Q. I am a single, retired CSRS annuitant, age 69, whose wife passed away before I retired in January 2004. It is my understanding that if I marry after retirement, I have two years from the date of marriage to sign my new wife up for survivor benefits. Then, nine months after I sign my wife up for the benefits, my annuity will be reduced to pay for the benefits. If I were to die before the nine months has passed, what happens to my survivor benefit request? Also, if I were to die after nine months but before the benefits are paid for, what happens to the survivor benefits?
A. If you were married for at least nine months and had applied for a survivor benefit for your wife, she would be entitled to that benefit. If you had been married for fewer than nine months, your spouse wouldn’t be entitled to a survivor annuity.
If your marriage were to end because of death, divorce or annulment, the reduction in your own annuity would stop. Once you notified the Office of Personnel Management, your annuity would be prospectively restored to what it would have been had you not elected a survivor benefit.