Retirement & Financial Planning Report

Marriage after retirement can have differing effects on an annuity, depending on the situation.

For retirees not married at retirement–either because they never married or because they are divorced and there isn’t a court order requiring a former spouse survivor benefit—and who marry and elect a survivor benefit, two things happen. First, the retiree’s annuity will be reduced by the same amount it would have been had that election been made at retirement. The actual dollar amount of the reduction would depend on whether the retiree elects a full or partial survivor annuity benefit. Second, the retiree’s annuity will be permanently reduced to pay for the deposit owed. That deposit equals the difference between the retiree’s new annuity rate and the annuity paid for every single month since retirement, plus 6 percent interest, divided by an actuarial factor based on the retiree’s age on the day the annuity is reduced.

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For a retiree who remarries a former spouse, if the divorce occurred before retirement and there wasn’t any court order requiring the retiree to provide a survivor annuity, the rules would be the same. However, if the retiree was married at retirement, later divorced, and subsequently remarried that person, what the retiree can do is limited. If that spouse had agreed to receive no survivor annuity, then the retiree can’t elect one at remarriage. If a partial annuity was elected, then the retiree can elect one that is no greater than the original amount. However, if a full survivor annuity was originally elected, a full survivor annuity can be elected now. The reduction in the retirees annuity would be calculated as described above and would be proportional to the amount elected for the survivor annuity.

A retiree who marries or remarries has two years to decide whether to provide a survivor annuity to the newly acquired spouse. After that, no election if possible.

Note: Since last June, the above policies apply to legally recognized same-sex marriages. Those who had been in such marriages and who had been prevented from electing survivor benefits previously have until June 26 of next year to make such elections, subject to the same reductions.