Survivor benefit fees


Q. I am CSRS and making a decision about whether or not to take out survivor benefits. The rule used to be you if you take out survivor benefits and your spouse dies, you had the lower annuity the rest of your life. The rule now is if you take out survivor benefits and your spouse dies, your reduced annuity can revert to full annuity. If I decide to take out survivor benefits based on the current rule and they reverted back to the old rule, would I have an opportunity to opt out of the survivor benefits since my decision is based on the current rules?

A. I’m not aware that there was ever a rule that would have kept an annuity at the lower level when someone entitled to a survivor annuity died. Anyhow, not only is that not the rule today, but nobody has even considered such an approach. If you elect a survivor annuity and your spouse dies, your annuity would prospectively revert to what it would have been had you not elected a survivor annuity.


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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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