Survivor benefits in marriage after retirement


Q. I am a retired federal employee (1999) under CSRS. I got married in March 2012. My wife has little income, so I would like to add her as a beneficiary to my annuity in case I die.

Can this be done, and if so, what would be the costs and reductions in my present annuity?

A. You can elect a survivor annuity for your new spouse within two years of your marriage. If you do, there will be two reductions in your annuity: the standard one to pay for the survivor annuity and a permanent actuarial reduction to pay the survivor benefit deposit. The deposit equals the difference between the new annuity rate and the annuity paid to you each month since retirement, plus 6 percent interest. The reduction is determined by dividing the amount of the deposit by an actuarial factor for your age on the date your annuity is reduced to pay for the survivor benefit. To find out what the cost would be, call OPM at 1-888-767-6738 and talk to a benefits specialist. When you submit the paperwork, OPM will tell you what the cost would be. Then you can make a decision.


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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