Former spouse benefit


Q. My just-deceased husband and I had been together for over 25 years. We were married for 13 years.
Divorced, but lived together for nine years. Then we remarried for an additional three years. When he retired CSRS, he voluntarily elected survivor benefits for me as a former spouse. We didn’t remarry til I was 58. The election for survivor benefits states that it’s for me as a former spouse. Since the election was done when I was the former spouse, am I still entitled to receive the spousal benefits?

A. Yes. According to the Office of Personnel Management, all you need to do is provide them with a copy of the divorce decree.


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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


  1. My spouse of 15 years is deceased. We divorced because of his alcoholism and his filing for a divorce in place of the separation. Two sons were born during the marriage. I moved out of state to work after I graduated from college to accept a job that would take care of me and the children should something happen to him. I returned yearly to manage upkeep for the home because our oldest son, 13, did not want to move. When my husband became sick due to alcoholism and died shortly thereafter, I returned to care for him in the final hours and to put him away decently. I relocated back to Denver to handle the home we had purchased some time back and to and due to the ages and requests of our boys to remain in Denver. I was the personal representative of the estate. At his death I had been receiving child support but this ended. He worked for the US Postal Service and was planning to retire. If he left retirement money on the table, am I eligible for the benefit either in a lump sum or an annuity?

    • You wouldn’t be entitled to anything. However, his children would be entitled to the proceeds of his retirement account divided equally among them.

  2. Did your Divorce specify your right to a Survivor Annuity from his FERS or CSRS retirement? If not, then you are unfortunately not entitled to it nor to the lump sum refund of retirement contributions in lieu of the survivor annuity. He would also have probably had FEGLI (life insurance). If he never changed the Beneficiary, possibly it is still you or if not, your children. You should contact OPM to find out. Your husband’s Agency HR may be able to assist you.

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