiming benefits for himself/herself and on behalf of children should file one application.
Information regarding Spouse Survivor Benefits can be found in the CSRS section.
Information regarding Child Beneficiaries can be found in the CSRS section.
Information regarding a No Beneficiary situation can be found in the CSRS section.