Survivor annuity


Q. Do federal retirees have to elect for spousal annuity benefits for spouses to be eligible for Federal Employees Health Benefits upon retirement? If so, can the retiree elect to discontinue spousal annuity if the spouse obtains his/her own coverage after retirement? Does it vary between CSRS and FERS?

A. By law, you must elect a full survivor annuity for your spouse, unless he or she agrees in a notarized writing to a lesser amount or none at all. If your spouse agreed to no survivor annuity, he or she could continue to be covered under the self-and-family option of your plan. However, if you were to die, that coverage would end unless he or she was a federal employee or retiree. In that case, he or she could continue that coverage.


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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