Is lump sum worth it?


Q. My husband worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs for 12 years and went out on disability retirement at age 55. He recently passed away at age 60. As he did not reach the age of 62, he was never converted to a regular Federal Employees Retirement System retirement. I am told I may be eligible for a lump-sum benefit/refund of any monies paid into FERS. Is this worth applying for, or were his FERS contributions used to pay his disability retirement for the past five years?

A. Assuming that you were married to him for at least 18 months before he died, you’d be entitled to a lump-sum payment. If you were married to him for at least 10 years, you’d also be entitled to a survivor annuity. If you have not already done so, you need to contact the Office of Personnel Management at 888-767-6738 and report his death. They’ll help you make sure you receive any survivor benefits to which you are entitled.


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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