Survivor annuity


Q. My husband is a retired civil service employee. His first wife died before he retired. he then married me after 8 years of being a widower. Am I entitled to a survivor benefits if (God forbids) he dies first? He said I am only entitled to whatever is left from the money he had contributed while working as federal employee, and he said I will not receive any money from his retirement pension. In order for me to receive his retirement pension, he would have had to pay the government $750 dollars a month. How is this so?

A. The longer an employee is retired before marrying (or in his case, remarrying), the greater the reduction in his annuity will be if he elects a survivor annuity. If your husband didn’t elect a survivor annuity for you within two years of your marriage, you wouldn’t be entitled to one. Unfortunately, if he dies before you, there won’t be any of the money left that he contributed to the retirement fund while working. Because annuity payments are first made using the employee’s own contributions, those contributions would have been returned to him within the first two years of his retirement.


About Author

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

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