FEDweek

Understanding Survivor Benefits for Children

The Office of Personnel Management pays children’s benefits in certain circumstances on the death of an employee or retiree. Benefits are paid to the parent or other person who has care and custody of the child if there is no court appointed guardian; or to the guardian if one has been appointed by the court; or directly to a child over 18 upon request by the child or other payee on the claim. In general, however, the children’s benefit is included in the monthly payment to the surviving parent when he or she is also a beneficiary and has care and custody of the children.

A child’s survivor annuity begins on the day following your death or, in the case of a child born after your death, on the day following the child’s birth.

Generally, a survivor annuity to a child under age 18 ends on the last day of the month preceding the month in which he or she marries; dies; or becomes 18. However, the survivor annuity can continue under the following conditions:

* If the child has a disability that began before age 18, the annuity may continue past 18 but will end if he/she marries; recovers from the disability; becomes capable of self-support; or dies. If OPM determines that the disabled child has become capable of self-support, the annuity can continue until age 22 if the child is a full-time student.

* If a full-time student, the child’s annuity may continue until 22, but will end if the child marries; dies; ceases to be a student; transfers to a nonrecognized school; begins attending school less than full-time; fails to submit proof, upon request, that he/she is attending school full-time; enters military service or a government service academy; or becomes age 22. A child whose 22nd birthday falls during the school year (September 1 through June 30) is considered not to have attained age 22 until July 1.