Survivor annuity


Q. My husband died suddenly. He had been away from work because of an illness for three weeks. Had he lived, which we expected, he would have gone on disability like his doctor recommended. He did not apply for that as his death came so suddenly — a week after he was told this. I am receiving a CSRS survivor benefit from his pension. However, if he had received it, it would be double. If he paid in all those years (37 at the U.S. Postal Service and three in the military), shouldn’t they be paying all of it out? Do they just get to keep half of his retirement annuity?

A. By law, the survivor spouses of CSRS employees are entitled to 55 percent of what their spouses would have received if they had retired. Financially speaking, it would have been pointless for your husband to apply for disability retirement. Because he had over 22 years of service, there wouldn’t have been a penny’s difference between a disability annuity and a regular annuity.


About Author

Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to


  1. I am an RN and have been on retirement disability since age 62 (now 63). I can’t live on that money alone due to lots of medical bills. I want to work partime and was told the maximum I can earn above my disability payment is only 1,100.00 per month. Is this correct? Once I reach full retirement does the maximum amt disappear and I will be allowed to earn more?? I am a financial mess and don’t know what to do. I would say screw it and return to work full time but I can barely work the 8 hrs a week that I do now

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