Death Of An Employee – Survivor Benefits Payable To A Spouse And Children

If you are covered by the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or CSRS-Offset, your spouse is entitled to a survivor annuity provided you have at least 18 months of civilian service and you were married for at least 9 months. The 9-month requirement does not apply if your death is accidental or if there is a child born of the marriage. Generally, your spouse is entitled to 55% of your earned annuity based on your length of service and high-three salary at the time of your death.

(Note: If you have a former spouse from whom you were divorced after May 6, 1985, he or she may receive, by court order, all or a part of the survivor annuity that your current spouse would otherwise receive.)

If you are covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS, FERS-RAE, or FERS-FRAE), your spouse is entitled to the Basic Employee Death Benefit (BEDB) provided you die as an employee, have at least 18 months of creditable civilian service, and you were married for at least 9 months. The 9-month requirement does not apply if your death is accidental or if there is a child born of the marriage. The BEDB is a lump sum payment (currently $34,542.01) plus a payment of 50% of your annual pay or 50% of your average pay, whichever is higher. Furthermore, if you have at least 10 years of creditable service, your spouse is also entitled to a survivor annuity equaling 50% of your earned annuity based on your length of service and high-three salary at the time of your death.

(Note: If you have a former spouse, he or she may receive, by court order, all or a part of the survivor annuity that your current spouse would otherwise receive. Additionally, a court order that awards a survivor annuity to a former spouse also awards a corresponding share of the BEDB unless the order expressly states otherwise.)

In addition, your spouse may also be eligible for Social Security survivor benefits if you are covered under Social Security at the time of your death.

Eligible children are entitled to a survivor benefit by law. Unmarried dependent children may receive monthly benefits until they reach age 18. If the child is a full-time student attending a recognized school, monthly benefits can continue until age 22.

Questions may be directed to your Benefits Contact or AskBenefits@nih.gov.

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