Spousal benefits


Q: I am a CSRS retiree. My husband is a public school teacher retiree from Missouri. I know I cannot draw from his Social Security benefits under any circumstance or he from mine, but will I be able to draw from his school retirement if he should die before me? Or will he be able to draw from my civil service if I should die first? He is on my health benefit and would need that if I should die first. We have both made allotments to each other and no one mentioned this when we were preparing retirement papers.

A: Because we are only qualified to answer questions about federal employee and retiree benefits, I can only be certain about how you will be affected. First, as you acknowledged, because of the government pension offset provision, you won’t be able to receive either a spousal Social Security benefit based on your husband’s Social Security-covered service or a survivor benefit. Second, assuming that your husband elected to provide a survivor annuity for you based on his employment, there is nothing in law or regulation that would prevent you from receiving that benefit is he were to die before you. And receiving it would have no affect on your CSRS annuity. Assuming that you elected a survivor annuity for your husband when you retired, it seems reasonable that he would be able to receive that without its affecting his own annuity. However, he’d need to check with his former employer to be sure.


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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 fedexperts@federaltimes.com.

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