Survivor benefits and remarriage


Q. My father-in-law is 82 and has been retired from the federal government for approximately 20 years. He had survivor benefits for his wife, who passed away nine months ago. He is now engaged to a new woman and wants to marry her in a few months. He seems to think he must marry her within 18 months of the time his first wife passed for her to receive his survivor benefits. Is this true?

A. He can make that election within two years of the date of the marriage. In order to be eligible for the benefit, his new spouse must have been married to him for nine months before his death. To pay for the benefit, there would be two reductions in his annuity: the normal one, and a permanent actuarial reduction, plus 6 percent interest. Ask him to call the Office of Personnel Management at 1-888-767-6738 or 724-794-2005 and talk to one of their benefits specialists.


About Author

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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