Marrying a CSRS retiree


Q. I am considering marrying a CSRS retiree. What happens to a retiree’s annuity when he dies? Does the spouse receive any benefit? If so, what are the eligibility requirements — i.e. length of marriage, age of spouse, date of marriage (getting married before or after retirement), etc.?

A. A spouse acquired after an employee isn’t entitled to any survivor benefit unless the retiree elects one for him or her and agrees to the reductions in his or her annuity to pay for it. Further, the marriage must last for at least nine months before the retiree’s death for the benefit to be paid.


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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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