Cost to reinstate survivor benefits


Q. When I retired in 1985, I elected to take the survivor benefit. My wife died in September 2006. I then elected to take my full annuity at about $69,000. My current annuity is about $78,000. I remarried one year ago. I am 86, and my wife is 71. How much will it cost me to renew the survivor benefit for my current wife? Can it be paid in a lump sum, or is it subtracted from my annuity? Can you please give me a form number to download?

A. If you elect to provide a survivor annuity for your new wife, you must do so within two years of the date of your marriage. To pay for that benefit, there will be two reductions in your annuity, the amount of which depends on whether you elect a full or a reduced benefit.

The first reduction will be the standard one to provide the survivor benefit. The second is 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 for each month since retirement, plus 6 percent. 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 forms and documentations you’d need, call the Office of Personnel Management at 888-767-6738 or 724-794-2005 and talk to one of their benefits specialists.


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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