Survivor annuity


Q. My husband was retired from the U.S. Forest Service 12 years ago and receives a pension. His first wife died a year after he retired, and the pension plan was still deducting the survivorship amount from his pension. We married in 2007, and he realized that I am not eligible for the survivorship because he did not change the spouse information in the time allowed. They are going to refund the survivorship deduction over the last 11 years, but is there anything else we can do to become eligible? What if we divorce and then remarry?

A. He can still elect a survivor annuity for you right now. However, he’ll have to ask OPM to tell him how much that benefit would cost and then compare it with what he’ll be receiving in his refund. Divorcing and remarrying would make no sense. The cost of electing a survivor annuity would be the same and that survivor benefit wouldn’t be effective until you had been married for nine months.


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 had a SCD date Oct 2000. Break in Fers for almost 2yrs. Now my SCD date is 2002. Currrently have 22 yrs Air National Guard. I recently did a buy back for 7 mts and 15 days for my first deployment. What are the pros and cons for buyback for my situation. I would like to retire as soon as I can from fers, when will that be without any penalty? Will my buy back affect my leave date. I’m still earning 4hrs LS and 6hrs LA per pay period. When will it increase.

    • Making a deposit to get credit for active duty service increases your length of service for retirement purposes. (It has no affect on your annual leave earning rate.) Whether you made a good decision depends on the costs and benefits, which only you can decide. The earliest you can retire is on an immediate unreduced annuity is when you have one of the following combinations of age and service:
      62 with 5
      60 with 20
      at your MRA with 30
      (MRAs range between 55 and 57, depending on your year of birth.)
      Your leave date

  2. Where can I get a duplicate award letter for my widows annuity. My husband died and was an employee for the usps

  3. Cheryl A. Moore on

    I am applying for a home equity loan and I need a copy from OPM of a letter stating that I receive a survivor’s annuity, the amount per month and how long I will receive this annuity

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