Survivor benefit


Q. My wife has been properly named as my survivor benefit recipient, and she has been a legal resident (“green card” holder) for 13 years but has not yet passed her naturalization test. Can she still receive the benefits after my death even though she has not passed her citizen exam?

A. Yes, she can. There is no requirement that a spouse be a U.S. citizen to receive survivor benefits.


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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


    • Your question falls outside the boundaries of this forum. You’ll have to check with the Internal Revenue Service.

  1. Reg, if the surviving spouse ends up living in another county will the survivor annuity continue and be sent by check/direct deposit to her in the other country?

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