While the annuity benefits of children where one or both of the parents have died usually end at age 18, they can be extended to age 22 if the child is a student regularly pursuing a full-time course of study or training.
However, there is one situation in which those benefits can continue for life. That’s when the child is 1) incapable of self-support because of a physical or mental disability incurred before age 18 and 2) unmarried.
To qualify your child for that extended benefit, you have to provide OPM with information about the child’s education, employment (if any), and residence. In addition, your child’s doctor must provide information about the child’s medical condition. You’ll see the information needed in OPM Form RI 25-43, available in agency personnel offices or at www.opm.gov/forms.
However, if the Social Security Administration has already awarded benefits to your child based on its findings that he or she is incapable of self-support because of a physical or mental disability incurred before age 18, OPM will only need a copy of that letter as medical documentation.
As I pointed out in an earlier article, the amount of a child’s survivor benefit is the same under CSRS or FERS. It’s a specific dollar amount established in law and increased annually by cost-of-living adjustments of the same percentage applying to CSRS retirees.
If the qualifying child has a living parent who was married to the employee or retiree, the monthly benefit currently payable is $552 per child. If there are more than three qualifying children, the payment is a maximum of $1,659, divided by the number of qualifying children. If there is no living parent, the figures are $663 and $1,990, respectively.
Note: For the disabled child or children of FERS or CSRS Offset employees or retirees, the benefit will be reduced by any benefit paid to the child or children by the Social Security Administration.