Survivor benefits


Q. 1. I retired from Department of Justice/Drug Enforcement Administration with nearly 33 years of service. Upon federal law enforcement mandatory retirement at age 57, I elected to have my wife receive 55 percent benefit if I precede her in death. Thus, my annuity is reduced. If my wife precedes me in death, is there an adjustment upwards of my annuity? How do I go about getting this changed? We have been married since 1979.

2. I started collecting Social Security benefits at age 63. Based on 42 quarters and the amount I paid into Social Security, my benefit is only about $150 per month. When I die is my wife eligible to receive partial Social Security benefits based on my Social Security account? She does not have enough quarters to qualify for her own Social Security payment.

A. 1. Yes. When you report her death to the Office of Personnel Management, your annuity would be increased, prospectively, to what it would have been if you hadn’t elected a survivor benefit.

2. She would be entitled to the full Social Security survivor benefit, not the reduced one you received.


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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