Survivor annuity for dual-federal couple


Q. I am retiring under CSRS with 34 years of service. My spouse will still be working as a federal employee and retire in eight years with a 20-year full pension under FERS. Is there any advantage to taking the survivor benefit for my spouse, or is it better to elect not to take the survivor benefit? If I pass away, would it be considered double-dipping for my spouse to collect the survivor benefit from my retirement?

A. Let me clear up two points. First, federal employees are required by law to provide a full survivor annuity for their spouses. They can only provide a lesser amount (or none at all) with their spouse’s written consent. Second, spouses can receive a survivor annuity and the salary of their position or a survivor annuity and their own annuity. Now that you know what the rules are, you and your spouse should be able to make an informed decision.


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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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