Reg Jones Expert's View

The children of deceased federal employees and retirees are generally entitled to a variety of benefits. In this article, I’ll talk about survivor annuities under CSRS and FERS. In my next one, I’ll talk about life and health insurance benefits.

To be eligible for a survivor annuity, your child must be an unmarried dependent under 18 years of age. The definition of child includes 1) an adopted child, 2) a stepchild (but only if the stepchild lived with you in a regular parent-child relationship), 3) a recognized natural child, and 4) a child who lived with you and for whom a petition for adoption was filed by you and who is adopted by your surviving spouse after your death.

That age 18 limit is waived for a dependent child who is incapable of self-support because of a mental of physical disability incurred before age 18, but only as long as he or she remains both incapable of self-support and unmarried. It is also waved for an unmarried dependent child between age 18 and 22 years of age who is a student regularly pursuing a full-time course of study or training.

The rules governing the annuity payments to children are the same for CSRS and FERS employees and retirees. However, there is one slight difference for the survivor annuities paid to the children of those whose who were covered by CSRS-Offset and FERS. Their benefits will be reduced by the amount of any Social Security benefit payable based the employee/retiree’s Social Security-covered federal service.

A child’s annuity is in addition to any survivor annuity payable to a spouse or former spouse. And the child of a retiree will be eligible for an annuity even if the parent did not elect a survivor annuity at retirement.

The annuity is increased by annual cost-of-living-adjustments (COLAs). This year the rates are as follows: