Reg Jones Expert's View

Last week I wrote about the annuity benefits of children where one or both of the parents have died. In most cases, those benefits 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.

There is one situation in which those benefits can continue beyond those cutoffs. That’s when the child is both incapable of self-support because of a physical or mental disability incurred before age 18 and unmarried. In that case, benefits continue as long as he or she continues to meet those standards, which may mean for life.

In order to qualify your disabled child for such a 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 find an outline of the information needed in OPM Form RI 25-43, which is available in agency personnel offices or on-line at www.opm.gov, click on 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.

The amount of a child’s survivor benefit is the same under CSRS or FERS and the same for either standard or disability-based benefits. If the child has a living parent who was married to the employee or retiree, the benefit payable in 2019 is $537 per month per child or a maximum of $1,611, divided by the number of children. If there is no living parent, the benefit is $644 per month per child or a maximum of $1,932, divided by the number of children. Those numbers are increased annually by cost of living adjustments.

Note: For the children of FERS or CSRS Offset employees or retirees, the benefit will be reduced by any amount paid to the child or children by the Social Security Administration.