Reinstatement of survivor benefits


Q. In CSRS retirement, can a survivor benefit be reinstated (it was waived at retirement) if a retired employee changes his mind and decides to give his spouse a survivor benefit? He understands there would be a payback penalty associated with it. Or is the only option to divorce and remarry?

A. You can change your mind if no more than 18 months have passed since the beginning date of your annuity. If over 18 months have passed, you can’t. You’ll have to consult an attorney to find out if you could get around this limitation by divorcing and remarrying.


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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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