Survivor benefits


Q. My husband passed away as a CSRS employee with over 30 years service. Would I be eligible to collect his pension as well as Social Security on his record. And, as my Social Security is less than his, would the CSRS Social Security be affected?

A. You are automatically entitled to an annuity and to the greater of the two Social Security benefits. To receive them, you’ll have to immediately report his death to OPM and the Social Security Administration. Your late husband’s personnel office can help you do that.


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 retired from Federal Service in 2006 under the CSRS program.. My first wife received half my pension until her death. In 2013 I remarried a Federal retiree who is under the FERS program. If one of us pass first will the survivor be eligible for any of our spouses pension.

    We are both collecting SSA benfits but her whole is larger than mine.

    • You would not be entitled to a survivor annuity unless she elected one for you within two years of the date you married. And she would not be entitled to one unless you elected one for her within that same time limit.

  2. What happens if i pass my husband is undet csrs old sytem therefore no ss was taken from his pay and ss is lower than mine what would he get if i pass 1st

    • If he died, you’d receive the larger of the twp Social Security be benefits. If you died, any Social Security benefit you receive would be subject to the government pension offset provision of law, which would probably cancel out his entitlement to a Social Security benefit based on your employment

  3. My husband was a united states postal employee he passed away sept 27 2017 he had always told me the 7 yrs we were married that if anything were to ever happen to him that i would be taken care of. I would receive amontly pament every mnt and his retirement i completed all the paperwork for the retirement and for my montly annuity and they wrote me and said that i was unable to get his retirement because he forgot to change the name in the paperwork he has been divorced from this ladyfor ar least 20yrs so what can i do at this point.

  4. I am confused by the lawyers in legal separation claiming I owe a downward adjustment in share pension earned in the marriage due to WEP on my husband’s city pension affecting his claim of social security benefits on my earnings during the marriage. Why do I have to pay the difference of his plan’s provisions to a larger share of social security benefits on my earnings he doesn’t get to claim. The city invested to enrich his retirement pension in other ways during the marriage that resulted in his pension that is community income.
    How is social security factored in settlements regarding legal requirements for adjustments in dividing pensions. Is there a formula that determines how to calculate this legal requirement they claim is due to him in settlement because of WEP?

    • Your questions fall outside the boundaries of this forum, which is only open to federal employees or retirees. Even then, we aren’t able to answer questions involving court ordered settlements or divorce.

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