Expert's View

Reg Jones

Last week I filled you in on a series of basic benefits that your survivors would be entitled to if you were to die while currently employed by the government. This time let’s look at several less-familiar benefits that your heirs may be entitled to, depending on the circumstances.

Death gratuity

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If you were to die from an injury you sustained in the line of duty, your personal representative would be entitled to a death gratuity payment. That payment would be up to $10,000, minus any amount payable by the Office of Workers Compensation Programs under 5 U.S.C. 8331 and 8134.

Flag honor

Your agency is authorized by law to present an American flag to your next of kin if you die from injuries that were incurred in connection with your government employment, including death in the line of duty. If your next of kin doesn’t make a request, the Office of Personnel Management is authorized to determine who should receive the flag.

Note: Agencies are expected to provide any information needed to prove that you were an employee, but only to the extent that this information isn’t classified or that revealing it would endanger national security.

Death overseas

If you were a member of the Foreign Service who died outside the United States while performing your duties, the law provides for the payment of a death gratuity that equals one year of your basic pay at the time of your death. A further  death gratuity of $100,000 will be paid if your death was due to injuries sustained in while serving with one of the Armed Forces in a contingency operation. This payment will be paid by the Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs. Note: The amount will be offset by any other death gratuity payment.

In addition, if you die in the performance of official duties, your agency may pay the moving, transportation and relocation expenses of your immediate family within the United States. It may also pay the expenses of preparing and transporting your body to where your family will live or to another appropriate place for burial.

Public Safety Officers benefits

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If you were a public safety officer who was found to have died as the direct result of a personal injury, traumatic injury involving external force and sustained in the line of duty or were totally disabled as the direct result of a catastrophic injury sustained in the line of duty, your survivors would be entitled to a benefit, the amount of which varies according to your date of death or disability and any other payments to which they are entitled.

I know that reading these last two articles has not been easy for you. Facing the possibility of one’s own death and the effect it can have on family and friends is a sobering experience. However, as the old saying goes, forewarned is forearmed.

Benefits Paid on the Death of a Current Employee

FERS & CSRS: What Happens to Your Annuity if You Come Back?

Special Retirement Policies for Law Officers and Firefighters

The Most Common Questions on FEHB

The Most Common FERS Retirement Questions

The Most Common Questions About CSRS

FERS Retirement Guide 2021