Survivor benefits


Q. I am retired under Civil Service, and because I earned enough quarters through outside employment, I was eligible for Social Security benefits. I have survivor’s benefits for my wife under my CS retirement in the event of my death. Will she also be eligible to receive all or part of my Social Security benefits? We are both 72, she also retired on disability under Social Security, and we have been married for 51 years.

A: If you died, your wife would be entitled to the higher of the two Social Security benefits, her own or the survivor benefit based on your own covered work history. The survivor benefit would be based on the Social Security benefit you would have gotten had you not been receiving an annuity from CSRS, a retirement system where you didn’t pay Social Security taxes.


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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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