Surviving-spouse benefits


Q: My husband is 56 and we have been married for four years. He works with the Navy as a civilian and has 35 years of service. If he dies, will I get his civil service retirement? Will I still qualify for his Veterans Affairs benefits? How about his Social Security? I am 27. Does age make a difference? I know he doesn’t pay in for FEGLI. Do federal employees have life insurance covered by the government?

A: If your husband were to die, you would be entitled to a survivor annuity. The same is true if he was eligible for a Social Security benefit. However, because of your age, that benefit would be less than if you had reached full retirement age. I can’t speak to his VA benefits because that is a military matter and falls outside the scope of this forum. The Federal-Employees’ Group Life Insurance program is the only life insurance provided by the government. The Basic policy is covered by payroll deduction. Unless he waived that coverage, you would be entitled to the face value of that insurance.


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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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