Lump-sum death benefit


Q. I have read that “If there is no spouse, former spouse, eligible child or some other insurable interest named to receive a survivor annuity upon the death of the FERS annuitant, then a lump sum of the employee’s contributions to the FERS Retirement and Disability Fund will be paid to the individual(s) entitled under the order of precedence.”

The order of precedence is: designated beneficiary, widow/widower, children, parents, etc.

Does this mean, if I haven’t named someone to receive my FERS annuity, upon my death, anything not paid to me while I was retired will be paid in a lump sum to the people as listed in the order of precedence? How does that person know what the lump sum will be? How do they request it?

A. The lump-sum payment consists solely of any unexpended contributions you made to the retirement fund while working. When your death is reported, the Office of Personnel Management will ask that the executor of your estate provide them with the names of those who would be eligible to receive such a payment.


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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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