Annuity underpayments and estate issues


Q: My father retired several years ago under the Civil Service Retirement System. At the time of his retirement, he elected to reduce his benefits to provide my mother with spousal survivor benefits. She died a number of years before him, but it does not appear that he ever adjusted his benefits after her death. He recently passed away, and I am the executor of his estate. Does the estate have a claim to the difference between the benefits he actually received and what he was entitled to receive in the years after her death?

A: You’ll need to notify the Office of Personnel Managment that your father has died and provide OPM with proof of his wife’s death. An OPM specialist will compute the difference between the annuity rate your father was paid and what he should have been paid if he had informed them of his wife’s death. The amount due to his estate will be the difference between those two figures and will be provided in a lump sum, along with any final annuity payment that may be due. If you have already informed OPM of his death, you’ll have to go back to them and explain the situation so they can compute and send you the annuity underpayment.


About Author

Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to

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