Reinstatement of benefits


Q. I was married to a U.S. Postal Service worker for 22 years. In the divorce I was awarded half of his pension. I got remarried before 55. My second husband has since died, in July 2018, and left no pension benefits. I am 59 years old now. Am I still entitled to half the pension of the first husband, since I am no longer married (now widowed)?

A. No. According to OPM, “A former spouse who loses entitlement to a survivor annuity because he or she remarries before age 55 cannot have the survivor annuity reinstated if the marriage later ends by death or divorce.”


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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. I have a couple of questions with my upcoming retirement approaching. I’ll have 45 years and 1 month when I retire in August of this year. I’ve asked my agencies HR folks and retirement experts these few questions and cannot get them to truly answer these questions, without some hesitation or lack of accuracy.

    1) After the 41 years and 11 months of service, I know that the excess contributions are withheld until I retire and that the funds are paid 3% yearly on the refund. That said, I am going to take the lump sum payment and was wondering this. What kid of taxes will I have to pay on the lump sum payment? 10,20,30% of the return? Or am I only taxed on the interest earned, as I have already paid taxes on the amount deducted when the government made the deduction from my check? I hope that makes sense.

    2) Also, on the annual leave that I will be cashing out. Not having been taxed on that monies for the leave, what will be taxed on that amount of leave? Are State, Federal, and other deductions be taken out from that return and if so, at what rate would be a guesstimate on that deduction?

    I appreciate any help you can provide. Thanks

    • Both the interest on your excess contributions and the full amount of your annual leave payment will be taxed as ordinary income.

  2. I was married to civil service worker for 21yr then divorced am I entitled to any benefits that I am 66yrs and disabled.He is still alive

    • You would be entitled to certain benefits if they were clearly stated in the decree ending your marriage and that decree was filed with the U. S. Office OF Personnel Management in Washington, DC.

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