Electing survivor benefit after retirement


Q: I am divorced and the divorce decree left my CSRS pension intact (and her state pension was also left intact, so that neither of us will be drawing on each other’s pension). If I retire in the coming year, and remain single, and elect No Survivor Benefit, and retire in 2011, but then in 2012 or 2013, I remarry, can my new wife be provided a Survivor Benefit so that she gets (1) part of my pension upon my death and also (2) qualifies (while I am alive) for FEHB? If I can do that, how would I initiate such an action and how would I estimate the cost that would reduce my monthly annuity if I succeeded?

A: Yes, you can elect a survivor benefit for a spouse acquired after you retire. You’d need to do that within two years of the date of the marriage. To pay for that benefit, there would be two reductions in your annuity. One is the standard reduction to provide a survivor annuity. The amount will depend on whether you are electing a full or partial survivor annuity. The other reduction is a permanent actuarial one to pay for the survivor benefit deposit. The deposit equals the difference between the new annuity rate and the annuity paid to you for each month since retirement, plus 6 percent interest. The amount is determined by dividing the amount of the deposit by an actuarial factor based on your age on the date your annuity is reduced. To start the process, you’d need to write to OPM, Retirement Operations Center, P.O. Box 45, Boyers, PA 16017-0045. They will let you know what to do next and how much the survivor annuity election would cost.


About Author

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

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