Divorce and survivor benefits


Q. I retired from the U.S. Postal Service in 2005. I was under CSRS during that time. When I retired I elected an annuity for my spouse (for after my death). We are getting a divorce. I wanted to know by how much will my annuity increase, and what happens to the money I paid into the death benefit annuity?

A. Hold your horses. What will happen to your own annuity will depend on the terms of the divorce decree. That decree could award her a full, partial or zero annuity. Your own annuity could, therefore, remain as it is, be increased or restored to what it would have been had you not elected a survivor annuity. In no case would you be entitled to a refund of the money that was deducted from your annuity to pay for that benefit.


About Author

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. Sabrina Dennis on

    My husband passed away and I just had a heart attack and can’t work how do I receive his benefits

    • Call OPM’s Retirement Services Office at 1-888-767-6738. They’ll explain how you can apply for a survivor benefit.

    • To get a definitive answer to your question, you’ll have to call OPM’s Retirement Information Office at 1-888-767-6738 and talk to one of their benefits specialists. Be sure to have your late husband’s full name, date of birth, Social Security number, date of death and, if you can find it, his CSA (civil service annuitant) number.

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