FEDweek

Electing Survivor Benefits if You Marry after Retiring

You may elect to provide a survivor annuity for a spouse you marry after retirement within two years of your marriage.

Under the Civil Service Retirement System, you can elect any portion of your annuity as the base for the survivor benefit payable in the event of your death. The survivor benefit will be 55 percent of the base elected. The cost will be 2.5 percent of the first $3,600 of your basic annuity, plus 10 percent of the remainder of your basic annuity, up to the amount you have chosen as the base for the survivor benefit.

Under the Federal Employees Retirement System, you can elect either a full survivor benefit (50 percent of your unreduced annual basic benefit), or a partial survivor benefit (25 percent). The cost will be a reduction of 10 percent of your basic annuity for the former and 5 percent for the latter.

In addition, under either system there will be a permanent actuarial reduction equal to the difference between the new annuity rate with the survivor benefit and the old one without the survivor benefit since your retirement, plus 6 percent interest. The actuarial reduction continues even if the marriage ends.

If you do not provide a survivor benefit for your new spouse, he or she will not receive a monthly benefit payment after your death. Nor will your spouse be able to continue coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits program, or eligible to initially enroll in the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program after your death, unless otherwise eligible.

If you were married at retirement, experience the end of the marriage (through death, divorce, or annulment), and marry again, you must notify OPM in writing within two years after the marriage if you want to elect a reduction in your annuity to provide a survivor annuity for your new spouse. (Note: If you remarry the same person to whom you were married at retirement, you cannot elect a survivor annuity greater than the one you elected at retirement.)

Your election letter must include your claim number, the amount of your new survivor election, and your spouse’s name, Social Security number, date of birth, and a copy of your marriage certificate. Send it to: OPM, Retirement Operations Center. P.O. Box 45, Boyers, PA 16017.