With all the uncertainty surrounding this year’s Republican budget proposals and their potential effect on federal employees and retirees, I thought I’d focus instead on topics that are unlikely to change. Over the next four weeks, I’m going to write about life events that require you to do something to avoid problems, either immediately or in the future. The topics I’ve chosen are marriage, the birth of a child, divorce or death. Today I’ll write about marriage.

Survivor annuity

If you are an employee who is getting married, you’ll need to notify your personnel office. If you are a retiree, you’ll need to notify OPM. The rules governing survivor annuities are different for employees and retirees. If you are an employee, you are required to provide a survivor annuity for your spouse. If you filled out a Standard Form 2808 (CSRS) or 3102 (FERS) when you were first hired and designated one or more people to receive any benefits in the event of your death, you’ll need to change that designation when you get married. If you are a retiree, that decision is entirely up to you. You can change the designation or leave it as it is. Copies of the designation forms are downloadable at www.opm.gov/forms.

Health benefits

If you aren’t enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program when you get married, you can do that now. If you are already enrolled, you can change your coverage. For example, if you were single, you can change from self only to self plus one. If you were enrolled in self plus one to cover a dependent child, you can change to self and family. On the other hand, if you were already enrolled in self and family to cover your eligible children, all you have to do is add your new spouse (and any children your spouse brings to the marriage). Note: When you get married, you’ll also have the option of changing from one plan or option to another.

If you are enrolled in the self and family option, all you have to do is contact your health plan and let them know that you have a new family member. Otherwise, you’ll have to submit an enrollment change from 31 days before the marriage to 60 days after it. Standard Form 2809, Health Benefits Election Form, is available at www.opm.gov/forms.

Life insurance

If you enrolled in the Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance program (FEGLI) when you were hired, you probably filled out a designation of beneficiary form and specified who you wanted to get the proceeds of that policy if you died. When you get married, you may want to change that designation. Whether you are an employee or a retiree, you can do that by filling out Standard Form 2823, downloadable at www.opm.gov/forms.