Getting survivor benefits early


Q. My husband is a FERS retiree. He may eventually have to go to a nursing home. Can the nursing home take my designated survivor benefits? He has been retired for more than five years.

A. Your husband elected a survivor annuity for you, his own annuity was reduced to provide for it, and that election can’t be changed. If he were to die and you were to begin receiving that survivor benefit, it would depend on the arrangement you made with the nursing home whether they would have a claim against you for any remaining bills. It would be a good idea to check with an attorney before you agree to anything.


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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


  1. Marilyn k butler on

    Can a nursing home take my ex-spouse survivor annuity should i be confined to a care facility.

    Have been drawing this annuity for 2 year years and receive 2200. Per mo gross.

    My SS mo benefit is 1500/mo gross.

    I never remarried.

    Comments appreciated.

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