Multiple survivor benefits


Q. I am a federal retiree, and have recently married a woman whose ex-husband (also a federal retiree) assigned ex-spouse survivor benefits to her. (They divorced while he was stilll employed.) She is older than 55, so the age at remarriage is not an issue. I intend to provide at least some sort of survivor benefit for her, so that she will be able to continue health benefits after my death.

If I die first, will she be able to select her ex-husband’s (higher) survivor annuity upon his death? (I assume she cannot receive both. ) If both her ex and I die, and assuming she selects his survivor annuity, will she be able to continue her participation in the FEHB as a result of the fact that I assigned her an annuity, even if she selects the other one?

I called OPM regarding this and received very conflicting and confusing information.

A: To learn more about multiple annuities, go to and scroll down to Section 71A2.1-1C, More Than One Survivor Annuity. To be eligible for continuing FEHB coverage, she would have to have been covered as a family member under the self and family option of your plan at the time of your death.



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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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