Whether you are an employee or a retiree, if you die and have children, they may be eligible for a monetary benefit. All they have to do is meet the definition spelled out in law. Children must be unmarried, under age 18 (age 22 if attending school full-time) or any age if disabled under age 18, incapable of self support, and unmarried. The definition of children includes a legitimate child and an adopted child. It also includes a stepchild (if living in a normal parent-child relationship) and a child born out of wedlock (usually if living in a normal parent-child relationship or if a judicial determination of child support has been made).
Children’s benefits are paid according to a formula where the dollar amounts change from year to year. In 2005 the children’s rate where one parent was still alive was $402 per month for each eligible child or $1,208 per month divided by the number of children (if there were four or more). In 2006 it is $420 per child or $1,260 divided by the number of children.
If there is no surviving parent, the rates are higher. While they were $483 per month per child or $1,448 divided by the number of children in 2005, in 2006 they are $504 and $1,512.
The benefits paid to the children of deceased CSRS employees or retirees are not reduced by any Social Security benefits payable to the children. However, those paid to the children of CSRS Offset or FERS employees or retirees are. They are reduced by the amount of any Social Security benefit they get that is based on their parent’s CSRS Offset or FERS service.
As a rule, children’s benefits are paid to a child’s parent or, if there is no parent, to the legal guardian. If there isn’t one, OPM will determine who is responsible for the care of the child and pay them. However, there is no bar to a child age 18 or older receiving the payment directly.