Disability benefits


Q: My fiancé has been informed he has terminal cancer. We were planning our wedding for next month. He has just applied for Social Security disability. He already collects a disability pension from a county school board, of which I am not entitled to when he passes. If we marry, how will that affect my civil service retirement pension (I am 58, he’s 62); and am I eligible to receive his Social Security disability benefits after he passes? Do we have to be married for a certain amount of time first?

A: Your CSRS annuity won’t be affected because you won’t be eligible to receive a Social Security survivor benefit. You would have to be married to him for 10 years to be entitled to one.


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 Comment

  1. A 10 year marriage is not required for survivor benefits. 10 years only applies for divorced spouses. Per the Social Security Handbook (available at SSA.GOV), section 401, she would have to be at least age 60 (or 50 if disabled under the Social Security definition) and meet one of the following requirements F.One of the following conditions is met:

    1.You were married to the deceased worker for at least the nine months just before the worker died (see §404 for exceptions);

    2.You are the mother or father of the worker’s son or daughter (this requirement is met if a live child was born to you and the worker, even if the child did not survive) (see §411);

    3.You legally adopted the worker’s son or daughter during your marriage and before the child reached age 18 (see §329);

    4.You were married to the worker when you both legally adopted a child under age 18;

    5.The worker legally adopted (as defined in §329) your son or daughter during your marriage and before the child reached age 18; or

    6.In the month before the month you married the deceased worker, you were entitled or potentially entitled to either (1) spouse’s, widow(er)’s, father’s (based on the record of a fully insured worker), mother’s (based on the record of a fully insured worker), parent’s, or childhood disability benefits on the record of a fully insured individual under the Social Security Act; or (2) widow(er)’s, child’s (age 18 or over), or parent’s insurance annuity under the Railroad Retirement Act.

    NOTE: You are “potentially entitled” if you meet all requirements for entitlement, other than the filing of an application and attainment of the required age.

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