Survivor annuity


Q. I retired from the military after 22 years and, upon retirement, we declined survivor benefits. After 10 years of working in the civilian corporate sector and drawing my military pension, I was hired and now work for the Department of Homeland Security. I will retire at age 64 (in four years) with eight years of federal service. I am considering a military buyback. I know how the buyback works (i.e. fees, interest, etc.), but I cannot find a reference to my particular scenario or how or if allowed to purchase survivor benefits for the combined time in retirement. Can I purchase survivor benefits for the combined military/federal creditable time? If so, how is this calculated?

A. If you don’t make a deposit to get credit for your active-duty service, you can elect a survivor annuity that will equal 50 percent of your earned annuity or 25 percent, if your wife agrees to the lower amount. If you make a deposit, the same basic rules apply, with two differences. First, the survivor annuity would be based on your total service (actual and service for which you made a deposit). Second, you would have to waive your military retired pay. Whichever way you go, your own annuity would be reduced by 10 percent if you elected the 50 percent option; 5 percent if you elected the 25 percent option.


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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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