Survivor annuity and regular annuity reduction


Q. I recently attended a retirement seminar where the presenter stated that the cost of the survivor benefit does not go up over time. If I opt for a full survivor benefit and it costs $350 a month when I retire in two months, that will be the cost one year, five years, 20 years from now. If it’s true, great. True?

A. Either your presenter wasn’t clear or you misunderstood what was being said. There’s a one-time reduction in you annuity to pay for the survivor annuity. For example, if your unreduced FERS annuity was $50,000 and you elected a full survivor annuity, as required by law, your new annuity base would be $45,000. In effect, you would be paying for the survivor annuity through a permanent reduction in your own annuity.


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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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