The effect of remarrying on annuities


Q: I have a friend who retired from the Civil Service Retirement System in 2002 and was divorced at the time. His ex-wife will not receive a survivor annuity per his divorce decree. He is going to get remarried this summer and will elect full survivor annuity for his new wife. He knows his monthly annuity will be reduced but he is curious to know if the reduction would be the same as if he had been married all these years, or will there be an additional amount deducted to make up for the years since he retired?  I hope I am making sense because it took me a while to figure out what he was asking.

A: If your retired friend marries and elects to provide a survivor for his wife, there will be two reductions in his annuity. The first will be to provide the survivor benefit. This will be the same reduction that would have occurred if he had elected a survivor annuity for a current spouse when he retired. The second reduction will be a permanent actuarial reduction. This will require a deposit that equals the difference between the new annuity rate and the annuity paid to him for each month since he retired, plus six percent interest. The reduction is calculated by dividing the amount of the deposit by an actuarial factor based on his age on the day his annuity is reduced to provide the survivor benefit. Note: As a CSRS retiree, he has the option of electing a survivor annuity that ranges between $1 per year and 55 percent of his unreduced annuity.


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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

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