Survivor annuity


Q. In November I will have five years of service and I bought back my Army time of three years, which gives me eight years of service. If I pass away, will my spouse be eligible for a monthly annuity check? I’m 58 and would have 10 years at 60, which should be my minimum retirement age.

A. When you have five years of actual FERS service, you’ll be vested in the retirement system. If you die after you are vested, your widow would be entitled to a survivor annuity. If you were to die before that, she wouldn’t. Then she’d only be entitled to receive a refund of your retirement contributions. Note: Active duty service for which you’ve made a deposit doesn’t count toward the five years needed to be vested in the retirement system; however, once you are vested, it would be used in the annuity computation.


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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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