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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 fedexperts@federaltimes.com.


  1. Elaine Lumsden on

    The following can be found at https://www.opm.gov/retirement-services/publications-forms/pamphlets/ri38-116.pdf on page 45.

    § 838.237 Death of the former spouse.

    (a) Unless the court order acceptable for processing expressly provides otherwise, the former spouse’s share of an employee annuity terminates on the last day of the month before the death of the former spouse, and the former spouse’s share of employee annuity reverts to the retiree.

    (b) Except as otherwise provided in this subpart, OPM will honor a court order acceptable for processing or an amended court order acceptable for processing that directs OPM to pay, after the death of the former spouse, the former spouse’s share of the employee annuity to-­

    (1) The court;
    (2) An officer of the court acting as a fiduciary;
    (3) The estate of the former spouse; or
    (4) One or more of the retiree’s children as defined in section 8341(a)(4) or section 8441(4) of title 5, United States Code.

        • She is retired and was.awarded a portion of her ex husbands csrs annuity. The COAP said that she would leave her portion of the annuity to her estate or heirs if she.died before her ex husband. After her death, OPM sent a letter to their children letting them know the COAP was reviewed and to let OPM know who the executor is and deposit info. They could not provide that info since there was no will. Her new husband claims he is entitled to the money. Can you shed some light on this.

          • In PA, if there are only children with the first marriage and no will, then the new husband can only get 50% and the rest goes to the children of the marriage. OPM said that her husband could not get the money. Is this true?

          • I also read that if there is no will then the annuity will revert to the retiree. Is that also true and if so how long does it take. Sorry for asking so many questions, but OPM is very hard to get answers from. I really appreciate your help.

          • Any unpaid retirement contributions would be distributed according to the standard order of precedence:
            First, to the beneficiary designated by the deceased;
            Second, if there is none, to the widow or widower;
            Third, is there is none, to any child or children in equal shares;
            Fourth, if there are none, to the parents (or parent).
            Fifth, if there are none, to the executor or administrator of the estate;
            Sixth, if there are none of the above, to the next of kin who may be entitled under the laws of the state in which that person is domiciled at the time of death.
            Note: Contributions are the ones the employee contributed to the retirement fund while working. In most cases, those contributions have been returned to the retiree in the form of annuity payments within the first year-and-a-half after retirement.

            No one can tell you how long it will take for that process to be completed.

          • Who are you referring to when you say current spouse…..the retiree or the former spouses husband?

          • It would be the woman to whom he was married at the time of his death, unless there was a valid court order assigning the benefit to a former spouse. The latter would only be enforceable if the court order was properly executed and accepted by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

  2. I am an ex-spouse receiving military retirement benefits. Will my annuity from the military retirement be discontinued when my former spouse retires after 20 years as an air traffic controller?

    • The two aren’t connected. You’d continue to receive former spouse retirement benefits. Whether you’d be entitled to any additional former spouse benefits based on his employment as an air traffic controller would depend on the terms of the court order ending your marriage.

  3. my husband was a sheet metal worker he gets 82% of normal benefit am I able to get part of the pension without his death I am retired also but my pension pays for our health and life insurance

    • Assuming that he was a federal employee, the answer is no. However, you would only be entitled to a survivor annuity if he died. If he wasn’t a federal employee, you’ll have to check with his former employer.

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