A federal appeals court has upheld the government’s policy of requiring that federal survivor benefits can only be paid if the surviving spouse was married to the federal employee for at least nine months before the employee’s death.

As an alternative to being married that long prior to the death, benefits also are payable to the mother of children by that marriage, although that was not at issue in the case before the Federal Circuit court of appeals.

The court found that there was a rational basis for Congress to set the time limit to ensure that the marriage was entered into for reasons other than the desire to shortly acquire benefits.

It also ruled that the MSPB did not violate the claimant’s rights when it denied her request to compel OPM to disclose any instances of waivers of that requirement, saying that even if OPM had previously done so, it would still be required to follow the requirements when reviewing her application.