Survivor benefits


Q. I have been employed with the Postal Service for 26 years. I am 64 years old and am eligible for retirement. I would like to work for another year. I have some health issues. If I should die while I am still working, would I lose all that I have paid in to my retirement, or would my wife get my retirement benefits? If so, how much? Or would she only get my life insurance benefit?

A. If you were to die this year, your widow would be entitled to a lump-sum payment of $31,316.42, plus a lump sum of the higher of 50 percent of your annual basic pay or 50 percent of your high-3 average basic pay and, because you have 10 or more years of service, a survivor annuity equal to 50 percent of your basic FERS annuity, plus any Social Security survivor benefit you earned. She’d also be entitled to any life insurance benefits you’d taken out and continued coverage in the Federal Employees Health Benefits program, if she was covered under the self-and-family option of your health benefits plan.


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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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