Survivor Benefits

Survivor benefits payable under the retirement system depends upon the system that covers you.

CSRS Employees

If you are covered by the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or CSRS-Offset, your spouse is entitled to a survivor benefit 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.

Eligible children are also entitled to a survivor benefitUnmarried 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.

(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.)

FERS Employees

If you are covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), 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 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 benefit equaling 50% of your earned annuity based on your length of service and high-three salary at the time of your death.   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 benefitUnmarried 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.

(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.)

Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)

If you have a TSP Designation of Beneficiary Form on file, your TSP account balance will be paid to your beneficiary/beneficiaries in accordance with TSP death benefits requirements.

If you do not have a Designation of Beneficiary form on file for your TSP account before the date of your death, your entire account will be distributed according to the following order of precedence required by law:

  1. To your spouse; or
  2. If none, to your child or children equally, with the share due any deceased child divided equally among that child’s descendants; or
  3. If none, to your parents equally or to your surviving parent; or
  4. If none, to the appointed executor or administrator of your estate.
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