Survivor benefits and same-sex marriage


Q. I have 32 years of CSRS service as a civilian and am in a same-sex marriage. Can I sign up during my retirement processing for survivor benefits?

A. No, you can’t, because the law governing survivor benefits hasn’t changed. However, you could elect an insurable interest annuity if you are in good health when you retire, as demonstrated by a current medical exam, and you can show that the person you are naming would benefit financially by your continuing to be alive. To pay for the benefit, your annuity would be reduced by a percentage that depends on the difference between your age and the age of the person you name. For example, if the person was older, the same age, or less than five years younger, the reduction would be 10 percent. If you were to die, the person you name would receive an annuity equal to 55 percent of your own unreduced annuity (CSRS) or 50 percent (FERS).


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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